Anti-Republican slant in new biographical dictionary

May 31, 2011

Republican President Manuel Azaña

The presentation last week of a new, monumental biographical dictionary in Spain has raised important questions about the relationship between the State and the projects it sponsors, as well as the persistent strength of Francoist nostalgia among the Spanish Right. The massive, 50-volume project–initiated in 1998 by the conservative government of José María Aznar, coordinated by Gonzalo Anes, Marquis of Castrillón, for the Royal Academy of History and financed with over 9 million dollars in tax-payers’ money–contains a series of dubious entries, Público reports, particularly in relation to the Spanish Civil War and the Franco dictatorship. The entry on Republican President Manuel Azaña, for instance, calls the government of Prime Minister Juan Negrín “practically dictatorial,” while Franco himself is never called a dictator. Similarly, the entry on Socialist leader Julián Besteiro blames the outbreak of the Civil War equally on the attempted military coup and the “breakdown of legality” in the Republic. The Diccionario Biográfico Español has sparked an open protest letter to the Spanish Minister of Education (those interested in signing it should send an email with name and affiliation here).