Indalecio Prieto

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"Prieto" redirects here. For the surname, see Prieto (surname).
Prieto in 1936

Indalecio Prieto Tuero (April 30, 1883 – February 11, 1962) was a Spanish politician, one of the leading figures of the Spanish Socialist Workers' Party (PSOE) in the years before and during the Second Spanish Republic.

Early years[edit]

Born in Oviedo in 1883, his father died when he was six years old; his mother moved him to Bilbao in 1891. From a young age, he survived by selling magazines in the street. He eventually obtained work as a stenographer at the daily newspaper La Voz de Vizcaya. This led to a position as a copy editor and later a journalist at the rival daily El Liberal.[1] He eventually became the director and owner of the newspaper.[2][citation needed]

In 1899 at the age of 16, he had joined the PSOE. As a journalist in the first decade of the 20th century, Prieto became a leading figure of socialism in the Basque Country.

Entering politics[edit]

Spain's neutrality in World War I greatly benefited Spanish industry and commerce, but those benefits were not reflected in the workers' salaries. The war period was one of great social unrest, culminating on August 13, 1917 in a revolutionary general strike. Due to the government's fear of unrest like that of the February Revolution that year in Russia (the October Revolution was still to come), it used the military to put down the general strike. Members of the strike committee were arrested in Madrid. Having been involved in organizing the strike, Prieto fled to France before he could be arrested.

He did not return until April 1918, by which time he had been elected to the Spanish Congress of Deputies.[3] Very critical of the actions of the government and army during the Rif War or "War of Melilla" (1919–1926), Prieto spoke out strongly in the Congress after the Battle of Annual (1921). He also addressed the likely responsibility of the king in the imprudent military actions of general Manuel Fernández Silvestre in the Melilla command zone.

Prieto was opposed to Francisco Largo Caballero's line of partial collaboration with the dictatorship of Miguel Primo de Rivera.[4] He had bitter confrontations with both men.

In August 1930, despite the opposition of party leader Julián Besteiro, Prieto participated in the Pact of San Sebastián. This broad coalition of republican parties proposed doing away with the Spanish monarchy.[5][6] In this matter, Prieto was supported by Largo's wing of the party, as the leader believed that the fall of the monarchy was necessary in order that socialism could rise to power.

Second Spanish Republic and Spanish Civil War[edit]

When the Second Spanish Republic was proclaimed on April 14, 1931, he was named Finance Minister in the provisional government presided over by Niceto Alcalá-Zamora.[7]

As Minister of Public Works in the 1931–1933 government of Manuel Azaña, he continued and expanded the policy of hydroelectric projects begun during the Primo de Rivera dictatorship,[8] as well as the ambitious plan of infrastructural improvements in Madrid, such as the new Chamartín railway station and the tunnel under Madrid linking it to Atocha Station; most of these works that would not be completed until after the 1936–1939 Spanish Civil War.[9]

Unlike Largo, he opposed the general strike and the failed armed rising of October 1934; nonetheless he again fled to France to escape possible prosecution.[10] While, prior to the period of the Republic, Prieto had arguably maintained a "harder" line than Largo, from this time forward he would be identified as a relative moderate, opposed to Largo's more revolutionary tendency.

At the beginning of the Civil War in September 1936, after the fall of Talavera de la Reina, in Toledo province, Largo became head of the government and Prieto became Minister of Marine and Air.[11]

After the May 3–8, 1937 events in Barcelona when the Communists and government forces tried to establish control over the Workers' Party of Marxist Unification (POUM) and the anarchist Confederación Nacional del Trabajo (CNT), the government of Largo was supplanted by that of Juan Negrín, with Prieto designated Minister of Defense,[12] although, privately, he recognized that the war could not be won[13] because the Republican side lacked support from the democratic powers such as France, the United Kingdom, and the United States.[citation needed] During his ministry, maritime access for Soviet material aid remained effectively cut off by the attacks of Italian submarines[14] and the French frontier remained closed.

After the defeat of the Spanish Republican Armed Forces on the northern front in October 1937, he offered his resignation, which was rejected.[15] He finally left the government after the March 1938 defeat on the Aragon front,[16] following an escalating dispute with the Communists.

Exile[edit]

He refrained from active political life for the remainder of the war, exiling himself to Mexico.[17] In 1945, toward the end of World War II, he was one of those who attempted to form a republican government in exile, hoping to reach an accord with the monarchist opposition to Francisco Franco, ruler of Spain since the end of the Civil War, with at view to restoring Spanish democracy.[18] The failure of this initiative led to his definitive retirement from active politics. He died in Mexico City in 1962.

In Mexico, he wrote several books, among them: Palabras al viento (Words in the Wind, 1942), Discursos en América (Discourses in America, 1944) and at the end of his life, Cartas a un escultor: pequeños detalles de grandes sucesos (Letters to a sculptor: small details of great events 1962).

References[edit]

Bibliography[edit]

  • Beevor, Antony. The battle for Spain. The Spanish Civil War 1936–1939. Penguin Books. London. 2006. ISBN 0-14-303765-X
  • Graham, Helen. The Spanish Civil War. A very short introduction. Oxford University Press. New York. 2005. ISBN 978-0-19-280377-1
  • Jackson, Gabriel. The Spanish Republic and the Civil War, 1931–1939. Princeton University Press. 1967. Princeton. ISBN 0-691-00757-8
  • Thomas, Hugh. The Spanish Civil War. Penguin Books. London. 2001. ISBN 978-0-14-101161-5

Footnotes[edit]

  1. ^ Thomas, Hugh. The Spanish Civil War. Penguin Books. London. 2001. p. 40
  2. ^ Jackson, Gabriel. The Spanish Republic and the Civil War, 1931–1939. Princeton University Press. 1967. Princeton. p. 91
  3. ^ Thomas, Hugh. The Spanish Civil War. Penguin Books.London. 2003. p. 40
  4. ^ Beevor, Antony. The Battle for Spain. The Spanish Civil War 1936–1939. London: Penguin Books, 2006, p. 17
  5. ^ Beevor, Antony. The Battle for Spain. The Spanish Civil War 1936–1939. London: Penguin Books, 2006, p. 18
  6. ^ Jackson, Gabriel. The Spanish Republic and the Civil War, 1931–1939. Princeton: Princeton University Press. 1967, p. 24
  7. ^ Beevor, Antony. The battle for Spain. The Spanish Civil War 1936–1939. Penguin Books. London. 2006. p. 21
  8. ^ Jackson, Gabriel. The Spanish Republic and the Civil War, 1931–1939. Princeton University Press. 1967. Princeton. pp. 91-92
  9. ^ Jackson, Gabriel. The Spanish Republic and the Civil War, 1931–1939. Princeton University Press. 1967. Princeton. p. 93
  10. ^ Thomas, Hugh. The Spanish Civil War. Penguin Books.London. 2001. p.126
  11. ^ Beevor, Antony. The battle for Spain. The Spanish Civil War 1936–1939. Penguin Books. London. 2006. p. 146
  12. ^ Beevor, Antony. The battle for Spain. The Spanish Civil War 1936–1939. Penguin Books. London. 2006. p. 271
  13. ^ Graham, Helen. The Spanish Civil War. A very short introduction. Oxford university press. New York. 2005. p. 101
  14. ^ Beevor, Antony. The battle for Spain. The Spanish Civil War 1936–1939. Penguin Books. London. 2006. pp. 289-290
  15. ^ Beevor, Antony. The battle for Spain. The Spanish Civil War 1936–1939. Penguin Books. London. 2006. p. 302
  16. ^ Beevor, Antony. The battle for Spain. The Spanish Civil War 1936–1939. Penguin Books. London. 2006. p. 336
  17. ^ Preston, Paul. The Spanish Civil War. Reaction, revolution and revenge. Harper Perennial. 2006. London. p. 319
  18. ^ Beevor, Antony. The battle for Spain. The Spanish Civil War 1936–1939. Penguin Books. London. 2006. p. 425