September 20, 2020

“It is unfortunate that Juan Carlos never, never condemned the Franco regime or alluded to its thousands of victims”

Ian Gibson (Dublin, 1939) came to Spain one summer when he was 18 years old and he no longer left. Biographer of Lorca, Dalí, Machado And the author of several works on the Civil War, the renowned Hispanicist has also been one of the authors most critical of the silence in the face of Franco’s genocide.

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Gibson, who has dug endlessly into documents trying to unearth the truth about Lorca’s death, acknowledges that he is not an expert on the current Spanish monarchy, but agrees to answer questions from about the latest events that have shaken the Crown with the march of the emeritus outside Spain in full investigation on their finances.

The expert refers to how Juan Carlos I came to the throne, hand in hand with Franco and swearing loyalty to the so-called National Movement. “It is a fact,” she remembers. “I don’t know if, at that time, I was already brooding with other people a strategy to guide Spain towards democracy. The truth is that never, never, until today, forty-five years later, did the Franco regime condemn or allude to the many thousands of victims of the Caudillo who are still in the gutters, “he says. “In this sense, his behavior as Head of State, as well as King Emeritus, seemed regrettable to me,” he adds.

Gibson, what has denounced on numerous occasions the impunity of the regime, the survival of its symbols and that the victims have not been repaired, recalls that the current monarch, Felipe VI, “has not condemned the Franco regime either.” This, in his opinion, “is equally regrettable.” “Are we or are we not in a democracy?”

Asked whether we are witnessing one of the worst moments of the Spanish monarchy, the Irishman, who has lived for years in the Lavapiés neighborhood in Madrid, considers that “due to the clumsiness of the emeritus king, the monarchy is today in an undoubtedly difficult situation.” Gibson gives as an example of the deterioration of his image the elephant hunting episode in Botswana. In 2012, in the midst of the economic crisis, Juan Carlos I posed rifle in hand next to a dead elephant. The Spaniards found out because, shortly after that macabre pose, he had to undergo emergency surgery when he broke his hip. “For me, the elephant was the demonstration that, despite his good qualities, which he has, Juan Carlos was, after all, a full-fledged Bourbon,” he says. “What a shame, what insensitivity!”, Cries the writer in reference to that moment starring the then “nothing less” than honorary president of the World Wildlife Fund (WWF), an organization that ended up expelling him immediately.

The Emeritus Flight Abroad chains three generations of Bourbons outside of Spain. The Second Republic came at a time when credibility in the monarchy was totally broken and, when it was proclaimed, insults against King Alfonso XIII were chanted in the streets for his alleged corruption. The historian points out that the trajectory of this lineage “is more or less disastrous.” “You had to see the court of Elizabeth II!” In this regard, he recalls the words of the British Hispanist John B. Trend, “a great friend of progressive Spain”, and quotes an excerpt from his book The Origins of Modern Spain (1934), “unfortunately without translating into Spanish”. In it, alluding to the restoration of 1875 and the behavior of Alfonso XII and later of his son, Alfonso XIII, he made a comment that for Gibson is “devastating”: “The characteristic of the Bourbons that most attracts the attention of the Spanish observers is their incurable and criminal lack of seriousness ”.

“Sooner or later, after the pandemic, the monarchy or republic debate will have to be started”

Ian Gibson

At a time when the tensions within the government As a coalition for the debate on the future of the monarchy, Gibson speaks openly of a republican future. “I am a Republican and my wish is for Spain to be a federal republic,” he explains. Thus, he considers that “sooner or later, after the pandemic, the debate will have to be started.” Recognize that launch a referendum, Although he sees it as possible, it is difficult at the moment, so he encourages, in the meantime, “to reform the Constitution in a federalist sense and, above all, replace the Senate with a real Territorial Chamber”, something that for him would be ” a big step forward. ”

The Hispanicist bets on the creation of a Federal Republic with Portugal and he continues to defend that it would be the solution to the Catalan nationalist conflict, and not only that. “I am with Pessoa and Saramago, on the Portuguese side, and Joan Maragall, among many others, on Catalan, in which a federal Iberia, republican of course, could be an extraordinary adventure for the entire peninsula, with all its linguistic possibilities , cultural and economic, which are huge. ” For Gibson, the proclamation of the Third Republic “would be the first step towards the dream of Iberia”, although he doubts that we will see it “soon”.

Returning to the figure of the emeritus, Gibson believes that there is still a lot of data missing to know how Juan Carlos I will go down in history. “I think we still lack a lot of information about him, his relationship with his father, for example, or his performance during the long night of the Tejero attempt“He assures. That is why he makes a proposal to the emeritus, wherever he is:” It would be good if he dedicated himself, in exile, to writing his autobiography! In addition, it would certainly give him a copious legitimate income, “he quips.


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