SPAIN: Franco, Juan Carlos and the Valley of the Fallen


Daniel J. Mackel, Jr. writes: In his book The New Spaniards ( Penguin, revised edition  1995)  John Hooper writes (p.30) “To the Caudillo, Juan Carlos was the son he never had.  The young prince fully reciprocated his affection--to this day he will not permit anyone to speak ill of the old dictator in his presence . . .”  On March 27, it was first reported that the Socialist government of  José Luis Rodríguez Zapatero plans to convert the Valley of the Fallen into a center for the explanation for the “meaning of the (Franco) dictatorship and its horrors”.  A moving force for the conversion of the Valley of the Fallen to a center for “reflection on the crimes of the Franco dictatorship and its victims” is said to be Jaume Bosch, a senator in Spain’s upper house and vice president of the Catalan Left-Green Initiative (Iniciativa per Catalunya-Verds), part of the United Left coalition (Izquierda Unida). Mr. Bosch has informed the press that President Zapatero plans to submit to Spain’s congress in June his proposal to change the orientation of the monument.  Still, some confusion exists, since Minister for Culture Carmen Calvo has also informed the press after Mr. Bosch’s announcement that she has received no formal notification for the plan. El Mundo reports the disinterment of Franco and Jose Antonio Primo de Rivera is not under consideration by the Zapatero government.  All of this comes on the heels of the March 18th unceremonious removal at 2:40 a.m. and without prior announcement of the last equestrian statue of Franco in Madrid, the very night of the birthday party for Santiago Carrillo, age 90, attended by Zapatero.
 
Will Juan Carlos take a position concerning the Zapatero government’s apparent plans to convert the Valley of the Fallen into a center for the “explanation for the meaning of the Franco dictatorship and its horrors”?   Is John Hooper correct that Juan Carlos still greatly reveres Franco?  Is Zapatero’s move a political calculation to place the Popular Party in a “double bind”? If it votes against conversion of the Valley of the Fallen to a center for “reflection on the crimes of the Franco dictatorship”, he will argue the Popular Party has confirmed the suspicion of many that it is a “crypto-Francoist” party; whereas, if the party votes for the proposal, it alienates its conservative wing, which might depress future Popular Party voter turnout.  Or, should the Popular Party as a tactic broaden the discussion for the re-dedication of the Valley of the Fallen and argue any re-dedication should also explain the events and groups that produced the dictatorship and to condemn all non-democratic forces at play in Spain for the 1930s; including the anarcho-syndicalists, the Marxist Socialists, and of course, the Spanish Communist Party.
 
We will soon learn whether Felipe Gonzalez was wise or not for his position concerning the leaving of the monuments of “Franqismo” undisturbed for Spain’s democratic post-Franco era.  WAIS has as members some of the foremost authorities for Spanish politics and history.  Their insights concerning President Zapatero’s plans for the conversion of the Valley of the Fallen to a monument for the “contemplation for the horrors of the Franco dictatorship” and Juan Carlos’ sentiments in this regard and for Franco at present will prove quite fascinating.

 

Daniel J. Mackel, Jr. writes: In his book The New Spaniards ( Penguin, revised edition  1995)  John Hooper writes (p.30) “To the Caudillo, Juan Carlos was the son he never had.  The young prince fully reciprocated his affection--to this day he will not permit anyone to speak ill of the old dictator in his presence . . .”  On March 27, it was first reported that the Socialist government of  José Luis Rodríguez Zapatero plans to convert the Valley of the Fallen into a center for the explanation for the “meaning of the (Franco) dictatorship and its horrors”.  A moving force for the conversion of the Valley of the Fallen to a center for “reflection on the crimes of the Franco dictatorship and its victims” is said to be Jaume Bosch, a senator in Spain’s upper house and vice president of the Catalan Left-Green Initiative (Iniciativa per Catalunya-Verds), part of the United Left coalition (Izquierda Unida). Mr. Bosch has informed the press that President Zapatero plans to submit to Spain’s congress in June his proposal to change the orientation of the monument.  Still, some confusion exists, since Minister for Culture Carmen Calvo has also informed the press after Mr. Bosch’s announcement that she has received no formal notification for the plan. El Mundo reports the disinterment of Franco and Jose Antonio Primo de Rivera is not under consideration by the Zapatero government.  All of this comes on the heels of the March 18th unceremonious removal at 2:40 a.m. and without prior announcement of the last equestrian statue of Franco in Madrid, the very night of the birthday party for Santiago Carrillo, age 90, attended by Zapatero.
 
Will Juan Carlos take a position concerning the Zapatero government’s apparent plans to convert the Valley of the Fallen into a center for the “explanation for the meaning of the Franco dictatorship and its horrors”?   Is John Hooper correct that Juan Carlos still greatly reveres Franco?  Is Zapatero’s move a political calculation to place the Popular Party in a “double bind”? If it votes against conversion of the Valley of the Fallen to a center for “reflection on the crimes of the Franco dictatorship”, he will argue the Popular Party has confirmed the suspicion of many that it is a “crypto-Francoist” party; whereas, if the party votes for the proposal, it alienates its conservative wing, which might depress future Popular Party voter turnout.  Or, should the Popular Party as a tactic broaden the discussion for the re-dedication of the Valley of the Fallen and argue any re-dedication should also explain the events and groups that produced the dictatorship and to condemn all non-democratic forces at play in Spain for the 1930s; including the anarcho-syndicalists, the Marxist Socialists, and of course, the Spanish Communist Party.
 
We will soon learn whether Felipe Gonzalez was wise or not for his position concerning the leaving of the monuments of “Franqismo” undisturbed for Spain’s democratic post-Franco era.  WAIS has as members some of the foremost authorities for Spanish politics and history.  Their insights concerning President Zapatero’s plans for the conversion of the Valley of the Fallen to a monument for the “contemplation for the horrors of the Franco dictatorship” and Juan Carlos’ sentiments in this regard and for Franco at present will prove quite fascinating.
 
Daniel J. Mackel, Jr. wrote; In his book The New Spaniards ( Penguin, revised edition  1995)  John Hooper writes (p.30) “To the Caudillo, Juan Carlos was the son he never had.  The young prince fully reciprocated his affection--to this day he will not permit anyone to speak ill of the old dictator in his presence . . .”  Christopher Jones comments: Fascinating for some, for others, like me, depressing and quite ominous.  Mackel's point is well taken: Juan Carlos was Franco's "creature" and the restoration of the monarchy was Franco's decision.  Zapatero's desire to reverse the outcome of the Civil War and repudiate the era of "consensus" that guided Spain in a peaceful transition from Franco's Spain to social democracy could prove far more dangerous than all the ETA killings and PNV independence plans put together.  If the King opposes the plan for the Valle, the left will brand him a Franquista, who has overstepped his constitutional role; if he doesn't do anything, he will have to fear that the socialist-communists will have smelled blood and sooner, rather than later, try to overthrow the monarchy and establish a republic, based on his collaboration with Franco.  (Don't forget that Franco just one year before his death ordered a series of executions of ETA members -- just afterwards at a parade Juan Carlos appeared at his side)  There is only one question: what will Spain's generals do?  Will they forgive the King for his duplicity on the night of February 23?  Will they forgive him for cashiering outstanding officers like Alfonso Armada or Jaime Milans del Bosch? I have said it in WAIS more than once: if they touch Franco or José Antonio's grave, there will be a war.

Zapatero leads a minority government and the country has many, many problems that need solving instead of fooling around with coffins and monuments; I can only conclude that either the PSOE [Sociialist ârty] is deranged (as it always was, ref; Juan Negrín's Stalinist government) or they are corrupt and want to cash in on the public works contracts for the reconversion of the monument (Also ref; Juan Negrín's government).


Ronald Hilton 2005

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last updated: June 11, 2005