AFTER THE BURGOS TRIALS . . . By JUAN MARICHAL
Franco´s 30-year coalition breaks down
It may well be that the December trial of the Basque nationalists at Burgos has marked the end of the Franco era in Spain (1939-1970). Because that trial has patently shown the termination of the 30-year coalitioin of the three mainstays of the Franco government: the Army, the Church and the financial oligarchy.
Gen. Franco has been able to count on the unqualified support of those.tb.ree traditional Spanish powefs when facing internal crises or what he has palled repeatedly "foreigns conspiracies." But the national and international protests against the Burgos trial have not been answered by the reaffirmation of the Francoled alliance of Army, Church and Oligarchy.
Thus, for the first time since the Civil War of 1936-39, the Church has publicly dissociated itself from the Franco government and the Army has made visible efforts to break the identification in the public mind of the military and the aged dictator. On the other hand, the oligarchy (especially its business and industrial sectors) has expressed its rejection of repressive measures which would hinder Spain´s becoming a truly Western Európean nation.
The Franco government has had therefore to corafront the most serious political challenge to its authority and legitimacy since the end of the Civil War.
The author is professor of Spanish literature and history at Harvard University.
But why has a trial of members of the smail ETA ("Euzkadi Ta Azkatasuna": "The Basque nation and its freedom") organizatioru had such vast and diversified repercussions within Spain? The ETA´s extreme assertion of Basque nationalism ("We are against Madrid more than against Franco") is obviously alien to millions of Spaniards and to a large number of Basques.
The aversión of most Spaniards today to the terrorism preached and practiced by the ETA would. seem also to be a considerable obstacle to the sympathy and help offered to the Burgos prisoners by the Liberal opposition. And though the ETA´s Marxist orientation has bridged the traditional gap between the Basque nationalists and socíalists, the numerous workers´ strikes potesting the Burgos trial were motivated less by ideological affinities than by a brave collective gesture on behalf of the rights of the accused.
In short, the Burgos trial has made many different kinds of Spaniards aware more than ever of their oppression b y the anachronistic Franco government. That is why the opposition to the Franco dictatorship did succeed in rallying against the Burgos trial thousands of Spaniards who knew little of the ETA or who found objectionable the ETA´s aims and violent actions.
A commmon determination moved all those Spaniards to express their indignation about the Burgos trial: the refusal to go back to the hatred and fratricides of the Civil War (1936-39).
Following the, until now, always effective tactics of bringing back to the Spaniards´ memories their Civil War fears, the Franco government chose the Castilian city of Burgos as the trial seat; it was there that on Oct. 1, 1936, Gen Franco replaced the Burgos Junta as the highest government authority and supreme commander of the Spaniards fighting against the Republic. The ominous sound of Burgos has thus reminded Spain of the violence unleashed upon íts lands and people during and after the Civil War by the victorious rebels of 1936-39.
The principal leaders of the Madrid-centered opposition (particularly Enrique Tierno Galvan, a Socialist, and Joaquín Ruiz-Gimenez, a Christian. Democrat and prominent lawyer with strong Vatican connections) had been aware of the disasírous effects for the future of Spain of any sort of "pulling back" to the violent Civil War temper.
They addressed on Dec. 15 a simultaneous appeál to the government and to the ETA kidnappers of a West Germán cónsul to.exercise clemency and to avoid further blood-shedding. The Madrid oppositon leaders decided also, early in December, not to stage a dramatic sit-in (as the one by Barcelona intellectuals and artists at the Montserrat monastery) because they thought it would prevent them from negotiating with the "doves" in the Franco government.
Of course, those opposition leaders knew that they were risking of being accused of cowardice by the young and the radicáis. But their main concern was to persuade government "doves" and ETA leaders to avert actions which would surely produce a fatal, bloodelot for a postFranco future of peace and democracy. On the other hand, the Madrid opposition leaders are trying to take advantage of the power-vacuum created by the recent dissolution of the Franco-led coalition of Army, Church and Oligarchy.
It would not be too surprísing if, in the near future, the Christian Demócrata would take the place left vacant in the Spanish power structure by the Church withdrawal from the Franco "system."
A new coalition of "liberal" army generáis (under the léadership of General Diez Alegria, the chief of staff) and Christian Democrats such as Ruiz-Gimenez, could prepare the transition to a constitutional monarchy a democratic restoration for Spain.
I am certain that millions of Spaniards are hoping these days that when reviewing the Burgos trial and the verdict condemning six to death the Franco government will hear the national clamor for compassion and forgiveness. But will the victorious of 1939 be able to escape their own fears of a revenge by the Civil War losers? If they don´t and make of Burgos again a symbol of brutal unmercifulness, Spaniards will face a future of bitterness and violence.