The Politics of Revenge: Fascism and the Military in Twentieth-Century Spain

By Paul Preston | Go to book overview

7

Into the bunker: the extreme right and the struggle against democracy, 1967-77

The maintenance of public order and domestic tranquillity always had the highest priority within the Franco dictatorship. The regime's primordial objectives of eliminating the class struggle and silencing left-wing and trade union protest could, in the eyes of its supporters at least, be measured in terms of quiet, trouble-free streets in the major cities. In addition, the external publicity value of an apparently soporific public order under Franco was enormous. It was relentlessly contrasted by the regime's propaganda apparatus with the alleged disorder both of the Republic which had gone before and of the decadent democracies. Franco's peace of course meant little for his opponents. In the factories and the universities, it had been established at the cost of considerable and continued violence. For Francoists, however, it was in fact a reality. It was based in the short term on the weight and efficiency of the virtually unaccountable forces of order. The armed police in the cities and the Civil Guard in the smaller towns and the countryside were well-armed, well-resourced and virtually unrestrained. Moreover, they had to deal with a population which had learnt the hard way that public political protest was an unaffordable luxury, that day-to-day survival lay in political apathy. The post-Civil War repression, the overcrowded prisons, the labour camps, the tortures and executions, policemen trained by Gestapo advisers and a range of secret police organizations active in the factories and the universities all played their part in establishing and safeguarding 'la paz de Franco'.1

1 There exists no satisfactory survey of the Francoist repression in Spain as a whole, although there have been excellent local studies, and there has been virtually no historical work on the Policía Armada or the Civil Guard in this period. However, it is worth consulting the provocative essays by Alberto Reig Tapia, Ideología e historia. sobre la represión franquista y la guerra civil (Madrid, 1984) and Diego López Garrido, El aparato policial en Espana (Barcelona, 1987). See also Juan Martínez Alier, La estabilidad del latifundismo (Paris, 1968), pp. 131-47.

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