IT IS as difficult to find a word to describe the recent upheaval in Spain as it is to classify the coup d'état of General Primo de Rivera, Marquis Estella, among the many examples of military rebellions to be found in the modern history of Spain. The pronunciamientos of the last century,--amongst others that in 1874 of General Martinez Campos, in which another General Primo de Rivera, the present Dictator's uncle, took a prominent part,--were all made to the profit of some group or party. It yet remains to be proved that General de Rivera's revolt has been made to the profit of any party. Private controversy (the censorship forbids public) rages over this point; but three months of the new régime have failed to produce proofs that the former Captain-General of Catalonia rebelled with any other motive than to rid his country of its unpopular and inefficient professional politicians. All the groups, whether Maurists, Liberals, Democrats, Radicals or Reformists, which had at different times, severally or together, "held the frying pan by the handle," as the popular expression for governing the country goes, were turned out neck and crop, together with the smaller fry, the Carlist, Integrist, Republican, and Socialist parliamentary groups. None of them has benefited by the change so far. It would be too much to say that General de Rivera and his military collaborators have no political leanings. In His Most Catholic Majesty's Kingdom the Army is too closely akin to the Church as a Catholic institution for the Dictator--or President, as he prefers to be called,--not to incline by upbringing and station more to the Right than to the Left. Nevertheless, impartial observers must register the impression mentioned above, that the coup d'état has been to the immediate profit of no party.


To understand the situation that made possible General Primo de Rivera's unprecedented coup, it is necessary to recall briefly the situation created in Spain by the famous (or infamous) see-saw agreement arrived at over Alfonso XII's deathbed, at the Palace of El Pardo, by the political leaders of the day. The effects of the Pardo Pact have been operative ever since. By that pact the Liberal and Conservative leaders agreed to pass to each other the handle of the frying pan at regular intervals, on the understanding that, whichever of the two might be in power, the Opposition would help to keep out the others, i.e. such undesirables as Republicans and Carlists. The observance of this pact has been the key to Spanish politics ever since.

When the Liberal or Conservative turn came their nominees all over the country began their term of office, that is of "prey." These changes, wherein Liberals or Conservatives alternately became "top dog," affected the life of the country down to the smallest parishes; judges in the lower courts gave decisions in favor of the most favored cacique,[i] judges in the higher courts according to their party's wishes. The party saw to it that judges were removed if they followed any other course. Law suits were delayed or hurried, as would be most profitable. Roads or other improvements were built--or left unbuilt--according to the whims of caciques. The administration became choked with political nominees because there had to be two sets of officials. New posts were created; rarely were any suppressed. Administrative reforms of national importance were retarded, for what one party did the other undid.

An extreme centralist form of government made it possible for the supreme cacique of Spain, the Prime Minister, to execute his will. Certain forms were, of course, observed, but at bottom the constitutional system, copied from the British Constitution in 1876,--what a sarcasm!--has remained a fiction, chiefly owing to the Pardo Pact. The Restoration began by the edifying spectacle of the Minister of the Interior, Señor Romero Robledo, suspending over 7,000 Municipal Corporations for the purpose of "packing" the first general elections. He did this so successfully that only two Republican deputies were returned, whereas to the Constituent Cortes of 1869 no less than seventy Federal Republicans had been elected. Since then, although Republicanism has for other reasons died out, the elections have never been sincere. This is demonstrable by a thousand incidents, from the famous tale of the Galician agent who placed the polling table, guarded by two stalwarts, on the roof of a barn, down to the outrage committed on the person of Señor Besteiro, a Socialist candidate, who was locked into a latrine until after the election hour. Incidents of this character, which can be quoted down to the last elections (April, 1922), deserve to be recorded now that there is room for hope that their day is past. The insincerity of the elections has caused a situation in which there is no public opinion, and the lack of public opinion, as will be seen, is now the great obstacle with which General Primo de Rivera is confronted in his efforts at reform.

In the Civil Governors, appointed in each of the forty-eight provincial capitals, the Government has agents whose authority is so supreme that even municipal budgets are subject to their approval. In a word, the Prime Minister, through the Minister of the Interior, holds the country in the palm of his hand. For further security, beside the Civil Governor there is placed in each province a Military Governor. Only in turbulent Barcelona has the authority of these representatives of the Government ever been defied. The centralist organization, then, has done one thing for Spain,--it has rendered impossible the revolts previously organized so easily in the provinces by discontented politicians. General Primo de Rivera's coup is the exception of a rule unbroken for forty-six years.

What the centralist machine has never been able to break is the indomitable individualism of the Spanish character. The robust local life of the provinces and smaller towns has continued, with or without the support it should have received from the Government. At times of great stress emigration increased and whole districts became deserted. The hard-suffering peasants closed their homes and moved silently away. The provinces adapted themselves as best they could, and succeeded. It is a wonderful proof of the energies of the race that in spite of bad government the nation has prospered to the very considerable degree it has in the last twenty years. Those who knew the Spain of 1902, when Don Alfonso came of age, and compare it with the Spain of today, can testify to the progress made by sheer exuberance of vitality.

A few figures will show the inefficiency of the administration. The revenue of the last Budget was 2,592 million pesetas,[ii] while expenditure amounted to 3,830 million pesetas. The deficit, therefore, exceeded 1,200 million pesetas; it has averaged 1,000 millions in the last three years. It costs nearly 400 million pesetas to collect the revenue of 2,592 million pesetas. In a nation where 60 per cent of the inhabitants are illiterate, the Education Department estimates amount to 172 million pesetas, while the War Department gets 532 millions. In a country where there are still more than 4,000 villages inaccessible to wheeled traffic, through lack of roads, the Government between 1909 and July, 1922, spent on the mad adventure of Morocco the sum of 2,494 million pesetas, a sum which might have been used to revolutionize the whole economic life of Spain.

Neither the intelligence nor the perspicacity of Spain's political leaders can be held responsible for the failure to discern the baseness of the political fiction and the need for reform. The absence of hypocrisy among the professional politicians is perhaps their one redeeming feature. Speaking of caciquismo, an official report of more than a decade ago read: "Caciquismo functions in an orderly fashion worthy of a better cause. What may be called the hierarchy of its functionaries is constituted by a central oligarchy in Madrid, a regional or provincial cacique, one in each municipality, and the subaltern agents that may be considered necessary. The Boss, who from the capital leads the pack, is generally a lucky politician who owes his rapid career to an inherited title or fortune or to his especial talent for fishing in the muddy waters of the political pond. A man of great daring and few scruples, he is distinguishable often, in spite of pronounced religious leanings, by his nimble cleverness in handling intrigue. From magistrates down to road-menders all public functionaries must render homage to him, and individuals who desire to see their rights recognized are lost if, in one way or another, they do not ingratiate themselves with him."

The above pen picture is copied from a remarkable official report that runs to many pages. Pigeon-holed, it has never been of any practical value. The labor of the eminent men who drew it up has been, except as a contribution to history, utterly vain.

Don Antonio Maura had been twice Prime Minister when he made the speech from which the following is an extract: "It has become traditional that public office in Spain is neither exercised nor sought after for the purpose of protecting rights, upholding justice, encouraging culture, developing prosperity or directing the life of the nation along the channels to which the national genius fits it. . . . Underneath the constitutional frame-work, what really exists is a chieftainship (cacicato) which edits the official Gazette and distributes the state revenue. The political parties fight for this tool. . . . Systematic sedition in the name of order; violence and proscription in the name of liberty; democratic intrigue at the back-door of barracks; all imaginable forms of factious life. Never obeisance to abstract authority, nor neutrality in the application of the law, nor moderation in authority, nor perseverance to vindicate right, nor tenacity to exercise the functions of citizenship. . . ."

Since making this speech Señor Maura has been three times Prime Minister, and his followers have collaborated in other governments. He is the doyen of Spanish Premiers, one of the most respected men in Spain, yet he and his party failed ignominiously, just as other Conservatives and Liberals failed, to lead Spain out of the marsh that clogs her feet. Quotations such as the foregoing could be multiplied, from all parties and all sides, though they could hardly be more convincing. Only a few months ago Don Francisco Bergamin, ex-Minister of Finance, speaking in the Academy of Jurisprudence, lamented the fact that justice was sadly deficient in Spain. Nobody, not even General Primo de Rivera who was present, dissented.

However, the disgust of the average Spaniard with the inefficiency of the administration is not sufficient to explain the de Rivera coup. Spain could have gone on living its own life indefinitely.


The army of Spain came back discredited from the lost colonies of the New World. The navy did not come back. It had perished gloriously. The Spanish navy has no dark political history of latter years. The army has, and the army leaders are to blame, for they failed to learn the lesson of the colonial disasters and did not mend their ways. The military schools remained backward and inefficient. Barracks were insanitary and pay poor. Hundreds more officers than were needed continued to be turned out annually. In 1921 the names of 369 generals (172 on the active list and 247 in the first reserve) sprawled across the army list for an army of 311,000 men. Graft continued rife. The Moroccan adventure, to which the Maura Conservative Government committed Spain in 1909, was a necessary outlet for congested cadres. It nearly brought about a cataclysm when troops revolted at Barcelona while being embarked for Melilla, but the "bloody week" disturbances which ensued there were put down with an iron hand and the campaign continued. It was unpopular with the nation, which has never understood the necessity for it. But war with the Moors --guerra con los Moros--was news that had been so often carried across the wastes of Castile and into the furthermost recesses of the mountains of Asturias and the Pyrenees that the peasant parents accepted the hardship for their sons with characteristic resignation. The saner part of the army, however, became discontented with its own inefficiency in Morocco and turned on the Government. The officers forming the most numerous class in the army, those of Infantry, whose lot was the hardest in the campaign, formed a Union. Their discontent coincided with the contempt and disgust in which the general public held the Liberal Government of the day, and when the Union declared itself in open rebellion at Barcelona in June, 1917, it had public opinion with it.

There is written evidence (which the writer has seen, but which is still hidden away in secret archives) to show that the first phase of the "Juntas Militares" movement was anti-monarchical and that its leader, Colonel Benito Marquez, made overtures to certain foreign embassies. As the Union had refused to admit on its roll any officer above the rank of colonel, it had all the generals against it. These, combined with the politicians and reinforced by the influence of the King, soon cajoled the mass of the Unionists to their side by the simple, but from the national point of view costly, expedient of buying them off. Señor Lacierva, a typical professional politician, became Minister of War. Without consulting Parliament he gave enormous increases of pay to officers by "Royal Decree," that is to say on the sole authority of a ministerial decision countersigned by the King. Insults such as this the Cortes had often swallowed, but none more blatant. Colonel Marquez left the country and went to Cuba. There he surrendered to a friend most of the documents concerning the sedition of 1917, and they were published last year in book form in Havana.

The army, however, did not mend its ways. Augmentation of pay did not increase its efficiency and the desultory "war" with the Moor continued a drain on the Treasury without profit to the nation.

In July, 1921, General Silvestre, a court favorite, operating against the Riff Chieftain, Abdul Krim, in the vicinity of the Bay of Alhucemas, while General Berenguer, High Commissioner for Morocco and Commander-in-Chief, was engaged in the Beni Aros mountains against Raisuli, brought disaster on himself by imprudence. His army of 14,000 men broke and ran. Silvestre committed suicide. More than 10,000 of his men were massacred by the Moors in the rout that ensued,--a repetition of Adowa. Artillery and large quantities of ammunition and stores were lost. In all, the prestige of the army received its greatest blow since the Cuban campaign. One thousand prisoners,--officers and men, and civilians including women and children,--were taken by the Moors. After eighteen months of terrible captivity, during which half of them died from privation and disease, the remainder were ransomed for 4,000,000 pesetas. In Spain, however, there was a reaction. Public subscriptions were opened to purchase aeroplanes and Red Cross stores, and every sacrifice was undertaken in the effort to retrieve the national honor. For a time the campaign became nearly popular. But the advance, when it was resumed, was conducted so slowly (though 150,000 Spaniards were opposed by only a few thousand Moors) that discontent and disapproval became as real as before. A call for the assignment of "responsibilities" ran through the land from end to end. Parliament echoed the feeling, a healthy sign. The Supreme Council of War and Marine showed a disposition to see justice done on a number of cowardly officers who had been incriminated in the Annual disaster. A Parliamentary Commission began to sit and collected evidence incriminating former Ministers of War and the ex-Commander-in-Chief, General Berenguer. At this juncture General Primo de Rivera's rebellion took place.


Several circumstances, which may be only coincidences but which even so are extraordinary, accompanied the rebellion. Ex-Colonel Benito Marquez returned from exile in Cuba a few weeks previously and formed a party, the Tracistas, who now wear blue shirts and support the Military Directory. Colonel Nouvilas, the last colonel to preside over the officially defunct Juntas Militares, was one of those in the confidence of General Primo de Rivera and is now Secretary of the Directory. General Primo de Rivera, while Captain-General of Barcelona, was on intimate terms with the manufacturers, of whom many belong to the Separatist group. It may also be recalled that Don Jaime, the Spanish Pretender, spent some time in Valencia and Barcelona during the period of conspiracy preceding the coup. It will be for future historians to explain what connection there was between General Primo de Rivera and anti-Alfonsino circles. Possibly he was merely acquiring information so as to get an insight into affairs of state, possibly simply estimating existing conditions and providing for eventualities. That an officer of his traditions and standing in Spanish society and at Court should have been intriguing with enemies of the King with a view to upsetting the monarchy seems very improbable.

The coup was pulled off with the greatest ease. General Primo de Rivera laid his plans thoroughly. He even went so far as to inform privately the Spanish Ambassadors at London, Paris, and Rome of his intention so that they might be able to reassure the governments to which they were accredited. Such thoughtfulness and daring on the part of a conspirator is rare. General Sanjurjo, Military Governor of Saragossa, and the Military Commanders of the three Infantry Brigades quartered at Madrid were the other chief conspirators. Saragossa, midway between Madrid and Barcelona was of great strategical importance. Sanjurjo swore he would carry the garrison with him or be thrown out of the barrack window.

Señor Alba, the Foreign Minister, whose functions kept him at San Sebastian with the Court and the Embassies during the summer, was the first to scent danger in the air. He immediately sent word to Premier Alhucemas at Madrid, but before the latter had time to act Señor Alba, thoroughly scared by a threat that the rebels intended to shoot him, was across the frontier. The fate of the Greek Ministers was too recent! Marquis Alhucemas, moreover, showed no military instinct, nor even a faint desire to resist. He told the Minister of War, General Aizpuru, to communicate with the Captain-General of Barcelona and ask him what it was all about. General Primo de Rivera, when taxed with the matter, politely informed his chief of his plans. The Minister expostulated: "But I am the Minister!" At this point of the "conversation," which--such is the custom in Spain--takes place each party having a telegraph clerk beside him who transmits questions and reads the answers off the tape, General Primo de Rivera merely broke the tape and issued his operation orders. The Government constituted itself in permanent session and communicated with King Alfonso. But the latter, though on occasions he has reached Madrid in six or seven hours after being called, was in no hurry. He took twenty-four hours to answer the Premier's call. By then everyone knew that the majority of the garrisons in Spain were ready to support Primo de Rivera, whose first care had been to declare his loyalty to Don Alfonso XIII. On His Majesty's arrival in Madrid, Marquis Alhucemas proposed the immediate arrest of the rebellious generals and the re-opening of Parliament. His Majesty said that such grave proposals required reflection before he could assent, whereupon Marquis Alhucemas resigned. Within twenty-four hours General Primo de Rivera was at the head of a Military Cabinet, called the Directory, and within another forty-eight hours the Sovereign Cortes was dissolved.

Europe in general hailed General Primo de Rivera, Marquis Estella, as a Spanish Mussolini. Beyond the energy with which he acted, however, General de Rivera took few leaves out of Mussolini's book. He would have nothing to do with Parliament, whereas Mussolini faced the national representatives and met constitutional requirements in so far that he wrung from them a bill conferring extraordinary powers. Should the entire edifice of Fascismo disappear tomorrow, the authority of the Italian King would remain and the Italian Constitution would still exist. Should Primo de Rivera disappear tomorrow, and with him Riverismo (for the two are identical), the situation of Spain would be quite different. The Moderating Power would be left seated on the throne with no one to moderate. Every Spanish patriot catches his breath at the thought of the dangers lurking below the surface.

Since securing the dissolution of the Cortes, which according to the Spanish Constitution is itself a participant in sovereignty since it shares with the monarch the duty of representing the nation, General Primo de Rivera has led the King one step further down what may be a ladder over the ship's side. The Constitution provides that within three months of the dissolution of one Cortes another Cortes shall be called, and in Article 32 it imposes upon the King the duty of convoking a Cortes within the said period. This is the only occasion on which the Constitution uses the word obligation in connection with the King. It is surely the gravest injunction imposed upon the Monarch to safeguard the liberties of the nation. And it has been overridden. On September 17th last the Cortes elected in April, 1922, were dissolved. December 17th arrived and the only notice the King and the Dictator took of the constitutional injunction was to dismiss from office the Speakers of the Chamber of Deputies and the Senate who had dared to solicit an audience to remind His Majesty of the duties he had sworn to uphold.

The political situation in Spain today is therefore a Dictatorship which acknowledges no other source of power than the point of the sword--rather, one might say, the flat of the sword, for only a menace was needed to chase away the pusillanimous politicians. The Dictator has the whole-hearted support of the King and invokes a mandate from public opinion, but so far, beyond the evident fact that everyone is glad that the professional politician is gone, no remarkable movement of public opinion has come forward to support the Directory. To sum up, a completely successful coup d'état, a submissive nation, a profound constitutional crisis, a powerful centralist organization--the Military Directory--these are the elements of the situation today.


The Directory as a machine is simplicity itself. As at present constituted (it succeeded a provisional Directory of five Generals which was only in office a few days) it is composed of eight generals and one admiral, with General Primo de Rivera as President. None of the generals is a minister otherwise than ranking as such for honors, the use of official motor-cars and so forth. The President alone is responsible to the King, who in turn countersigns all the Decrees approved by the Directory. These are submitted by the President over his sole signature and become effective on publication in the Gazette.

Up to December 21st the Directory sat daily and transacted an enormous mass of business. 18,920 questions were dealt with, 8,122 of them being passed on to the Departments and 3,614 being made the subject of a special report by a General. After that date under-secretaries were appointed to the different Ministerial Departments and ordered to carry on, reporting daily to the Directory. This ended the destructive, or disruptive, period of the Directory's task. The constructive period has now begun. Since the advent of the Directory martial law prevails. The Military Governors everywhere took over power from the Civil Governors, the constitutional guarantees were suspended, and persons and property may be seized at any moment. The regular police force has been reinforced by the extension to the rest of Spain of a body of local constables called the Somaten (armed with muskets), which for centuries has rendered yeoman service in Catalonia. The Somaten mobilizes immediately in times of crisis and reports for orders to the local Military Governor. Some 500 officers, volunteers from active service or retired officers passed as physically fit, ranking from Lieutenant-Colonel to Captain, have been enlisted and sent to the chief towns throughout Spain to act as mentors to the new local authorities, to inspect administrative acts, to report on the execution of the laws and regulations, and in general to stimulate active public life in all its branches, not omitting the boy scouts.

The first blows of the Dictator were aimed at caciquismo. "Boss rule must now be torn up by the roots." This cry pro-claimed far and wide brought joy to the hearts of all those, and they are legion, who had suffered at the hands of tyrants in town and country. The dissolution of the Cortes was acclaimed. The useless tongue-wagging Deputies were gone! The Juries were suppressed. Now there would be a chance of criminals getting their deserts! The sudden dismissal one fine morning of the 9,254 Municipal Corporations was also acclaimed except in certain towns (a considerable number, especially in the north) where the municipalities were efficient. The hue and cry raised against idle state employees was echoed far and wide. (The Directory in this connection has not proved too severe after all, only 100 out of 5,000 were really dismissed, and only four hours of office work, 10 A.M. to 2 P.M., is now required.)

One of the first acts of the Directory was to enact severe penalties against Separatists. Hundreds of these were hounded out of Barcelona. The use of the Catalan tongue and the display of the Catalan flag were restricted. No extraordinary measures of protection, other than the special ones already enjoyed, have been extended to the manufacturers of Catalonia, but they owe one great benefit to the Military Government: terrorism has been stamped out. No longer is the gunman supreme in the streets and workshops of Barcelona or other industrial centers. A couple of summary executions had an immediate effect. From March to September the total of dead and wounded workmen or factory owners was 201; from September until the end of the year it was only 10.

An inspecting commission, invested with full powers, was also appointed to inquire into the conduct of the judicial branch of the administration. Its task has been completed within the two months stipulated, with the result that fifteen magistrates have been dismissed from office and 4.45 per cent of the magistrature reprimanded. Dishonest traders have been fined wholesale. Free passes on railways and tram lines have been suppressed. No new posts can be created in Ministerial Departments, including the War Office, until the staff of civil servants has been reduced 25 per cent. Whenever a servant or official, no matter of what rank, retires or dies, his place remains unfilled; the Department must carry on without him.

Such are a few of many administrative reforms the Directory has to its credit.


The foregoing narrative of events may serve as a basis upon which to make some comment.

General Primo de Rivera acted on an impulse. Like many of his countrymen he was "fed up" with the errors and faults of successive governments, their lack of drive, their incompetence. He saw the army badly led in Morocco and discredited at home. The last straw, he declares, was when a pardon was extended to the guilty members of a regiment which had revolted at Malaga, on the eve of embarkation for the front, and murdered one of its officers.

The complete success of the rebellion and its bloodlessness justified the General's contention that he voiced the feelings of most Spaniards, but the utter failure of the following three months to produce any body of collaborators for the Directory is pregnant with meaning. It signifies that there is very little conscious citizenship among the Spanish masses. There is patriotism in both high and low circles, but of public opinion, organized or unorganized, there is practically none. The constitutional fiction of the old régime kept it under. It cannot be expected to blossom suddenly from under its stone.

This lack of backing is a great handicap to the Directory. Without a party or Parliament, just nine lone general officers, bereft of experience in public affairs or habits of statesmanship, it finds itself terribly at sea on many questions. It is fairly competent to deal with many details of administrative reform, but it is manifestly nervous in handling larger issues. At first the Directory declared itself to be only a temporary organization. It expected to complete its task, it said, within three months. Before the three months had passed General Primo de Rivera declared he would have to remain in power much longer, for it was apparent that caciquismo was dying hard. The Directory therefore may now be considered permanent. But its embarrassment in its isolation is tremendous, as the following survey of the Tangier problem will show.


The Tangier Convention

When the Directory came to power it found conversations under way between England, France, and Spain for a rediscussion of the International Statute for Tangier. A statute had been negotiated in 1914, but Spain's refusal to sign at that time had held matters up. After the Great War it became necessary to readjust the statute. This has now been done, the Spanish plenipotentiaries, however, signifying their failure to secure recognition of the Spanish point of view by signing only "ad referendum." The Spanish plenipotentiaries alleged that with Tangier forming an enclave in the heart of the Protectorate, Spain's difficulty in carrying out her civilizing task in Yebala and the Riff will be increased and that all the fruit to be borne of Spanish efforts will be plucked by foreign hands.

The Directory was put in a quandary whether to ratify the Convention or not. It was quite evident that France and Great Britain were preparing to "passer outre" should Spain refuse, though it was not clear what form of action they could take to internationalize Tangier without Spain's participation. The Cortes being dissolved, the Directory in desperation raised the censorship in the hope that the press might be able to make some helpful suggestions; but though a great number of articles were printed nothing more helpful in the way of advice to the Directory was forthcoming as an alternative to sign, than not to sign.

The dilemma was serious. It afforded an opportunity for a revision of Spanish policy which the Directory was not in a position to seize. If there has been any clear manifestation of national opinion of recent years it is that the nation is averse to the Moroccan adventure. There is no more certain economic fact than that the expenditure swallowed up in the adventure is the root cause of the budgetary deficit and a wall built across the way to Spanish regeneration. While gold flows like water in Morocco the Castilian plain is parched for want of irrigation, the oldest villages in the world are crying for roads and schools, humble homes are full of children whom the Government will not educate but on whom falls the heaviest burden of all. Personally, General Primo de Rivera has expressed his disapproval of Spain's African policy. Military experts agree that in case of war the possession of the Protectorate would be a source of weakness rather than of strength. This was, if ever, the obvious moment for Spain to withdraw, with the advantage, moreover, that very appreciable compensations might be obtained from one or other of the parties anxious to take Spain's place. Nevertheless, the Directory has decided to ratify the Convention. Spain is to continue with the cannon ball attached to her feet in the Protectorate and with new commitments in the international duties undertaken at Tangier.

Spain, Great Britain and France

Spain's trade interests bind her to Great Britain and France far more closely than to any other countries. England purchases her ore and fruit, France her rough wines. France is her neighbor by land, England her neighbor by sea, whose shipping fills her ports. Rupture of the Entente Cordiale would be deeply deplored in Spain, but it could hardly affect fundamentally her relations with either of these countries, unless, in the event of hostilities, her intervention was solicited. In this connection it must be remembered, however, that Spain's military organization is purely defensive and is deficient in modern equipment.

Italy, Spain and the Vatican

Alliances between nations can only be based on very close mutual interests or formed for purposes of national defense. The former at present do not exist between Spain and Italy, nor is either nation threatened from without. General de Rivera and Mussolini have impulsively grasped each other's hand and have proceeded to conclude a commercial treaty which contains certain utopian provisions, such as that Spanish and Italian produce must not compete with each other in world markets and that Italian industries must try and burn Spanish coal (which is so inferior that Spanish industries will not use it). Mussolini and his new friend may have discussed plans for the guardianship of the Mediterranean in the event of a possible French hegemony, but before Spain can count seriously as a maritime power her naval forces will have to be signally increased. She only possesses six modern submarines, for instance, and of her three small capital ships one is a wreck on the rocks of the Riff Coast.

The real object of King Alfonso's visit to Rome was to salute His Holiness, the Pope. Here again, however, Spanish diplomacy has not shone, for although His Majesty had the intention of asking some very definite favors and of making himself the spokesman of the South American episcopate by soliciting a more numerous representation for them on the benches of the Sacred College, the way for the petition was not paved by previous representations in the right quarter, nor even by the courtesy of communicating to the Curia the substance of his speech. The Pope's reply was extremely non-committal and no action has followed.

Iberianism and Pan-Iberianism

For the last decade Hispano-Portuguese relations have improved steadily, and if communication between the two countries were subject to fewer obstacles there would be even greater and more friendly intercourse. As it is, it takes longer to reach Oporto from Madrid--260 miles--than to reach Paris--670 miles. Seville and Lisbon, distant from each other 200 miles, are a day's journey apart. But inter-university visits, scientific congresses, historical celebrations and sport rivalries are steadily making for greater intimacy, and this at some distant date may lead to a pooling of electric power resources and a "zollverein." Portugal, though possibly worse governed than Spain, is as full of local vitality and prosperity.

Spain's dream of voicing Latin-American aspirations is far from being realized. When the Latin Republics joined the League of Nations Spain hastened thither, but Pan-Iberianism in any form remains little more than a word, a rallying cry for hysterical patriots. No practical basis for coöperation has yet been found. However, useful work is being done towards strengthening the spiritual ties uniting Spain with her emancipated daughters. A current of scientific and literary intercourse is being maintained. Spanish professors occupy chairs in Argentine universities and special missions are continually passing to and fro. The coming voyage of King Alfonso to South America may perhaps mark an epoch of better understanding, which in itself is a worthy goal for the governments of Old and New Castile.


Though the army has tried to make of Morocco a second Cuba, there has been sufficient national pulse to sound an alarm. This the man who planned the Directory has heard, and it must be recognized also that in the Spanish army today there are cultured and studious men. These have taken the lead according to their lights, and as long as internal peace and order are maintained something is being gained all the time for the country's progress. Barring possible accidents--such for instance as the sudden demise of General Primo de Rivera--there are in sight no obstacles to a long period of office for the Directory, unless it should tire of its duties. The Directory is--up to the present time at any rate--the army.

The Church, that second great power behind the throne of His Catholic Majesty, approves. Bishops have issued pastoral letters in praise of the new champions of law and order. Other Bishops have thrown their arms round General Primo de Rivera and embraced him publicly in the streets. General Primo de Rivera, standing with the King on the steps of the Papal Throne, is, in the eyes of the clergy, a symbol. And the clergy in Spain count. Their schools and charitable institutions fill a want which the state has neglected to satisfy. Señor Canalejas, the Democrat Premier who was assassinated in 1912, and who was instituting a policy of liberty of cults, always acknowledged the immense debt Spanish society owed to the religious orders. The Directory, therefore, will not be obstructed by the Church nor will it raise any question likely to create difficulties with the Church. There is no cause for the one, there is no need for the other.

We have seen that between fascismo and riverismo there can be no real comparison, though the example of Mussolini has been inspiring. General Primo de Rivera had no black shirts. He has now a few blue ones, but they are only the outcome of a local effort at organization in Catalonia, nothing more. Nationalism, which in fascismo stands for so much, in riverismo is of little account. In Italy, fascismo stands for union. In Spain, where Catalonia and the Basque provinces still retain very considerable administrative privileges, riverismo might stand for disunion were General Primo de Rivera to commit the terrible mistake of unifying the administration of Spain as the administration of Italy is unified. There is already a feeling of great uneasiness in Biscay, where the interference of Madrid in local affairs is feared. The Directory has declared war on Separatism, and the Catalan language and flag are proscribed as they never have been. Separatism is at bottom a bogy, for Catalonian industry without the markets of Spain and the high protective tariff would be ruined, and the Catalans are not such bad business men as to want to cut their own throats; but they like complaining of Madrid and its bad administration of national resources. With a little firmness, and granted that the administration improves, the separatist agitation will subside.

To sum up, the great need of Spain is stability of government and her great problem that of rendering more efficient the administration so that national vitality may be encouraged to assert itself. The danger is that the Military Directory may fall into the nets the old politicians are spreading everywhere. A conscious body of public opinion cannot be bred in a day in a backward country like Spain, and should the Directory abandon power before such a body begins to come to the fore it will have failed in its main purpose. The best tribute paid to the Directory is that the workers,--who form the real Spain, which is by no means inhabited solely by toreros, dancing girls and idlers,--have so far accepted the new régime and are working willingly under it.

[i] The word cacique was introduced into the Spanish language by Christopher Columbus, being the name of the native despots he found among the tribes of the New Continent.

[ii] The dollar today is worth about 7.82 pesetas.

You are reading a free article.

Subscribe to Foreign Affairs to get unlimited access.

  • Paywall-free reading of new articles and a century of archives
  • Unlock access to iOS/Android apps to save editions for offline reading
  • Six issues a year in print, online, and audio editions
Subscribe Now