Thu. Apr 9th, 2020

State Memory for Queipo de Llano

Laws that want to impose a “state memory” and a “truth” are built on the thick line, something that any serious historian despises. This is the case of General Queipo de Llano, whose tomb of the Basilica of La Macarena has ordered the withdrawal of the Junta de Andalucía in compliance with its Law of Historical and Democratic Memory (2017). The reason is that the military is described as “Franco genocidal” and, therefore, as a symbol of the dictatorship, his mortal remains must be transferred to a columbarium. But, for now, as La Macarena has reported, her body, like that of his wife, deposited in the same place, will remain where they are right now. He denies any contact with the relatives of the military and, also, that his body will move to a columbarium that is more removed from where his grave is now and, therefore, further from the public.

That political generalization conceals a biography of a complex man, military laureate, who participated in three coups: in 1926 to overthrow the dictatorship of Primo de Rivera; in 1930 to establish the Republic; and finally in 1936 in order to prevent the Popular Front government. Moreover, Queipo was a close friend of Niceto Alcalá-Zamora, an enemy of fascism and Falange, and a very hard critic of Franco. But he was also the one who ordered the execution of front-populists in Seville in 1936, yes, in a lower number than those killed by the Companys checkers, and called for political liquidation from the radio during the war, which was unfortunately common in Both sides.

Gonzalo Queipo de Llano, born in 1875, had fought in the War of Cuba and that of Africa, where he distinguished himself by the cavalry charge of Alcazarquivir that stopped the Rifeño advance. Supporter of the military dictatorship as an instrument of order to force a political transition, he accepted the coup by Miguel Primo de Rivera in 1923. As soon as he found that the new regime had no solution, he began to conspire. He participated in the “Sanjuanada”, a coup planned for June 24, 1926 whose objective was to drive the dictator Primo de Rivera and Alfonso XIII appoint a civil government to initiate a constitutional process. In that movement were involved military such as Weyler, Aguilera and Domingo Batet, and civilians from the height of Romanones, Gregorio Marañón and Melquiades Álvarez.

The fall of the Bourbons seemed close. Queipo was a monarchist, but he abhorred Alfonso XIII, whom he had for a bad king. His criticisms of the dictator were so harsh that in 1928 he was transferred to the reserve. He then began his contacts with the Republicans, which led him to lead the Military Committee linked to the Pact of San Sebastián to demolish the Monarchy. Queipo made the decision to start the uprising on November 26, 1930, but the lack of coordination forced him to delay it on December 15. However, Fermín Galán rushed into Jaca on the 12th, which failed to scare those involved. Queipo had the support of the PSOE and the UGT to organize a strike in Madrid that coincided with the military pronouncement. However, the Socialists got off the coup train on the 14th, and the committed gunners disregarded. Together with Ramón Franco, who wanted to bomb the Royal Palace, and a handful of aviators marched to the Cuatro Vientos airfield. They flew over Madrid, saw social tranquility and military control, threw leaflets proclaiming the Republic, and fled to Lisbon.

In favor of the Republic

The attempt won him great predicament among the Republicans, to the point of being received in April 1931 as a hero: he was appointed Captain General of Madrid, a member of the Superior Council of War, then Chief of the Military Quarter of the President of the Republic, Alcalá -Zamora, and finally, in 1933, Inspector General of Police. The electoral victory of the Popular Front in February 1936 and the dismissal of the President in May decided Queipo to join the conspiracy led by General Mola. He was commissioned to revolt Seville, taken by communists and anarchists, a key piece for the arrival of Franco’s African troops. Queipo took over the political government of the city, but they resisted the neighborhoods of «Moscow Sevillian», San Bernardo and Triana. On July 18 the confrontation began, with the burning of temples and houses of “right-wing people”, and the clash between the forces. Queipo used the declaration of a state of war to liquidate the opponents, and the repression was harsh and bloody, as they did over and over all of Spain.

Queipo was in favor of concentrating power in Franco as a military requirement, but he despised him. He did not hesitate to publicly criticize his decisions on the battlefield, especially his slow and awkward advance on Madrid, the sacrifice of soldiers, his confidence in Italian troops and the abandonment of southern Spain. In July 1939, Franco couldn’t take it anymore and decided to take him out of the country. He wanted to send it to Buenos Aires, but the Argentine government refused, so he sent it to Rome knowing that he hated the fascists, as Queipo says in his memoirs. He returned to Spain in 1942 and settled in Seville, where he remained isolated. Although he received several decorations, dislike and suspicion made him a dangerous element, a facet fueled by Colonel Juan Beigdeber who assured Franco that Queipo was preparing a coup. It was not so. He lived in Seville, away from everything, even the dictator, until his death in 1951.

In his memoirs, which saw the light in 2008, he described Franco as a petty, egotistical and incompetent character. Armed with courage, he wrote a letter on June 3, 1947. He began by saying that the Phalanx was a “parasitic plant” that absorbed “the life of the nation.” Social policy, he told Franco, was a disaster for the worker and his family, who had nothing to eat while the country lived in the greatest “time of immorality” in its history. All this, in his direct opinion of the dictator, caused the “hate” towards the political situation, which could not be hidden with false manifestations of adherence.


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