MANY people in Spain, especially those living in the mountains or in remote valleys, are asking what the Republic has actually accomplished during its first year of existence. Only echoes of the first steps forward have as yet reached these far corners of the land. Naturally the question is also being asked abroad.

Let me begin by summarizing the problems which urgently demanded solution immediately after the revolution on April 14, 1931. The decree convoking the Cortes particularly emphasized two subjects -- judicial proceedings to determine the responsibilities of the old régime, and the drafting of the Republican constitution. But in addition to these two matters, one involving the past and the other the future, there were other urgent problems to be faced. Three of them may be described as antecedent questions -- the military question, the religious question, and the regional question. The Republic did not stop at finding remedies in these important categories, however, but also made vigorous efforts to build firm foundations for its future by undertaking reforms in public instruction, social and agrarian policy, and the judiciary.

In my story of what the Spanish Republic has accomplished in 365 days I shall take up in turn these eight problems.


One of the ungrateful tasks confronting the Republic has been the liquidation of the past. The monarchy and its servants were guilty of crimes which could not be allowed to go unpunished.

The Constituent Assembly quietly assumed this task. The responsibilities of the old régime could not be considered in terms of the ordinary Penal Code, a simple technical law covering the offences of daily life and never devised to punish the treason of a king and his so-called ministers. For this reason the Constituent Assembly was obliged to vote the Law of Responsibilities of August 27, 1931, and to create a commission to draw up the indictment. Judgment has been pronounced in the most urgent case, and soon Parliament will learn the second part of the affair: the responsibilities of the authors of the 1923 coup d'état.

At dawn on November 20, 1931, a verdict of guilty was pronounced against the ex-King, and the sentence was published four days later. The crime of Don Alfonso of Bourbon and Hapsburg-Lorraine was correctly defined as high treason, and the royal culprit was declared an outlaw. Let me now explain the sentence. In Germanic times the law was an "order of peace;" whoever violated the law broke the peace and was deprived of its benefits. The Germans called it Friedlosigkeit. An outlaw, without a country or family, was a public enemy. Anyone could pursue him, capture him, put him to death and attach his property. As is said by Binding, one of the most enlightened German authorities on penal law, Friedlosigkeit contained the germ of all penalties except the fine, which came later. Granted that anyone may kill an outlaw or seize his person, we find in Friedlosigkeit the origin of the scaffold and the penitentiary. The verdict of the Spanish Constituent Assembly is, therefore, particularly appropriate. Alfonso of Bourbon is outlawed; any Spanish citizen may seize him and the state must attach his property. Freidlosigkeit has been pronounced against him by the people.

The medieval flavor of the penalty should disturb no one. A man who, following the tendencies of his ancestors, wished his country to return to the absolute monarchy of the Middle Ages, has been chastised with a punishment appropriate to his atavistic personality. It is a modern principle to make the punishment fit the crime.


The work of framing the text of the fundamental law of the Republic passed through three stages. The first lasted from the middle of May to the early part of June 1931. In it, the Comisión Jurídica Asesora, a technical organization created by the government and attached to the Ministry of Justice, drew up the preliminary draft, which was the Constitution in embryo. In the second stage, lasting from July 28 to August 18, the plan was revised by a Commission nominated by the Cortes, and consisting of twenty-one deputies, with myself as chairman. The draft they adopted became the real basis of the Constitution. In the third stage, the draft constitution was discussed by the Cortes and finally approved December 9, 1931.

The Constitution consists of 125 Articles, contained in a preliminary chapter and nine other chapters. Laws are made affecting the national organization, nationality, the rights and duties of citizens, the Cortes, the Presidency of the Republic, the government, justice, the treasury, and the guarantees and amendment of the Constitution.

Preliminary Chapter: General Provisions.

The preliminary chapter establishes basic principles.

Article 1 contains a definition of the Spanish Republic: "Spain is a democratic republic of workers of all classes, united under a régime of liberty and justice. The powers of all its organs derive from the people. The Republic constitutes an integral state, admitting the autonomy of municipalities and regions."

Article 2 establishes the equality of all citizens before the law. The third establishes religious neutrality: "The Spanish State has no official religion." The fourth states that the official language is Castilian; the fifth that the capital is Madrid. The sixth demonstrates the peaceful inclination of our country by subscribing to the principle set forth in the Briand-Kellogg Pact: "Spain renounces war as an instrument of national policy." The seventh recognizes the rules of international law, which are accepted by the Spanish state and incorporated into its positive law.

Chapter I: National Organization.

In Chapter I of the Constitution the Spanish nation is organized. The state shall be integrated by the union of municipalities into provinces and by regions constituting autonomous governments (Art. 8). All municipalities shall be autonomous in matters over which they have jurisdiction (Art. 9), and the provinces shall consist of the same municipalities of which they are at present formed, save for such modification as is authorized by law (Art. 10).

If one or several neighboring provinces, with historical, cultural and economic characteristics in common, agree to organize themselves into an autonomous region in order to form a politico-administrative unit within the Spanish state, they shall submit a charter the approval of which shall depend upon the following conditions: (a) that it be proposed by the majority of its governing bodies, or failing that, by at least those whose municipalities comprise two-thirds of the registered voters; (b) that it be accepted according to the procedure indicated by the electoral law, by at least two-thirds of the registered voters of the region; (c) that the Cortes approve of it (Arts. 11, 12).

In so far as matters within the jurisdiction of the state and the autonomous regions are concerned, a tripartite classification is followed. Article 14 enumerates the subjects which as regards both legislation and execution lie directly within the jurisdiction of the state. In Article 15 are enumerated such matters as are within the jurisdiction of the state but in which the autonomous regions have a voice in the measure of their political powers as determined by the Cortes. In Article 16, in order not to prejudice matters left by the Constitution within the jurisdiction of the regions, detailed enumeration is omitted and a general formula is adopted: "In matters not included in the two previous articles, sole rights to legislate and the power of direct administration lie within the jurisdiction of the autonomous regions, in conformity with the respective charters approved by the Cortes."

Article 17 provides that there shall be no discrimination between the inhabitants of a given region and other Spaniards. Article 18 declares that matters not exclusively recognized in the charter of an autonomous region shall be considered to be within the jurisdiction of the state. The Spanish state may determine the basis on which the legislative powers of the autonomous regions shall be distributed, when harmony between local interests and the general interests of the Republic so require (Art. 19). The laws of the Republic shall be executed in autonomous regions by the authorities of those regions, except in the case of laws the application of which is entrusted to special departments (Art. 20).

Lastly it is stated, as in the Constitution of Germany, that "the law of the Spanish state shall take precedence over that of the autonomous regions." But in order that the autonomy of the latter may not be impaired, this phrase is added -- "in all matters not exclusively reserved to the latter by their respective charters" (Art. 21).

Chapter II: Nationality.

Most existing constitutions leave problems relating to nationality to be settled by special laws; but the tradition of Spain is for the constitution to take such matters in its own hands and to place them in the forefront. As we were making a constitution for Spain, and not merely translating one from French or German (although the influence of the Mexican and German constitutions cannot be denied), we wished to follow the Spanish tradition. We therefore set out in this section to define who are Spaniards, and how and when they acquire or lose their nationality. In this connection the last section of Article 24 is of supreme importance. Our cordial feeling for the Spanish communities living on the other side of the Atlantic made us feel the importance of granting double nationality, subject to reciprocity, to the natives of Spanish-American countries, Portugal and Brazil. Up till now Spanish Americanism has got no further than champagne bubbles at fraternal banquets. We wish to bring it into more real and more practical channels.

Chapter III: Rights and Duties of Spaniards.

Declarations of rights were originally concerned with the individual man. They were considered sacred but were rather ineffectual. About the middle of the last century we became aware of an evolution. The French declaration of 1848 marked the transition from purely formal statements to statements of fact, since, although not very definite in their wording, these latter affirmed to some extent the right to work and the right to assistance. Briefly, these are economic formulae which do not confer any right to participate (real or theoretical) in the act of government, but offer a basis for ordinary decent human life and for all activity apart from political liberty.

Recent constitutions are characterized by the development of this process, as is revealed -- each in its own way -- by the fundamental laws of Mexico (1917), Russia (1918) and Germany (1919). It has indeed become inconceivable that rights of protection or recognition belong alone to isolated individuals. For the same reasons that the individual claims rights, collective entities are entitled to them. Consequently modern constitutions must take cognizance of the family, the trade union, and associations of every kind. Now mere statements of principle are not enough, as they frequently are ineffectual in the struggle with the executive power or even with the judiciary. Something more is required, namely, a real guarantee based upon concrete regulations and a court of appeal which can be approached to demand the fulfilment of obligations denied by ordinary authority. In short, what is now demanded is that declarations of the rights of man should not be mere declamations, as they were called in Germany when the Constitution of Weimar was under discussion. Nowadays every statement of social theory shows much concern for the rights of groups and collective individuals and for the guarantees of those rights.

That is what we have tried to achieve. We have tried to uphold and fortify the old dogmatic claims, but at the same time to provide guarantees to the citizens against attacks of the executive power, and even of the judiciary.

Chapter IV: The Cortes.

When we began to outline our new legislative structure we were confronted with the problem whether to have one chamber or two. It seemed to us that the argument of the Abbé Sieyès on this point is conclusive: if the two houses are united and represent the popular will, one of them is superfluous; if one is in opposition, then one or the other does not represent the popular will. The old Senate had to be abolished because if it was to be a place in which superiority of age, culture, or wealth were represented that concept is incompatible with the democratic system. On the other hand, if the purpose of a Senate is to establish a coöperative system in which capital and labor are associated, so far from solving the problem, the antagonisms between these two elements become more profound, more powerful, more insoluble. Consequently, we did not authorize a Senate but only a single Chamber.

The text of Chapter IV includes precepts similar to those of all other constitutions. It is stated that legislative power is vested in the Cortes (Art. 51), elected by universal suffrage which is equal, direct and secret (Art. 52); every citizen of the Republic over twenty-three years of age is eligible for election to the Cortes without distinction of sex or of civil status, and the term of office shall be four years (Art. 53). The inviolability and immunity of parliamentary proceedings are expressly stated (Arts. 55, 56).

The Cortes shall meet without being summoned on the first working day of the months of February and October of each year and shall function for at least three months in the first and two months in the second period (Art. 58); and in order to assure its existence, it is stated that "when the Cortes has been dissolved it has full rights to convene again and is invested with power as the legislative arm of the state, from the moment when the President has failed to order new elections" (Art. 59).

The government and Cortes are empowered to initiate legislation (Art. 60); but the Cortes may authorize the government to legislate by decree upon matters reserved to the legislative power. Such authorization must not be of a general character and Congress may demand information as to such decrees (Art. 61).

Article 62 establishes what is called the "Permanent Committee of the Cortes," consisting of twenty-one members of Parliament. This is not a Committee with legislative powers, but one which carries over the fiscal powers of the Cortes when it is not in session. A glorious Spanish precedent, and under the same name, was established by the Cortes of Cadiz of 1812. Its function is so valuable that in Austria, Mexico and Czechoslovakia we also find these Permanent Commissions.

Article 66 incorporates the referendum into our political code. Accordingly, laws voted by the Cortes may be submitted to referendum if 15 percent of the electoral body so demands; but this does not apply to the Constitution, its complementary laws, the laws ratifying international agreements registered with the League of Nations, regional charters, or tax laws. Under similar conditions the people are entitled to exercise the right of initiative.

Chapter V: The Presidency of the Republic.

Chapters IV and V overlap somewhat.

Only Spanish citizens of forty years and upwards are eligible for the Presidency, provided that they be in the full enjoyment of their civil and political rights (Art. 69); but the following may neither be proposed nor elected: (a) military men on active service or in the reserves, or retired soldiers who have not been at least ten years out of active service; (b) the clergy, ministers of various sects and religious orders; (c) members of reigning families or ex-reigning families of any country, whatever the degree of relationship between them and the heads of those families (Art. 70).

The term of office of the President of the Republic shall be six years, and he shall not be reëlected until six years after the termination of his last term of office (Art. 71). The election of the new President shall occur thirty days before the expiration of the previous presidential term (Art. 73). The first prerogative of the President of the Republic is freely to appoint and dismiss the Premier, and, on the proposal of the latter, the Ministers; but as Spain has adopted a definitely parliamentary system "he shall be forced to dismiss them if the Cortes should definitely refuse to accord them its confidence" (Art. 75).

It is likewise the privilege of the President of the Republic: (a) to declare war and to make peace in conformity with the conditions set forth in Article 77; (b) to make civil and military appointments and confer professional titles, in accordance with the laws and regulations; (c) to authorize decrees by his signature which have been countersigned by the Minister concerned, and previously agreed to by the government, the President having the right to submit the proposed decrees to the Cortes if he believes that they conflict with any existing law; (d) to take whatever urgent measures are necessary to the defense, integrity and security of the nation, provided he immediately communicates them to the Cortes; (e) to negotiate, sign and ratify international treaties and conventions relating to any subject and to see that they are fulfilled throughout the entire national territory (Art. 76).

Articles 77 and 74 deal with the conditions under which war may be declared and under which Spain may resign from the League of Nations. With Articles 7, 65 and 76, they constitute the international portions of our Constitution. It is our belief that no other political code has gone so far in stating its desire for peace.

Chapter VI: The Government.

The government shall consist of the Prime Minister and his Ministers (Art. 86). The former directs and represents the general policy of the Cabinet (Art. 87). The President of the Republic may appoint one or more Ministers without Portfolio (Art. 88). The members of the Cabinet are responsible to the Cortes, collectively for the policy of the government, and individually for their own ministerial conduct (Art. 91). The Prime Minister and his ministers are also individually responsible, in civil and criminal law, for violations of the Constitution and the laws. In case of violation, the Cortes shall bring its accusation before the Court of Constitutional Guarantees (Art. 92).

Chapter VII: Justice.

In all contemporary constitutions the desire to strengthen the judicial power is evident. It would seem as if the state, in all its modern phases, wished to invoke the fundamental principle of the state as law. This is proved by the invocation of the unconstitutionality of the law against the acts of the legislature, and the establishment, in many cases, of the right of administrative appeal in matters of dispute. This can only be done by attributing to the judicial power a prestige which it never had before; because, in spite of the deceptive name of power, it was never anything more than the administration of justice, subject to the executive. For this reason, Article 96 of the Spanish Constitution provides that the President of the Supreme Court shall be elected by the Cortes.

Chapter VII: The Treasury.

This chapter was drawn up by expert technicians in the Comisión Jurídica Asesora. The Parliamentary Commission introduced only minor modifications, and the Cortes also gave approval with but few changes. As one of the least qualified of those concerned with its formulation, I shall merely say that many of the points contained in this chapter were considered by some to go far beyond the requirements of the Constitution. But this excess of regulation was an attempt to find a guarantee that what happened during the Dictatorship should never happen again -- the squandering of the resources of the nation.

Chapter IX: Guarantees and Amendments of the Constitution.

It is in this final chapter that we create the Court of Constitutional Guarantees, which to a certain extent resembles that of Austria, but which is above all a synthesis of the American, French and Mexican systems.

With jurisdiction over the entire territory of the Republic, the Court is authorized to deal with the following: a) appeals concerning unconstitutional laws; b) appeals concerning individual guarantees, failing appeal to other authorities; c) conflicts concerning legal authority and other conflicts between the state and the autonomous regions and those between the regions themselves; d) the examination and approval of the powers of the presidential electors who, together with the Cortes, shall elect the President of the Republic; e) the criminal responsibility of the Chief Executive, the Prime Minister and his Ministers; f) the criminal responsibility of the President and the judges of the Supreme Court and of the Attorney General (Art. 121).

The last article of the Spanish Constitution treats of the problem of Amendments. The guarantees of constitutional amendment give our political charter the appearance of a rigid constitution, but the fact is that nowadays flexible constitutions have almost completely disappeared, even when they demand a qualified majority for the amendment, or require the summoning of a constituent assembly. It is evident that today flexibility is losing ground.

I shall bring this subject to an end with a few brief words on the tendency of our political code. I must admit that we drew up an advanced constitution; this was deliberately decided upon by the Cortes. We drew up a left-wing Constitution, but it was not a socialist one. Those who accuse us of that are untruthful. Our recognition of private property shows that our work was not socialist. We made, however, a daring constitution. We definitely opposed those who wished to make Spain a monarchy without a king. Our constitution is a democratic one, inspired by liberty, and of great social import.


Ever since 1917 the Spanish Army has been in latent revolt. It bartered with Cabinets and went behind the backs of Ministers to confer with the King. In 1923, as we know, it achieved the famous coup d'état which made the Dictatorship possible.

The army was the nightmare of successive monarchical governments. The number of officers was 26,000 and the War Ministry absorbed almost one-third of the total Spanish budget. According to Señor Carner, the present Minister of Finance, the monarchy in the last few years squandered five thousand million pesetas in Morocco, a sum larger than Spain required for her whole economic reconstruction.

The program of the Revolutionary Committee, afterwards the Provisional Government of the Republic, provided for a reduction of the number of generals and other army officers. Today the active list has been reduced from 26,000 to 7,662, plus 1,756 on service in Africa. The remainder have been placed on the reserve list, without promotion, and in time will be dropped. The rank of captain-general has been suppressed. The number of military academies has been reduced from five to two. The number of ordinary troops has been reduced to 105,367, including non-commissioned officers, a new class which has been created between the officers and the private soldiers. The troops in Africa today number 41,774, of which 9,000 are Moors.

Despite the fact that we have created general inspections and a Supreme War Council and have raised the pay of the rank and file, military economies effected in the past year have amounted to 70,000,000 pesetas, plus 40,000,000 pesetas of economies in Morocco. The Minister of War is continuing his reforms, designed to make the Spanish army an effective instrument but to keep it from being a burden upon the country. On April 7 of this year, for example, Señor Azaña submitted to the Cortes a proposal that all branches of the army in Africa and in the zone of the Spanish Protectorate in Morocco shall be recruited, so far as available credits permit, by the voluntary system.

In this manner a reform which the Spanish people desired for many years has been achieved by the Republic within a few months and without the slightest disturbance.


Another problem which the Republic had to solve if it was to look forward to a peaceful future was the religious question. Under the monarchy it could never be touched. Except as a means of stirring up the left-wing electorate, nobody dared to think or talk of the separation of church and state. As everybody knows, the Constitution of 1876 declared the apostolic Roman Catholic religion the official religion of Spain. When the Liberal Government came into power in 1923 it tried to introduce very modest modifications of the law so as to permit a faint freedom of religion; but the high dignitaries of the church were in opposition and the government was obliged to drop the project.

By Article 3 of the Constitution of 1931 church and state are not separate. The state has no official religion, and all sects are placed upon the same footing. The Cortes debated this subject in every detail, and the adoption of Article 26 occasioned a crisis in which Premier Zamora and Don Miguel Maura, Minister of the Interior, both resigned. This article and Article 27 are of such importance that I quote them literally.

Article 26: All religious denominations shall be considered as associations subject to special laws. The State, the Regions, the Provinces and the Municipalities shall not favor or give economic assistance to any churches, associations or religious institutions. A special law will regulate the total abolition, within a maximum period of two years, of State grants to the Church. Those religious orders which in addition to the three canonical vows require a special vow of obedience to an authority other than the State, are dissolved. Their property shall be nationalized and devoted to charitable and educational purposes. The remaining religious orders shall be subject to a special law voted by the Constituent Cortes and resting upon the following provisions: 1. Dissolution of those orders which, because of their activities, constitute a danger to the State. 2. Registration of those which remain in a special register controlled by the Ministry of Justice. 3. Inability to acquire or hold, either themselves or through an agent, more property than is strictly necessary to their support and the direct fulfilment of their own purposes. 4. Prohibition to engage in industry, commerce or teaching. 5. Submission to all the tax laws of the country. 6. Obligation to render annual accountings to the State regarding the use of their funds in relation to the purposes of the association in question. The property of the religious orders may be nationalized.

Article 27: Liberty of conscience and the right to profess and freely practice any religion are guaranteed on Spanish territory, with due respect to the requirements of public morals. Cemeteries shall be exclusively under civil jurisdiction. There shall be no separation of sections in them for religious reasons. All denominations may practice their rites in private. Public religious manifestations must in every case be authorized by the government. No person shall be compelled officially to declare his religious beliefs. Religious status shall not in any way affect civil or political status, save in so far as this Constitution provides for the nomination of the President of the Republic and the Prime Minister.

In accordance with Article 26, the government by a decree dated January 24, 1932, dissolved the so-called Company of Jesus, which has played such a part in the public and private life of Spain. And the Comisión Jurídica Asesora has drawn up the preliminary bill relating to denominations and religious orders, giving effect to the articles of the Constitution.

A year ago the idea of reducing religion to its proper limits in the human conscience would have seemed an impossible dream on the part of Spanish liberals. Yet although the deputies who form the tiny minority of the extreme right in the present Cortes threatened to bring about civil war in Navarre and in the Basque country, the constitutional provisions were adopted and have been or are being executed. Nor has public order been disturbed.


Under the monarchical régime Spain constituted a unitary state, despite the fact that in certain regions -- particularly in Catalonia -- there existed a deep-rooted desire for autonomy. The fact that this was completely denied by the monarchy made things worse and created highly dangerous separatist currents. Primo de Rivera promised complete autonomy to the Catalans provided they helped him in his schemes; but once he had achieved power, he not only forgot everything he had promised but furiously and stupidly persecuted the Catalan language. Catalonia, deeply wounded, developed an ungrounded hatred for the rest of Spain, and especially Castille. At the same time a sentiment for autonomy developed in the Basque country and in Galicia, although not so powerfully.

This was the difficult situation with which the Republic was confronted. The federal idea had the support of a number of republicans, and concessions to the idea of autonomy were inevitable. This was agreed in August 1930 between the representatives of Catalonia and the other revolutionary forces in the famous agreement of San Sebastián, when the revolution was being prepared.

In our Constitution we deliberately refrained from stating that Spain is a federal republic. We refused to say so because nowadays both the federal and unitary systems of government are evidently passing through a crisis both of theory and practice. Take the case of Germany. The Weimar Constitution established the powers of the Reich and reduced the titles of the former states to Länder. In other words, the German federal state is being transformed into an integral state. But the Spanish case is the reverse: hitherto it has been a unitary state, but now several of its regions desire autonomy.

The old antithesis, unitary state versus federal state, must nowadays be superseded by the synthesis of the integral state. The typical unitary state has been passing through a crisis of impotence ever since the beginning of this century, when its weaknesses first began to be apparent. Since the war, international limitations placed upon a state's freedom of action, and the demands of new national entities, have increased the unitary state's difficulties and make the crisis plainer than ever. All the new states (including France, which prior to the acquisition of Alsace-Lorraine was a model of the unitary system) have been obliged to depart from the fundamental principle.

Nor has the federal state succeeded in surviving, either basing itself on the principle of mutuality (as exemplified by Pi y Margall) or organically; it could not establish itself satisfactorily, either on theoretical or practical grounds, as a transition toward the integral state. The case of Brazil, which has been following a reverse process, has geographical and historical reasons so clear that they do not contradict what has been said. As for Austria, it is not a parallel case, because it did not begin as a real unitary state but as a federation under the imperial crown of different territories possessing separate organs, a fact which was merely accentuated on the advent of the Republic. In this connection I may point out that in spite of the use of the word federal in Article 2 of its Constitution, Austria is really less "federal" than is Spain under the Constitution drawn up by us, as will be seen by comparing Articles 14, 15 and 16 with the corresponding articles of the Austrian Constitution.

The substitution of the integral synthesis of the state for the old antithesis was the wise aim of Preuss; his intention could not be fully realized, but progress has been made in that direction ever since the German Constitution was adopted. The method has been to diminish the remnants of the sovereignty belonging to the federated states until full political and administrative autonomy had been substituted therefor, and on the other hand to emphasize the administrative decentralization of the Prussian provinces until that decentralization amounted in practice to political and administrative autonomy. Out of this process was to emerge a single integral state, the German state, as well as autonomous territories corresponding to the old states or their descendants, plus the Prussian provinces. This purpose was not completely achieved, but such progress was made that today one can legitimately ask whether the German state is federal or not; and secondly, whether the crisis through which both the federal and the unitary state are passing is not to be surmounted, as Preuss indicated, by means of the integral state.

In our case the integral state has an advantage over the unitary state in that it is compatible with different grades of regional autonomy. And, compared with the federal state, it has the advantage that, without losing its own character, it permits the existence of other territories, bound together by close administrative and political ties (yet without impairing the various possible degrees of administrative decentralization), side by side with other regions which may desire and are empowered to assume functions of self-government in varying degree -- all without imposing a uniform relationship between the state and its various kinds of territory.

That is what our Constitution offers. Articles 15, 16 and 20 are clearly opposed to the unified state; Articles 14 and 18 do not admit of federalism; and Articles 17, 19 and 21 obviously proclaim the integral system. The Constitution has left open for parliamentary discussion the charters of regions which aspire to autonomy. The Catalan charter has been discussed and voted upon by the people of Catalonia. A special commission of deputies, under the chairmanship of Don Luis Bello, has investigated the matter and now the Cortes is quietly discussing it, undisturbed by clamor in the street.

Whatever reform may eventually be adopted by the Chamber will, I am certain, put an end to a problem which was poisoning the soul of Spain. When Catalonia enjoys self-government a great sentimental wound will be healed. Harmony will be established between the state and the various regions, and the general public will be able to look ahead more serenely.


In its effort to lay proper foundations for the future the Spanish Republic has given profound thought to the subject of education. The monarchy, aiming to keep its subjects in bondage, fostered ignorance. The funds allocated to public instruction were incredibly meager. The entire system of Spanish education had obviously to be reconstructed from top to bottom; but the most urgent need was for wider and better elementary instruction.

At the fall of the monarchy 50 percent of the Spanish people were illiterate. More than one million children had no schools. In Madrid alone 45,000 children were receiving no education. Between 1908 and 1930 the monarchy built 11,128 schools, making a total of 35,716 schools in Spain. In one year the Republic has built 7,000 schools, and in the next four years will add 20,000 more.

Not only have new school teachers been added to care for the 7,000 new schools, but the wages of former teachers have been increased. For example, there were 5,033 teachers who received 2,000 pesetas a year, and 1,800 who received 2,500. The Republic could not tolerate such starvation wages. In July 1931 all were raised to 3,000 pesetas. In all, 21,516 teachers have been given higher wages. In this period of intense economic difficulty the Republic is proud of the fact that in one year it has improved the material conditions of such a number of teachers. There has never been anything approaching this in our history or in the history of any other people.


When he assumed his portfolio as Minister of Labor, Don Francisco Largó Caballero was obliged to dictate several urgent measures. The first of these, dated April 22, 1931, declared May 1 a national holiday and proclaimed the ratification of the Washington Convention relating to the eight-hour day. This historic event was followed by various other emergency rulings: the extension to agricultural laborers and longshoremen of the benefits of social legislation, formerly confined to industrial workers; the organization of mixed agrarian juries; the creation of the mixed Commission of Agricultural Arbitration; the inauguration of collective leases; the inauguration of compulsory maternal insurance; the granting of loans to small landowners and farmers for harvesting purposes; the creation of the Patronato de policia social inmobiliaria del Estado; the abolition of the allotment of farm laborers; the creation of mixed juries in railroad cases.

Once these urgent measures had been adopted we could begin the real work of planning a general social policy. This policy was summed up in seven projects of law, covering labor contracts, mixed juries in labor cases, national employment agencies, the reorganization of the Ministry of Labor, professional associations, workers' control, and, finally, a decree relating to coöperatives. Six of these seven measures have already been converted into law. Still under discussion is the measure relating to workers' control and a measure inaugurating industrial accident insurance. The bill providing for the latter, already approved by the Labor Council, establishes an annuity instead of the compensation previously paid to those incapacitated. This annuity may amount to 50 percent of the wages earned by the worker prior to the accident. This figure is one of the highest granted by any legislation in the world.

The key to the policy adopted by the Minister of Labor will be found in the Contract Labor Bill, governing the relations between employer and employe. Most countries still lack a satisfactory law on this subject. Even Germany, the pioneer in industrial legislation, has not yet found it possible actually to turn into law the excellent project which has been elaborated. The Spanish law confers innumerable advantages upon the working class, as it gives legal status to the agreements reached by mixed juries of employers and employes. A few days before the parliamentary recess, the Cortes authorized the ratification of fourteen agreements of the International Labor Organization, the most important being that relating to health insurance.

I now turn to the subject of agrarian reform. Since the World War a number of countries in Europe and America have carried out agrarian reforms. In some cases they have been forced to do so by the economic crisis, in others by social conflicts or by revolutionary movements.

The monarchy denied our working class all possibility of realizing agrarian reforms. When finally we compelled the last of the Bourbon dynasty to cross the frontiers of Spain, our povertystricken rural workers renewed their traditional demand for land to be exploited by themselves. The Republic recognized this demand as one of the purest of social desires, and that its fulfilment would give new security of employment to the peasant masses. On May 21, 1931, the Government proceeded to provide the legal and economic bases of agrarian reform in Spain, or rather, of that part of the reform dealing with concentrated property. This was of the utmost urgency, in view of the grave unemployment crisis in the south of Spain.

The agrarian reform bill which is now being discussed in the Chamber is of immense interest to the Spanish rural proletariat, not only because it tends to put an end to the political and social abuses which blocked the road to progress, impoverished the national economy and pauperized the working class, but because it proceeds to the immediate redemption of communal property. Nor does it confine itself to coming to the defense of tenants impoverished by the avarice of their landlords and deterred from improving their land because the improvements would never be recognized as theirs; it completes the great enterprise of liberating the Spanish countryside by reducing the Galician leaseholders and the Catalan rabassaires. Despite the colossal scope of the bill it will not of itself solve all our land problems. It will have to be supplemented by a law governing small holdings, so that they may be concentrated in such a way that the small farmer can enjoy the benefits of agricultural machinery; and by a tax law which will fall most heavily on medium and large landowners and less on small owners. Another bill should promote the intensive development of agricultural coöperative societies, which have produced such excellent results in other countries. And there also is a need for rural housing.


One of the first steps of the Spanish Republic was to reform the courts of justice, in accordance with the plan for new political, administrative penal and civil laws. This is the object of the bills reforming the jury law and establishing emergency tribunals to protect citizens against attacks upon their personal and political rights.

In order to give our future legislation the benefit of technical advice and unified planning, the government on May 6, 1931, created the Comisión Jurídica Asesora. Its first chairman was Don Angel Ossorio y Gallardo; he was followed by Don Felipe Sanchez Román, who served until the middle of December last, when he was succeeded by myself. The work of this Commission is laborious. At the present time its principal task is to draw up complementary laws to the Constitution. It first drafted the divorce law, which the Cortes then debated and approved. Another of its earlier undertakings was the preliminary draft for the reform of the Penal Code of 1870, so that it might function ad interim while an entirely new Penal Code is being prepared. The Commission has likewise drafted and presented to the Minister of Justice preliminary bills concerning the election of the president of the Supreme Court. Similarly, we have drafted an electoral law, based on the system of proportional representation. At the present moment the Commission is putting final touches on the law for the appointment and promotion of judges and magistrates, and is about to finish the preliminary draft of the marriage law. There still remains an immense amount of work, which will be accomplished as speedily as possible.


All this has been done by the Spanish Republic in 365 days. All this, and something more. Spain has entered upon a new psychological era -- an era of peace and hope. If a less modern nation had achieved in twelve months such rapid progress in its political, military, religious, regional, cultural, social, agrarian and judicial reforms, it would be filled with dangerous pride. For much less, other countries have become inflamed with imperialistic dreams. But we are a sober and peaceful race. We are content with the reconstruction of Spain and the preparation of her splendid future.

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  • LUIS JIMINEZ DE ASUA, President of the Commission of the Cortes which drafted the Spanish Constitution; Professor of Law in the University of Madrid
  • More By Luis Jimenez de Asúa