With close to forty years of political power, Francisco Franco was a man feared by many and loved by few. He coupled great economic growth with severe cultural
external image 392790_Francisco-Franco.jpgrepression which left many struggling for identity during his reign which began in 1936 and ended with his death and democratic transition in 1975. The legacy of Francisco Franco isn't as one-sided as is to be expected from such an oppressive government, this is due to the many large changes made in economic policy which expanded the middle class and raised living standards. This isn't to say that economic growth outweighs severe oppression, but it swayed many into trusting Franco, or as he was called during his reign: Su Excelencia el Jefe de Estado.

The Good

Francisco Franco's technocrat economists started making huge strides within the economy of Spain during the late 50s. After a short recession, an economic boom began which is known today as the "Spanish Miracle," (6) and is famous for its extremely rapid economic growth as well its unevenness and disparity between rural Spain and industrialized Spain. As the boom began, large cities were growing at rates unprecedented in Spain. This is in-part due to huge growth in the automotive sector which is evident by the close to 800,000 cars produced during this economic boom (1). Part of this is because of Spain's rapid industrialization during this time. Many smaller economic areas of Spain such as the Basque Country were injected with this economic stimulus which caused rapid growth in both population and industry in these areas.
This growth in population was due to rural Spaniards of the countryside migrating to the city in search of jobs (5). This
external image Spain_gdp_per_capita.jpgmigrant worker phenomena caused much unevenness within this economic boom as cities developed beyond measure while the countryside dwindled in both necessity and prestige. The economic growth did have its downsides, but overall the growth is deserving of the title "Spanish Miracle" as it turned Spain into a world power once again.

The Bad

Human rights controversies are one of the biggest attributes associated with the Franco regime. This isn't without good reason as Francisco Franco wished to establish a cultural and national homogeny through language politics, which is the opposite of what we see today throughout the world. What a homogeny in the language politics of Spain created was the sole use of Castilian as it became the only official languages, while others were essentially outlawed.
The impact of this is extremely drastic because Spain is a region famous for its multicultural and multilingual facets, and by forcing upon all cultures a singular language
its forcing a single culture as well. The oppression of cultural identity is what many remember of Franco and his legacy. The severity of his human rights policies is what
prompted many censorship movements in order to silence the people and their outcries for justice and equality (2). In this time women faced an ever-growing gender gap
in terms of rights and quality of life. Many important jobs such as doctors, professors, and judges were positions which could not be held by women under Franco's regime. This oppression came to a head when women who were fleeing abusive relationships were sometimes
external image 0.jpgsentenced and imprisoned under the law "abandono del hogar" or abandoning the home (3). The general cultural and identity tyranny under Franco is why many of the once thriving cultural epicenters of Spain are now shadows of their former selves. This includes the Basque culture which only recently has been taught in Spanish schools to allow for future generations to learn the language and cultural roots of their ancestors. Sadly, the bad outweighs the good in the case of Francisco Franco because of his ruthless censorship of non-Castilian identities.

The Ugly

After the assumption of power Francisco Franco used his power in Spain to dispense with those he deemed "undesirable". He sent political radicals and opponents to forced labor camps, and in a country where simply speaking ill of Franco could be cause for immediate death, some in the labor camps deemed themselves lucky. The
external image inauguracion_valle_caidos_1959.jpgfascism seen in Spain during Franco's era was seen in countries such as Italy and Germany during the second World War, but why did Franco's reign last so much longer than theirs? Much of this has to do with Spain's neutrality during the war which was deemed acceptable due to the heavy loss of life caused by the Spanish Civil War in 1936. This extension of WW2-esque fascism proliferated within Spain during Franco's era. Homosexuals were sent to mental institutions and others simply disappeared and are assumed dead. Recently, mass grave sites of Franco-era Republican sympathizers have been excavated which has reignited the controversy of the forty year fascist reign (4). Francisco Franco led Spain with an iron fascist fist which caused the untimely demise of many dissenters and those of other ideological views. He dragged a country of formerly large cultural presence down into ubiquitous and singular identity which is the cause of much cultural confusion in modern-day Spain.

Works Cited

1) http://www.mongabay.com/reference/country_studies/spain/ECONOMY.html
2) http://sitemaker.umich.edu/fascistpersonalitycult/francisco_franco
3) Tremlett, Giles. Ghosts of Spain. Faber and Faber Ltd. 2006. London. p. 211
4) http://www.time.com/time/magazine/article/0,9171,1129487,00.html
5) http://es.wikipedia.org/wiki/Milagro_econ%C3%B3mico_espa%C3%B1ol
6) Jensen, Geoffrey. "Franco: Soldier, Commander, Dictator". Washington D.C.: Potomac Books, Inc., 2005. p. 110-111.

Mackenzie Walker, SPAN 150