Indalecio Prieto

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"Prieto" redirects here. For the surname, see Prieto (surname).
Indalecio Prieto
Indalecio Prieto, 1936.jpg
Prieto in 1936
Minister of Finance Spain
In office
14 April 1931 – 16 December 1931
President Manuel Azaña
Succeeded by Trifón Gómez
Minister of Public Works Spain
In office
16 December 1931 – 12 September 1933
President Manuel Azaña
Minister of the Navy and Air Force Spain
In office
4 September 1936 – 17 May 1937
President Francisco Largo Caballero
Minister of the National Defence of Spain Spain
In office
17 May 1937 – 5 April 1938
President Juan Negrín
President of the Spanish Socialist Workers' Party Logotipo del PSOE.svg
In office
1935–1948
Personal details
Born 30 April 1883
Oviedo, Spain
Died 11 February 1962
Mexico City, Mexico
Nationality Spanish
Political party PSOE

Indalecio Prieto Tuero (30 April 1883 – 11 February 1962) was a Spanish politician, a minister and 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 Caballero'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, Indalecio Prieto 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 Caballero, 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 Caballero, from this time forward he would be identified as a relative moderate, opposed to Largo Caballero'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 Caballero became head of the government and Prieto became Minister of Marine and Air.[11] When news of the ruthless and systematic executions of loyalists by the rebel forces —as part of General Mola's policy of instilling terror in republican ranks— began to filter to the areas held by the government, Indalecio Prieto made a fervent plea to Spanish republicans:

... Don't imitate them! Don't imitate them! Surpass them in moral conduct; surpass them by being generous. I do not ask you, however, that you should lose either strength in battle or zeal in the fight. I ask for brave, hard and steely breasts for the combat,... but with sensitive hearts, capable of shaking when faced with human sorrow and being able to harbour mercy and tender feelings, without which the most essential part of human greatness is lost.[12]

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 Caballero was replaced by that of Juan Negrín, with Prieto designated Minister of Defense.[13] Lacking support from the democratic powers such as France, the United Kingdom, and the United States, the Spanish Republic was subject to severe international isolation during Prieto's last ministry in Spain. Maritime access for Soviet material aid was 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).

See also[edit]

References[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. ^ ¡No los imitéis! ¡No los imitéis! Superadlos en vuestra conducta moral; superadlos en vuestra generosidad. Yo no os pido, conste, que perdáis vigor en la lucha, ardor en la pelea. Pido pechos duros para el combate, duros, de acero, como se denominan algunas de las milicias valientes -pechos de acero-- pero corazones sensibles, capaces de estremecerse ante el dolor humano y de ser albergue de la piedad, tierno sentimiento, sin el cual parece que se pierde lo más esencial de la grandeza humana." Wikiquote, Indalecio Prieto
  13. ^ Beevor, Antony. The battle for Spain. The Spanish Civil War 1936–1939. Penguin Books. London. 2006. p. 271
  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

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