Anti-military demonstrators mounted protest in the Plaça Major

Protests and celebrations marked Armed Forces Day in Majorca yesterday with today's big event, the air show and closure of Palma airport yet to come. Anti-military demonstrators protested in the Plaza Mayor, while at Son San Joan air base, amidst tight security, over three thousand people, including military chiefs, politicians and local dignitaries, attended mass and the trooping of the Spanish flag, which included a flypast by the Spanish airforce's Eagle acrobatic team. The Palma protests, backed by the movement for democracy and social globalisation one of the main organisers behind the protests during the European Union environment last weekend, called for less public spending on defence and more on education and health. However, the protests are unlikely to hamper events at the air base today with thousands of people expected to watch the air shows and visit the static exhibition of aircraft from a number of international air forces, on the ground. Doors open at 10am and the demonstrations start at 10.45am with a demonstration by the Guardia Civil bomb disposal unit followed by a display by the drugs squad and their highly trained dogs. This morning the army is also going to unveil its new four-wheel-drive assault vehicle the “Rebeco” which is very similar to the United States's famous Humvie. The main event will kick off at 12.35 when the Spanish air force's acrobatic Aguila (Eagle) patrol will scream across the sky in formation and put on an impressive show. Those who saw the team perform their flying skills in Sa Pobla last month will know what to expect. The air show, during which Palma air space and the airport will be closed, will last until 1pm and will feature a number of other aircraft, including helicopters, a Mirage F-1 fighter plane and a F-18 Hornet as well as a demonstrations by paratroopers. There has been much controversy in the build up to the celebrations, which started on Friday, over the closure of Palma airport. Left wing politicians, opposed to a show of military might and increased spending on defence, have publicly apologised to passengers who will be caught in the shut down. However, local flying clubs have backed the event which the Ministry of Defence has said has been organised to bring the “military and the public closer together.”

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