Spain in the 1950’s

By | December 31, 2021

The position of diplomatic isolation in which the Spain had been placed by the resolution of the UN Assembly of 12 December 1946, which recommended to the member countries of the organization the withdrawal of their diplomatic representatives from Madrid and the exclusion was sanctioned of the Spain by the various UN bodies, began to diminish in 1948. On 1 March of that year the Franco-Spanish border was reopened; on April 9 an economic agreement was concluded between Spain and Argentina; on 20 September the friendship and non-aggression treaty between Spain and Portugal was renewed for 10 years. Even if the Franco government did not succeed in obtaining the inclusion of the Spain in the Marshall Plan, and if also the following year the UN confirmed the position of 1946, the scaffolding of the isolation continued to disintegrate more and more clearly in the following years: on November 4, 1950 the UN Assembly revoked the measures decided in 1946, in 1951 there were the first contacts between Madrid and Washington, in 1952 a Spanish mission visited all the capitals of the East Arab and the Spain was admitted to UNESCO. But the decisive factor in the insertion of the Spain in world life, which ended at the end of 1955 with admission to the UN, was the will of the USA to include the Iberian peninsula firmly in the western defense system. Despite the reservations of other Western governments, on September 26, 1953 Madrid signed a mutual defense and economic aid agreement with the USA, which obtained the use of Spanish naval and air bases in exchange for economic assistance and war supplies to Spain. After the USA, Great Britain and France also moved towards improving their relations with Spain.

The greater dynamism that the exit from isolation allowed Spanish foreign policy developed along three fundamental lines: a European one (within the framework of the alliance with Washington), a Mediterranean one and more specifically one of approaching the Arab world, and a Latin American one.. The first was to be used by the Madrid government to strengthen the necessary relations with Western Europe in order to overcome the danger of seeing the Spain totally excluded from the economic organizations of a continental nature already operating or in the process of being developed. This directive resulted in Madrid’s association with the OEEC in 1958 and on 20 July 1959 with admission to the OEEC as a full member.

The second guideline responded to the objective of exploiting the friendship always proclaimed for the peoples of North Africa and the Near East, as a heritage capable of presenting Spain as a “natural” intermediary between the West as a whole and the Arab world. Between 1951 and 1955 Madrid entered into treaties of friendship and trade and cultural agreements with almost all Arab countries. As soon as, on March 2, 1956, France recognized the independence of Morocco, the government of Madrid invited the sultan to go to Spain and on April 7 a joint declaration was signed recognizing the independence of Morocco. In subsequent conflicts with Rabat for the so-called “southern zone” of the former Spanish protectorate in Morocco and for the domain of Sidi Ifni, Madrid, while not yielding to all Moroccan claims, he strove to keep a conciliatory attitude, including, on 1 April 1958, yielding the “southern zone”. The intensity of contacts with Arab countries appeared entirely in 1957 when, between 9 and 14 February, the Moroccan sultan Mohammed V, the king of Saudi Arabia, a delegation from the kingdom of Libya, were present in Madrid at the same time. some Tunisian and Iraqi politicians. For Spain 1998, please check

Finally, the third guideline was based on the possibilities of maneuver offered in the international field by the links with 20 countries of the same language and similar characteristics. In May 1953, a draft union for payments and a system of customs preferences was approved at the Ibero-American Congress of Economic Cooperation. From this director arose the initiative, in May 1954, for the creation of a Latin Union with the aim of encouraging and coordinating cultural, scientific and technical exchanges between France, Italy, South America, Portugal and the Republics of Central America and Southern. The so-called politics of Hispanidad, aimed at constituting a large community of Hispanic-speaking peoples, capable of weighing on the world scene, however, failed to materialize: relations between the Spain and the Republics of Latin America remained at the state of bilateral relations, among which in any case the dual nationality agreements signed in 1958 with Chile, in May 1959 with Peru and in the following June with Paraguay stood out as an indicator of the Spanish orientation.

The foreign policy commitment found the most valid justification in the alimentary, economic and social difficulties in which the Franco regime was struggling inside. From the precarious economic and food situation, the series of strikes, partial or total, began, gradually acquiring more and more a political character, which from the spring of 1951 began to affect the internal solidity of the regime. The government responded to the strikes by arresting numerous political opponents, who were blamed for the discontent and unrest. Incidents and hostile demonstrations took on a more peremptory tone after 1956, with large participation of the student youth, and overlapped on them, making the general political malaise more acute, the contrast between the Falange on the one hand and the military, the monarchists, the church and the aristocracy on the other. On 25 February 1957, under the pressure of new anti-government demonstrations in Barcelona, ​​Madrid and Seville, Franco decided to reorganize the regime on a new basis: the ministries lost their previous autonomy in favor of a closer coordinating function assumed by the head of the government, who, however, delegated some of his functions to the undersecretary to the presidency, in charge of supervising the activity of the holders of the portfolios in order to harmonize their directives. With this, the separation between the offices of head of state and head of government began, proceeding towards that monarchical restoration decided with the succession law of 1947, continued with the

One of the consequences of the revision of the government directives was the slow political decline of the Falange, forced to renounce any intention of dominance and to limit itself to supporting the government by covering it with an action of penetration among the masses capable of preventing the opposing propaganda – the On March 30 of that year (1957) the Madrid police announced the arrest of 14 people and the discovery of a communist propaganda center – to break into the world of work. In the following years, Spanish internal politics continued to develop in a situation blocked by economic difficulties, by political conflicts within the regime, largely connected to the problem of the monarchical restoration, and of anti-government demonstrations attributed by the government to a conspiracy hatched on an international scale and consequently exploited as a cover for its work of repression of political adversaries. In such a situation, even the economic stabilization plan decided by the government in 1959, as a counterpart to the entry into the OEEC, if it gave positive results under the strictly accounting profile of the balance of payments and the foreign exchange reserve, ended up increasing the reasons for discontent, given the inevitable repercussions of the downsizing above all on the workers in the industries and fields and on the mercantile petty bourgeoisie that nourished itself with national productive activity. After the general strike of June 18, 1959, the internal atmosphere became heavier.

Spain in the 1950's