Wednesday, November 29, 2017

Testament of José Antonio Primo de Rivera


As promised, here is my translation of the testament of José Antonio Primo de Rivera. 

Before we get to the testament itself, however, a bit of context would be helpful. In March 1936, José Antonio was arrested and charged with illegal possession of firearms. In Spain: A Unique History, historian Stanley G. Payne — who, for what it’s worth, is not an admirer of José Antonio — describes this as “an arrest of dubious legality.” He would remain in prison — facing trial after trial for what Payne calls “a series of (sometimes artificial) charges” — until his execution on November 20, 1936. By that time, the Spanish Civil War had been raging for four months. 

José Antonio’s execution came on the heels of, and as a result of, his trial for the charge of “conspiracy and military rebellion.” Certainly, there was a military conspiracy and, eventually (in July 1936), a rebellion — the failure of this rebellion to immediately topple the Popular Front government of the Spanish Republic marked the official beginning of the Spanish Civil War (the Popular Front was an alliance of left-wing political parties that came to power in February 1936, in the wake of an election rife with voter fraud). Like many of the earlier charges against José Antonio, the charge with involvement in the conspiracy and rebellion was legally dubious. As Falange Española Digital, a most fascinating blog that I recently discovered, points out, “Given that José Antonio had been in prison for months before the rebellion took place, it is hard to see how he could have taken part in it.” 

Not only did José Antonio face sham charges, he also faced a kangaroo court. The jury was deliberately stacked with supporters of the Popular Front. 

Remarkably, despite these adverse conditions, José Antonio almost managed to persuade the jury to acquit him! 

The jury deliberated for four hours before handing down a “guilty” verdict. According to José Antonio biographer Felipe Ximénez de Sandoval, the jurors’ deliberations ended in a tie vote. The stalemate was broken in a highly irregular manner: “One of the jurors — a socialist with the surname Domenech who worked for the hardware store Panadés y Chorro, in Alicante — imposed, pistol in hand, the death sentence, amid an unspeakable scandal.” Thus did the threat of violence condemn José Antonio Primo de Rivera to death.           

While it may seem surprising that José Antonio was almost able to persuade the rigged jury to acquit him, it’s not so surprising if we remember that José Antonio’s ideology was a synthesis of right-wing and left-wing thought. Incidentally, this is why I admire Falangism: it combined the best, and eschewed the worst, of the left and the right. Adapted to the twenty-first century, it could do so again. But I digress. To better understand the core principle of Falangism (and why José Antonio managed to make a positive impression on a very hostile audience), it helps to look at José Antonio’s analysis of the Spanish Left and the Spanish Right, from his open letter to “a Spanish soldier,” which he wrote in November 1934 — that is, just after a failed attempt at violent Communist revolution in Spain: 

“The Left is more numerous [than the Right] (don’t forget that the Left includes almost the entirety of the immense Spanish proletariat); more impetuous; more politically astute… but it is anti-national. If we ignore artificial partisan divides, we see that the Left is comprised of two main factions: 

  1. A bourgeoisie, predominantly intellectual. Having been educated abroad and strongly influenced by international institutions, members of this part of the Left are incapable of feeling Spain in the depths of their hearts. Thus, everything which tends to break up national unity has been uncritically accepted by the left-wing media. 
  2. A proletarian mass completely won over to Marxism. Socialist politics, conducted in an extremely persistent and able manner, have almost managed to rake out patriotic emotions from this mass. The Marxist multitudes carry nothing in their spirit except for a baleful conception of life as class struggle. That which is not proletarian does not interest them; as a result, they cannot feel solidarity with any conception of the nation that embraces anything beyond that which is strictly proletarian. Marxism, if it triumphs, will eradicate even the leftist bourgeoisie with which it is currently allied. In this the Russian experience is very instructive. 

And the Right? The Right invokes great things: the fatherland, tradition, authority… but they, too, are not truly national. If they were — that is, if they did not hide a class-based interest behind noble words, they would not be entrenched in defense of economically unjust positions. Spain is, for the time being, a rather poor country. In order for the life of the average Spaniard to reach a level of human decency, the more privileged among us must make sacrifices. If the Right (which all of the privileged classes support) had a true sense of national solidarity, they would by now be sharing, through the sacrifice of their material advantages, in the harsh life of the common people. Only then would the Right would have the moral authority to hold itself up as the defender of the great spiritual values. But as long as the Right defends its class interests tooth and nail, its patriotism will sound like empty words, and right-wingers will continue to prove themselves to be as materialistic as the representatives of Marxism.”        

Given José Antonio’s clear concern for the well-being of the common people and his biting condemnation of the reactionary Right, it’s not so hard to imagine Marxist revolutionaries being swayed by José Antonio’s testimony from deep hostility to him to a measure of sympathy for him. As the filmmaker José Luis Sáenz de Heredia wrote during a research project for a planned movie about José Antonio, 

“The jury, at ten-thirty in the night, has received a questionnaire consisting of twenty-six questions, each of which require only a simple ‘yes’ or ‘no’ answer. The jury consists of members of the political parties and labor unions of the Popular Front. Thus, they are logically predisposed to render a ‘guilty’ verdict. Given the jurors’ hostile predisposition towards the defendant, it also seems logical that their answers to the twenty-six questions would be a mere formality. Nonetheless, that is not what happens. The hostile jurors have just listened to a man who is not that whom they hate. They (or at least some of them) thought another man, whom they were sure they knew all too well, was on trial. There are no legitimate grounds to hate the man who has just spoken. He is not an idle and lazy aristocrat. Nor is he a pimp, a gunman, or a fascist. And though not all of the jurors, of course, are able to express this in words, there is in him an intangible element of human greatness that transcends the boundaries of logic, goes beyond purity, and touches — one knows not how — one’s heart.”        

Without further ado, then, let us turn to the testament of José Antonio: 

“Testament written and granted by José Antonio Primo de Rivera y Sáenz de Heredia, 
thirty-three years of age, single, attorney, native and resident of Madrid, son of Miguel and Casilda (may they rest in peace), in the Provincial Prison of Alicante, on the eighteenth of November of the year nineteen hundred and thirty-six. 

Sentenced to death yesterday, I ask God that if he does not see fit to free me from that fate, that he help me maintain until the end the decorous tranquility with which I foresee that hour and that, when he judges my soul, that he apply not the measure of what I deserve, but rather that of his infinite mercy. 

On the one hand, I worry that my desire to leave at this juncture an accounting of some of my deeds may be a manifestation of vanity and excessive attachment to the things of this world. On the other hand, since I have galvanized the faith of many of my comrades to a degree far greater than my own worth (which I know all too well, to the point that I write this phrase with the most straightforward and contrite sincerity), and since I have moved so many of them to take on enormous risks and responsibilities, to leave them behind without any kind of explanation would seem to me to be inconsiderate ingratitude. 

It is not necessary that I repeat now what I said and wrote many times about what the founders of the Spanish Falange intended it to be. It amazes me that, even after three years, the vast majority of our compatriots continue to judge us without having begun to even remotely understand us and even without having sought or accepted the slightest bit of information. Should the Falange consolidate itself into something durable, I hope all will be cognizant of the hurt we feel at the fact that so much blood has been shed because, between the fury of one side and the antipathy of the other, no one cared to pay us serene attention. May that split blood forgive me the part I have had in provoking it, and may the comrades that preceded me in making the ultimate sacrifice receive me as the latest of their own. 

Yesterday, for the last time, I explained to the Court that was judging me what the Falange is. As on so many occasions, I reviewed and adduced the old texts of our familiar doctrine. Once again, I observed that a great many faces, at first hostile, grew illuminated, first with surprise and then with sympathy. In the expressions on these faces I seemed to read this sentence: “Had we known what this was, we wouldn’t be here!” And indeed, we wouldn’t have been there, nor would I have been before a People’s Court, nor would others be killing themselves across the fields of Spain as I write this. Nonetheless, it was too late to avoid all of this, and I limited myself to reciprocating the loyalty and the valor of my esteemed comrades, winning for them the respectful attention of their enemies. 

That was my aim — not to win for myself with tinsel gallantry the posthumous reputation of a hero. I did not claim to be responsible for everything, nor did I resort to any other variant of the romantic stereotype. I defended myself with the best resources of my profession of attorney, which I love so much and which I cultivated with such assiduity. Perchance there will no shortage of posthumous commentators who will fault me for not having preferred the art of the bluff. To each his own. As for myself, aside from the fact that I am not a good actor, it would have been monstrous and cowardly to hand over without a defense a life that could still have been useful and that God did not give me the right to burn in a holocaust of vanity like a display of fireworks. I also aimed to avoid descending to the level of reproachable deceit or to compromise anybody with my defense, as well as to cooperate with the defense of my siblings Margot* and Miguel, who were on trial with me and were threatened with very grave sentences. I thought it advantageous to not only maintain certain silences in the course of my defense, but also to make certain accusations, accusations grounded in the suspicion that the authorities had deliberately isolated me in the middle of a region that to this end had remained submissive. I must declare here that I have not the slightest proof for this suspicion. Though, exasperated by my solitude and desperately seeking explanations for it, I sincerely nourished this suspicion in my spirit, now, just before my death, I cannot and should not maintain it. 
  
Another matter remains for me to clarify. The absolute isolation from all communication in which I have lived since shortly after the beginning of the war was broken solely by an American journalist [Jay Allen], who, with the permission of the authorities, asked me to make a few statements in early October. Until, five or six days ago, I saw the brief filed against me, I have not had knowledge of the statements that were attributed to me, because neither the newspapers that contained them nor any other newspapers were available to me. Reading these statements now, I declare that among the various paragraphs presented as mine, some of which interpret my thought more faithfully than others, there is one that I completely reject: the one that badmouths my comrades of the Falange for cooperating in the rebel movement alongside “foreign mercenaries.” I have never said anything remotely like that, and yesterday I declared as much outright before the Court, although declaring this did not help my case. I cannot defame military forces that have rendered Spain heroic services in Africa. I cannot from here reproach comrades whom I do not know whether they are well- or poorly-led, but who surely try to interpret in good faith my longtime axioms and doctrines. God grant that their arduous commitment is never taken advantage of for any task other than that of building the great Spain of which the Falange dreams. 

I wish mine would be the last Spanish blood spilt in civil discords. I wish I could find the Spanish people — so rich in good, endearing qualities, Fatherland, Bread, and Justice — already at peace.

I think I have nothing left to say about my public life. As to my impending death, I await it without swagger — for it is never a happy thing to die at my age — but also without protest. May the Lord our God accept in it what it has of sacrifice to partially compensate for the egotism and vanity I have displayed in much of my life. I forgive with all my soul whomever may have hurt or offended me, without exception, and I pray that all those to whom I owe reparation for any offense, large or small, will forgive me.      

______________________________________________________________________________

*Margarita Larios Fernández de Villavicencio, the wife of José Antonio’s brother Miguel, and therefore José Antonio’s sister-in-law. 


Monday, November 27, 2017

Recommended Reading: Cyber Monday Edition


Yes, I know Thanksgiving 2017 is behind us. But, at least it's Cyber Monday. Plus, it is now officially the Christmas season, so why not celebrate with a festive comic book story, even if it is Thanksgiving-themed?

Well, you're in luck: IDW Disney comics translator and dialoguer Joe Torcivia has just such a story up on his blog, featuring Tom and Jerry.

Some of the stereotypes of American Indians can be rather jarring. I know they were to me, and, as you can tell from the contents of this blog, I'm anything but politically correct! Once you get used to these, though, you'll find that this is a very endearing and amusing story, as Tom and Jerry stories tend to be.

This story vaguely reminds me of a classic Tom and Jerry cartoon: 1949's "The Little Orphan."



The main difference between "The Little Orphan" and the comic book story I'm about to link to is that while in "The Little Orphan" Tom plays the role of an American Indian and Jerry and Nibbles play Pilgrims, in the comic book story Tom's ancestor is shown as a Pilgrim while Jerry and Nibbles (who is named Tuffy in the comic books) are shown as Indians.

If you like "The Little Orphan," you'll like this story

Speaking of comic books, I've improved a couple of this blog's previous comic book-related posts by enlarging the pictures for greater ease of reading. If you haven't read these posts before (or if you did but didn't enjoy them that much because the pictures were annoyingly small), check them out here and here.  

Monday, November 20, 2017

Recommended Reading: 20N Edition

Giant cross crowning the Valle de los Caídos, where both Franco and José Antonio are interred. May both their souls rest in peace. 


Today — November 20, 2017 — marks the forty-second anniversary of the death of Francisco Franco Bahamonde and the eighty-first anniversary of the execution murder in cold blood of José Antonio Primo de Rivera by the Popular Front government during the Spanish Civil War.  

Here at Pelayo’s Gazette, we began our commemorations of this solemn occasion last Saturday, with our translation of Franco’s testament. 

We continue our commemorations today, with links to some interesting articles (in Spanish) about Franco, his regime, and his legacy.

1. Spanish historian Pío Moa evaluates Franco’s place in history. Allow me to translate just one paragraph from this magnificent opinion column: 

“Franco saved Spain from a totalitarian revolution and separatist disintegration. That in itself earns him a very special place in the last several centuries of our history. Next, Franco kept Spain out of World War II — an achievement almost as great as the first. Later, he had to confront the United Nations — a conglomerate of democracies, dictatorships, and Communist regimes that sought to spark a massive famine in Spain to make the regime fall. An intention all the more criminal considering that Spain did not enter World War II. Once again, Franco prevailed. In the midst of this international hostility, Franco also defeated the maquis, a dangerous Communist guerrilla movement: in Greece, Britain and the hellenic government were impotent in the face of a similar guerrilla war, and the United States had to intervene. Once all of these challenges — which very few European statesmen had to face — were overcome, Spain’s economy grew at an unprecedented pace — the most rapid economic growth in the world save that of Japan. In addition to all of this, the social and political hatreds that had destroyed the Republic were largely overcome as early as the 1940s, the maquis being the exception that proved the rule.”        

2. There are many myths surrounding the Valle de los Caídos, or Valley of the Fallen — a Catholic basilica near Madrid built during the 1940s and 1950s where fallen soldiers from both sides of the Spanish Civil War — as well as, later, José Antonio Primo de Rivera and, eventually, Francisco Franco — were buried. Critics of Franco claim that the Valle de los Caídos was built by political prisoners who were essentially slaves, that their working conditions were poor and that many died, that it was built as a future mausoleum for Franco, and that it cost the Spanish government a fortune at a time when the nation was very poor. This article demolishes each of these criticisms, noting that:
    • The Valle was built by a mix of prisoners and free laborers.
    • The prisoners volunteered to work there in exchange for reduced sentences.
    • During the first eight years of construction not a single worker died. 
    • Over the course of construction, which lasted from 1943 until 1962, a total of 15 workers — both prisoner and free — died. This is a relatively low number of deaths, considering the nature of the work and the long period of time during which construction took place.
    • Both prisoners and free workers received relatively good wages and healthy meals. The education of the children of the prisoners was subsidized by the state. 
    • Franco never imagined he would be buried in the Valle. He wanted to be buried in Madrid. Ultimately, however, King Juan Carlos I and Prime Minister Carlos Arias Navarro decided to bury Franco in the Valle.  
    • The monument was paid for not with public funds, but entirely with the remainder of voluntary donations to the National side during the Spanish Civil War and with the sales of lottery tickets.   

3. Critics of Franco often claim that the Catalan language was banned during his years in power. This is a very misleading assertion. To be sure, the repression of regional languages by the Franco regime — part of an effort to combat regional separatisms — was a very real thing. During the early years of the regime, the use of Catalan (for example) by the media, educational institutions, or government institutions was banned. All such official, public communication had to be in Castilian (better known as Spanish). This, combined with a massive migration of people from Castilian-speaking regions of Spain, caused a fairly sharp decline in the number of Catalan speakers over time. Nonetheless, it was not illegal for people to speak Catalan in their homes or with their neighbors. 

It is just as important, however, to recognize that as the separatist threat weakened and Spain’s prosperity grew, the Franco regime’s repression of minority languages declined. Here, for instance, is a plaque from 1964 — in Catalan — commemorating the creation of the General Community of Irrigators of the Canals of Urgel. Notice that on this plaque even the names of Spanish government officials are rendered in Catalan. For instance, Franco’s name is rendered as “Francesc Franco Bahamonde.” 

4. Moreover, beginning in the 1940s, scholarship, literary production, and publication in Catalan — as well as the celebration and commemoration of great Catalan literary figures such as Joan Maragall — received ample support and recognition from the Franco regime, as this article shows. The depth and breadth of this cultural outpouring is far too great to repeat here. Let me just point out a few particularly interesting points: 
  • As early as 1942, a book in Catalan was published legally — Rosa mística, by Mossén Camil Geis. 
  • In 1944, universities offering courses in Romance philology were required to offer courses in Catalan philology. 
  • In 1952, during one of Franco’s visits to Catalonia, the Milà I Fontanals Chair for the scientific study of the Catalan language was created. 
  • In the 1960s, Catalan translations of two iconic Belgian comic book series were published: René Goscinny and Albert Uderzo’s The Adventures of Asterix and Hergé’s The Adventures of Tintin. (Yeah, I know — hardly the most significant examples of publication in Catalan during the Franco regime. But, come on: this blog is in part about comics and cartoons — did you really expect me to not highlight something like this?)  

5. In closing, see this article describing a moment of silence that was held at the United Nations in honor of Francisco Franco. That is poetic justice, in my book: the organization that tried to destroy the Franco regime ultimately had to respectfully pay tribute to it. 

_____________________________________________________________________________________  
      
We will close our commemorations of this year’s 20N in a few days with our translation of José Antonio’s testament, so stay tuned for that.  

   

Saturday, November 18, 2017

Testament of Francisco Franco


Spaniards: 

As the hour at which I must surrender my life to the Most High and appear before him to receive his unappealable judgement, I ask God to benignly welcome me to his presence, for I have wished to live and die as a Catholic. In Christ’s name I am honored, and it has been my constant desire to be a loyal son of the Church, within which I will die. I ask forgiveness of all, just as with all my heart I forgive all those who declared themselves my enemies, though I never regarded them as such. I believe and hope that I never had any enemies other than those who were enemies of Spain, which I love unto my last breath and which I promised to serve until the last moment of my life, which I know is at hand. 

I would like to thank all those who with enthusiasm, dedication, and abnegation have collaborated with me in the great task of forging a united, great, and free Spain. Out of the love I have for our fatherland, I ask you all to persevere in unity and in peace, and to treat the future King of Spain, don Juan Carlos de Borbón, with the same affection and loyalty that you have given me and lend him, at all times, the same support I have received from you. 

Do not forget that the enemies of Spain and of Christian civilization are alert. Please be vigilant yourselves, and, to that end, sacrifice all personal goals to the supreme interests of the fatherland and the Spanish people. Do not cease in achieving social justice and culture for all Spaniards and make that your foremost objective. Maintain the unity of the lands of Spain, exalting the rich diversity of its regions as a source of strength for the unity of the fatherland. 

I would like, in my last moment, to unite the names of God and of Spain and embrace you all to shout together, one last time, on the threshold of my death, 

  ¡Arriba España! ¡Viva España! 


Generalísimo Francisco Franco, Caudillo of Spain

Friday, November 17, 2017

Recommended Reading

Álvaro Romero Ferreiro discusses (in Spanish) Francisco Franco’s love for Catalonia, as reflected in the considerable time he personally spent in that region, the great attention his regime devoted to Catalonia, and his regime’s many accomplishments there. To give you an idea of these accomplishments, allow me to translate one brief excerpt from the article into English:


“The creation of SEAT (a Spanish car manufacturer based in Catalonia), the international Ondas de Cataluña entertainment awards, the Barcelona Sports Palace, the organization of the second Mediterranean Olympic games, the creation of the Chair of Spanish American studies at the University of Barcelona, the Valle de Hebrón Hospital (to this day one of the crown jewels of the Spanish healthcare system, albeit considerably deteriorated since the transfer of jurisdiction over healthcare from the national level to the local level), the construction of 4,020 houses for homeowners plus an additional 225 dwellings for SEAT autoworkers (living in some of these houses today are no doubt separatists yearning for the Catalan Republic), the organization of an international trade fair, the Universidad Laboral de Tarragona…” 


On another note, it’s been a while since we last featured a cartoon-related post on this blog. One is coming soon, but in the meantime, Thad Komorowski — a freelance cartoon restoration artist and a dialoguer for IDW’s line of Disney comic books — recently shared a fascinating magazine article from 1952 about the UPA animation studio (perhaps best known for Mr. Magoo). What I really enjoyed about the article is its in-depth discussion of the process by which cartoons were made during the twentieth century. Being a cartoon geek (why else would I talk about cartoons on my blog?), I previously was familiar with many of the stages of making an animated cartoon, but this article clearly laid out for me something I did not fully understand before: the exact order of the steps in the process and how they relate to one another. Check it out. 

Thursday, November 16, 2017

Why Peoples Need Heroes


“The Spanish bourgeoisie knows of other great men, but the common people — the people who labor and fight; the people who die or lose their loved ones in war — know of only two great men. One is real and tangible; sometimes, the people even see or hear him: he is the Caudillo. The other is a rather mysterious figure, in that people imagine him as if he were a hero from long ago. People know no more about him than they do about the saints or the beloved heroes of legend and song: he is José Antonio. It is a well-known fact that the humble peasant women who pronounce his name know neither who he was, nor when or where he lived. What they do know of him is an intuitive way of being, based not so much on what they hear about him but on their own desires. Every honest, simple, and sincere Spaniard sees in José Antonio the qualities he wishes all political leaders had. In the popular imagination, then, José Antonio has no equal, for people attribute to him qualities or characteristics diametrically opposed to those that Spaniards saw in that long, miserable line of mediocre political leaders that plagued Spain for so many years.” 

Gonzalo Torrente Ballester, prologue to José Antonio: An Anthology (1939) 


*Translated from the Spanish by Pelayo Flecha  

Wednesday, November 8, 2017

Prophetic Words from 1978



While the priority for Spain right now is, as King Felipe VI clearly statedto defend its Constitution, its democracy, and its national unity from assault by Catalan separatists, this does not mean that the Constitution should be exempt from scrutiny and reconsideration. Indeed, it’s important to recognize that the very Constitution that enshrines Spain’s national unity and democratic form of government also contains within it a fatal flaw. This flaw is the seed of the grave existential crisis Spain is currently facing. 

The problem is not the fact that the Constitution significantly decentralized Spain. Rather, the flaw is in how the Constitution decentralized Spain — particularly, in one specific term it employed: nationalities. 

Article 2 of the Constitution states,
“The Constitution is founded upon the indissoluble unity of the Spanish Nation, the common and indivisible fatherland of all Spaniards, and recognizes and guarantees the right to autonomy of the nationalities and regions that make it up and the solidarity among all of them.”  

At least one man foresaw the future problems this presented for Spain: José Utrera Molina, whom we’ve discussed on this blog before. What follows is my translation of an article Utrera Molina wrote for the Spanish newspaper ABC in 1978, as the Constitution was being debated. Recently, Utrera’s son — Luis Felipe Utrera-Molina Gómez — reprinted this article on his blog Arriba — a blog that I highly recommend to anyone who is interested in Francisco Franco, José Antonio Primo de Rivera, the Falange, and their legacy. That is how I learned of the article. I was so impressed with the article that, with Luis Felipe’s permission, I have translated it into English and posted it here.  

Before we get to the article itself, however, allow me to translate Luis Felipe’s brief introduction to his father’s prescient article: 

“In the face of the grave hour Spain is facing, with its national unity at risk, I recover the article my father published on June 22, 1978, in ABC. The Constitution — specifically, Title VIII of the Constitution — was being drafted. Read today, the article — which was criticized as alarmist and was the first article in ABC to carry a disclaimer from the editors disassociating themselves from its content — is chillingly prophetic. In 1978, my father warned his countrymen about the flaws of the Constitution, and he continued to do so for as long as God gave him life. One did not need to be a visionary to see what my father saw. One needed only to be decent and honorable, which the vast majority of politicians during the transition to democracy were not. 

Culpable Silence, by José Utrera Molina

There are clean, serene, and honorable silences, and there are, on the other hand, devious, dark, and servile silences. There are clear silences, such as the silence Maragall imparted to the souls of his shepherds. Respectful, emotional silences. But there are also somber and culpable silences, silences of the soul, scandalous silences that are capable — in and of themselves — of destroying the purpose of an entire lifetime and of disproving the sincerity of many loyalties that only yesterday — in pleasant comfort, without the presence of menacing adversaries — were proclaimed loudly.
  
Silence at a time like this constitutes not only completely disassociating oneself from a past that, in some sense, honorably places obligations upon us, but also fleeing from the demands of the present and turning one’s back on the challenges of the future. The old philosopher Lao Tse is credited with a saying as significant as it is piercing: “The gravest ailments of man’s heart, he wrote, are the pain of indifference and the silence of cowardice.” 

I believe there are many Spaniards who, while lacking the inclination to prognosticate catastrophe, agree that the moments our nation lives today are grave and fateful. 

The Spanish Constitution is currently being drafted. Within the Parliamentary Commission constituted for this purpose, its provisions have been passed amid thunderous silences, rather than the great national debate that was predicted and hoped for. The consequence is that not only does the Constitution arouse no enthusiasm — which would, perhaps, be a good thing, the era of romantic constitutionalism being fortunately over — but it is actually drowning our people in confusion and perplexity, for the Constitution contains within it shady ambiguities, which, in exchange for opportunistic consensuses today, announce latent clashes of tomorrow.

Many grave questions have been deferred for a more or less audacious interpretation by future Governments and legislators. I will not discuss here such issues as divorce, freedom of education, the structure of judicial power, and others that have been enunciated. At this time, though, there is one matter that particularly hurts, worries, angers, and unnerves me as a Spaniard: The suspicion that this Constitution might prove to be the instrument by which something as substantive as our very national identity could be liquidated. To attack our national identity is an unpardonable crime. It constitutes treason against our very historical nature. I believe that Spanish essentiality should always remain apart from, and above, partisan and ideological differences. 

A Constitution can only be justified as an attempt to secure concord among a people. A Constitution must not be the source of antagonisms and confrontations. A Constitution must be endowed with a true synchronism and, in its current draft, I do not see an authentically conciliatory confluence. The existing juridical norm [Ed., the Fundamental Laws of the Realm, the basic laws of Spain from 1938 until 1978] has nothing to do with the “consensus” represented by the Constitution currently being drafted. While the former is founded upon those principles — few, perhaps, but indispensable — that necessarily define our national character and desire for a common project for the future, beyond the opinions of political parties, the latter is founded upon ambiguity and on the political transvestism of words that are capable, with their equivocal garb, of encompassing the most scandalous sex changes. The proposed Constitution does not exalt diversity, but rather a puzzle. It does not seek necessary decentralization, but rather a cheap mosaic. We are witnessing an embezzlement of our historical patrimony. 

Such is the case of the term “nationalities” — a veritable time bomb, planted, consciously or unconsciously, under the waterline of our national unity by the peddlers of false consensus.  

It is not my intention to enter into semantic or historical disquisitions. This has been done, and I trust will continue to be done, by people much more qualified to do so than I. My point is simply that as a politician — and, indeed, as a Spaniard — I cannot see in that term anything other than a hidden opportunity for future mischief, which will be legally protected by the term’s constitutional recognition. 

Those who claim that the issue of whether the term “nationalities” belongs in the constitution is  a mere terminological question either do not have a keen political sensibility, lack a sense of History, or are not acting in good faith. In politics there are no innocuous words. Words are used to mobilize feelings. The term “nationality” implies a nation or a State. Someone recently claimed that “Catalonia is the stateless nation in Europe that has best managed to preserve its identity.” It is very difficult, if not impossible, not to see in this statement a critique of a “deprivation of essence,” which needs to “be filled so that it can achieve its perfection.” This statement, then, epitomizes a subtle persuasion campaign aimed at one day generating a mass demand for an independent state — an eventuality to which the unstoppable dynamic of the concept of nationality will lead, if ably managed. The proposed cantonalism [Ed., a word play on the various cantons, or states, of Switzerland] will generate hostility among neighbors, provincial stife, and the dissipation of our common heritage. The artificial breakup of Spain is being engineered — and, what’s more, without explaining to the people what the taifas [Ed., a reference to the various kingdoms into which the Caliphate of Córdoba splintered in 1031] will cost them. Some seek to balkanize what is united, bargaining away centuries of history. While others are working hard to join together the diverse, some here are trying to break up what has  already been joined together. In an age in which we dream of a united Europe, here in Spain it seems as if some people would like to introduce interior passports that we would have to show each time we entered a different region. 

In the face of this dangerous ambiguity, we must affirm — once and a thousand times — that the Spanish nation is one and cannot, therefore, be subdivided into nationalities. Centuries ago, Spain forged a new form of human community, based on a geographical, cultural, and historical reality. It was a modern discovery, with a sense of universality. To change the course of history by embedding in the new Constitution stimuli for fragmentation is much more than a colossal blunder. It is to encourage today the treason of tomorrow, and I move to deny my act of faith in a Constitution that begins with this threat. 

I believe that we should strengthen our regions, that we should decentralize the state to the hilt, and that we should harmonize unity and diversity. But I also believe that nobody has the right to shatter our national unity, because that would mean the hijacking of Spain’s freedom and the painful mortgaging of its destiny. 

In closing, let me say that I think there are those who are entitled to their silence; there are those who cannot, in any way, be offended by their mutism; there are those who are able to be quiet with humility and composure, and there are, also, those whose silences are frozen because death took them before they could have learned of this latest possible misadventure. But I believe those who yesterday repeated unto aphonia, from notorious public tribunes, invocations of the indivisibility of Spain, those who made use of a cheap rhetoric of unity, those who explained their heroic deeds to those of us who, by reason of age, never knew wars or trenches, are not entitled to silence. They might, perhaps, suffer the pain of indifference, in which case they are worthy of compassion and of pity, but if they choose to remain silent out of fear or if they hide themselves in the interest of convenience and personal gain, they will not find in others any possible justification and, of course, they themselves will not be able to redeem themselves from the intimate drama of their self-deprecation. 


To remain silent when the unity of Spain is in danger would be the worst of cowardices. I, for one, cannot do other than add my voice to those that, with scandal and alarm, are being raised against the clear risk of losing it. Let it be known that not all Spaniards agreed to end up without a Fatherland. 

Monday, November 6, 2017

Catalonia Has Always Been Part of Spain

Stanley G. Payne in front of the Arco de la Victoria in Madrid. 
By the eleventh century Catalonia became in some respects the most organized peninsular kingdom and had the most fully developed legal structure (crowned by the Usatges), as well as the strongest institutional basis for the development of new law, with its territory fully defined by the beginning of the thirteenth century. Similarly, only in Catalan cities would one encounter civic development somewhat approximating cities in other parts of Europe. 

At the same time, the Catalan elite shared in the common sense of the cultural, religious, and geographical community of the Spanish states. The Catalans had earlier categorically affirmed their own neo-Gothicism, and in the immediate aftermath of the Muslim conquest their ancestors may have had a stronger sense of identity and continuity with Visigothic institutions than did the Asturians. There are many references in the Catalan chronicles to the Catalans being “de Espanya” or “d’Espanya” and occasionally even declarations of Espanya as the “patria” of the CatalansBy comparision, neo-Gothicism was much later in entering Navarre and Aragon. This concept was not merely peninsular in scope, but for the Catalans for some time included the right of sovereignty over Visigothic Septimania northeast of the Pyrenees. 


Stanley G. Payne, in Spain: A Unique History (2011)  

Saturday, November 4, 2017

Montañas Nevadas


From 1945, "Montañas nevadas," or "Snowy Mountains," has the distinction of being the only Falangist song with lyrics written by a woman. Pilar García Noreña wrote the lyrics. Enrique Franco Manera wrote the music.

The following are the original lyrics in Spanish, followed by my own translation of the lyrics into English:

La mirada clara, lejos,
y la frente levantada,
voy por rutas imperiales
caminando hacia Dios.

Quiero levantar mi Patria,
un inmenso afán me empuja,
poesía que promete
exigencia de mi honor.

Montañas nevadas,
banderas al viento,
el alma tranquila.
Yo sabré vencer.
Al cielo se alza
la firme promesa,
hasta las estrellas
que encienden mi fe.

José Antonio es mi guía
y bendice Dios mi esfuerzo;
cinco flechas florecidas
quieren alzarse hacia Dios.

Renovando y construyendo,
forjaré la nueva historia;
de la entraña del pasado
nace mi Revolución.

Montañas nevadas... 



With my gaze clear, far-reaching, 
and my forehead raised high, 
I traverse imperial routes
on the march towards God. 

I want to raise up my Fatherland, 
an immerse eagerness propels me, 
poetry that promises
strenuous demands of my honor.

Snowy mountains,
flags in the wind,
my soul is calm.
I shall prevail.
To the sky I raise
my solemn vow,
towards the stars
that illuminate my faith.

José Antonio is my guide
and God blesses my effort; 
Five flowered arrows
want to reach towards God. 

By building and renewing, 
I shall forge the new history; 
from the depths of the past 
my Revolution is born.

Snowy mountains... 

Special thanks to MaylGu for the music video and to rumbos.net for the Spanish lyrics.