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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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The Defence Strategies

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In order to understand the processes of establishing and consolidating dictatorships, it is essential to take a closer look at individual and collective attitudes, as well as at the population’s perceptions, feelings, discourses and experiences (Hernández Burgos 2014: 88–89). Focusing our attention on the daily actions or decisions of the citizenry allows us to bring to light their attempts to create spaces capable of influencing future developments, irrespective of whether the objective is to mediate or analyse how their actions reinforce the foundations on which power is based (Rodríguez Barreira 2013: 167). This was the case with those who willingly collaborated with the ‘redeeming action of the glorious National Army’, a broad range of people who were involved in the economic repression in one way or another.

Through the formal complaints filed and depositions submitted by the victims of financial penalties and, especially, through the civil liability and political responsibility proceedings, it is possible to grasp, in part, the huge complexity of the social attitudes of the population towards the repression and, by extension, towards the process of constructing the Franco regime. Victimisers and victims, accusers and accused, adherents and disaffected parade through their pages fully aware of which side of the playing field they stood. But, despite being a source in which the leading characters seemed to be condemned to playing on opposite sides of the field, those grey areas occupied by anonymous citizens who refused to be classified in any one...

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