Francisco Franco - Spain Under Franco - Political Oppression

Political Oppression

* Personal Standard Franco as Head of State.
* Coat of arms of Franco as Head of State.
* The Victor, another emblem used by Franco.

The first decade of Franco's rule in the 1940s following the end of the Civil War in 1939 saw continued oppression and the killing of an undetermined number of political opponents. Estimation is difficult and controversial, but the number of people killed probably lies somewhere between 15,000 and 50,000 (see above, The end of the Civil War).

Subsequently, Franco's state became less violent, but during his rule non-government trade unions and all political opponents across the political spectrum, from communist and anarchist organizations to liberal democrats and Catalan or Basque separatists, were either suppressed or tightly controlled by all means, up to and including violent police repression. The Confederación Nacional del Trabajo (CNT) and the Unión General de Trabajadores (UGT) trade-unions were outlawed, and replaced in 1940 by the corporatist Sindicato Vertical. The Spanish Socialist Workers' Party and the Esquerra Republicana de Catalunya (ERC) were banned in 1939, while the Communist Party of Spain (PCE) went underground. The Basque Nationalist Party (PNV) went into exile, and in 1959, the ETA armed group was created to wage a low-intensity war against Franco.

Franco's Spanish nationalism promoted a unitary national identity by repressing Spain's cultural diversity. Bullfighting and flamenco were promoted as national traditions while those traditions not considered "Spanish" were suppressed. Franco's view of Spanish tradition was somewhat artificial and arbitrary: while some regional traditions were suppressed, Flamenco, an Andalusian tradition, was considered part of a larger, national identity. All cultural activities were subject to censorship, and many, such as the Sardana, the national dance of Catalunya, were plainly forbidden (often in an erratic manner). This cultural policy relaxed with time, most notably in the late 1960s and early 1970s.

Franco also used language politics in an attempt to establish national homogeneity. He promoted the use of Castilian Spanish and suppressed other languages such as Catalan, Galician, and Basque. The legal usage of languages other than Castilian was forbidden. All government, notarial, legal and commercial documents were to be drawn up exclusively in Castilian and any written in other languages were deemed null and void. The usage of any other language was forbidden in schools, in advertising, and on road and shop signs. For not official uses, citizens continued to speak these languages. This was the situation throughout the 1940s and, to a lesser extent, during the 1950s, but after 1960 the non-Castilian Spanish languages were freely spoken and written and reached bookshops and stages, although they never received official status.

On the other hand, the Catholic Church was upheld as the established church of the Spanish State, and regained many of the traditional privileges it had lost under the Republic. Civil servants had to be Catholic, and some official jobs even required a "good behavior" statement by a priest. Civil marriages which had taken place under Republican Spain were declared null and void unless confirmed by the Catholic Church. Divorce was forbidden, and also contraceptives and abortion.

Most country towns, and rural areas, were patrolled by pairs of Guardia Civil, a military police for civilians, which functioned as his chief means of social control. Larger cities, and capitals, were mostly under the Policia Armada, or grises ("greys") as they were called.

Student revolts, at universities in the late 1960s and early 1970s, were violently repressed by the heavily armed Policía Armada (Armed Police). Plainclothes secret police worked inside Spanish universities. In May 1972, an American student was arrested by university secret police in Barcelona and charged and imprisoned under martial law for the crime of wearing an old Spanish Army jacket.

The enforcement by public authorities of traditional Catholic values was a stated intent of the regime, mainly by using a law (the Ley de Vagos y Maleantes, Vagrancy Act) enacted by Azaña. The remaining nomads of Spain (Gitanos and Mercheros like El Lute) were especially affected. In 1954, homosexuality, pedophilia, and prostitution were, through this law, made criminal offenses, although its application was seldom consistent.

Read more about this topic:  Francisco Franco, Spain Under Franco

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