Monday, August 14, 2006

Blast from the past

From the “Does this remind you of anyone” archives …

Just over 30 ago, another long-standing, octogenarian dictator had to undergo delicate surgery and in the process, was forced to hand over power temporarily to his chosen successor. It was a huge international news story back in July 1974.

But Francisco Franco, who had ruled Spain for more than 35 years, recovered and returned to power.

And while recovering, he had himself photographed in his dressing gown, looking reasonably well for a man of his age, half-smiling for the cameras and discussing important matters of State with his faithful if hapless prime minister, Carlos Arias Navarro.

It was all propaganda, of course. Designed to send a clear message to his followers (and his enemies) that El Caudillo was still in charge. Still in control. Nobody move ...

Within months, Franco had to be rushed back to hospital. Once again, he had to relinquish power. This time for good. He died in November 1975 after a long death, as the whole world watched.
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