FRANCO SPY FILES: Papers shed new light on regime

PLANS to thwart a general strike, information about Basque terror groups and doubts about support from the Pope all feature in documents from Francisco Franco’s dictatorship made public recently.
The files, which come from the archives of the Segunda Bis military intelligence agency, feature communications from regime operatives and senior Franco officials. The documents, seen by Spanish media, also feature discussions on relations with the United States (US).
One of the files discusses plans for a General Strike in June 1951 which was believed to be orchestrated by the Spanish Communist Party in a bid to overthrow the regime.
The document said the government considered the plot of little importance but ordered preventative measures to be taken in the event it went ahead.
The Minister of the Army at the time wrote in one of the documents: “Troops cannot be used without my authorisation.”
Another file, from January 1968, sought to warn the military of the emerging Euskadi Ta Askatasuna (ETA) group.
The document, drawn up five months before the Basque nationalist terror group killed its first target, speaks of the ETA’s supposed leftist tendencies and its development throughout the 1960’s.
The report recommended stepping up patrols on rural roads in the Basque country in a bid to catch ETA members while they were on the move.
A note written by Army Minister Antonio Barroso in 1959 calling for the Pope’s view of the Franco regime to be investigated also featured in the trove.
Barroso wrote: “There should be investigations regarding the fact that Pope John XXIII does not view the current regime with sympathy.”
The documents also contain details about the Franco regime’s efforts to court the US as a potential backer in the 1950’s.
The US requested access to several army, navy and air bases in return for supporting Franco’s bid to get Spain accepted into the UN. Washington also stood to benefit by gaining another ally in the Cold War.
Officials from both countries met throughout the 1950’s, with Spain joining the UN in 1955 and US President Dwight Eisenhower visiting Franco in 1959.

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Written by

Joe Gerrard

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