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SPAIN: The Civil War and historians



The newspaper El Mundo praised Pio Moa's best-seller book praising Franco. Carmen Negrin, the granddaughter of the last Republican prime minister, strongly disagrees: "El Mundo is a right wing newspaper, created by a dissident journalist of the left wing El Pais, who radically changed sides. No wonder El Mundo appreciates Moa's book! As for Franco's leaving Spain in good shape, that is all very relative: almost half a million people had to leave the country before 1939 for political reasons (all that many less to feed and worry about!), and many other thousands left for economical reasons up until the end of the 60's. Many of the latter never returned but did send part of their income to their families in Spain. For over 20 years, Franco benefited from "free labor" (political prisoners) and yet, the country didn't get much better. People starved. It was not for nothing that my grandfather asked that Spain be included in the Marshall Plan. The main income came from outside, not from inside: economic changes started with tourism (cheap tourism for those who could not afford to go elsewhere); the opening of the borders; the influence of France's May 1968 *. Until the end of the 60s and later, there were great economic problems. Large landowners started dividing their land, building and selling, in particular along the coast which was totally deformed. Who benefited? Was it planned growth? I don't think so. I have been told by a founder of Suarez's party that until the very end, people like Fraga Iribarne (who was no big reformist!) had proposed political changes to Franco, who rejected them all. Spain, Portugal and Greece, remained the poorest countries of Europe until they went through political changes. As for Pinochet, true, the economy of the country was better, but at what social, cultural and political cost? The number of illiterates increased, health services decreased, the gap between the poor and the rich grew. Regarding Cuba, one cannot disregard the fact that the country has suffered from the embargo since 1961 and yet it has achieved many more things in education and health than neighboring Jamaica or Haiti for example, which do benefit from foreign aid. La Havana is not a ruin but a model of restoration, which could be followed by any country in the world. I believe changes could come smoothly, with or without Fidel, if the embargo were lifted. The landing of the first US boat in Cuba since '61, a couple of days ago, is a great step forward in that direction. RH: When there were student riots and a general strike which weakened de Gaulle's government. It is hard to see how that helped Franco. Paul Preston (Juan Carlos, pp 245 ff) makes no mention of it. Juan Carlos was designated Franco's successor on July 22, 1969, but events in France were not involved. Raymond Carr, in Spain.1808-1975, pp. 731 ff:, makes no mention of French influence, I would like objective verification of the statement about Chile. The restoration of Havana is limited to the old city, a tourist attraction. The only country which imposed an "embargo" on Cuba was the US. Trade with all the rest of the world was unimpeded.

Ronald Hilton - 7/20/03


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