SPAIN: Showdown

3 minute read

Last week the old-line generals of Spain showed signs of banding together once again to repel an invader of their ancient rights and privileges. Fortnight ago General Gonzalo Queipo de Llano, little “tsar” of Andalusia, and General Juan Yagüe, commander of the Moroccan Army Corps, were dismissed from their posts, presumably because of too ardent opposition to the Fascist notions of the youthful, fiery Ramón Serrano Suñer, Generalissimo Francisco Franco’s Minister of the Interior and, next to the Generalissimo, Spain’s most powerful figure. Last week the list of Señor Serrano Suñer’s opponents grew to include, among others, such military stalwarts as Generals Miguel Aranda, hero of the Oviedo siege; José Solchaga, the commander of the Navarrese Corps, José Móscardo, defender of the Toledo Alcázar in the early days of the war.

While it was obvious that the long-awaited showdown between militarists as represented by the generals and Falangists (Fascists), headed by Señor Serraño, was not far off, it was less obvious which side Generalissimo Franco, umpire of the showdown, would favor. It would suit the purposes of the old-time generals to have the monarchy restored; the Falangists are against restoration. Some indication that the Generalissimo, once a stanch Monarchist, was favoring restoration came in the report that the Duke of Maura, now living in Portugal, has been dispatched by General Franco to see former King Alfonso XIII. Alfonso fortnight ago held a “conference” of Spanish Monarchists at Lausanne, Switzerland. It has long been thought that in case of a restoration Alfonso’s 26-year-old son, Prince Juan, rather than Alfonso, would ascend the throne. The Duke of Maura, eldest son of the onetime Monarchist Premier of Spain, was a trusted adviser of Alfonso, helped frame the final message that Alfonso gave to Spain at the time he was forced from the throne.

While the struggle in Spain was between the old-line feudalists that have long governed the country and the new-fangled Fascists who now want to control it, on the broader international scene the issue was essentially one between the Rome-Berlin Axis and the British-French Peace Front. The Monarchists have always been pro-English; the Falangists are ready to sign an alliance with Germany and Italy. Passing British-owned Gibraltar on an Italian cruiser recently, Minister of the Interior Serrano Suñer was heard to mutter that the Rock’s days of “disgrace” were numbered, i. e., that it would soon again be Spanish. The smart money is on him to win the current showdown.

Passing over the border from France into Spain one afternoon last week was a motorcade of five armored motor trucks, a motorcycle police escort, a car of armed police inspectors. The trucks carried $40,000,000 in gold bullion, and its passing from French to Spanish hands ended a long dispute. Bank of France vaults having held it for years, the Spanish Republican Government and Generalissimo Francisco Franco’s Government fought over its ownership during the Civil War. When the war ended, the French were reluctant to relinquish the gold until Spain paid for the board and lodging of some 400,000 refugees quartered in France. Last week the Generalissimo won the argument.

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