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Two parts cultural commentary, one part personal ranting. Serve with a side of political debate. May contain sarcasm.

Spanish History 102: Francoist Spain (the fun cliffnotes version)
24 September 2014 @ 15:12

This post follows on from History 101:


Francoist Spain

Francoist Spain lasted from the end of the Civil War (1939) until his death in 1975. This was a pretty long dictatorship and I can't really do it justice in a blog post. So here is a cliff-notes version of the most important facts.


Politics under Franco

Because Franco was mates with Hitler and Mussolini, all other countries hated him. Spain wasn't allowed to join the UN or the EU (or the EEC as it was back then) and everyone except Portugal and Argentina imposed an embargo on Spain. This, added to the fact Spain had just undergone a Civil War (half a million dead, entire towns destroyed, disease and starvation rife), meant that Spain was in pretty bad shape, and stayed that way for a long time. There was rationing until 1952, 14 years after the war had finished.


The Re-Christianization of Spain

Franco was a devout Catholic and made sure that everyone else in Spain was too. All the advances made towards women's rights and freedom of speech were reversed, in keeping with traditional Catholic theology; contraceptives, abortion and prostitution were made illegal, it was made pretty difficult for women to achieve virtually anything and it was illegal to be gay. Many gays were arrested and sent to special prisons called "galarías de invertidos" (meaning inverted, or reversed) where the "problem" would try to be "corrected".


To this day, Spain remains a very Catholic country, but has reversed most of the Francoist laws above. The anti-gay laws under Franco were overturned in 1979 and gay marriage was introduced in 2004; one of only 11 countries in the world to do so. Abortion is also now legal and available on request (during the first trimester) since 2010. It was available under restricted circumstances from 1985. Prostitution remains illegal, but is still practised.


Anti-Regionalism and Terrorism

The other main impact that Franco had on Spain was that he banned regional languages. He wanted to create a 'unified Spain'; he made Bullfighting and Flamenco the national sports (because they're 'proper Spanish') and Castellano (what we call Spanish) the national language. This was the language spoken in Madrid and in the south, but other parts of Spain had their own languages. Many people didn't even speak Castellano Spanish. So it was a pretty big deal. All schools, official documents and media suddenly had to change the language they were in. A joke was commonly made that the only place that Catalan could be seen was on the manhole covers leading to the sewers. Everything else, including roadsigns were remade in Castellano. Regional languages were still spoken at home, but in public everything was in proper Spanish. 


The Basques in particular were extremely hostile to this. Their language is unlike any other Spanish language and they're pretty proud of their Basque heritage. In 1958 a terrorist group called ETA formed, opposing Franco and his anti-Basque laws and campaigning for the independence of the Basque Country from Spain.


Their tactic was to kidnap rich people, hold them for ransom, then, with this money, buy arms and bombs. Most notably they kidnapped Enrique Iglesias's grandad in 1981. They also killed Luis Carerro Blanco, who was Franco's right hand man, back in 1973.


According to Wikipedia they've been responsible for 829 killings in total and about 700 of it's members have been caught and imprisoned. When Franco died in 1975 and the ban on regional languages was lifted, the terrorism eased up. There's been a number of ceasefires since, and ETA officially ceased armed activity last year for good. But they have said this before.


In Spanish History 103 (the final post about Franco) I'll talk about his death and how Spain became a nice democratic and liberal country again. Or did it?

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