My Spanish miracle occurred in the late summer of 1960 just after my ship docked in the Spanish port of Vigo. As my parents were ardent Republicans I had been led to believe that any brush with the law merited death at dawn after torture.

Such thoughts weren’t far from my mind as during a stroll through the port’s working-class areas we engaged in an impromptu game of street football with several Spanish youngsters.

As we sailors kicked the ball from wall to wall and got the better of the younger Spanish kids my sea eye spotted the approaching Spanish police.

The sight of their pea soup green uniforms and their black tricorne caps (gorra) chilled my sailor’s bones. The pearls dropping from my lips are unprintable.

Relief: Franco’s two cops discarded their military headwear. Then, with the help of their street urchin amigos, we Jack Tars were shown how to play football; a super experience.

Back then, the Brits of our generation viewed Spain as a backward Fascist equal to Marxist Albania. Spain was a woeful nation where the ass was the favoured means of transport.

It was fake news again; what has been dubbed The Spanish Miracle (El Milagro Español) was the name given to a broadly based economic boom that occurred from 1959 to 1974.

Whilst strike-ridden Britain reeled under 17% inflation a new breed of Spanish politicians, dubbed the technocrats was unleashed by General Franco.

From 1959, Spain enjoyed the second highest growth rate in the world, only slightly behind that of Japan. Spain became the ninth-largest economy in the world and was just behind Canada. The economy of Franco’s Spain was a world-class economy and it boasted a world-class industrial base.

The rapid economic expansion reinvigorated old industrial areas: the Basque Country and Ferrol northern coast (iron and steel, shipbuilding), in and around Barcelona (machinery, textiles, cars and petrochemicals). It also drove an enormous expansion in refining, petrochemicals, chemicals and engineering.

There was massive government investment in key state-owned companies like the national industrial conglomerate Instituto Nacional de Industria, the mass market car company SEAT in Barcelona and the shipbuilder Empresa Nacional Bazán.

These companies led the industrialisation of Spain, restoring the prosperity of industrial areas like Barcelona and Bilbao and creating new industrial areas. These enterprises remained under state control.

The automotive industry was one of the most powerful accelerants of the Spanish Miracle. In 1946 there were only 72,000 private cars in Spain, in 1966 there were over 1 million.

The icon of the economic surge was the SEAT 600 car produced by the Spanish company SEAT. More than 794,000 were made between 1957 and 1973. It was the first car for many Spanish working-class families; at its end, it was the first second one for many more.

About the Author

Michael Walsh

Michael Walsh is the author of over 70 published book titles. He has also ghost-written (book edited) over 40 books, novels and biographies for writer clients. He offers professional help for writers: editing of website content, books, novels and marketing content. You write it HE rights it.

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