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SPAIN: The assassination of Ernest Lluch

The assassination of Ernest Lluch provoked variations on the general dirge of lamentation. Miquel Strubell i Trueta represents the wing of Catalan opinion most critical of Spanish centralism. While he laments the death of Lluch, he says that he finds Spanish anti-ETA demonstrations "either bloodthirsty in spirit of politically motivated". Neither Catalan nor Spanish, I certainly do not have that impression, although ETA would agree. I agree with Miquel that most Basque nationalists are not bloodthirsty, but the fact that Madrid does not meet their demands does not justify ETA's killing innocent people (See the accompanying posting on violence).

Stephen Schwartz, who like me is neither Catalan nor Spaniard, takes a detached, scholarly position. He writes:

  1. The anti-Basque feeling of the Franco leaders was caused by the belief that, as Catholics whose Basque Nationalist Party had always voted with the right before 1934, the Basques should have sided with the national movement and not the republic in 1936. This was viewed as serious treason. The Basques before 1934 were never viewed as "separatists" in the way the Catalans were.
  2. The Basque country was bilingual or trilingual if one counts French, or quadrilingual if one counts possible survivals of old Gascon, long, long before the large scale arrival of Spanish immigrant workers or "maketo" as the Basque fascists have always called them.

Whole generations of pure blooded Basques have grown up speaking Castilian and French. The issue of Castilian-speaking immigration was much more serious in Catalonia than in the Basque country. But the Catalans responded by teaching the children of the immigrants Catalan and above all by making the learning of Catalan economically desirable. The Basques cannot do this.

My comment: Stephen Schwartz surprises me with his comments. He said that Franco had a sense of humor, and I found this confirmed in the opening chapter, devoted to Franco, of WAIS Fellow Paul Preston in hs book on "The Three Spains of 1936." Paul says "Franco had a sharp, indirect and subtle sense of humor and he loved to tell jokes". However, Paul does not mention, as Stephen does, that Franco wrote a play called "Raza," which suggests his cult of Hispanidad. Franco was also well-read, and had a well-thumbed copy of Machiavelli´s The Prince and knew Napoleon's letters, as well as his marginal comments on The Prince. Now I suppose Stephen will surprise me by telling me that Napoleon had a sense of humor. I would like to hear more about the play "Raza". Franco did encourage the making of heroic films about Spanish history.

All this has a bearing on the attitude of the Franco group toward the Basque provinces. Navarra did not support the Republic and was allowed to keep its fueros (special rights). However strongly Franco may have felt about Basque "treason", that does not justify the Nazi bombing of Guernica, which is attributed to his complicity, as an earlier WAIS debate indicated. ETA may feel it is retaliating for that.

Ronald Hilton - 11/26/00