Courtesy Reuters

Twenty Years of Franco

GENERAL Francisco Franco, on Wednesday, October 1, 1958, drove to Madrid from the royal country house where he lives, and in the royal palace, carefully roped off so that no one could pass its walls on that side of the street, held audience in celebration of what he called the twenty-second anniversary of taking power. He also went to an official mass in the church of San Francisco el Grande. ABC, the leading newspaper, dedicated to the occasion a special section of its Thursday morning edition. The theme which it tried hard to drive home was the legitimacy of the Franco régime.

Both the date and the theme say more than may meet the eye. The Caudillo, as any number of records testify, won his present post in civil war; it was on April 1, 1939, that he declared the last vestiges of Republican opposition ended, and himself ruler over all Spain. But he prefers to celebrate the date when the Burgos Junta chose him over competing generals and put him in charge of what they called the Nationalist forces. This, to his mind, gives him two more years in power, and, like the inches added to a short man's shoes, makes him feel bigger. Similarly, having won power by conquest, he must claim additional legal sanction by a tortuous process of ratiocination which seems to tie him in to the long-postponed return of the monarchy. This insistence on his own version of the facts, this strange communicated sense of uneasiness before abstract bits of truth, is startling to a visitor who goes back after a considerable absence to see what the régime looks like and what Franco has accomplished in these 20 years. Like the armed squad cars ranged ready for trouble at night, they testify to a basic insecurity.

Yet it must be said at the outset that in physical terms a great deal has been accomplished, particularly since 1951. Madrid is almost twice as big as when it was surrendered to Franco

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