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    April’s Fools

    By David Perry–

    In July 1936, General Francisco Franco led a military coup against the duly elected Second Spanish Republic. The resulting Spanish Civil War left over a million dead, destroyed the infrastructure of Spain and ended with Franco’s victory 80 years ago on April 1, 1939. What followed was 36 years of a fascist dictatorship under “El Caudillo.”

    The ghosts of Franco still haunt Spain, not unlike the miasma of the U.S. Civil War that still tortures our body politic in America. However, here in Spain, they have moved on quicker: a Spanish trait to “get over it,” or as a popular phrase goes, “Barrer debajo de la alfombra,” meaning, “Sweep it under the rug and just pretend there’s nothing there.”

    Here in my husband’s hometown of Santander once stood the country’s last statue of the dictator, quietly relegated to a museum warehouse over 10 years ago. 150 years after the fall of Richmond, the equestrian monolith of “Lee” still bestrides the Confederate-heavy Monument Avenue: a molten amber in a city full of icons to “The Glorious Cause.” The South hasn’t moved on; it’s just stuck.

    The Spanish Civil War was very much a “test run” for WWII. Five months after Franco’s Nationalist victory, Germany invaded Poland: September 1, 1939. Hitler’s Nazi war machine and Mussolini’s fascists openly supported Franco, including the infamous bombing of Guernica. U.S. and Russian leftists and communists fought for the Republic.

    In true capitalist fashion, the “free” governments of the U.S. and the U.K. found a way to, officially, avoid the conflict but readily accepted Franco’s government after war’s end. There are still people in Spain who openly—if quietly—revere the dictator. Bars with his photo on the wall are not unusual. And yet, the country now is a fractured, but liberal, democracy that has bound up the nation’s wounds in a far more civil fashion than my own.

    80 years ago on April 1, the rehearsal for the greatest armed conflict on earth ended with Franco’s victory speech in Madrid. Five months later—September 1, 1939—it started in earnest with the Nazi blitzkrieg. Today, in countries large and small, civilians die in the millions from famine, war, neglect and open warfare funded by U.S. tax dollars.

    Have we learned anything, just moved on or merely now have become so immune to institutionalized injustice as to no longer be moved?

    That is the real meaning of April Fool’s: that the world is no longer “officially” at war. We are all April’s Fools for thinking that world wars ever end.

    David Perry is the CEO and Founder of David Perry & Associates, Inc. ( ). He wrote this piece on April 1 while in Santander, Spain, the hometown of his husband Alfredo Casuso.