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culture

Feeling good to be Spanish?


fight between the Tricolor and the
Rojigualda.
The initial
optimism of the
Part 2 Republic turned
sour quickly as it Francoist flag 1938-194
became apparent 5
that consensus on how and what
to reform was very difficult to
secure. The 1933 election victory
for the right wing CEDA and
Radical parties meant the repeal
or stifling of the reforms made in
the previous two years. It sealed
the terminal polarisation of Span-
ish politics and this is the moment
where I think the years of edging
in its direction became a plummet
towards conflict.
Both the Second Republic and the
Luc Ciotkowski continues his series, extended to three parts, which looks Spanish Civil War were times filled
with important events to write
at how Spain has viewed itself through history on the way to finding out about, but I think there is very little
if today’s sport is having a uniting effect on the Spanish. to talk about for our purposes here.
Fighting in the Civil War became
WORDS by Luc Ciotkowski simplified as left wing against right
wing. One event that is very im-
portant to us was what happened

1
898 will forever be remem- undo the reforms of the previous, the cost of all those public works, behind the front lines in April 1937.
bered in Spanish history for was losing its appeasing effect along with the fallout from the Franco, who had become head of
the definitive end of Spain’s and divided opinion on what Wall Street Crash of 1929 and a state and military leader of the Na-
once global empire and the should be the political solution. woeful harvest in the same year, fi- tionalist side, issued the Decree of
most disastrous year since Not all was negative however, the nally brought his government to a Unification forcing all its political
the French invasion and occupa- return of capital from the colonies state of near bankruptcy; Primo de parties to unite. The trickiest part
tion almost a century before. The injected vitality into the economy Rivera resigned in January 1930. of this was the incompatibility of
‘Disaster of ‘98’, as it came to be and Spain’s industrial centres ideologies between the deeply tra-
known, refers to Spain’s unmiti- forged into the twentieth century. When pro-republican parties won ditionalist Carlists and the fascist
gated humiliation at the hands of Neutrality in the First World War an overwhelming victory a year Falange. The resulting mouthful of
the US in the Spanish-American allowed more time for Spain to later and the army said it would Falange Española Tradicionalista y
War stripped her of her last three catch up economically and the no longer protect him, the king de las Juntas de Ofensiva Nacional-
notable colonies, Cuba, Puerto country’s workforce was spared fled the country and the Second Sindicalistas (FET y de las JONS)
Rico and The Philippines. As well the decimation suffered by the Republic was proclaimed. The new became known as the Movimiento
as marking the US’ step up to rest of Europe, until the outbreak democratic constitution was a feel Nacional by the end of the war in
becoming a world power (signifi- of Spanish ‘Flu in 1918 (rather good moment for many Spaniards 1939 and survived as the only legal
cantly today, also the event which unfairly named as it had broken and filled them with optimism for political party until after the death
allowed them to force Cuba to sign out earlier in France; it killed 25 the future. The Republic’s constitu- of Franco in 1975.
away Guantánamo Bay), it marked million people worldwide in the tion made Spain semi-federal, Again, I’m going to focus on a
the end of Spain as an imperial first six months). giving the right to autonomy to all flag, this time the one that Franco
power and provoked a period of Spain’s regions. Universal suffrage chose to represent the National-
profound introspection and soul In 1923, Captain General Miguel was granted immediately to men ists. The Monarchist Rojigualda
searching in the Peninsula. The Primo de Rivera, with the backing and in 1933 extended to women. flag officially adopted by Franco’s
so-called ‘Generation of ‘98’ were of the army and the endorsement Freedom of speech and freedom ‘Spanish State’ in 1938 had a cus-
a number of philosophers, writers of King Alfonso XIII (gaining him of association, even the right to tomised coat of arms to feature el-
and poets whose work embodied enemies among the parliamentary divorce, were written into the char- ements of the major forces on his
Spain’s existential crisis. One of the class), pronounced the dissolution ter and the church was separated side and the slogan Una Grande
generation’s leading poets, Antonio of the parliamentary system and from the state. These were all very Libre (One, Great, Free) harnessed
Machado (now reviled by several installed a military dictatorship important things, which could give them all together.
generations of Spanish schoolchil- with himself as its leader. Known Spain a claim to one of the world’s
dren who have had to study his as ‘the benevolent dictatorship’, most modern-thinking, liberal The final victory of Franco’s Na-
poems), famously spoke of “The the general’s six-year rule saw an constitutions at that time. tionalists in April 1939 came after
Two Spains” – “…one that dies and enormous investment in public However, if our focus is feeling the war had cost over 400,000
the other that yawns.” This idea of works and infrastructure, not good to be Spanish, I’m going to Spanish lives. Another 400,000
a divided Spain was becoming ever just the predictable repression of pick something that you may think Republicans fled the country and,
more apparent, but nobody would regionalism, political freedom and quite trivial as the most significant in the reprisals in the aftermath
be yawning for much longer. freedom of speech. The surge in aspect: the new flag. Of course, of the war, another 200,000 were
employment resulting from the I’m not talking about the visual executed and around 2,000,000
As Spaniards had to redefine their new public works kept the work- change from the red and yellow were imprisoned. There were
identity, they also had to reassess ing class docile initially. Improv- Monarchist flag to the red, yel- Nationalists who could feel proud
their loyalties. The revival of ing economic conditions and low and indigo tricolour of the of a Spain that they believed had
regionalism was, in no small part, censorship temporarily papered Republic. What I’m talking about won a crusade against godless
heightened by this loss of empire. the widening cracks between dif- are the different Spains behind Communism, while all surviv-
It had suited everyone to belong to ferent groups in Spain. However, a those flags, and there were many ing former Republicans were
an Imperial Spain: being Spanish new fissure had appeared: Alfonso more visions of what Spain was utterly disenfranchised from
meant access to trade and riches XIII’s approval of the dictator- and where it was going Spain. The only thing
from the colonies. With these ship had alienated much of the than the two outward they could share in was
financial incentives taken away, growing urban middle class, who representations. Every the uneasy conscience
what was the point? Pride in being expected their voice to be heard, political group in Spain that to be Spanish was
Spanish? There wasn’t much pride all regionalist groups and the went on to make and to have participated in
to go around, as was the case with former parliamentary class which fly its own flag, but it’s Second Republic flag fratricide.
democracy. The turno pacífico the dictatorship displaced. The analogous of what hap-
system of rigged elections, where ‘benevolent dictator’s rule might pened over the next few years that
one government’s function was to have continued for longer, but it came back down to a straight TO BE CONTINUED...

28 jan 09 www.europeanvibe.com