“On the Field!”: The Unfulfilled Promise, by Xavier Casals

The Spain emptied was created during the so-called “developmentalism & rdquor; of the dictatorship, between the 60s and 70s. It reflected a paradox of Francoismwhich proposed agrarian Spain as the incarnation of authentic Spain and identified its values ​​with those of the country, but at the same time stimulated an industrializing policy that depopulated it. The regime thus had a contradictory relationship with the rural world: it elevated it and at the same time caused its decline. Let’s look at it.

The Civil War: the countryside against the city

The Civil War (1936-1939) is usually seen as a clash between fascism and anti-fascism, between democracy and dictatorship, but it was also a struggle between agrarian and domestic Spain (controlled by the rebel army) and urban and industrial Spain (held by the Republic). Antonio Royo Villanova, politician and university student who joined the rebels put it this way: “From the industrial and mining areas, rich and powerful, came destruction and anarchy. Peace, patriotism, religious belief, Christian brotherhood, intimate and deep national solidarity have sprung from the agrarian, poor and forgotten regions. In this framework, the Franco supporters projected the conflict as a struggle between urban and rural civilization, that the historian Michael Seidman rassumes as follows: “The first was proletarian, collectivist, materialist and promiscuous; the second, peasant, individualistic, disciplined and spiritual. Rural civilization was sensitive to dictatorship; the urban, to parliamentarism & rdquor ;. In fact, the rebel side had a triple capital status in Castile, which ran between Salamanca (the headquarters), Burgos (the seat of government) and Valladolid (the “blue” capital for its mighty Falange). Franco even considered moving the country’s capital from Madrid, the “red city”, to Seville. The result of that anti-urban and agrarian discourse was – as stated in a 1937 propaganda work, La Nueva España Agraria – that Franco “would return the privileges and wealth to national agriculture that took from it a wrong policy, which flatters the cities. has. .”;. That is why in 1939 the regime had the slogan “On the field!”

The field, a winner-loser

However, the opposite happened because Franco chose an industrializing policy (in 1941 the National Institute of Industry or INI), which became a missile against the countryside from the 1950s, as it led to the dissolution of the rural community by promoting the exodus to urban areas and abroad. In this way, between 1950 and 1970, agriculture lost about 2 400 000 jobs, while in the same period the population living in cities with more than 10 000 inhabitants went from 52.1% to 66.5%. The Falangist leader and former minister José Antonio Giron regrets the change: “Franco’s mistake […] was to believe that with houses, refrigerators and cars the viruses of a revolution that […] they obeyed the terrifying anti-Spain machine. […] It started to be appreciated in everything […] that we begin to become perfect strangers among ourselves & rdquor ;. in his eyes, the reprehensible urban consumer boom has replaced the commendable rural austerity.

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The cinema clearly reflected this change through two well-known films. In 1951, the movie ‘Furrows’, by José Antonio Nieves, showed the drama of a rural family who emigrated to Madrid. There the daughter had a “sweetheart & rdquor; and the son a black marketer, and the father ordered to return to town. 15 years later, in 1966, things changed “The city is not for me”, by Pedro Lazaga. The work showed the adventures of a rural grandfather in Madrid who also saw his son’s family threatened by the corruption of customs, but the criticism of the urban world was friendly: the big city was already an attractive place.

In short, agrarian Spain was eventually sacrificed by the regime that helped it build, whose discourse of elevating the rural world contrasted with the industrialization it promoted and collapsed it. The territorial imbalances that were then created were no longer reversed with democracy. Todaythe candidates of Spain emptied of 13-F They are, in a way, the last echo of that great unfulfilled promise of Francoism: “On the field!”


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