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'The Spanish Miracle' - British Sailor's First-Hand Testimony of Economic Miracle in Dictator Franco's Spain (1960)

REPRESSION RETURNS TO SPAIN: According to RT (Russia Today February 10 2020) Spain’s Socialist Workers regime plans to make it illegal to glorify the regime of the former dictator, General Francisco Franco, as part of a reform of the criminal code, the Socialist Party said on Monday. This is the last time this story can be published in Spain.

My Spanish miracle occurred in the late summer of 1960 just after my ship docked in the Spanish port of Vigo. As my parents were ardent Republicans I had been led to believe that any brush with the law merited death at dawn after torture.

Francisco Franco

Such thoughts weren’t far from my mind as during a stroll through the port’s working-class areas we engaged in an impromptu game of street football with several Spanish youngsters.

Francisco Franco in Barcelona,1970.

As we sailors kicked the ball from wall to wall and got the better of the younger Spanish kids my sea-eye spotted approaching Spanish police.

The sight of their pea soup green uniforms and their black tricorne caps (gorra) chilled my sailor’s bones. The pearls dropping from my lips are unprintable.

Gobierno de Burgos con Francisco Franco y Emilio Mola acompañados por militares falangistas y la Guardia Civil.

Relief: Franco’s two cops discarded their military headwear. Then, with the help of their street urchin amigos we Jack Tars were shown how to play football; a super experience.

Back then, the Brits of our generation viewed Spain as a backward Fascist equal to Marxist Albania. Spain was a woeful nation where the ass was the favoured means of transport.

It was fake news again; what has been dubbed The Spanish Miracle (El Milagro Español) was the name given to a broadly based economic boom that occurred 1959 to 1974.

Whilst strike-ridden Britain reeled under 17% inflation a new breed of Spanish politicians, dubbed the technocrats was unleashed by General Franco.

Prince Juan Carlos (left) and General Franco in 1974.

From 1959, Spain enjoyed the second highest growth rate in the world, only slightly behind that of Japan. Spain became the ninth largest economy in the world and was just behind Canada. The economy of Franco’s Spain was a world-class economy and it boasted a world-class industrial base.

The 142m high Torre de Madrid, built in 1957, heralded the “Spanish Miracle”.

The rapid economic expansion reinvigorated old industrial areas: the Basque Country and Ferrol northern coast (iron and steel, shipbuilding), in and around Barcelona (machinery, textiles, cars, and petrochemicals). It also drove an enormous expansion in refining, petrochemicals, chemicals, and engineering.

There was massive government investment in key state-owned companies like the national industrial conglomerate Instituto Nacional de Industria, the mass market car company SEAT in Barcelona and the shipbuilder Empresa Nacional Bazán.

These companies led the industrialisation of Spain, restoring the prosperity of industrial areas like Barcelona and Bilbao and creating new industrial areas. These enterprises remained under state control.

The automotive industry was one of the most powerful accelerants of the Spanish Miracle. In 1946 there were only 72,000 private cars in Spain, in 1966 there were over 1 million.

A monument in Spain for the SEAT 600, the car symbol of the Spanish miracle.

The icon of the economic surge was the SEAT 600 car produced by the Spanish company SEAT. More than 794,000 were made between 1957 and 1973. It was the first car for many Spanish working-class families; at its end, it was the first second one for many more. 

By decision of King Juan Carlos I, Franco is entombed in the monument of Santa Cruz del Valle de los Caídos

Franco’s tomb

Originally appeared at: Ethnic European