Generalissimo Francisco Franco is still dead
November 19, 2005 11:44 PM   Subscribe

Generalissimo Francisco Franco is still dead, but the fight over his legacy lives on, 30 years later. Protestors from both sides demonstrated in advance of a commemoration service at Santa Cruz del Valle de los Caídos, the grandiose monument built by political prisoners that now holds Franco's tomb. (For those who read Spanish, El Pais has more; the paper itself was created to promote the transition to democracy after Franco's death.)
posted by holgate (12 comments total)
The tensions around this year's anniversary are heightened because, unlike five years ago, the socialists now govern Spain. Since taking power, Zapatero's government has encouraged the removal of statues of Franco, as well as embarking on policies that re-ignite old divisions, challenging the influence of the Catholic Church by legalising gay marriage, as well as encouraging greater regional autonomy. The debate over renegotiating the Catalan Statute, in particular, has become charged with the language of the Civil War.

Franco is being invoked once more by some on the right as the bringer of peace, prosperity and stability to Spain. Conversely, many young Spaniards (whose votes helped bring the PSOE to power last year) are finally puncturing a long silence to ask questions about the days of dictatorship.
posted by holgate at 12:13 AM on November 20, 2005

For the kiddies: that's a Saturday Night Live reference.
posted by Aknaton at 1:54 AM on November 20, 2005

The BBC website has chosen a particularly sexy image to show what's been happening in the basilica today.
posted by Holly at 3:28 AM on November 20, 2005

From the Wiki on the FFranco

During his rule non-Government trade unions and all political opponents right across the spectrum, from communist and anarchist organizations to liberal democrats and nationalists, were suppressed. The only legal "trade union" was the Sindicato Vertical, which was government-run.

Truly a lover of freedom, expecially his own freedom at expense of others..with a guy like this you're not safe not even if you're his doormat, expecially if you're a friend.

Lacking any strong ideology, Franco initially sought support from National syndicalism (aka: sindicalismo nacional) and the Roman Catholic Church (catolicismo nacional). His coalition ruling single party, the Movimiento Nacional, was so heterogeneous as to barely qualify as a party at all, and certainly not an ideological monolith like the Fascio di Combattimento (Fascist Party) or the ruling block of Antonio Salazar. His Spanish State was chiefly a conservative - even traditionalist - rightist regime, with emphasis on order and stability, rather than a definite political vision..

Dammit one tries hard to get one ideology to work for you and then the fuckers bite you back, these religious freaks ! Let's see , religious group exploited for vote and ideological abilities party rules it all in practice..check...all the powers in the hands of same party in practice ....check...omfg I guess I know at least one country in which history is repeating with some variation.

In every town there was a constant presence of Guardia Civil (Spain), a military police force, who patrolled in pairs with submachine guns, and functioned as his chief means of control.

Control by the means of fear...I wouldn't be surprised to learn that one excuse was that of "maintaining order"..but maybe there wasn't any excuse at was just the way it know one must patrol to stop the terrorist infiltrating in our cities ! And if you don't accept our phantom terrorist theories then get ready to defend yourself from petty criminals as our police is needed everywhere else but in your dissenting neighborhood.
posted by elpapacito at 4:49 AM on November 20, 2005

The PSOE, while broadly social democratic, is not socialist in the sense of the Civil War. That said, they're worlds better than the opposition - which shows its true colors by clinging to the good old fascist dictator.
posted by graymouser at 5:12 AM on November 20, 2005

I lived in Spain for a few years in the late 90s, in both Madrid and San Sebastian, and eventually began to perceive a strained silence surrounding the legacy of Franco and the Civil War -- I got the feeling that Franco was not exactly a topic of polite conversation among most people. In the Basque Country, this was understandable, since getting involved in politics there can still mean risking your life. But in Madrid, it was a little stranger to see the statue of Franco still in front of a government ministry, and Franco's head still on coins. On the other hand, Spain managed to peacefully transition from its dictatorship to relative prosperity and democracy, without purging itself of the symbols of the old regime.

Upon returning to the US, I started getting involved in the American human rights movement, which emphasizes "ending impunity" of repressive regimes -- e.g., the indictment of Pinochet, Milosevic on trial in the Hague. Under this view, Spain's transition would be lacking: nobody got put on trial (that I know of) for the atrocities committed during the Civil War or the dictatorship; there were no tearful Truth Commissions. Recently, though, Spain has started to follow the model of human rights activists by starting to excavate the mass graves of civil war massacre sites.

So now, I wonder if this latest recrudescense of Franco worship is a reaction to Spain's adoption of the reigning norms of human rights? Or is it the inevitable result of Spain's failure to face up to its past and put the needed "closure" on the dictatorship? Or maybe it's a symptom of something else -- perhaps the larger European problem of immigration and nationalism? And I wonder if, contrary to the international human rights view of "ending impunity," it really isn't better to let sleeping dogs lie rather than digging up the past?
posted by footnote at 6:33 AM on November 20, 2005

I watched a demonstration yesterday that was organized by La Falange. They marched from Plaza de Colon up Calle Goya. I'd say there were at least 500 people marching, half were the usual skinhead types but also a strong showing of older Franco die-hards. Every couple of minutes a bunch were giving the old fascist salute and shouting the Francoist slogan "¡Arriba España!¨ The demonstration was mostly a hope to unite Spain, which is under the threat of disintegration by several of the regions. Many people are saddened over Catalan demands. On the night of the vote, I heard many old drunks in the street crying ¨Viva España¨ and remembering the unity under Franco.

Immigration plays a big part in the ressurection of the right. Right now, Spain is seeing the hugest increase of latin american as well as African and even eastern european immigrants than there has ever been. During Franco´s time there was almost no immigration and the system is still not meant to deal with this large of an influx of people. The lines at the police stations to get permits and DNI cards are incredibly huge.

Judging by the grafitti I see every day on the street, with the swastikas and also anti-fascist tags, there is a large amount of feeling one way or the other.
posted by JJ86 at 7:31 AM on November 20, 2005

Thanks for this post and the comments. I studied in Sevilla awhile ago. My host family (who were other wise great) would occasionally make nostalgic comments about how "the streets were cleaner when Franco was around" or "kids would be at home and not out all night under Franco". I more recently lived with some friends in Catalonia and they had a few other things to say about the topic.
posted by Staggering Jack at 9:05 AM on November 20, 2005

'It was bad, but what was I going to do?' replied her mother. --from the Observer story.

That'll be our collective human epitaph one day. : <
posted by amberglow at 9:09 AM on November 20, 2005

Generalísimo (1 's').
posted by signal at 4:01 PM on November 20, 2005

Take it up with Chevy Chase, signal.
posted by holgate at 7:22 AM on November 21, 2005

So you're saying Chevy Chase made a spelling mistake while reading something out loud?
posted by signal at 7:10 PM on November 21, 2005

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