WHEN General Franco decreed the establishment of a grand Council of Hispanidad on November 2, 1940, he took a major step forward in the Falangist program for unifying the Hispanic world under Spanish leadership. According to the decree, the Council was to work to unify the "culture, economic interests and power" of the Hispanic nations. On January 7, 1941, the organization began to take actual form with the appointment of 74 Spaniards as its initial members. They included the Minister of Foreign Affairs, as President; the holders of various governmental positions in Spain and of certain major diplomatic posts in Latin America; important officials of the Falange; a few military officers; and a number of prominent intellectuals and representatives of the Catholic Church. Further orders issued in the course of 1941 provided in detail for the Council's organization and functions.

One of the first moves made by the Council was to invite to Spain last year about twenty Spanish Americans who had shown most interest in the concept of Hispanidad as promoted by the Franco régime since the end of the Spanish Civil War. These Americans were asked to visit Spain so that they might help draw up in definite form the bases for the doctrine. They were mostly young men of the extreme Right who were not, on the whole, particularly outstanding figures in their native countries, although one or two were of considerable reputation, such as José de la Riva Agüero, of Peru.[i]

While the idea of Hispanidad promoted by the Franco régime has been actively supported in South America by certain limited groups, it has of course met with opposition and ridicule in anti-Fascist circles. To some persons unfriendly to the Franco régime both in South America and in the United States, it seems that Spain is nourishing fantastic imperialist dreams. Since the Franco régime and its Falangist supporters have had so much to say not only about Hispanidad but also about reviving the "Spanish Empire" and creating an "Imperial Spain," some unfriendly individuals have suggested that the aim was to regain territorial possession of part or all of the lands once ruled by Spain in the Western Hemisphere. As a matter of fact, the aim is somewhat more subtle and less fantastic than that. The term "Empire" has sometimes been used by the Franquistas without any particular reference to America. For example, it has been employed to mean the forging of the unity and internal prosperity of Spain itself, or the building up of the Spanish Navy, or the annexation of Gibraltar and territory in Africa. As regards Latin America, the political aims of Spain's present rulers seem to be: (1) to convert Latin America to the Spanish form of Fascist ideology; and (2) on that basis to mold all the Hispanic states into a bloc of nations under the leadership of Spain but not under her sole political dominion.

In this plan, the bloc of Hispanic states would work together to defend their sovereignty and common civilization from outside enemies, especially the United States, and would also be expected, according to certain Spanish writers, to coöperate in offensive moves, such as demanding the return to the Hispanic world of the French, English and Dutch colonies in Central and South America and the West Indies. Stronger cultural and economic ties would also be promoted among the member states, with those on this side of the Atlantic looking to Spain for a much greater amount of cultural guidance than they have accepted in the past century. Finally, the Hispanic bloc would work to establish "Hispanic ideals" throughout the rest of the world -- apparently meaning thereby the doctrines of Spanish Fascism and Spanish Catholicism. According to José Pemartín, in his "Qué es 'lo nuevo' . . . ," Spain and the other Latin nations of Europe must Catholicize the rest of Europe, while Spanish America has the mission of converting the United States to Catholicism.

Hispanidad is the concept with which Spain seeks to win the Latin Americans over to this policy. As promoted by the Spanish Franquistas, it involves two basic political and religious ideas: (1) a return of the whole Hispanic world to the Hispanic tradition and ideals of the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries, which means largely getting rid of the liberal, masonic, democratic, and Communistic ideas which have come into Spain and Spanish America since 1700; and (2) the formation of all the Hispanic states (which means Brazil and Portugal as well as Spain and Spanish America) into a bloc of nations for the purposes described above. The basic and most influential exposition of the first idea is contained in Ramiro de Maeztu's "Defensa de la Hispanidad," which appeared in 1934 and brought the word "Hispanidad" into wide usage for the first time. His thesis is that Spain and the Hispanic American peoples erred disastrously in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries by imitating the liberalism and democracy of foreign countries, particularly France, England and the United States, and he urges a return to the Hispanic ideals of the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries. In his mind, these ideals were above all the Spanish Catholic faith and the great missionary desire to carry that faith to all peoples. The present Spanish régime professes to be putting into effect an ideology in keeping with the older Hispanic principles; and it wants the Hispanic American nations to look to it as a model and follow in its steps.

The Falangists have used various means for spreading their propaganda in South America, but they were more active in this respect during and immediately after the Spanish Civil War than they are now. At that time there existed at least one organization of the Falange, made up mainly of resident Spaniards, in each South American country. Little by little, however, these have gradually ceased their activities, at least under the name of Falange. In some cases they have been succeeded by organizations of pro-Franco Spaniards under different names, such as the Fundación Española in Montevideo, the Casa de España in Buenos Aires, the Hogar Español in São Paulo, and the Círculo de Acción Española in Santiago de Chile. The first two, however, came to an end early in 1942, and the effectiveness of the group in Chile appeared to be decreasing.

This decline in activity has occurred for various reasons. In the first place, the interest and enthusiasm among the Falangists themselves naturally sagged somewhat after the fighting in the Spanish Civil War was over. Secondly, the political atmosphere in South America is less favorable now to Falangist ideas than it was before the outbreak of the present World War. Since 1939, the general trend has been toward closer Pan American coöperation and increasing sympathy for the democracies, with a resultant cooling in the attitude toward Spain, where the governing group is totalitarian and has been linked up pretty definitely with the Axis. The Franco régime's severe treatment of the Spanish Republicans since the end of the Civil War and its talk of "Empire" have also tended to alienate sympathy in South America. There are several examples of South American leaders who supported the Nationalist cause during the Spanish Civil War but who have now turned against it. One is the Uruguayan statesman Pedro Manini y Ríos, who until the coup d'état in Montevideo last February was one of the leading candidates for the Presidency of Uruguay. In September of 1936, reacting against the outrages to persons and property which had occurred in Spain under the Republic, he signed, along with other Uruguayans, a telegram of support for the Burgos régime on the understanding that the revolution was to establish a constitutional government along democratic lines. On January 18, 1942, however, Manini y Ríos publicly withdrew his approval of the Franco régime and denounced it for its dictatorial character, its "persecutions and violent reprisals" against Republicans, its foreign policy in harmony with the Axis, and its "incredible claims" to restore its "hegemony over what was the Empire of Charles V."

The growing opposition to the Falange has been illustrated recently in other ways in Uruguay, as well as in several other countries. In January 1942, the Falangist organization in Montevideo was dissolved by the Uruguayan Government. In Lima, the Peruvian Government suppressed a Falangist periodical called Unidad which had been published there since 1938. In Buenos Aires about the same time the Falangist organization dissolved itself voluntarily. In June, the Ecuadorian Government cancelled a contract under which the Franco régime had sent a pedagogical mission to their country.

The Spanish intention is that eventually, through agreement with the various Hispanic American nations, prominent citizens from each of them will be included in the Council of Hispanidad, which thus will become a supranational body. The American members, when named, are to meet as a separate branch of the organization in some American city; and sections of the Council are to be established, by diplomatic action, in all the Hispanic countries of the New World. Meanwhile, the Spanish branch of the Council, which has its seat in Madrid, has already carried out or initiated a number of projects. It has arranged for the publication of books dealing with relations between Spain and Latin America, and is planning for the exchange of newsreels and newspaper and other articles between Spain and the New World. It sends congratulatory letters to South Americans for speeches expressing an ideology in harmony with that of the Falangists. It also has a Political Section, the mission of which is to present "the common ideal" to Spanish and Spanish American youth.

The Franco régime has been accused of working on behalf of the Axis in South America, over and beyond the mere diplomatic representation of German and Italian interests which it assumed in the countries which severed relations with the Axis after the Rio Conference. The charge may quite possibly be true, but it is difficult to find direct evidence to support it. Falangist propaganda in Latin America has occasionally contained out-and-out pro-German statements and has been quite definitely anti-British, anti-United States, anti-Communist, anti-liberal and anti-democratic. Although such propaganda may have been inspired by Germany and may be intended largely to promote German aims, it may, on the other hand, be purely Spanish in origin, for Spain can find reasons of her own to dislike the countries concerned -- for example, Britain's presence in Gibraltar, the Spanish-American War, the influence which the United States has acquired in Latin America, and the Soviet Government's support of the Spanish Republic during the Civil War. Whether or not the motivation comes from Berlin, however, the propaganda must be welcome to Germany, since it is directed against democracy and the enemies of the Axis. The rôle played by individual Falangists as German agents in South America in other fields than propaganda, and the possible pro-Axis activities of Spanish legations and embassies in the countries that have broken relations with the Axis Powers, must remain matters for conjecture.

Romantic, sentimental and cultural feelings for Spain, divorced from any bearing on current political questions, are naturally rather widespread among Spanish-speaking South Americans. Love of Spanish literature, affection for Spain as the "Mother Country," admiration for Spanish heroism and for other noble qualities of the race -- such Hispanist traits are to be found among liberals and democrats as well as anti-liberals and anti-democrats, and are fostered by Spanish Republicans in exile as well as by Spanish Franquistas. But the clearly political idea of Hispanidad as promoted by the Franco régime, or related concepts of Hispanidad having current political and religious import, have been accepted and promoted in South America by only relatively small groups of intellectuals, generally zealous Catholics. In this type of Hispanidad there is very little popular or general interest. It has made headway mainly in certain intellectual circles in Argentina, Peru and Colombia, and, to a less extent, in Uruguay. Elsewhere it has found little echo. Certain extreme nationalist groups in Paraguay and Chile are influenced by it, but mainly because they like its principles in themselves quite apart from any association of these with the Hispanic tradition.

In Argentina, interest in the idea of forming a bloc of the Hispanic nations for political, cultural and economic purposes is found among some of the extreme nationalists, certain of the Catholic clergy, and a few lay Catholics outside strictly nationalist circles. The Argentine nationalists consist of eight or nine small groups of young men centered in Buenos Aires, with sympathizers in the provinces in some cases. Although generally approving of the Castillo Administration's foreign policy, most of them oppose the existing régime and wish to see it displaced by a more nationalist one. Their opposition to British and North American economic imperialism in Argentina, and their ideological affinities with Nazism and Fascism, make most of them wish to see the Axis win the present war. However, certain differences of opinion stand in the way of any union between them at present. Real interest in Hispanidad is limited to two or three of the most Catholic of these groups, one consisting of young intellectuals who have joined together in an institution called the Cursos de Cultura Católica in Buenos Aires. These young men of the Cursos, who come on the whole from well-do-do and rather aristocratic families, issue two reviews in which they set forth their political ideas. Their interest in Hispanidad goes along with their strong opposition to liberalism, democracy, masonry, Jewry, and British and North American "imperialism;" with ardent admiration of Juan Manuel de Rosas, an Argentine dictator of the past century; and with a desire for the restoration of the old Viceroyalty of the Río de la Plata, by which they mean the annexation by Argentina of Uruguay, Paraguay and Bolivia.

These Argentine nationalists feel that Argentina's character and tradition are Hispanic, and that she must remain faithful to them as to her true being. They hold that the Argentine leaders of the nineteenth century, by imitating the liberal, democratic and materialistic ideas of France, England and the United States, committed a great error. Now Argentina must return to her true Hispanic nature, getting rid of the tenets and practices borrowed from abroad and reviving Catholicism, other spiritual values of traditionalist Spain and authoritative government. They feel, moreover, that in adopting foreign ideas Argentina laid herself open to the entry of British (and to a less extent, North American) economic interests, which they allege now dominate and exploit the country to a large degree and corrupt Argentine politics. The nation must get rid of this control by foreign capital, they say, and must take its resources and public services into its own hands.

Among the Argentine clergy there is rather widespread sympathy for strengthening the Hispanic tradition in so far as that means reviving and preserving Catholicism and traditional Spanish morality. Some of the clergy go beyond this point and favor the anti-liberal political concept of Hispanidad as well. Among these is the Archbishop of Salta, who took the initiative for a Congress of Hispanidad at Salta with representatives from Spain, Portugal and the Latin American nations. The proposal aroused considerable hostile criticism in democratic and socialist circles, but was supported by Enrique Ruiz Guiñazú, the Argentine Foreign Minister.

The present Argentine Administration, and especially Ruiz Guiñazú, has certain Hispanist tendencies, although one finds difficulty in saying to what extent it has any real interest in Hispanidad as a political concept. La Fronda, the Buenos Aires daily which is inspired by President Castillo, has expressed editorially the anti-liberal political and religious concept of Hispanidad. Unquestionably, the Administration is on very friendly and cordial terms with the Franco régime. Ruiz Guiñazú visited Spain last year, and in an interview while there spoke favorably of the present government and praised Franco highly, calling him "a true statesman in the fullest sense of the word." Moreover, in two recent speeches he has expressed an interest in cultivating certain traditional Hispanic values as a bond of union among the Hispanic American nations. One of the extreme Hispanist-nationalist groups in Buenos Aires claims to be in touch with him and says that he has more interest in Hispanism now than he did a while ago. But from such evidence it is difficult to decide just how far the Hispanism of the Administration really goes in a political sense.

In Colombia, certain important elements among the Conservatives, who form the chief party of opposition to the Liberal Administration are active proponents of a Catholic, anti-liberal, anti-United States Hispanidad closely in tune with the Franco concept. Interest in this sort of Hispanidad has been shown by Laureano Gómez, the leader of the Conservative Party, both in his speeches in the Senate and in the pages of El Siglo, the Bogotá newspaper which he directs. Connected with Gómez is a group of young Conservatives far to the right who style themselves the Academia Caro and meet in the same building which houses El Siglo. They give much attention to Hispanidad in the review which they publish, entitled Revista Colombiana, and show great interest in Maeztu and Falangist Spain. Several years ago, moreover, there was formed in Colombia a small but active nationalist youth movement, distinct from the Conservative Party, which drew a great deal of its inspiration from Spanish Falangism and Hispanidad; but this nationalist movement now seems to be virtually defunct and some of its former supporters have lost their enthusiasm for Franco's policies and principles.

The interest taken in Hispanidad in Peru shows certain different characteristics from the movement as it exists in Argentina and Colombia, although supporters of the concept in all three countries of course have points in common. In Peru the movement does not stem from Maeztu, on the whole, although it has respect for him and some ideas in common with those expressed in his book. Here the current interest in Hispanidad goes back somewhat further and represents to a considerable extent a reaction against the Leftist and Indianist current rather than against liberalism. Peruvian supporters of Hispanidad are anti-liberal, but they use its anti-liberal teachings more to counter the assertions and claims of the Indianists than to attack liberalism as such. The Indianist current seeks to exalt the Indian and his civilization and denounces Spain's colonial policy in America in order to justify the effort to advance the political and social conditions of the Indians in Peru at the expense of the ruling white class. The Hispanists, who are whites belonging to the social aristocracy, seek to justify the continuance of white supremacy by exalting Spain's contributions to Peruvian civilization and picturing her activity during the colonial period in a very favorable light. Although the Hispanists are persons of considerable social, intellectual and political influence in Lima, it can hardly be said that the highest government authorities share their interest in promoting Hispanidad very definitely. When the Government invited a Spanish delegation to visit Peru for the celebration of the four hundredth anniversary of the discovery of the Amazon, their aim was not to promote Hispanidad but rather to gain Spanish support for Peru's claims in her boundary conflict with Ecuador. In this dispute, Peru claimed that the real point of departure of the expedition which discovered the Amazon was Cuzco, in Peru, rather than Quito, in Ecuador, and to back up her claims was planning to celebrate the discovery of the great river as the achievement of a band which had set out from the former city -- in short, as a Peruvian not an Ecuadorean event. It was felt that the presence of an official Spanish mission at this celebration would lend weight to the Peruvian contention. The Spanish delegation arrived in Peru the latter part of November 1941 and was courteously received with many expressions of affection for the mother country. After Pearl Harbor, however, the continued presence of the Spaniards in Peru became rather awkward. The Government did not want to strike a discordant note in the policy of hemisphere coöperation and solidarity, and was embarrassed by having as its guests an official delegation from a totalitarian country with strong sympathies for Germany and Italy. The program of the Spanish delegation was therefore shortened, its activities were made less public, and it left Peru at the beginning of January 1942 instead of staying on into February as originally planned.

In Uruguay, Luis Alberto de Herrera, leader of the chief party of opposition to the present Administration, has done some talking in favor of Hispanidad, but of a rather vague type. He invoked it especially when he was opposing coöperation with the United States and calling attention to the dangers of Yankee imperialism. Two years ago, for example, while attacking the idea of North American coöperation in the establishment of bases in Uruguay, he argued the necessity of defending Uruguay's Hispanic heritage and character against outside encroachments. A section of Herrera's party, headed by Alejandro Gallinal Heber, have shown interest in a more clear-cut concept of Hispanidad in harmony with the wishes of the Franco régime; and so have a small number of extreme nationalists and members of the Catholic political party in Uruguay. But they remain a definite minority.

Certain Paraguayan nationalists who are close friends and supporters of the Higinio Morínigo régime draw some inspiration from Spanish Falangism. For example, Dr. Carlos Andrada, director of a newspaper in Asunción, belongs to this nationalist school and favors a government for Paraguay somewhat on the order of the Franco régime in Spain. However, the nationalists in Asunción draw their chief inspiration from the traditions of Paraguay itself in the period prior to 1870, especially from the career of Carlos Antonio López.

Taking South America as a whole, we see that the conception of Hispanidad often includes the idea of opposition not only to the political influence of the United States but also to its influence in moral and religious realms. Its followers think of it as standing for Catholicism as against the Protestantism of the United States and Protestant missionary activity in South America; for a spiritual concept of life as against the materialistic concept which the United States is considered to embody; and for the traditional Spanish code of morals as against the idea of greater liberty for women and other "corrupting" ideas which come from the United States, especially by way of the moving pictures.

Despite the variety of forces to which Hispanidad attempts to appeal, we can conclude that in the political form in which it is promoted from Spain by the Franco régime it has not won a large numerical following in South America. Its supporters are largely persons of considerable intellectual ability, good social position or significant political influence. But they are a good deal more important in their influence than in their numbers. On the whole, present political conditions in South America are not favorable for the propagation of Hispanidad in political terms. Pan Americanism and democracy, not Pan-Hispanism and Fascism, are the political watchwords of the day; and the régime of General Franco now seems to be even further from its distant goal of achieving political solidarity with the Latin American nations than it was on the morrow of its victory in the Spanish Civil War.

[i] Of those invited from South America, only two had gone to Spain by last summer. One was Carlos Real de Azúa, a young Uruguayan, who spent last February and March in Spain; the other was Juan Carlos Goyeneche, young Argentine nationalist, who went to Madrid in April for a seven months' stay. Three young Colombians planned to go by way of New York, but failed to obtain the necessary visas from the United States Government, according to their statements to the writer of this article.

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  • WILLIAM B. BRISTOL, recently in South America as a Fellow of the Social Science Research Council; for a time instructor in history at the University of Puerto Rico
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