King Felipe VI of Spain’s Franco dictatorship nostalgia

El Jueves magazine with the banned cartoon
From the BBC, 13 November 2007:

A court in Spain has convicted Manel Fontdevila, cartoons editor of the popular satirical weekly magazine El Jueves, and cartoonist “Guillermo” of “damaging the prestige of the crown“.

Both men received a hefty 3,000-euro (£2,100) fine.

Their offence was to have published a cartoon last July making ribald fun of the heir to the Spanish throne, and of the government’s scheme to encourage women to have more babies by giving mothers a special payment for each new birth.

It was a caricature of Prince Filipe [Felipe] having sex with his wife, Princess Letizia, and telling her: “Do you realise that if you get pregnant, it will be the closest thing to work I’ve done in my life?”

‘More censorship’

The cartoon is funny, but the issue raised by its banning is serious. The episode has worrying echoes of last year’s frenzied and violent protests against the cartoons about the Prophet Muhammad printed in European newspapers.

Indeed it is worrying, but mainly because of important differences between the two cases. The Danish anti Islamic cartoons were done at the orders of the most powerful big media business in Denmark, Jyllands-Posten, with a history of sympathy for Mussolini and Hitler and of recent support for banning cartoons making fun of Christians. They attacked a minority, trying to push them even more into a second class people status. While the Spanish cartoon made fun of, officially, the most powerful family in the country. El Jueves in its ‘anything goes’ views on satire, is rather similar to Charlie Hebdo in France.

Now it is ten years later. Felipe Juan Pablo Alfonso de Todos los Santos de Borbón y de Grecia is no longer crown prince of Spain. He is King Felipe VI; because his father had to resign in elephant killing and other scandals.

The cartoon then suggested that His Royal Highness Felipe rarely if ever did any work.

That has changed a bit since he became king.

Though legally a figurehead head of state, King Felipe VII sometimes does work now, in the sense of speaking out about politics.

In 2014, His Majesty condemned corruption in general cliché terms; but forgot to mention two of the most corrupt persons in Spain, his sister Princess Infanta Cristina Federica Victoria Antonia de la Santísima Trinidad de Borbón y de Grecia; and his Prime Minister Rajoy.

In 2015, he abused Christmas for doing a speech in support of the ruinous austerity policies of the right-wing Rajoy government.

In January 2017, King Felipe VI did work as a salesman of warships to Saudi Arabia for their bloody war on the people of Yemen.

In July 2017, Felipe Juan Pablo Alfonso de Todos los Santos de Borbón y de Grecia quarreled with the British government on Gibraltar; a conflict which might cause war between two NATO countries.

And now, the right-wing minority Rajoy government in Spain tries to drown the referendum in Catalonia in blood.

This 1 October 2017 video says about itself:

Watch this brave Barcelona woman voting in the Catalan referendum after having been brutalized by Spanish occupation police.

That makes His Majesty the king nostalgic for the days of his 16th century predecessor King Felipe II, who, instead of negotiating, tried to drown resistance to his rule in what is now the Netherlands and Belgium in blood. After eighty years of war, the Spanish monarchy lost. King Felipe II also sent the same Duke of Alba who bloodily suppressed opposition in the Low Countries to Portugal to conquer it. However, after a few decades the Spanish monarchy lost Portugal again.

High taxation by Felipe II for his wars had caused much resentment against the Spanish monarchy in Catalonia. In 1640, the peasantry of Catalonia revolted against King Felipe IV. In 1641, an independent Catalan republic was proclaimed. However, the Spanish soldiers reconquered it.

After more rebellion against the Spanish monarchy, in 1714 the soldiers of King Philip V of the new Bourbon dynasty, ancestors of the present king, reconquered Catalonia again. They abolished all autonomous rights of Catalonia and suppressed speaking the Catalan language.

During the 1930s republic in Spain, Catalonia got autonomy and the right to speak Catalan again. In 1936, voters in Spain, including Catalonia, elected a left-wing government. Spanish extreme right generals hated people voting peacefully for workers’ rights and rights for Catalonia and the Basque country. They started drowning the results of the ballot box in blood. This led to three years of bloody civil war and decades of bloody dictatorship by General Franco. If you spoke Catalan in public, then you went to Franco’s torture prisons.

In 2005, the social democrat PSOE party government in Madrid tried to extend Catalan autonomy. Extreme right generals threatened a military coup against that, substituting bloodbaths for dialogue.

And now, the right-wing Madrid minority government of Rajoy aims to solve the Catalonian issue of people voting peacefully not by dialogue, but by brute force.

And that makes King Felipe VI nostalgic of Kings Felipe II, Felipe IV and Felipe V. And of dictator Franco; without whom he would not have been king of Spain.

By Alex Lantier:

Spanish king demands new crackdown in Catalonia

4 October 2017

In an ominous address last night branding Catalonia an outlaw region of Spain, King Felipe VI denounced Sunday’s Catalan independence referendum and demanded that the Spanish state seize control of the region.

An open intervention by the Spanish king into public affairs is without precedent since the February 23, 1981 military coup, shortly after Spain’s 1978 Transition to parliamentary democracy. Coming amid a vicious press campaign demonizing Catalonia after police repression failed to halt the referendum, the king’s speech is a signal that plans for an even broader military-police intervention against Catalonia are being actively prepared.

Attacking the Catalan authorities for “threatening the social and economic stability of Catalonia and of Spain,” Felipe VI said they had “systematically undermined legally and legitimately approved norms, showing an intolerable disloyalty to the powers of the state. … These authorities, in a clear and unmistakable way, have placed themselves outside the framework of law and of democracy.”

In this situation, he continued, “it is the responsibility of the legitimate powers within the state to ensure the constitutional order and the normal functioning of the institutions.”

The king’s brief for a renewed onslaught against Catalonia is based on a tissue of lies. In fact, it is not the population of Catalonia, but the Spanish ruling elite that trampled democratic rights underfoot, sending in 16,000 Guardia Civil who brutalized firefighters, Catalan police, and even elderly women trying to vote, in a failed attempt to halt the referendum through physical terror.

Videos showing the brazen repression of peaceful voters have spread across the Internet and shocked millions of people around the world. Turning reality on its head, Felipe VI blames the victims of this repression for the violence, in order to argue for a new attack on democratic rights.

As for law and democracy, the Spanish monarchy is not in a position to lecture anyone on these subjects. It is a matter of historical record that the monarchy owes its power to a 1936 fascist coup led by Francisco Franco that drowned Spain’s Second Republic in blood, in a Civil War in which Franco’s main enemy was the working class. After establishing a fascist dictatorship in 1939 over all of Spain, Franco formally reinstalled the monarchy in 1947 and handpicked Felipe VI’s father, Juan Carlos I, as his successor.

Juan Carlos oversaw the transition to parliamentary democracy in 1978 and publicly condemned fascist loyalists who launched a failed coup attempt in 1981.

Yes, publicly … but privately, according to, eg, the British Conservative Daily Telegraph and to Spanish journalist Pilar Urbano, King Juan Carlos was ‘sympathetic’ to the 1981 neofascist coup.

His son’s speech, however, comes after the post-transition regime and the entire European Union (EU) has been discredited by decades of austerity and war, and particularly by the mass unemployment that has devastated Spain since the 2008 Wall Street crash. The Spanish regime is teetering on the verge of dictatorship and civil war.

Felipe VI all but declared the millions of people who voted in the Catalan independence referendum to have placed themselves outside the protection of the Spanish state.

Asserting the “unity and permanence of Spain,” he claimed that in Catalonia, there are “many concerns and deep worry over the conduct of the regional authorities. For those who feel this way, I say you are not alone and will not be; that you have the full solidarity of the rest of the Spanish people and the absolute guarantee of our rule of law to defend your liberties and rights.” He said nothing, however, about the supporters of the Catalan regional authorities.

The Spanish press promptly reacted to Felipe VI’s comments with a coordinated campaign demanding that Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy’s right-wing Popular Party (PP) government invoke Article 155 of the Spanish constitution. This provision would allow Madrid to send forces into Catalonia to suspend its regional government and seize its administration and finances, paving the way for a military-police occupation of the region.

In an article titled “If you can’t decide on 155, get out,” El Español demanded that Rajoy invoke the measure or leave office. It wrote that “Only Alberto Rivera,” the leader of the right-wing Citizens party, “is willing to take the bull by the horns and proposes to apply Article 155 of the Constitution to end Catalan autonomy and call elections… If Rajoy is not up to this task, the best he can do is get out and give someone else his place.”

Similarly, in its editorial today, El Mundo writes, “The person who cannot fail, by his position and his oath to protect the rights violated in Catalonia, is Rajoy. Yesterday we asked him to apply Article 155 to end the unpunished rebellion of Puigdemont and his partners. This urgency becomes more urgent today. The King’s message calls him to it.”

El País, the main daily close to the Spanish Socialist Party (PSOE), carries a column by professor Javier García Fernández endorsing Article 155. Fernández criticized those who allow the article to be “demonized, when it is a legitimate instrument to deal with territorial crises.”

The main danger at present is that the working class in Spain and internationally is not being warned of the repression being prepared by Madrid. There is broad opposition in the working class of Spain and all of Europe, rooted in the experience of fascism and world war in the 20th century, to a turn to police-state forms of rule. This opposition can only be mobilized on a politically independent, revolutionary and socialist perspective in opposition to the entire ruling establishment.

The reaction of Spain’s main political parties made clear that no effective opposition to a new crackdown in Catalonia would come from the political establishment in Madrid.

Rajoy’s PP, Rivera’s Citizens party, and the Spanish Socialist Party (PSOE) all hailed the king’s speech, signaling they would support a renewed crackdown. Rivera praised the king for offering “hope and leadership” that Spain needs at present, while PP Deputy Press Secretary Pablo Casado applauded Felipe VI for guaranteeing the “harmony, coexistence, legality and of course the historical continuity of Spain.”

Through its secretary for institutional relations, Alfonso Rodríguez Gómez de Celis, the PSOE hailed the king’s remarks as a “call for harmony and understanding.” Other PSOE officials remarked to El Diario that, while the remarks of de Celis are the PSOE’s official line, it was clear that the king was calling for an end to dialog with Catalan regional officials, which the PSOE claims to advocate. “If we support the king, we are clearly no longer seeking dialog,” they noted.

The Podemos party, which has provided political cover to the PSOE, appealing to join it in backing a dialog with the Catalan nationalists, issued impotent and complacent complaints in response to the king’s threat of a new police onslaught against Catalonia. Podemos number two Íñigo Errejón wrote, “The king lost the opportunity to be part of the solution. There was neither a call for dialog nor a proposition. It leaves me worried.”

The politics of Catalonian separatism, a form of bourgeois nationalism, offers no way forward for working people in the defense of their social and democratic rights. This is only possible on the basis of a fight to unify the world working class around a socialist perspective.

Such a struggle must, however, proceed with unwavering opposition to the military/police crackdown being carried out by the Spanish state and sanctioned by the European Union and the imperialist powers.

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