Spanish censorship of research on Franco atrocities

This is a 2012 Spanish video about poets in the prisons of dictator Franco.

By Alejandro López in Spain:

Spain’s University of Alicante censors scholarly articles on fascist repression

27 June 2019

In an unprecedented decision, the University of Alicante (UA) agreed to a request from a fascist lieutenant’s son to censor scholarly articles linking his father to deadly repression at the time of the Spanish Civil War (1936-1939). This sets a dangerous precedent to censor academic research, opening the door to large-scale revision of the history of Spanish fascism.

Last week, the UA provisionally agreed to erase from two digital articles written by Professor Juan Antonio Ríos Carratalá the name of lieutenant Antonio Luis Baena Tocón, who participated in the fascist repression. Baena was secretary in the council of war that condemned to death the famous poet Miguel Hernández. Another article by Ríos Carratalá, “The Diego San José case, the shadow of Miguel Hernández and the humourist judge” was removed from the UA’s Institutional Repository.

The fascist regime led by General Francisco Franco was one of Europe’s most repressive regimes in the 20th century. More than 200,000 men and women were executed during the Civil War, and another 200,000 died in fascist concentration camps. Officially, 114,266 people are still classified as “disappeared”, that is, their bodies were abandoned or buried by paramilitary units of the fascist Falange or by the military. Hundreds of thousands of others fled Spain and remained in exile until the fall of the dictatorship.

Hernández was a poet and playwright associated with the Generation of ’27 movement and the Generation of ’36 movement, and is recognised as one of great Spanish poets. During the Civil War, he campaigned against Franco’s fascist forces, enrolling in the Communist Party-led Fifth Regiment, and joined the First Cavalry Company as a cultural-affairs officer, reading his poetry daily on the radio. He travelled extensively, organising cultural events and reading his poetry at rallies and on the front lines to Republican forces fighting the fascists.

Hernández did not escape Spain after the Republican surrender to Franco in April 1939. He was arrested multiple times after the war for his anti-fascist sympathies. He was eventually sentenced to death as “an extremely dangerous and despicable element to all good Spaniards.” Franco later commuted his sentence to 30 years in prison, to avoid making him an international martyr like Federico Garcia Lorca—the celebrated poet, playwright, and theatre director who was executed by fascist forces at the beginning of the civil war.

The harshness of his incarceration took its toll, however, and Hernández died of tuberculosis in 1942, at the age of 31.

According to Ríos Carratalá, Baena Tocón was a secondary figure in fascist repression, but supported it. Carratalá writes that Baena Tocón, “the person who could have told the specialists in the biography of Miguel Hernández so much, carried out an essential task during the postwar period, under the orders of the investigating judge: purging, emptying and eliminating the collection of republican press deposited in the library of Madrid. His objective was to search for ‘crimes’, whose consequences could be a death sentence.”

Now, however, Antonio Luis Baena Tocón will only be linked with Hernández’s death through his initials in Ríos Carratalá’s articles. The fascist lieutenant’s son complained to El País: “I have found various falsehoods about the way he was and acted … They present him as an executioner, while he was another victim” of Franco.

… Now, amid a broad promotion of Francoism in the Spanish ruling elite, researchers are to be forbidden to identify the authors of its bloody crimes.

Over 40 years later, after decades of increasing war since the 1991 Stalinist dissolution of the Soviet Union, and a decade of draconian social austerity since the 2008 financial crisis, Spanish capitalism is in a deep crisis. Amid the discrediting of the post-Francoite Spanish Socialist Party (PSOE) and the Popular Party (PP) duopoly, police brutally cracked down on the 2017 Catalan independence referendum. The ruling elite was then promoting Vox, an explicitly pro-Francoite party linked to the army, granting it air time and allowing it to establish itself in mainstream politics.

As part and parcel of this offensive, the Spanish ruling class is now seeking to suppress the record of its bloody crimes under fascism in order to legitimise the resurgence of Spanish fascism.

The UA’s resolution comes just weeks after Spain’s Supreme Court issued a ruling endorsing Franco’s 1936 fascist coup. Claiming that the removal of Franco’s remains from the “Valley of the Fallen”, a state-run monument, would be “extraordinarily harmful” to the “public interest”, the court referred to Franco as “head of state from 1 October 1936 until his death in November 1975.” This unprecedented ruling implies that the state considers as legitimate Franco’s declaration that he was head of state, based on launching a fascist coup against an elected government.

The UA’s resolution is receiving growing opposition.

Ana Martínez Rus, Professor of Contemporary History at University Complutense of Madrid told “I’m very angry … [the resolution] questions our profession and is another obstacle to writing about the Franco regime.”

Enumerating everything that the resolution questions, Martinez Rus lists “Freedom of teaching and expression, scientific rigor, historiographical practice, the right to information.” She added that it opens a precedent: “All of us can get involved in a lawsuit, and not only about the civil war, this can be extended to other times, everyone is a descendent from someone and has a surname. They do not want their names to appear as repressors, and we end up not knowing the magnitude. This opens the Pandora’s box, it leaves us helpless.”

Ismael Saz, professor at Valencia University, said the resolution is “academic censorship, one of the worst kind”. He added that “we work with people, not statues, with victims and repressors.”

Saz also linked the case to the Supreme Court’s recent endorsement of Franco, stating that “It comes just 10 days after the Supreme Court’s resolution recognising the dictator since ’36. … Francoism continues to raise blisters because they won a war, lasted a lot, and during the Transition there was no break with it.”

The opposition to the censorship was also visible on Twitter. Hours after El País posted the story, tens of thousands of users repeated the name of Antonio Luis Baena Tocón, the name of the university or Miguel Hernández, making these terms the Trending Topic in Spain in the social network. Many Twitter users stressed that they did not want the name of Antonio Luis Baena Tocón to be forgotten.

The author also recommends:

Spain’s Supreme Court endorses 1936 fascist coup
[17 June 2019]

The Spanish elections and the struggle against authoritarian rule
[27 April 2019]

Spanish Supreme Court supports Franco fascism

This 29 August 2018 video says about itself:

Franco victims‘ remains exhumed from mass grave

Dozens of victims of Spain’s dictator General Franco have had their remains exhumed from a mass grave near Valencia

Read more here.

It looks like the Supreme Court in Spain is about as far-right as the United States Supreme Court, packed by Donald Trump with extreme right judges, including at least one open supporter of fascism.

These Spanish judges studied law during the Franco dictatorship.

By Alejandro López in Spain:

Spain’s Supreme Court endorses 1936 fascist coup

17 June 2019

Spain’s Supreme Court has issued a ruling endorsing the 1936 fascist coup led by Generalissimo Francisco Franco. It led to the three-year Spanish Civil War, in which the victory of Francoite forces backed by Hitler and Mussolini established a fascist dictatorship that lasted until 1978.

The Supreme Court handed down an injunction halting the acting Socialist Party (PSOE) government’s plans to remove Franco’s remains from a state-run mountaintop monument, the “Valley of the Fallen”. It argued that removing Franco’s remains to a less prominent location would be “extraordinarily harmful” not only to the general’s family but to the “public interest”. It added that the public interest required understanding the “significance of don Francisco Franco”, don being an honorific prefix in Spanish.

Explaining why it had decided to suspend the planned exhumation to give Franco’s family more time to appeal, the court referred to him as “head of state from 1 October 1936 until his death in November 1975.” Court sources told media outlets who sought confirmation that there was no mistake in the document, and that the court has no intention to rectify the ruling.

Traditionally, Franco was treated as the head of state starting on 1 April 1939, amid his final victory in the civil war and the ensuing mass murder of his political opponents. The ruling’s unprecedented wording signifies that Spain’s highest court considers the proclamation of Franco as generalissimo and head of state by a gang of fascist generals and coup plotters on October 1, 1936 as legitimate. Mass opposition of millions of workers and peasants in the civil war and the ensuing four decades of the dictatorship would be illegitimate, even criminal.

Franco’s proclamation came only months after his July 17-18 coup against the elected Popular Front government and head of state Manuel Azaña. The resulting civil war shattered cities across Spain and led to the murder of 200,000 political oppositionists, left-wing intellectuals and militant workers, and the detention of 400,000 people in concentration camps. For four decades thereafter, the Francoite regime and its secret police arrested, tortured and killed thousands, outlawed strikes, political parties and trade unions, and censored newspapers and books.

In the international court of working class opinion, Franco was never accepted as head of state, despite his regime’s savage repression. He was an odious and bloodstained criminal. The only powers to recognize Franco as “head of state” in October 1936 were fascist Italy and Nazi Germany, led by Benito Mussolini and Adolf Hitler, respectively—along with the pope in the Vatican, which described the fascist uprising as a “crusade” against communism.

The fact that Spain’s highest court publicly defends one of the most brutal counterrevolutions in the 20th century is a warning. After nearly three decades of increasing war and militarism since the Stalinist dissolution of the Soviet Union, and a decade of deep austerity since the 2008 global economic crisis, ruling circles worldwide are again envisaging such policies.

The ruling class is reacting to the emergence of mass “yellow vest” protests in France, mass strikes in Portugal and Poland, and mass movements demanding the overthrow of military dictatorships in Algeria and Sudan with a sharp shift to the right.

The international character of the ruling elite’s shift to the far right underscores its political significance. It is a warning to the working class. French President Emmanuel Macron has made statements extolling Vichy regime head Pétain, and a renewed effort, led by Humboldt University Professor Jörg Baberowski, is underway in Germany to whitewash the crimes of the Nazi regime. Far-right parties and politicians are already in government in Italy, Hungary, Poland, Austria, Brazil and beyond.

Terrified by growing anti-capitalist and socialist sentiment, the ruling class is reviving all the political filth of the 20th century. As the WSWS has repeatedly warned, fascism was not an accident of the 20th century, but the inevitable political outgrowth of capitalism. If Franco is rehabilitated, it is because powerful factions of the ruling class are again considering a break with legality and democratic forms of rule.

In Spain, a fascist party openly defending the legacy of Francoism, Vox, has entered parliament for the first time since the Franco era and is backing right-wing coalitions in regions and cities throughout Spain. Promoted in the media, it has recruited six former generals. Two signed the pro-Franco manifesto signed by over 1,000 officers, including 70 former generals and admirals, roughly one-third of the total active number of general officers in the Spanish armed forces.

The Supreme Court’s endorsement of Francoism testifies to the criminalisation of the Spanish bourgeois state after the brutal crackdown on the 2017 Catalan independence referendum. The political establishment came out in favor of the brutal police crackdown and the ongoing show trial of Catalan bourgeois nationalists who organized it. This went hand in hand with the holding of pro-Francoite, anti-separatist rallies legitimating fascism and the Vox party.

The same court has denied the leader of the Catalan Republican Left, Oriol Junqueras—who is standing in the show trial—permission to leave prison to be sworn in as a member of European parliament. This strips the millions who voted for Junqueras of their vote, as Junqueras will not be able to assume his position as an MEP. This enjoys the full support of Brussels, and the acquiescence of the PSOE government …

The only way to oppose the bourgeoisie’s drive to rehabilitate fascism is to mobilize the working class in political struggle independently … There is powerful opposition in the working class to Francoism, which is well within living memory of Spain’s population. …

Podemos leader Pablo Iglesias tweeted that the court’s wording was “a real travesty”. The leader of the … Communist Party of Spain, Alberto Garzon, said that it “says a lot, too much, about the high judicial bodies we have in this country.”

The PSOE itself, which is running a caretaker government since last month’s elections, has not commented on the ruling.

… Amid a new era of capitalist crisis, the European Union is again incubating fascistic regimes.

Spanish neofascists support bullfighting

This 29 May 2017 video from the Netherlands says about itself:

Franco‘s No.1 Fan: Dutch museum for Spain’s dictator

One Dutch man is such a big fan of Franco, Spain’s dictator, that he’s opened a museum for him in Amsterdam, 40 years after he died.

That Franco supporter votes for the Dutch xenophobic party of Geert Wilders. On the internet, he blames democracy for the coming of ´niggers´, Muslims, drugs and other ´evils´ to Europe. So, democracy should be replaced with Franco style dictatorships. If someone criticizes Franco, then he calls that critic ´rojo de mierda´, commie piece of shit, telling the critic to ´fuck off to Cuba´.

Unfortunately, not all Franco dictatorship supporters are in a museum.

Translated from Dutch NOS TV today:

It is no coincidence that Vox has chosen the bullring in the Madrid suburb of Leganés for a meeting. The party has appeared in recent weeks in all possible places that have something to do with the tradition or history of Spain.

So Vox kicked off the campaign in Covadonga, because of the reconquista that started there, the Christian recapture of the Iberian Peninsula from the Muslims (Moors). Later, because of the European discovery of America, the party appeared on Columbus Square in Madrid.

At the party meeting in Leganés, Eviva España pops out of the sound system, the hit song that once made Imca Marina famous in the Netherlands. Bullfighter Serafín Marín, one of the candidates from Vox, is watching with satisfaction. … “Bullfighting, that’s the future. The left wants to destroy it all.” …

Vox is far right, but is different in one issue from comparable parties in Europe. The party was given a boost by the Catalan crisis and the party meetings are mainly calling for ending separatism.

“We are going to restore order”, party leader Santiago Abascal

Ex-member of the Partido Popular, founded by ex-ministers of the Franco dictatorship, but officially a center right ‘Christian democrat’ party.

calls in the arena of Leganés. “We are going to defend unity and ban the parties who want independence. We are sick and tired of them receiving our tax money. That is how they destroy Spain, the sacred legacy we received from our grandparents.” …

Recently, Abascal still admitted always walking around with a gun. …

The party will participate in the national elections for the first time tomorrow. According to polls, Vox can get 35 out of 350 seats in parliament. From that moment on, the other conservative parties (Partido Popular and Ciudadanos) cannot ignore Vox. …

[AVox supporter says:] “They want to take everything away from us. Vox protects hunting, … bullfighting.”

Franco dictatorship in Spain, new film

This 6 December 2018 video from the USA says about itself:

“The Silence of Others”: New Film Warns Against Spain’s Fascist History Repeating Itself

A far-right, anti-immigrant, anti-abortion political party in Spain has made gains in regional elections, prompting protests in the streets.

Members of Spain’s younger generation are too young to remember the brutal 40-year military dictatorship under General Francisco Franco. But a remarkable new documentary titled “The Silence of Others”, or “El Silencio de Otros”, hopes to remind Spaniards of the country’s fascist past, lest history repeat itself. The film follows several survivors of the Franco regime in their pursuit of justice. We speak with Spanish filmmaker Almudena Carracedo, who, along with Robert Bahar, wrote, produced and directed “The Silence of Others.”

Spanish neofascist murder attempt on prime minister

This 8 October 2018 video from La Vanguardia daily in Spain says about itself (translated):

The Mossos d’Esquadra [Catalonia region autonomous police] detained last September in Terrassa a lone wolf who wanted to assassinate [social democrat Prime Minister] Pedro Sánchez for the exhumation of the remains of [dictator Francisco] Franco from the Valley of the Fallen, which has not yet been carried out.

Manuel Murillo Sánchez was a security guard with a gun license and a 63-year-old expert sniper. This has been published exclusively by the Público newspaper and has been confirmed by La Vanguardia from police sources.

He had been around for years on the extreme right, but he had no criminal record, so it was difficult to control him. According to the newspaper, he was arrested after someone sounded the alarm. He had asked for help in a WhatsApp group to murder the prime minister. Specifically, he asked for information about the prime minister’s location and his agenda.

Translated from Dutch NOS TV today:

‘Outstanding sniper’ planned an attack on Spanish Prime Minister Sánchez

In Spain, a 63-year-old man was arrested who, according to the justice department, intended to attack [social democrat] Prime Minister Sánchez. That arrest happened already in September, but reports about it are only coming out now. According to Spanish media, the man wanted to repay the government’s decision to rebury former dictator Franco.

Against this decision there a strong protests by extreme right-wing supporters of the general. The suspect, Manuel Murillo Sánchez, a Catalan security guard with a gun license, was one of them. Because he has no criminal record, it was difficult to keep an eye on him. “He is described as a lone wolf, who was very motivated to kill Prime Minister Sánchez”, says correspondent Rop Zoutberg.

The guard’s plans came to light when he asked for advice in a WhatsApp group. He asked group members if they could look up for him what the Prime Minister’s agenda was because he could not handle the Internet well enough. He did not care that he could be caught. “I am willing to sacrifice myself for Spain”, he wrote.

“He talked about Sánchez as ‘the red motherfucker who has to be killed’, and that kind of messages never stopped and then someone from that group went to the police”, says Zoutberg.

According to daily La Vanguardia, Manuel Murillo Sánchez was arrested by the Mossos, the Catalan regional police, where there are some anti-Franco ideas. I don’t know if the Spanish national police which includes Franco sympathizers would have arrested the would-be murderer.


When officers searched the man’s house, they ran into a weapons arsenal. He possessed 16 weapons, including machine guns and sniper rifles. He had adjusted some of them himself. He turned out to be active at a shooting club and was known as an excellent sniper. Zoutberg: “You can wonder how far he was with his plans for the attack, but one thing is clear: he could really have done it.”

The man is in pre-trial detention. He is not prosecuted for terrorism,

No, in order to have been prosecuted for terrorism, he should have been black; or his name should have been not Manuel Murillo Sánchez, but Ali ben Muhammad or something.

but for conspiracy, the preparation of a hate crime and the possession and use of illegal weapons.

Spanish media promote neofascists

This 20 November 2016 video says about itself:

Spain: Violence as right-wing supporters commemorate 41 years since Franco’s death

Hundreds of right-wing supporters gathered at the Plaza de Oriente, Madrid, on Sunday to commemorate the 41st anniversary of the death of the dictator Francisco Franco. During the commemoration service, right wing supporters attacked a reported left wing protester who was taken away by the police.

By Alejandro López and Paul Mitchell:

Spanish media promotes far-right VOX party

6 November 2018

Spain’s far-right VOX party has been afforded massive media coverage since its rally last month of around 9,000 sympathizers at Madrid’s Vistalegre Palace.

In the space of three weeks, El Mundo has published over 20 articles covering Vox. Spain’s traditional conservative newspaper, ABC, which has backed every reactionary and right-wing regime in Spain since its foundation in 1903, posted 18 articles, favourable opinion pieces and an interview. La Razón has posted 11 articles. El Español has outdone them all, publishing 26 pieces since October 7—at least one a day.

VOX leaders took to the stage at Vistalegre to advocate 100 reactionary, anti-democratic measures. These include the suspension of Catalan regional autonomy, the banning of parties, associations and NGOs which “promote the destruction of [Spanish] territorial unity and its sovereignty”, the imposition of Spanish as the main language of instruction in schools and restrictions on the use of regional languages.

VOX wants to revoke the Historical Memory Law, which enforces limited measures relating to the crimes of the Franco dictatorship, close mosques, create a Family Ministry to promote the reactionary ideology of the Catholic Church, abolish the gender violence law, lower income and corporate tax, which will inevitably help the rich, and deport migrants.

Paraphrasing Trump, VOX General Secretary Ortega Smith demanded that “Spaniards come first”, adding, “Together we will make Spain great again.” Party President Santiago Abascal closed the rally, declaring, “A nation reacts when it has historical inertia, when there is blood coursing through its veins, and when it is aggravated, as Spain is being aggravated now.”

Since the Vistalegre rally, Abascal has been granted numerous interviews on Spain’s main radio and television programmes. He was even interviewed on “A diario”, a sports programme on Radio Marca, which doesn’t usually invite politicians.

VOX was launched in 2014 by former Popular Party (PP) members, the Terrorism Victims Association (AVT)—a hotbed of the Spanish far-right—and the Defence of the Spanish Nation foundation (DENAES). Most of VOX’s founding members come from families connected with the Franco dictatorship, the military, monarchy, big business and right-wing think tanks.

Six out of 10 people who say they would vote for VOX come from the PP and three from Citizens, a neo-liberal party which originated in Catalonia opposed to secession and became the largest party in the Catalan parliament in last December’s election. It is now at around 20-25 percent in polls for Spain’s next general elections (no later than July 2020), challenging the PP and Socialist Party (PSOE) for first place.

VOX is ratcheting up calls to defend the Spanish nation against Catalan and Basque nationalists, migrant workers … It has demanded a rewriting of Spain’s constitution and for regional autonomy and regional parliaments to be scrapped.

Vox has all the hallmarks of a fascist party, shown by its lambasting of the PP during the Catalan secessionist crisis, claiming it was “dithering” over its response. The PP’s “dithering”, supported by Citizens and the PSOE, was to take unprecedented police-state measures in Catalonia, before pulling back from a permanent police-military takeover of the region advocated by VOX.

The PP declared the October 2017 referendum illegal, suspended Catalan autonomy, sent in the paramilitary police to smash up polling stations and imprisoned Catalan ministers and officials on charges of sedition and rebellion. When independence was declared, VOX became the main promoter of the private legal court case launched against the secessionists. It demanded the maximum possible prison sentences for the imprisoned leaders.

VOX has no mass base. According to the latest polls by the state-funded CIS, the party would poll just 1.6 percent if Spanish national elections were called now and would be lucky to get one deputy in parliament. Even in polling for the European Union parliamentary elections next year, VOX … can only muster 5.1 percent of the vote.

During the Catalan crisis, it staged pro-Spanish unity demonstrations with just a few hundred people, often sporting swastikas and giving fascist salutes. Nevertheless, the party was hyped by the media as the representative of “concerned citizens.” The PP and Citizens are also claiming the party’s growth represents citizens “concerned” with migration and Catalan nationalism and are exploiting this to shift their own political agenda further to the right.

Last Sunday, in a provocative meeting organised by Citizens and backed by the PP and VOX in the small Navarrese town of Alsasua, which follows similar ones in Catalonia, the right-wing politicians called for the defence of the state security force and the unity of Spain against the Catalan and Basque nationalists. The meeting was held to honour state security forces in the town where a 2016 bar brawl resulted in the injuries of off-duty civil guards and their partners.

Attending the meeting was Abascal for VOX, along with the police association Jusapo , the Association of the Victims of Terrorism and the Catalan Civil Society. The promotion of VOX, as with similar formations in every country, is the spearhead of the drive by the ruling class towards censorship, state repression and fascistic methods to defend its rule.

There is deep, historically rooted opposition in the working class in Spain and internationally to fascism. However, to the extent that the working class remains subordinated to the PSOE … there is a real danger of VOX rising. In this, it is aided by the cowardice and complacency of the Socialist Party (PSOE) government.

Installed last June, the minority government, backed by … Podemos and regional nationalists, promised to end Rajoy’s austerity policies, boost public spending, end the expulsion of migrants, exhume the remains of former dictator Francisco Franco from his mausoleum and reach a negotiated settlement to the Catalan crisis. In practice, however, the PSOE imposed Rajoy’s austerity and militarist budget in June. Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez has made clear his readiness to abandon his limited spending increases in the 2019 budget, including a raise in the minimum wage, to get it through parliament.

The PSOE has continued the policy of mass expulsions of migrants who cross the border in the Spanish enclaves of Ceuta and Melilla and coordinated raids on sub-Saharan migrants in Morocco, resulting in the arrest of thousands, banished to distant parts of the country, or expelled.

Last Thursday the government-controlled state attorney announced it would formally charge the Catalan secessionists with sedition, which carries a maximum penalty of 15 years. This is meant to be lenient compared to the 30 years of rebellion charges written up by the Public Prosecutors Office.

Such policies of accommodation to the right strengthen and embolden political forces like VOX.

Hackers reveal British government’s interference in Spanish politics: here.