Foreign Policy Blogs

On caudillos: Fidel Castro and Francisco Franco


Anne Louise Bardach wrote a piece on “Fidel Castro’s Long Goodbye” for the Los Angeles Times today, including a note comparing the caudillo/dictator qualities of Fidel and Francisco Franco. Her interesting comment is excerpted here:

Castro’s reluctant leave-taking—with its periodic near-finales—fits into a long tradition of Hispanic caudillos or dictators. Consider, for example, the life—and death—of Francisco Franco, Spain’s dictator of almost 40 years. Both Castro’s father and Franco hailed from the rugged northern countryside of Spain, a region renowned for its fierce and stubborn citizenry. And notwithstanding divergent political ideologies—Franco was a zealous anti-communist—the two men had a good deal in common. Both were willing to forge unpalatable and unpopular alliances with totalitarian states to shore up their power—Franco with Nazi Germany and Castro with the Soviet Union.

And Franco’s shrouded last days neatly foreshadowed Castro’s. Franco became grievously ill in 1974 and was forced to turn over his rule—“temporarily,” he insisted—to Prince Juan Carlos. Castro also initially ceded control to his brother only “temporarily.” Like Castro, Franco had an unexpected recovery, though his lasted only a year before he died at the age of 82.

Read the full article here.



Melissa Lockhart Fortner

Melissa Lockhart Fortner is Senior External Affairs Officer at the Pacific Council on International Policy in Los Angeles, having served previously as Senior Programs Officer for the Council. From 2007-2009, she held a research position at the University of Southern California (USC) School of International Relations, where she closely followed economic and political developments in Mexico and in Cuba, and analyzed broader Latin American trends. Her research considered the rise and relative successes of Latin American multinationals (multilatinas); economic, social and political changes in Central America since the civil wars in the region; and Wal-Mart’s role in Latin America, among other topics. Melissa is a graduate of Pomona College, and currently resides in Pasadena, California, with her husband, Jeff Fortner.

Follow her on Twitter @LockhartFortner.