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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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Civil Liability


The stage of civil liability and the punitive activities of the CPIBs are regarded as two pending tasks for historiography (Álvaro Dueñas 2006: 68–69; Ruiz 2012: 198). Besides the general reasons why studies of the economic repression have taken longer to be performed than those of its physical counterpart, the scant documentary evidence that has come down to us has been a determining factor in this lack of research. Nonetheless, the progress made during the past decade allows us to gain a fairly precise idea of the punitive activities of the different bodies tasked with enforcing the rules governing asset seizures.

In the preceding pages, we have been able to ascertain that the first financial extortions, fines and unregulated seizure of the assets of private citizens and bodies sympathizing with the Popular Front were carried out without having to comply with any specific regulations adopted by the rebels. At the same time, the first courts martial, applying the general principle that the civil obligation to indemnity arises from a statement of criminal liability, as provided for in Article 19 of the Criminal Code, established off their own bat compensations that were disproportionate to the means of the convicted. To this end, they had to hold them accountable for all the damage that ‘the Marxist rebellion’ was causing in other parts of Spain, given that, with few exceptions, their specific actions or omissions had not led to any property damage. However, the actions aimed at...

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