Newspaper columnists tend to be high-profile.
New research has shown that the man who ruled Spain from 1939 to 1975 wrote articles under a pseudonym in a state-run newspaper, Arriba, and was even not averse to giving Britain some advice on how to run the country, albeit under a false identity.
Franco used three pseudonyms to write about current affairs in the newspaper.
He used the name Hispanicus when he wrote about national affairs, and, most bizarrely perhaps, Jakin Boor when he wanted to voice his opinion about the Freemasons, a group to which he was opposed. And if he wrote about international affairs he used the pen name Macaulay, believed to be a reference to Thomas Macaulay, a 19th-century Whig politician.
In 1947, he aimed his attention at the economic difficulties of post-Second World War Britain. Despite the opposition of the Labour Party to the Franco regime, the Spanish dictator said he did not lay all of the blame for Britain’s plight at the door of the left-wing government, headed by Clement Attlee.
Franco wrote: “Pretending to attribute to Labour all the errors [and] misfortunes of the British nation constitutes for us an injustice and a regrettable error, nor will conservative formulas serve any purpose, nor is it the capitalist order which can save Great Britain in the hour of its misfortune.”
After the Allied victory in 1945, Britain’s economy was in disarray, with key industries like transport and coal desperately short of equipment and in poor repair. The country had nothing to export, and no way to pay for imports or even food.
The lend-lease scheme with the US, upon which Britain depended for its necessities and arms, ended in 1945, and London had to negotiate a new $3.75bn loan from Washington.
In international terms, Britain was bankrupt, and rationing lasted into the 1950s.
Enrique de Aguinaga, a former journalist, has unearthed copies of the 1947 Franco articles which show the copy before and after the censor cut out key paragraphs relating to Britain.
The article referring to Britain appeared on 26 August 1947, according to Mr de Aguinaga. Ironically, a censor cut out the paragraphs about Labour, possibly because of the party’s opposition to the Franco regime in Spain.
“Because the British left was against Franco, the censor, a civil servant who was ignorant of who Macaulay was, wrote over the paragraphs (about Labour) in red,” he told newspaper La Vanguardia.
The same censor also highlighted in red a paragraph in which Franco denied that the Spanish press was censored.
During the dictatorship, Franco imposed censorship on everything from the books of George Orwell and Ernest Hemingway to song lyrics and even James Bond films.
Even after his death, this censorship lives on in some of these works as their Spanish versions have not been restored to their original versions, according to 2016 research undertaken by Jordi Cornella, a lecturer in Hispanic studies at Glasgow University.
Many of Bond’s sexually explicit exploits are missing from Spanish versions of the books on the shelves in bookshops today, while references to lesbians in a Hemingway novel were changed to say that the women were “good friends”.
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