The determination carried out days ago in the Madrid City Council to remove the name of Indalecio Prieto from the street shows a deep ignorance of the history of Spain. At the request of Vox, and with the approval of the PP and Citizens who govern there, Prieto will lose a street in that very Spanish sport, practiced by our councilors since the time of the Transition, of settling accounts with the past by erasing all vestige through the street signs and squares. They blame him, for example, for the murder of the right-wing politician José Calvo Sotelo, in 1936, and now they could also do so for the death of Manolete, in 1947.
I know that there are deep admirers in Vox of the figure of the founder of the Spanish Falange, José Antonio Primo de Rivera. Without going any further, its general secretary, Javier Ortega Smith, at the time, councilor in the Madrid corporation. “He was one of the great men in the history of Spain”, he went on to say about him in a ceremony held in 2018. Well, if they had bothered a bit to study the character, they would have concluded in the mutual respect that the Falangist leader and the socialist politician professed for each other. So much so that, being imprisoned in the Alicante jail during the outbreak of the Civil War, José Antonio drew up a list of what he considered a government of national concentration, in an attempt to end the irreconcilable disputes, which ran along the paths execrable that we all know, each other. In that Executive, Primo de Rivera included Prieto as Minister of Public Works, aware not only of his conciliatory spirit but also of his determined commitment to improving the country’s infrastructure, as was evident during the time that he exercised that ministry in the Second Republic.
Faced with the radicalism of his fellow socialist Francisco Largo Caballero, who has also been deprived of continuing to have a street in Madrid, he marked distances and maintained that in Spain we needed “a creative Republic, not simply a change of label ”, a paradoxical phrase to illustrate what we are dealing with now. In the midst of the civil war, Prieto also faced the communist cabinet ministers, left the government and ended up in exile in Mexico. Until there he took a mysterious suitcase that General Franco searched unsuccessfully for years. The military commander of Alicante had sent it to him after the execution of José Antonio, and it contained documents and personal belongings of the founder of the Falange. Among them, the list of the hypothetical Government ‘of national salvation’ mentioned above. In this, written in his own handwriting, apart from Prieto, other illustrious names of the time appeared such as Ortega y Gasset, Gregorio Marañón, Melquiades Álvarez or Portela Valladares, under the presidency of Diego Martínez Barrio, who would replace Manuel Azaña, after the end of the Civil War, as President of the Republic in exile. The key to the safe where that suitcase was found was given in 1977 to a nephew of José Antonio by Prieto’s executor.
The friendship between the two politicians was cemented in 1934, in Congress, the day the socialist voted against – a large part of the right did in favor – when the Falangist was granted the petition to be tried for alleged illegal possession of weapons . In his memoirs, Prieto acknowledged that he was trying to found a Spanish social party with José Antonio and with the best of socialism, as the latter claimed. And that they did not do it because they mediated the drama of the war and his execution, a consequence of that plea, which he regretted and condemned. What the promoters of the motion must also ignore is that the plaque to Prieto was placed in 1995, with a mayor of the PP who enjoyed an absolute majority, José María Álvarez del Manzano, on a boulevard in the Vicálvaro district. It is not surprising that he has been perplexed by those who now intend to withdraw her from the Madrid street, thereby demonstrating a historical ignorance as supine as morrocotuda.