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29 Chapter 1 The Orient Within: Andalucismo, Africanismo, Arabismo By the end of the nineteenth century, what had been a world power stretching over continents was a “dying nation,” in the words of Lord Salisbury.1 Spanish national pride was wounded, and internal political problems relentlessly corroded the country’s institutional and social stability. The loss of a vast empire in the Americas, decades of abortive governments at home, and fierce civil wars between liberals and conservatives had discredited the monarchy. Unable to reconcile a deeply fractured country, Queen Isabella II supported the ultra-​ Catholic reactionaries in her court in the 1860s. Excluded from the government, liberals became revolutionaries and drove her into exile in 1868. The 1869 constitution marked a new democratic beginning defined by ideological tolerance and parliamentary representation. It proclaimed universal suffrage and recognized freedom of religion, but theory and practice were at extreme odds in an essentially agrarian and strongly Catholic society which had an illiteracy rate of over 50 percent. The lack of a solid social base doomed the revolutionary experiment. A failed attempt to impose a foreign monarch open to liberal reforms was followed by the First Republic of 1873, which ended in chaos. These resounding political failures prompted the Restoration of the Bourbon monarchy. King Alfonso XII, Isabella’s son, returned to Spain as king in 1874 but died at age 27 in 1885. His son, Alfonso XIII, became king upon his birth the following year and went on to rule what on paper was one of the most democratic countries in Europe, as fundamental achievements of the First Republic were restored. The Civil Code was implemented in 1889 to systematize and rationalize the judicial process, and universal male suffrage became law in 1892. But the ignorant electorate was manipulated by a widespread network of political bosses or caciques who orchestrated the peaceful alternation in power of the conservative and liberal parties. This form of institutionalized corruption, which remained in place until 1923, proved long-​ lasting, but its stability was precarious at best. A raging colonial crisis in Cuba, demands for home rule in Catalonia, antigovernment protests from both the far Right and the far Left, and labor unrest 30 Chapter 1 rocked Spain throughout the late nineteenth century and well into the twentieth century. The dissolution of the Restoration system did not end political and social tension, which persisted during the Primo de Rivera dictatorship (1923–­ 30) and the Second Republic (1931–­ 39), coming to a dramatic head with the outbreak of the Spanish Civil War in 1936. Amid turmoil, ruling elites saw colonial expansion in Africa as a priceless opportunity to foster internal unity and rebuild Spain’s international prestige. Antonio Cánovas del Castillo, the architect of the Restoration system and prime minister for six terms between 1874 and 1897, wrote in 1851 that occupying Morocco was “a question of life or death” for Spaniards. Spain’s “natural border,” he claimed, was not the “narrow channel that links the Mediterranean and the Atlantic” but the Atlas Mountains extending across northern Africa.2 Cánovas’s plan was put into action by General Leopoldo O’Donnell, who sent a Spanish expedition to Morocco in 1859. The result of a petty border dispute near Ceuta, a Spanish enclave in Africa since 1688, the conflict was a long-​ awaited opportunity to join other European powers in carving up Africa. Spanish troops occupied Tétouan in 1860 but withdrew shortly thereafter due to British intervention. Colonial endeavors in Africa were reignited by Spain’s humiliating defeat at the hands of the United States and Cuban separatists in 1898. The loss of the last remnants of the overseas empire (Cuba, Puerto Rico, and the Philippines ) made expansion in Africa a national priority. In November 1912, Spain’s colonial aspirations won a small victory when France and Britain granted a protectorate over the barren lands around Ceuta and Melilla. A 7,700-​ square-​ mile strip known as the Rif, the Spanish protectorate was inhabited by rebellious Berber tribesmen who stubbornly refused to recognize colonial authority over their territories. Spain’s direct military action and attempts to win over local leaders for service in the colonial administration did not prevent violent stirrings. In 1921, the rebel leader Abd-​ el-​ Krim and his Riffian allies declared an independent Republic of the Rif and engaged the Spanish army at the Battle of Annual, an utter disaster for the Spaniards in which approximately 9,000 soldiers died. The so-​ called...


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