Luis Carrero Blanco

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Luis Carrero Blanco
Luis Carrero Blanco.jpg
Prime Minister of Spain
In office
9 June 1973 – 20 December 1973
LeaderFrancisco Franco
DeputyTorcuato Fernández-Miranda
Preceded byFrancisco Franco
Succeeded byTorcuato Fernández-Miranda (acting)
Deputy Prime Minister of Spain
In office
22 September 1967 – 9 June 1973
LeaderFrancisco Franco
Preceded byAgustín Muñoz Grandes
Succeeded byTorcuato Fernández-Miranda
Undersecretary of the Presidency[a]
In office
5 May 1941 – 9 June 1973
Nominated byFrancisco Franco
Preceded byValentín Galarza Morante
Succeeded byJosé María Gamazo
Member of the Cortes Españolas
In office
16 March 1943 – 24 March 1946
Nominated byFrancisco Franco
Personal details
Luis Carrero Blanco

(1904-03-04)4 March 1904
Santoña, Spain
Died20 December 1973(1973-12-20) (aged 69)
Madrid, Spain
Manner of deathAssassination by explosive device
Resting placeMingorrubio Cemetery, El Pardo, Madrid
María del Carmen Lozana Abeo
(m. 1946)
Military service
Branch/serviceSpanish Navy
Years of service1918–1973

Admiral-General Luis Carrero Blanco (4 March 1904 – 20 December 1973) was a Spanish Navy officer and politician. A long-time confidant and right-hand man of dictator Francisco Franco, Carrero served as Spain's Premier and in various other high ranking offices of the Francoist dictatorship until his assassination in a car bombing in December 1973.

Upon graduating from the naval academy Carrero Blanco participated in the Rif War, and later the Spanish Civil War, in which he supported the Rebel faction. He became one of the most prominent figures in the Francoist dictatorship's power structure and held throughout his career a number of high-ranking offices such as those of Undersecretary of the Presidency from 1941 to 1967 and Franco's deputy from 1967 to 1973. He also was the main drafter behind the 1947 Law of Succession to the Headship of the State. Franco handpicked him as his successor in the role of head of government, with Carrero thereby taking office in June 1973.

Shortly after he became prime minister, Carrero Blanco was assassinated in Madrid in a streetside bombing on 20 December 1973 by the Basque nationalist group Euskadi Ta Askatasuna (ETA) while he was returning from Mass in his car.[2][3]


Early life[edit]

Luis Carrero Blanco was born on 4 March 1904 in the coastal town of Santoña, province of Santander, to Camilo Carrero Gutiérrez (1879–1936), a lieutenant colonel in the Army stationed in nearby Santander, and Ángeles Blanco Abascal (1885–1910) a local woman. He had his early schooling at the Colegio Manzanedo [es] in Santoña and in 1918, at the age of 14, he followed the family military tradition by enlisting at the Spanish Naval Academy in San Fernando, Cádiz.

By 18, he had already achieved the rank of lieutenant, serving aboard the dreadnought Alfonso XIII and participated in the Rif War from 1924 to 1926. In 1926, he decided to specialise in submarine warfare, and served as lieutenant commander on the B-2 and as commander on the B-5.

In 1929, he married María del Carmen Pichot y Villa (1909–1984) with whom he had five children.[4]

Civil war[edit]

At the outset of the Spanish Civil War, Carrero Blanco was a naval instructor teaching Submarine Tactics at the Naval Warfare College in Madrid. As a military man of conservative views he knew that he was marked; his brother José had already been detained and subsequently executed and his father died on the day of his arrest. Like many nationalists, he sought refuge first in the Mexican embassy and later that of France, from where he was able to cross the border from San Sebastián into France and re-enter on the Nationalist side in June 1937.

Carrero Blanco then served in the Nationalist navy first as corvette captain aboard the destroyer Huesca and later the submarine General Sanjurjo. Following the Nationalist victory and subsequent establishment of Generalísimo Franco as Caudillo of Spain, Carrero Blanco was appointed Chief of Naval Operations in August 1939.[5]

Political career[edit]

Carrero at the Gando Airport, Gran Canaria (1947).

In May 1941 Franco appointed Carrero (age 37) as Under-Secretary of the Presidency of the Government, replacing Valentín Galarza Morante.[6] Following the 1942 Begoña incident, Carrero advised Franco to remove Ramón Serrano Suñer from ministerial rank and from the post of president of the Political Junta of FET y de las JONS, and so Franco did.[7] Carrero was—as Joan Maria Thomàs puts it—"extremely faithful and submissive to El Caudillo", a polar opposite of Suñer, of whom the dictator had become weary (despite their family connection).[8]

Carrero Blanco was made Vice-Admiral in 1963 and Admiral in 1966. He was Deputy Prime Minister from 1967 to 1973. By that time, Franco even if he was still then the Head of State and concurrent Prime Minister, had already delegated the day-to-day running of the government over to Carrero Blanco himself owing to the former's old age and illness. And the latter excelled in this regard, in terms of carrying Franco's policies and in directing the ministries towards that direction.

Upon the nomination of Juan Carlos of Bourbon as heir to Franco in the headship of State in 1969, it was believed than an authoritarian monarchy guided by Carrero would guarantee the continuation of Francoism without Franco, an idea underpinned by Franco's words themselves during the Bourbon's nominating speech: está atado y bien atado ('all is tied down and well tied down').[9]

Carrero reached the peak of his political career on 8 June 1973, when Franco—as envisaged in the 1967 Organic Law of the State that separated the functions of head of government from those of head of state—appointed Carrero as Prime Minister.

The supporters of the aforementioned authoritarian monarchic continuation to the Francoist regime (the continuista solution) suffered two successive blows in the wake of the assassination of Carrero in 1973, and the overthrow of the neighbouring Portuguese regime in 1974.[10]


Memorial plaque at the place of the assassination of Admiral Luis Carrero Blanco.

Six months after being named prime minister, Carrero Blanco was assassinated on 20 December 1973 in Madrid by four members of an ETA cell, who carried out a bombing near San Francisco de Borja Church on Calle de Serrano while he returned from daily mass in a Dodge 3700.

In a collective interview justifying the attack, the ETA bombers said:

The execution in itself had an order and some clear objectives. From the beginning of 1951 Carrero Blanco practically occupied the government headquarters. Carrero Blanco symbolized better than anyone else the figure of "pure Francoism" and without totally linking himself to any of the Francoist tendencies, he covertly attempted to push Opus Dei into power. A man without scruples conscientiously mounted his own state within the State: he created a network of informers within the ministries, in the Army, in the Falange, and also in Opus Dei. His police managed to put themselves into all the Francoist apparatus. Thus he made himself the key element of the system and a fundamental piece of the oligarchy's political game. On the other hand, he came to be irreplaceable for his experience and capacity to manoeuvre and because nobody managed as he did to maintain the internal equilibrium of Francoism.

— Julen Agirre, Operation Ogro: The Execution of Admiral Luis Carrero Blanco[11]

In his first speech to the Cortes on 12 February 1974, Carrero Blanco's successor as prime minister, Carlos Arias Navarro, promised liberalizing reforms including the right to form political associations. Though he was denounced by Falangists, the transition had begun.


One of the members of the cell who had assassinated Carrero Blanco was himself assassinated by a car bomb in southern France on 21 December 1978 by a special team organized within the Navy. This group included a member of the Higher Centre of Defense Information secret service, another from the Naval Intelligence Service and the other belonged to the Defense High Command. In addition, it received assistance from a number of right-wing paramilitary groups through Jean-Pierre Cherid (OAS), José María Boccardo (Argentine Anticommunist Alliance) and Mario Ricci (Avanguardia Nazionale).[citation needed]

Argala, the codename by which the ETA member was known, was the only one who could identify the source who had handed Carrero Blanco's schedule and itinerary over to ETA. According to Leonidas, a former member of the Spanish Army who participated in the bombing against Argala, "The explosives came from a US base. I don't remember exactly if it was from Torrejón or Rota, but I do know that the Americans did not know what they would be used for. It was a personal favour for Pedro el Marino" (Pedro Martínez) who provided the explosives.[12] Argala's assassination was claimed by the Spanish Basque Battalion. However, according to Leonidas, "BVE, ATE" (Anti-Terrorismo ETA) or "Triple A" are only labels of convenience that are used by the same group.[13]

Funeral and burial[edit]

Carrero Blanco's funeral, which would be one of Franco's last public appearances, was held the following day at the Basilica of Saint Francis the Great, Madrid and he was buried at Mingorrubio Cemetery in the neighbouring municipality of El Pardo.[14] Carrero was posthumously elevated to "Captain general of the Navy" and declared "Duke of Carrero Blanco".[15][16]

Ideology and positions[edit]

Carrero did not clearly belong to any family within the regime. His ultimate identification was with the work of the Dictator; as such, he can be considered a pure Francoist. [17] Antonio Elorza described the most distinct features of his ideology as being counter-revolution, anticommunism and satanization of Masonry, all according to a conspiracy theory of history,[18] in line with a "degraded Augustinianism".[19]

Also known for his antisemite diatribes, by 1941 he saw the state of affairs of a world at war as follows: "Spain, paladin of the Faith in Christ, is again (acting) against the true enemy: Judaism. ... Because the world, even if it does not look like it, lives in a permanent war of a religious type; it is the struggle of Christianity against Judaism. War to the death, as the fight of good against evil should be."[20]

Carrero, who held paternalist views when assessing the Spanish presence in Africa, was hostile to the acceptance of the decolonisation process.[21] As he declared that the Western Sahara "had not ever been controlled by the Moroccan Empire", he defended that the territory was "as Spanish as the province of Cuenca is".[22]

Openly germanophile in his articles written for the Mundo magazine during the first part of World War II, after the turn in the conflict against the Axis Powers in 1943, he modulated his hostile discourse towards the Allied Powers in those pieces; finally, after the defeat of the Axis, he had wholly replaced the message attacking the liberal democracies by a merely anti-Soviet one.[23] A defender of the idea that the victory of the Francoist side in the Civil War had happened "despite" an alleged international conspiracy against the former, years later, in the 1950s, he insisted again: "this is precisely the Spanish problem, Spain wants to implement the Good, and the forces of Evil, unleashed upon the world, try to prevent her from doing it".[24]

He was reportedly among the endorsers of the so-called "Proyecto Islero", an alleged secret plan to develop a nuclear weapon for Spain.[25]

Regarding the future of a post-Franco Spain, Carrero, along with López Rodó, envisaged and promoted the idea of an authoritarian monarchy guaranteeing the continuity of Francoism.[26]

Service summary[edit]

Orders, decorations and medals[edit]

Coat of arms of the Dukedom of Carrero Blanco


  • Grand Cross of Naval Merit with white distinction (1943)
  • Grand Official of the Order of Africa (1961)
  • Grand Cross of Military Merit with white distinction (1963)
  • Grand Cross of Aeronautical Merit with white distinction (1967)




Carrero Blanco wrote a number of books on the Spanish navy and Spanish naval military history, as well as political treatises on Communism and Freemasonry (under the pseudonym Juan de la Cosa).

  • Carrero Blanco, Luis (1933). Las Baleares durante la Guerra de América en el siglo XVIII [The Balearics during the American War in the 18th Century] (in French). Paris.
  • Carrero Blanco, Luis (1941). España y el mar [Spain and the Sea] (in Spanish). Madrid: Editora Nacional.
  • Carrero Blanco, Luis (1941). Cinematica aeronaval [Aeronaval Kinematics] (in Spanish). Madrid: Editorial Naval.
  • Carrero Blanco, Luis (1943). Arte naval miltar: El buque de guerra (de la galera al portaaviones) [Naval Military Art: The Warship (From the Galley to the Aircraft Carrier)] (in Spanish). Vol. II. Madrid: Editora Naval.
  • Carrero Blanco, Luis (1947). La guerra aeronaval en el Atlántico y en el Ártico [Aeronaval Warfare in the Atlantic and the Arctic] (in Spanish). Madrid: Ediciones Idea.
  • Carrero Blanco, Luis (1947). La guerra aeronaval en el Mediterráneo y en el Pacífico [Aeronaval Warfare in the Mediterranean and the Pacific] (in Spanish). Madrid: Ediciones Idea.
  • Carrero Blanco, Luis (1948). La victoria del Cristo de Lepanto [The Victory of the Christ of Lepanto] (in Spanish). Barcelona: Editora Nacional.
  • Carrero Blanco, Luis (1971). Lepanto (1571–1971) (in Spanish). Salvat Editorial/Alianza Editorial.
  • De la Cosa, Juan (1949). La gran baza soviética [The Great Soviet Advantage]. Comentarios de un español (in Spanish). Valencia: Semana Gráfica.
  • De la Cosa, Juan (1950). Las doctrinas del Komsomol [The Komsomol Doctrines]. Comentarios de un español (in Spanish). Valencia: Semana Gráfica.
  • De la Cosa, Juan (1950). España ante el mundo: proceso de un aislamiento [Spain Before the World: Process of Isolation] (in Spanish). Madrid: Ediciones Idea.
  • De la Cosa, Juan (1952). Gibraltar. Comentarios de un español (in Spanish). Valencia: Semana Gráfica.
  • De la Cosa, Juan (1956). Las modernas torres de Babel [The Modern Towers of Babel] (in Spanish). Ediciones Idea.
  • De la Cosa, Juan (1973). Comentarios de un español; Las tribulaciones de don Prudencio; Diplomacia subterránea (in Spanish). Madrid: Fuerza Nueva.

See also[edit]

  • Cassandra case, student prosecuted for posting a series of tweets poking fun at the assassination of Luis Carrero Blanco


  1. ^ The post was elevated to the rank of ministry on 19 July 1951.[1]
  2. ^ He was posthumously "exalted" to honorary recognition as Captain general of the Navy
  1. ^ "Decreto de 19 de julio de 1951 por el que se nombra Ministro Subsecretario de la Presidencia del Gobierno a don Luis Carrero Blanco" (PDF). Boletín Oficial del Estado (in Spanish). Agencia Estatal Boletín Oficial del Estado (201): 3448. 20 July 1951. ISSN 0212-033X.
  2. ^ Woodworth, Paddy. "In 1973, I applauded an Eta killing. Not now". The Irish Times. Retrieved 12 November 2019.
  3. ^ Aizpeolea, Luis R. (18 December 2013). "The day ETA struck a lethal blow to the Franco regime and his dictatorship". El País. ISSN 1134-6582. Retrieved 11 November 2019.
  4. ^ Luis Carrero Blanco, 1. duque de Carrero Blanco (in Spanish)
  5. ^ Suárez Fernández & Espadas Burgos, p. 76
  6. ^ Téllez Molina 1993, p. 264.
  7. ^ Jerez Mir 2009, pp. 192–193.
  8. ^ Thomàs 2011, p. 5.
  9. ^ Romero Salvadó, Francisco J. (1999). Twentieth-Century Spain. Politics and Society in Spain, 1898–1998. Macmillan Press. pp. 149–150. ISBN 978-0-333-63697-8.
  10. ^ Romero Salvadó 1999, pp. 156–157.
  11. ^ Julen Agirre, translated by Barbara Probst Solomon (1975). Operation Ogro: The Execution of Admiral Luis Carrero Blanco. Quadrangle/The New York Times Book Company. ISBN 0-8129-0552-0. "La ejecución en sí tenía un alcance y unos objetivos clarísimos. A partir de 1951 Carrero ocupó prácticamente la jefatura del Gobierno en el Régimen. Carrero simbolizaba mejor que nadie la figura del "franquismo puro" y sin ligarse totalmente a ninguna de las tendencias franquistas, solapadamente trataba de empujar al Opus Dei al poder. Hombre sin escrúpulos, montó concienzudamente su propio Estado dentro del Estado: creó una red de informadores dentro de los Ministerios, del Ejército, de la Falange y aun dentro del Opus Dei. Su policía logró meterse en todo el aparato franquista. Así fue convirtiéndose en el elemento clave del sistema y en una pieza fundamental del juego político de la oligarquía. Por otra parte llegó a ser insustituible por su experiencia y capacidad de maniobra y porque nadie lograba como él mantener el equilibrio interno del franquismo […]"
  12. ^ Rubia, Antonio (21 December 2003). "Yo maté al asesino de Carrero Blanco". (in Spanish). Mundinteractivos, S.A. Retrieved 10 May 2019.
  13. ^ "Argala, Jose Miguel Beñaran Ordeñana". 45 revoluciones por minuto (in Spanish). Archived from the original on 12 June 2007. Retrieved 10 May 2019.
  14. ^ Barreira, D. (15 September 2018). "Estos serán los 18 compañeros de tumba de Franco en el cementerio de El Pardo". El Español (in Spanish). Retrieved 10 March 2019.
  15. ^ "Mañana finalizan los tres días de luto oficial en homenaje a don Luis Carrero Blanco". Informaciones. 22 December 1973. p. 6 – via Fundación Juan March.
  16. ^ "Duque de Carrero Blanco". ABC. 22 December 1973. p. 25 – via Fundación Juan March.
  17. ^ Giménez Martínez 2014, p. 42.
  18. ^ Antonio Elorza, "La muerte del valido de Franco", El País, 14 December 2003.
  19. ^ Benítez 1970, p. 128.
  20. ^ Álvarez Chillida 2007, p. 186.
  21. ^ Tusell 1993, p. 110.
  22. ^ Martínez Millán 2007, p. 376.
  23. ^ Pastrana, Contreras & Pich 2015, p. 351.
  24. ^ Benítez 1970, p. 130; Pastrana, Contreras & Pich 2015, p. 360
  25. ^ Sánchez Sánchez, Esther M. (2017). "Reseña del libro 'Proyecto Islero. Cuando España pudo desarrollar armas nucleares'" [Book review: 'Islero Project: When Spain could develop nuclear weapons']. Asclepio. Revista de Historia de la Medicina y de la Ciencia. Madrid: Consejo Superior de Investigaciones Científicas. 69 (1). ISSN 0210-4466.
  26. ^ Preston 2005, p. 33.
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