Spanish government reburies fascist with military honours

This 10 February 2016 Spanish video is about the mausoleum in Pamplona, built by dictator Franco for fascist generals Mola and Sanjurjo.

By Alejandro López in Spain:

Spain: Architect of 1936 Franco uprising reinterred with full military honours

26 April 2017

The remains of one of the chief architects of the 1936 fascist uprising in Spain, General José Sanjurjo (1872-1936), were reinterred with full military honours in the Regular Heroes Cemetery in the North African enclave of Melilla.

It was revealed last week that the reburial, which took place in March, was supervised by the Ministry of Defence of the Popular Party (PP) government and attended by high-level political and military officials.

Sanjurjo, in association with Generals Francisco Franco, Emilio Mola and Gonzalo Queipo de Llano, organised the Nationalist uprising on July 17, 1936, which started the Spanish Civil War. He rose to prominence in Spain’s colonial wars in Cuba (1896)

when the Spanish colonial army invented the world’s first concentration camps

and Morocco (1909-1927), which were characterised by brutal repression of the native populations, including the use of mustard gas, rape, pillage and mass killings.

These same methods were used during the Civil War against the Spanish population, making clear the inextricable connection between war abroad and class exploitation at home—between imperialism and capitalism.

Sanjurjo became an expert coup plotter after the Spanish Republic was proclaimed in April 1931. The first failed attempt, popularly labelled “the Sanjurjada,” took place in Seville in 1932.

Forced into exile in Portugal, Sanjurjo once again set about planning a coup to overthrow the democratically elected Popular Front government in 1936. He became one of the coup’s chief architects, and his house became the centre for daily meetings with military officials, aristocrats, bankers, fascists and other reactionary forces. Destined to be the leader of the rebel military government after the coup, Sanjurjo died two days after the uprising was launched in an airplane accident.

His remains stayed in Lisbon until the end of the Civil War in 1939, after which they were transferred and placed in the Monument to the Fallen in Pamplona—a mausoleum glorifying the generals and soldiers who died in the fight against the Republic.

Last November, following the decision of the Pamplona local council—controlled by the … pro-Basque … party EH Bildu—to abide by the 2007 Law of Historical Memory prohibiting monuments and other public displays glorifying the military uprising, the remains of Sanjurjo and Mola were exhumed from the mausoleum.

Sanjurjo’s reburial with military honours only came to light because the little known publication, Siempre p’adelante (Always Forward), published by far-right forces in Navarre, included his obituary in its latest bulletin. It stated that his remains “once they left Navarre, on Thursday March 23 2017, received the highest military honours according to his rank and found rest in Melilla.”

The fascist publication concluded, “Sanjurjo continues to be respected, despite everything and the inexplicable silence of the good side.”

Enrique Delgado investigated further and revealed on his blog El Alminar de Melilla that Sanjurjo’s reinternment was classified as a “state secret” and that his remains “were led and guarded until they reached Melilla by a delegation of high ranking officers of the Ministry of Defence.”

The ceremony was held in the hall of the Regular Heroes Cemetery, “presided over by all the civil and military authorities of Melilla,” and “the city’s cultural nomenclature” knew about it.

The affair demonstrates once again that sections of the army and the political establishment have never renounced their fascist past. While the army, the Church and the PP call on the victims of fascism to forget and move on, they secretly glorify and pay homage to the fascist coup plotters.

The PP has repeatedly claimed there is no money to exhume the 114,000 missing victims of Franco, most of whom lie in the 2,200 mass graves that still exist from the Civil War, a figure that puts Spain second only to Cambodia in terms of victims whose remains have disappeared. Since 2013, the budget for the Law of Historical Memory has been slashed to “zero euros.”

In contrast, the PP government has provided money to repatriate from Russia members of the Blue Division, a unit of Spanish volunteers that served in the German army during Hitler’s extermination campaign on the Eastern Front in the Second World War. It has funded the Spanish Biographical Dictionary published by the Royal History Academy, in which fascist terror is systematically omitted even though it was an established policy of Franco’s forces.

Last year, the Ministry of Defence’s Spanish Centre for National Defence Studies (Centro de Estudios para la Defensa Nacional—CESEDEN) invited historian Stanley Payne to give a lecture to a select audience of military officers, policemen, PP officials, right-wing journalists and historians, in which he legitimised the 1936 coup.

Amid an unprecedented economic and political crisis—mass unemployment, wage cuts and redundancies, and one corruption scandal after another exposing the links between the political establishment and big business—the post-Franco order built upon the premise of forgetting the past is unravelling. The two-party system has collapsed and, after almost a year in which Spain was unable to form a government, the country is ruled by an unstable minority PP government, which relies on the support of the opposition Socialist Party (PSOE) for its continued existence.

In response to the growing social opposition, the PP and the army are intensifying their efforts to rehabilitate Francoism and legitimise its methods. This is a warning that the ruling elite will use the same methods it used in 1936 against the working class to defend capitalist order.

The PSOE has said the military reburial is “intolerable” and announced it will raise “a battery of questions” in parliament. Basque EH-Bildu … has requested that Defence Minister Dolores de Cospedal explain in “detail the participation of military authorities” in the ceremony. … Podemos has declared its “indignation, repulsion and condemnation” and called for “truth, justice and reparation for all the victims of 1936, with the conviction that as long as we do not have justice we will never reach full democracy.”

Pablo Picasso’s anti-fascism

This 8 April 2017 video is called Pablo Picasso‘s Fight Against Fascism.

Spanish, British conservative sabre rattling on Gibraltar

This video is called War of Jenkins’ Ear (1739-1748 war between Britain and Spain).

By Alejandro López in Spain:

Aggressive claims by Spain helped provoke Gibraltar flare-up with Britain

6 April 2017

The Spanish bourgeoisie has used the Brexit negotiations between the United Kingdom and the European Union (EU) to provocatively reassert its claims to the British Overseas Territory of Gibraltar.

The 6.7 square kilometre territory was seized by Britain in 1704 for its strategic military importance at the entrance to the Mediterranean. It has since become a major tax haven for the British and international ruling elite. Although the territory’s 30,000 inhabitants rejected Spanish sovereignty in a referendum in 2002, they voted by 96 percent in last June’s Brexit referendum to remain in the EU.

Last year sections of the Spanish ruling class calculated that Brexit offered Spain a “golden opportunity,” not only to reclaim Gibraltar but also to possibly become Washington’s new strategic ally in Europe.

Former Spanish Foreign Minister José Manuel García-Margallo declared that it would give Spain “an opportunity to have an even more important role than the one we already have with the United States, and don’t forget about one other thing: we’ll be talking about Gibraltar the very next day.”

The renewed moves by Spain have the backing of the EU. Brussels has dropped its traditional neutral position on conflicting Spanish/UK claims on Gibraltar and adopted an aggressive anti-British position—as it has done on every issue of controversy since the result of the Brexit referendum.

Last week, in response to UK Prime Minister Theresa May’s hardline demands on the terms of the UK-EU divorce, the EU sent its 27 remaining members a nine-page document containing its draft negotiating position. It warned, “A non-member of the union… cannot have the same rights and enjoy the same benefits as a member.”

It made clear in a clause in the document that “no agreement between the EU and the United Kingdom may apply to the territory of Gibraltar without agreement between the Kingdom of Spain and the United Kingdom.”

On Monday, the European Commission’s chief spokesman Margaritis Schinas said, “The guidelines presented on Friday have the complete backing of President [Jean-Claude] Juncker and [chief negotiator] Michel Barnier. We will give no more explanations.”

Juncker’s endorsement of the Gibraltar clause comes just a few weeks after his intervention over the status of Northern Ireland in EU-UK negotiations. Juncker and Irish Prime Minister (Taoiseach) Enda Kenny jointly declared that if “at some future time,” there was a vote for a united Ireland, as laid down in the 1998 Good Friday Agreement, “Northern Ireland would have ease of access to join as a member of the European Union again.” The EU also indicated it opposes the re-establishing of a hard border between Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland.

In Britain, the Gibraltar clause led former Conservative Party leader Michael Howard to invoke Margaret Thatcher’s 1982 war against Argentina over the Malvinas/Falkland Islands to declare the UK was prepared to go to war with Spain over Gibraltar. Former minister Norman Tebbit warned that Gibraltar is a “vital Western strategic interest” and suggested “inviting leaders of the Catalan independence movement to London, or even to raising their desire for independence at the United Nations.” It took two days before UK Prime Minister May tried to make a joke of Howard’s bellicose talk.

In contrast, Spain’s ABC newspaper declared, “The Spanish government achieves its first triumph after the opening up of Brexit negotiations.”

El País stated that the clause is “handing the Spanish government the negotiating key it needed in its claims over the territory.”

For El Español, “in what has become a major diplomatic victory, Spain has a powerful ally on its side in its dispute with the United Kingdom over The Rock: the European Union of the 27.”

Soon after, the leaders of three of Spain’s main parties, the ruling Popular Party (PP), the main opposition Socialist Party (PSOE) and Citizens met with high-ranking foreign ministry officials to agree on a joint strategy for Gibraltar.

Amid this tense situation, on Tuesday Spain dispatched a warship into the disputed territorial waters around Gibraltar. The Spanish Ministry of Defence described this as routine operations against illicit drugs and migrants, while the British Foreign Office declared it to be an unlawful maritime incursion.

Unhindered control of the Straits of Gibraltar has always been one of Spanish imperialism’s foreign policy priorities. Its repossession became official government policy during the fascist regime of General Francisco Franco (1939-1978) and following the Transition to democracy, the policy has remained in place under successive governments.

One of the main books dealing with Spanish foreign policy explains, “The Straits of Gibraltar continues to be the main sea route in the world, both because of the number of ships passing through it (80,000 a year, about 220 a day), and because of its tonnage and the presence of ships with nuclear weapons. It acts as a key to the Mediterranean, which is not only important from a military point of view, but also because of the large oil tankers from North Africa and/or the Persian Gulf coming through Suez, which are part of the normal supply of energy to the European countries. Ensuring the free movement and preventing any form of blockade that would affect countries like Spain, which receives 82% of its supplies by sea, is therefore a priority objective.” [Ricardo Méndez and Silva Marcu, “La posicion geoestratégica de España” p.137-138 in La política exterior de España de 1800 hasta hoy (2010).]

Criticisms have been levelled at Spanish Foreign Minister Alfonso Dastis’ other piece of political brinkmanship targeting the UK—his suggesting that Spain would not block Scotland’s application for membership of the EU if it separated from the UK.

His remarks open the Pandora box regarding Catalonia and the Basque Country, which both have strong separatist movements that, like the Scottish National Party, are demanding independence as a first step to seeking EU membership. In Catalonia, a referendum on independence, declared illegal by the Spanish government, has been called in November by the regional Catalan government. The Catalan position can only be strengthened by Dastis’ tacit support for the SNP’s own demand for a second independence referendum.

El Mundo said that when questioned about Scotland, “a Spanish minister is expected, at this point in time, to put nationalism in its place, which is that of garbage…” Dastis’ comments, it declared, had caused “Tebbit to threaten to take the Catalan cause to the UN.”

ABC posted an editorial, “Dastis’ grave mistake,” warning that “any reference to Scotland’s independence and eventual entry into the European Union from the mouth of a Member of the Government of Spain can be used against our national interests.”

The Gibraltar crisis is also an expression of the growing antagonisms brought about by [United States] President Donald Trump’s open declarations of support for Brexit and for the break-up of the EU, which he has described as a German-dominated economic competitor to the US.

While the UK is interested in defending the “special relationship” with the US after the UK leaves Europe and calculates it will have Trump’s support on Gibraltar and the EU negotiations, Spain is attempting to become the new strategic partner of the US in post-Brexit Europe.

Last week, Spanish Defence Minister María Dolores de Cospedal visited US Secretary of Defence James Mattis in Washington for talks described as successful. This week, Spain complied with Trump’s demand that NATO countries commit at least 2 percent of spending on defence, increasing its military spending by fully 32 percent—from €5.7 billion in 2016 to €7.5 billion in 2017. Two years ago, Spain signed an agreement with the US making permanent its airbase at Moron and naval base at Rota, just 1.5 hours away from Gibraltar. Both bases have played a major role in all US-led wars since the First Gulf War in 1990.

European Council endorses Irish unification in hardline negotiations over Brexit: here.

British, Spanish conservative Gibraltar sabre rattling

This video says about itself:

The War of Jenkins’ Ear was a conflict between Great Britain and Spain that lasted from 1739 to 1748, with major operations largely ended by 1742. Its unusual name, coined by Thomas Carlyle in 1858, relates to Robert Jenkins, captain of a British merchant ship, who exhibited his severed ear in Parliament following the boarding of his vessel by Spanish coast guards in 1731. This affair and a number of similar incidents sparked a war against the Spanish Empire, ostensibly to encourage the Spanish not to renege on the lucrative asiento contract (permission to sell slaves in Spanish America).

One might think, now it is the 21st century, not the 18th. Robert Jenkins died long ago. Spain does not have American colonies any more, so British slave traders can no longer sell African slaves to them. The British and the Spanish governments are European Union allies (for as long as the Brexit negotiations have not been concluded). They are both in the NATO military alliance. The British Tory government party and the Spanish Partido Popular are conservative sister parties.

Yet, in 2013 both governments did military sabre rattling against each other about Gibraltar.

In 2016, British Royal Navy warships were ‘sent to Gibraltar to protect it from Spain’ during Brexit negotiations.

And today, from Reuters:

A former leader of [Prime Minister Theresa] May‘s Conservative party, Michael Howard, said she [May] would even be prepared to go to war to defend the territory, as then prime minister Margaret Thatcher did with Argentina over the Falkland Islands 35 years ago. …

“Thirty-five years ago this week another woman Prime Minister sent a task force halfway across the world to defend the freedom of another small group of British people against another Spanish-speaking country,” he said on Sky TV’s Sophie Ridge on Sunday. “I’m absolutely certain that our current prime minister will show the same resolve in standing by the people of Gibraltar.”

The opposition Labour party said such “inflammatory” comments would not help Britain get what it needed from the Brexit negotiations. “Sadly it’s typical of the botched Tory approach which threatens a bad deal for Britain,” the party’s foreign affairs spokeswoman Emily Thornberry said.

Spain’s foreign minister Alfonso Dastis refused to talk about veto rights when it comes to Gibraltar in an interview on Sunday, but said he viewed the EU’s stance very positively.

“When the United Kingdom leaves the EU, the EU partner is Spain, and in the case of Gibraltar the EU is therefore obliged to take the side of Spain,” he told El Pais.

As if the British government bombing Syria and Iraq, helping the Saudi autocracy bomb Yemen; Spanish neo-colonial soldiers in Africa; and the threat of war between nuclear armed NATO and nuclear armed Russia, or China are not already bloody warmongering enough …