Francisco Franco Bahamonde, Research Paper Example

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Research Paper

Francisco Franco Bahamonde (Franco) was born as Francisco Paulino Hermenegildo Teódulo Franco Bahamonde on December 4, 1892 in El Ferrol, Spain. He was the second of five children born to Don Nicolas Franco and Maria del Pilar Bahamonde y Pardo de Andrade1. His father was an officer in the Spanish Naval Administrative Corps, simply honoring the family’s long tradition of serving in the naval forces while his mother came from an upper, middle-class Roman Catholic background.2  Young Franco was also destined to follow in his father and elder brother’s footsteps by joining the naval forces and had joined Naval Preparatory Academy at the age of 12 but his career prospects were ruined by the destruction of Spanish Navy at the hands of Americans as well as slow rebuilding efforts3 Thus, he joined Infantry Academy at Toledo to prepare for an army career. Franco married Carmen Polo in 1923 with whom his only child and daughter Carmen was born in 1926.4

Francisco Franco Bahamonde

Early Military Career

Franco graduated from the Infantry Academy after three years at the young age of 17 after which he was stationed in Spanish Morocco in 1912. At the age of 20 in 1913, he was promoted to first lieutenant and served in an elite cavalry. His leadership and professional dedication led to him becoming the youngest captain in the Spanish Army in 1915 and second in command of the Spanish Foreign Legion in 1920. Franco’s role in eliminating insurgency by Moroccan rebels elevated him to a national hero status and he was made a brigadier general in 1926 at the age of 33. After two years, he was named Director of General Military Academy in Saragossa.

Political Career

Franco was made commander in chief of the army in 1935 due to his loyalty to the right-wing elements. He conspired with other right-wing officers to overthrow the leftist Spanish government and their rebellion marked the beginning of the Spanish Civil War. By October 1937, Franco had become the head of state of the nationalist regime. Under Franco’s leadership, nationalists started making gradual progress against Republicans and by April 1, 1939, had achieved most of their objectives. On September 29 that year, Franco’s army entered Madrid with little resistance and he became head of state of the entire country.5 Under pressure, Franco restored monarchy in Spain in 1947 but also appointed himself as a lifetime regent. He also started grooming Juan Carlos, future King of Spain.6 Juan Carlos was not initially met with enthusiasm. Juan continued to appear with Franco at all ceremonial occasions for about seven years but rarely expressed himself or revealed his thoughts.7

WWII

Franco had grand visions for Spain but the outbreak of WWII as well as the eventual defeat of the Axis forces forced him to change his approach. At first, Franco tried to bargain with Hitler after the fall of France and offered his support in exchange for economic and military assistance as well as most of France’s territorial holdings in northwest Africa. Hitler refused to meet Franco’s stringent conditions and even though Franco claimed neutrality in WWII, he remained sympathetic to Axis powers.8

Even though Spain under Franco’s leadership largely remained out of WWII, his connections with the Axis Powers led to diplomatic isolation after the end of the war though situation improved with Spain’s military assistance pact with the U.S. in 1953. After the end of WWII, he was considered the last surviving fascist dictator but he got a chance to improve his political standing by showing anticommunist tendencies in the conflict between the U.S. and U.S.S.R.9

Leadership Style

Franco was a calculated leader who would not hesitate from adapting to changing circumstances. His ability to change with the situation was evident even during his military career. When the leftist government failed to successfully manage crumbling economic and social infrastructure, Franco suggested declaring state of emergency. The government didn’t only strip him off his chief of staff position but even transferred him to Canary Islands. He refused to join any rebel group against the government in the beginning and only changed his mind in July 1936 after assessing the situation.10

Similarly, he didn’t rule Spain with an iron hand as most dictators do and even began introducing liberal reforms. Even though he emulated tactics employed by other dictators such as Hitler during the Spanish Civil War, he later started getting rid of fascist elements to reduce international opposition to his regime. Spain joined United Nations in 1950, NATO in 1953, and even gained legitimacy seal from the Vatican in 1953.11

Culture and Freedom of Speech

Even though Franco restored monarchy, he maintained tight control over press and public opinion. He suppressed trade unions and any form of opposition to the government and also promoted Spanish as the only language at the expense of other regional languages such as Catalan, Galician, and Basque. The usage of any language besides Spanish was banned in public and legal documents, road and shop signs, advertising, and exterior images. In addition, political and cultural speech was subject to tight censorship and Catholicism as a religion was promoted at official level. The influence of Catholicism even led to outlawing of homosexuality and prostitution in 1950s.12

Economic Policies and Final Years

Franco’s policies led to economic progress during the 1960s and helped remove his image of a fascist dictator. 13The economic progress was led by various efforts such as industrialization of the agricultural sector and promotion of tourism.  Franco’s health began declining in 1960s and he moved to announce the grandson of last King of Spain, Juan Carlos as his successor. Even though Juan Carlos didn’t become King until after Franco’s death, Franco had resigned himself from the government administration in 1973. 14After his death at the age of 83 in 1975, Juan Carlos became Spain’s King and restored the country’s original constitutional monarchy. Within three years, Juan Carlos had eliminated most of Franco’s policies even though Franco had hoped the structure he built would continue on even after his death.15

Legacy

Franco remains a controversial figure in Spain where many have criticized the idea of a proper memorial for a dictator whose 40-year rule led to persecution of many. A 2007 bill called the Historic Memory Law was the first public condemnation of Franco by a Spanish Government since his death. The law even called for removal of his statues in public places as well as changing of names of streets and plazas that may remind the public of him or his regime. 16

Conclusion

Franco was a dictator without a doubt and the key to his long rein was his ability to accurately calculate the changing reality and adopt accordingly. His flexibility was evident throughout his entire career and allowed him to last as long as he did. Even though the government stripped him of his chief of staff position, he didn’t join rebellion until he felt the timing was right. Similarly, he remained sympathetic to Axis Forces but stayed neutral. He restored Monarchy in Spain but appointed him as a life-long regent of the country. Similarly, he demonstrated disdain for communism to gain favor with the U.S. and other hostile western regimes.

The opposition to him and his image also improved due to economic recovery in 1960s though Franco kept a tight lid on media, opposition, and free speech. He also gained favor with the Vatican to increase his legitimacy. Similarly, one sees his nationalistic attitude in his policies such as strict enforcement of Spanish as an official language, even at the expense of other local languages.

Notes

  1. 1. Biography.
  2. FranciscoFrancbiography.http://www.biography.com/people/francisco-fran9300766
  3. 2. Ibid
  4.   Encyclopedia. Francisco Franco. http://www.encyclopedia.com/topic/Francisco_Franco.aspx
  5. Biography. Francisco Franco biography.http://www.biography.com/people/francisco-fran9300766
  6. Encyclopedia. Francisco Franco. http://www.encyclopedia.com/topic/Francisco_Franco.aspx
  7. Biography. Francisco Franco biography.http://www.biography.com/people/francisco-fran9300766
  8. Spain-Barcelona.com. Spain History – Rule of Franco (1939 – 1975). http://www.spain-barcelona.com/general/history/q-rule-of-franco.htm
  9. Britannica. Francisco Franco. http://0www.britannica.com.libra.naz.edu/EBchecked/topic/216925/Francisco-Franco
  10. Ibid
  11. Biography. Francisco Franco biography.http://www.biography.com/people/francisco-fran9300766
  12. Ibid
  13. New World Encyclopedia. Franco Francisco. http://www.newworldencyclopedia.org/entry/Francisco_Franco#Post-War
  14. Biography. Francisco Franco biography.http://www.biography.com/people/francisco-fran9300766
  15. Encyclopedia. Francisco Franco. http://www.encyclopedia.com/topic/Francisco_Franco.aspx
  16. Biography. Francisco Franco biography.http://www.biography.com/people/francisco-fran9300766
  17. Daniel, Wolls. Francisco Franco Remains Should Be Exhumed, Commission Recommends November 29, 2011. http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2011/11/29/francisco-franco-remains _n_1118505.html

Bibliography

Biography. Francisco Franco biography. http://www.biography.com/people/francisco-franco-9300766

Britannica. Francisco Franco. http://0-www.britannica.com.libra.naz.edu/EBchecked/topic/216925/Francisco-Franco

Encyclopedia. Francisco Franco. http://www.encyclopedia.com/topic/Francisco_Franco.aspx

New World Encyclopedia. Franco Francisco. http://www.newworldencyclopedia.org/entry/Francisco_Franco#Post-War

Spain-Barcelona.com. Spain History – Rule of Franco (1939 – 1975). http://www.spain-barcelona.com/general/history/q-rule-of-franco.htm

Woolls, Daniel. Francisco Franco Remains Should Be Exhumed, Commission Recommends. November 29, 2011. http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2011/11/29/francisco-franco-remains-_n_1118505.html

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