- The year 2004, the centenary of Dali's
birth, has been proclaimed "the year of Dali" in many countries.
Led by the Spanish establishment, with the King at the helm, there has
been an international mobilization in the artistic community to pay homage
to Dali. But this movement has been silent on a rather crucial item of
Dali's biography: his active and belligerent support for Spain's fascist
regime, one of the most repressive dictatorial regimes in Europe during
the twentieth century.
- For every political assassination carried out by Mussolini's
fascist regime, there were 10,000 such assassinations by the Franco regime.
More than 200,000 people were killed or died in concentration camps between
1939 (when Franco defeated the Spanish Republic, with the military assistance
of Hitler and Mussolini) and 1945 (the end of World War II, an anti-fascist
war, in Europe). And 30,000 people remain desaparecidos in Spain; no one
knows where their bodies are. The Aznar government (Bush's strongest ally
in continental Europe) has ignored the instructions of the U.N. Human Rights
Agency to help families find the bodies of their loved ones. And the Spanish
Supreme Court, appointed by the Aznar government, has even refused to change
the legal status of those who, assassinated by the Franco regime because
of their struggle for liberty and freedom, remain "criminals."
- Now the Spanish establishment, with the assistance of
the Catalan establishment, wants to mobilize international support for
their painter, Dali, portraying him as a "rebel," an "anti-establishment
figure" who stood up to the dominant forces of art. They compare Dali
with Picasso. A minor literary figure in Catalonia, Baltasar Porcel (chairman
of the Dali year commission), has even said that if Picasso, "who
was a Stalinist" (Porcel's term), can receive international acclaim,
then Dali, who admittedly supported fascism in Spain, should receive his
own homage." Drawing this equivalency between Dali and Picasso is
profoundly offensive to all those who remember Picasso's active support
for the democratic forces of Spain and who regard his "Guernica"
(painted at the request of the Spanish republican government) as an international
symbol of the fight against fascism and the Franco regime.
- Dali supported the fascist coup by Franco; he applauded
the brutal repression by that regime, to the point of congratulating the
dictator for his actions aimed "at clearing Spain of destructive forces"
(Dali's words). He sent telegrams to Franco, praising him for signing death
warrants for political prisoners. The brutality of Franco's regime lasted
to his last day. The year he died, 1975, he signed the death sentences
of four political prisoners. Dali sent Franco a telegram congratulating
him. He had to leave his refuge in Port Lligat because the local people
wanted to lynch him. He declared himself an admirer of the founder of the
fascist party, Jose Antonio Primo de Rivera. He used fascist terminology
and discourse, presenting himself as a devout servant of the Spanish Church
and its teaching--which at that time was celebrating Queen Isabella for
having the foresight to expel the Jews from Spain and which had explicitly
referred to Hitler's program to exterminate the Jews as the best solution
to the Jewish question. Fully aware of the fate of those who were persecuted
by Franco's Gestapo, Dali denounced Bunuel and many others, causing them
enormous pain and suffering.
- None of these events are recorded in the official Dali
biography and few people outside Spain know of them. It is difficult to
find a more despicable person than Dali. He never changed his opinions.
Only when the dictatorship was ending, collapsing under the weight of its
enormous corruption, did he become an ardent defender of the monarchy.
And when things did not come out in this way, he died.
- Dali also visited the U.S. frequently. He referred to
Cardinal Spellman as one of the greatest Americans. And while in the U.S.,
he named names to the FBI of all the friends he had betrayed. In 1942,
he used all his influence to have Buñuel fired from the Museum of
Modern Art in New York, where Buñuel worked after having to leave
Spain following Franco's victory. Dali denounced Buñuel as a communist
and an atheist, and it seems that under pressure from the Archbishop of
New York, Buñuel had to leave for Mexico, where he remained for
most of his life. In his frequent visits to New York, Dali made a point
of praying in St. Patrick's Cathedral for the health of Franco, announcing
at many press conferences his unconditional loyalty to Franco's regime.
- Quite a record, yet mostly unknown or ignored by his
many fans in the art world.
- Vicente Navarro is the author of The Political Economy
of Social Inequalities: Consequences for Health and Quality of Life and
Dangerous to Your Health. He teaches at Johns Hopkins University. He can
be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.