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The Plundering of the Vanquished

The Economic Repression during Early Francoism

Julio Prada Rodríguez

Economic repression became a keystone of the social exclusion policies of the Franco dictatorship from the stage of the coup dʼétat. Beyond its utility in provisioning the warfronts and for the proper functioning of the rearguard, it became a valuable deterrent and a weapon of intimidation that smothered any expression of non-conformity. If its efficiency was so remarkable, this was due to the fact that it did not act in an isolated fashion, but projected itself on the social body that had already suffered the combined effects of the Civil War, the physical repression and the rest of the coercive and social control mechanisms employed by the regime.

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Financial Penalties and Fines

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For decades, the fines imposed by the government authorities had been used as an authoritarian means of exerting pressure on people who took sides with those opposing the powers that be. With the Second Republic in full swing, the Public Order Act88 of 28 July 1933 granted civil governors the power to punish acts that could only be regarded as misdemeanours with individual fines ranging from five to 10,000 pesetas, sums that, should a state of alert have been declared, could be as much as 20,000. The situation brought about by the military uprising and the subsequent Civil War shored up even more the extraordinary powers that the military authorities and their delegates were granted to this effect.

Following the declaration of a state of war, many penalties continued to be associated with issues pertaining to law enforcement, but to these were added the taxes levied as a punishment on activists or mere supporters of any one of the groups comprising the Popular Front. Others had more to do with aspects relating to the strict control of services and manufacturing and commercial activities in the rearguard or with the refusal to contribute to one or other patriotic subscription. And, lastly, there were yet others that were aimed at correcting the many attitudes contrary to the new socio-political order that the rebels were striving to enforce, thus confirming their usefulness for forcing people to adapt their behaviour to the new standards that they intended to...

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