Falangism in Latin America

Falangism in Latin America has been a feature of political life since the 1930s as movements looked to the national syndicalist clerical fascism of the Spanish state and sought to apply it to other Spanish-speaking countries. From the mid 1930s, the Falange Exterior, effectively an overseas version of the Spanish Falange, was active throughout Latin America in order to drum up support among Hispanic communities.[1] However, the ideas would soon permeate into indigenous political groups. The term "Falangism" should not be applied to the military dictatorships of such figures as Alfredo Stroessner, Augusto Pinochet and Rafael Trujillo because while these individuals often enjoyed close relations to Francisco Franco's Spain, their military nature and frequent lack of commitment to national syndicalism and the corporate state mean that they should not be classed as Falangist (although individuals within each regime may have been predisposed towards the ideology). The phenomenon can be seen in a number of movements both past and present.

The popularity of Falangism in Latin America declined after the defeat of Fascism and the Axis powers in World War II.


Juan Perón built his power base on his alliance with trade unions in Argentina, many of whom supported syndicalism whilst his government would go on to maintain links with Franco. However, Falangism in the country was largely ill at ease with Peronism until the emergence of the Tacuara Nationalist Movement in the 1960s. This violent movement looked to José Antonio Primo de Rivera for its inspiration[2] and was also inspired by the works of Julio Meinvielle, himself a strong admirer of Falangism.[3]

Elsewhere, both Manuel Gálvez and Juan Carulla endorsed "hispanidad" and in doing so expressed strong admiration for Falangism, especially Carulla.[4]

A group called the Falange Auténtica is currently active although it identifies more with the left-wing of Peronism.[5]


Formed in 1937, the Bolivian Socialist Falange (Falange Socialista Boliviana or FSB) of Óscar Únzaga gained a strong following amongst former landowners by offering a platform strongly influenced by Franco and Benito Mussolini. The FSB became effective opposition to the Revolutionary Nationalist Movement government although their fortunes would later decline and they were ultimately absorbed into the Nationalist Democratic Action.

A breakaway group known as the Movimiento al Socialismo – Unzaguista emerged in 1987 under David Añez Pedraza. Representing a more left-wing take on Bolivian Falangism, it became moribund before the title, rather than ideology, was effectively appropriated by Evo Morales in 1999 to form the basis of his leftist Movement for Socialism.[6]

A revivalist group, Frente Socialista de Naciones Bolivianas, was formed by Horacio Poppe in 2000 and they have since emerged as the Falange Neounzaguista, otherwise known as the "Whiteshirts". Taking their name from Óscar Únzaga, they have led a recruitment drive in Bolivian universities, although they remain a minor force.[6]


In 1935, a group of younger social Christians split from the Conservative Party to form the Falange Nacional. Despite its name, this group was largely made up of progressive and reformist[7] Catholics and bore little resemblance to Spanish Falangism. In its early years, it imitated elements of fascist movements with some of its members wearing uniforms and undergoing paramilitary training.[8] With its progressive economic program (creating an alternative to capitalism, "redeeming" the proletariat), it was in open conflict with the Catholic high clergy[9] who accused it of disrespecting the Church's leadership and siding with communists.[10] Despite its aim to be a centrist alternative to the left and the right and relatively great public attention, it never received more than 4 percent of the votes.[9] Later, it supported the leftist administration of Juan Antonio Ríos (1942–1946) and in 1957 was one of the founding groups of the Christian Democrat Party of Chile.[11] One of its former members, Eduardo Frei Montalva, became President of Chile in 1964. Other notable members include Radomiro Tomic and Bernardo Leighton.[12]

A more avowedly Falangist group, Movimiento Revolucionario Nacional Sindicalista (Revolutionary National Syndicalist Movement), would appear in 1952, although it did not achieve the influence of the Falange Nacional.[13] The name has proven durable however as it still organised into the 21st century, albeit on a very minor level.[14] They also organise a youth movement, Guardia Revolucionaria Nacionalsindicalista.[15]


During the 1930s, future President of Colombia Laureano Gómez became an enthusiastic supporter of Falangism, although this fervour had died down somewhat by the time he took power in 1950. Nevertheless, a Falangist group was active in the country during the 1940s.[16]

A current group exists, the Falange Nacional Patriótica de Colombia, which claims to be active in the National University of Colombia. Recently, they changed their name to Frente Obrero Social Patriota.[17]


A minor Cuban Falangist movement existed from 1936 to 1940 under Antonio Avendaño and Alfonso Serrano Vilariño. This group was effectively ended by a law which barred political groups from making specific reference to the policies of foreign groups.[17]

Although the government of Fulgencio Batista maintained good relations with Franco, it was not Falangist and the only real manifestation of Falangism since 1940 was with the minuscule (and probably defunct) La Falange Cubana.[18]


A group known as the Alianza Revolucionaria Nacionalista Ecuatoriana appeared in 1948, drawing its influences directly from Falangism and synarchism. Under Jorge Luna, they recruited followers from the young upper middle classes and adopted a platform of Christianity, nationalism and anti-communism. However, the group ultimately became more of a street fighting army in support of President José María Velasco Ibarra rather than a political party.[19]

A fringe tendency towards Falangism continues in the Falange Nacional Garciana Ecuatoriana, said to be a newly formed group.[17]

El Salvador

Under the regime of Arturo Armando Molina, left-wing anti-government guerilla activity became such a feature of Salvadorian life that government agencies began to fund far-right guerilla groups to oppose the leftists. One of the first of these was the Fuerzas Armadas de Liberacion Nacional – Guerra de Exterminacion, better known by the acronym FALANGE, set up in 1975 with the stated aim of exterminating "all communists and their collaborators". Carrying out 38 murders in one week in October 1975 alone, the group changed its name to the Union Guerrera Blanca in 1976, de-emphasising its Falangist ideology whilst continuing its initial role of assassination of left-wing targets.[20]


Mexican synarchism, which combined Catholicism with anti-communism, bore some of the hallmarks of Falangism and looked to Franco (amongst others) for inspiration. Its political representatives, the National Synarchist Union, became influential during the late 1930s.

Alongside this indigenous variation a wholly mimetic group, the Falange Española Tradicionalista was formed in the country by Spanish merchants based there who opposed the consistent support given to the Republican side in the Spanish Civil War by Lázaro Cárdenas. The group neither sought nor had influence outside this immigrant population, however.[21]

Mexican far-right groups often emphasise Orgullo Criollo ("Creole Pride"), which underlines the celebration of their links to Spain and the hispanidad culture.[22]


Falangist influence was felt in the country during the later 1930s, particularly in the Colegio Centro América in Managua where the ideology was widespread. However, such activity was suppressed after 1941 as Nicaragua took a decidedly pro-United States line after the attack on Pearl Harbor.[23]


A minor Falange Perú exists and claims the support of Spanish Falangists.[24]

Puerto Rico

Around the time of the Spanish Civil War, the Falange was heavily active amongst the 8,000 or so Spanish citizens on the island, with an official branch of the Falange organised in San Juan. This group officially disavowed any involvement in local politics, although it was scrutinised closely by the FBI during the Second World War.[25]

Two very minor Falangist groups have been active in the drive for Puerto Rican independence. The first of these was the Falange Boricua, who have claimed that they were banned on 7 May 2000 after leader Walter Lozano was arrested attempting to blockade U.S. military bases on the island.[26] They have since been refounded as the Movimento Nacional Sindicalista de Puerto Rico.[27]


Enrique Parra Bozo, who was noted for his admiration of Franco as well as his Catholicism and anti-communism, led the Partido Auténtico Nacionalista along Falangist lines. The group lent its support to the military regime of Marcos Pérez Jiménez and even attempted, though unsuccessfully, to nominate him as their candidate for the 1963 presidential election.[28]

A minor group, the Falange Venezolana, have been active in the 21st century and look to Primo de Rivera, Ramiro Ledesma Ramos, Léon Degrelle and Corneliu Zelea Codreanu for their inspiration.[29]

See also


  1. ^ Stein Ugelvik Larsen, Fascism Outside Europe, Columbia University Press, 2001, p. 806
  2. ^ Federico Finchelstein, The Ideological Origins of the Dirty War: Fascism, Populism, and Dictatorship in Twentieth Century Argentina, Oxford University Press, 2017, p. 98
  3. ^ Philip Rees, Biographical Dictionary of the Extreme Right Since 1890, Simon & Schuster, 1990, p. 261
  4. ^ C.L. Callahan, The Impact of the Spanish Civil War on Argentine Nationalist Intellectual Thought
  5. ^ Administrator. "FA recibe el apoyo del Movimiento Peronista Auténtico". Archived from the original on 2012-07-03. Retrieved 23 March 2016.
  6. ^ a b History of Bolivian Falangism
  7. ^ Smith, Brian H. (1982). The Church and Politics in Chile: Challenges to Modern Catholicism. Princeton University Press. p. 95.
  8. ^ Fleet, Michael (1985). The Rise and Fall of Chilean Christian Democracy. Princeton University Press. p. 47.
  9. ^ a b Fleet, Michael (1985). The Rise and Fall of Chilean Christian Democracy. Princeton University Press. p. 48.
  10. ^ Smith, Brian H. (1982). The Church and Politics in Chile: Challenges to Modern Catholicism. Princeton University Press. p. 97.
  11. ^ A. Hennessy, 'Fascism and Populism in Latin America', W. Laqueur, Fascism: A Reader's Guide, Harmondsworth: Pelican, 1979, p. 288
  12. ^ Ensalaco, Mark (2000). Chile Under Pinochet: Recovering the Truth. University of Pennsylvania Press. p. 13.
  13. ^ S. Cerqueira, 'Chile' in JP Bernard et al, Guide to the Political Parties of South America, Harmondsworth: Penguin, 1973, p. 245
  14. ^ MRNS site (archived version)
  15. ^ "GUAREN". Archived from the original on 3 March 2016. Retrieved 23 March 2016.
  16. ^ A. Hennessy, 'Fascism and Populism in Latin America', W. Laqueur, Fascism: A Reader's Guide, Harmondsworth: Pelican, 1979, p. 289
  17. ^ a b c List of movements (archived version)
  18. ^ "La página solicitada no existe". Retrieved 23 March 2016.
  19. ^ H. Neira, 'Ecuador' in JP Bernard et al, Guide to the Political Parties of South America, Harmondsworth: Penguin, 1973, p. 337
  20. ^ James Dunkerley, The Long War: Dictatorship & Revolution in El Salvador, Junction Books, 1982, pp 103-104
  21. ^ A. Hennessy, 'Fascism and Populism in Latin America', W. Laqueur, Fascism: A Reader's Guide, Harmondsworth: Pelican, 1979, p. 283
  22. ^ Creole Pride flag and description
  23. ^ John Gunther, Inside Latin America, 1941, pp. 141-2
  24. ^ Falange Peru website
  25. ^ John Gunther, Inside Latin America, 1941, pp. 434-5
  26. ^ Report on the incident from a pro-Falangist website. Note - no neutral reports of the incident exist
  27. ^ "Movimiento Nacional Sindicalista de Puerto Rico". Archived from the original on 27 October 2009. Retrieved 23 March 2016.
  28. ^ L.F. Manigat, 'Venezuela' in JP Bernard et al, Guide to the Political Parties of South America, Harmondsworth: Penguin, 1973, p. 568
  29. ^ FV website (archived version)
Blueshirts (Falange)

The Blueshirts (Spanish: Camisas Azules) was the Falangist paramilitary militia in Spain. The name refers to the blue uniform worn by members of the militia. The colour blue was chosen for the uniforms in 1934 by the FE de las JONS because it was, according to José Antonio Primo de Rivera, "clear, whole, and proletarian," and is the colour typically worn by mechanics, as the Falange sought to gain support among the Spanish working class. In Francoist Spain the Blueshirts were officially reorganized and officially renamed the Falange Militia of the FET y de las JONS in 1940.

Bolivian Socialist Falange

The Bolivian Socialist Falange (Spanish: Falange Socialista Boliviana) is a Bolivian political party established in 1937. Despite its leftist-sounding name, it was a far-right party drawing inspiration from fascism. It was the country's second-largest party between approximately 1954 and 1974. After that, its followers have tended to gravitate toward the government endorsed military candidacy of General Juan Pereda (1978) and, especially, toward the ADN party of former dictator Hugo Banzer. Its current status is unclear.

Charles Luca

Charles Luca (born Charles Gastaut) was the founder of the Phalange Française (French for French Falange). Luca was the cousin of French fascist leader Marcel Deat.

Ernesto Giménez Caballero

Ernesto Giménez Caballero (2 August 1899 in Madrid – 14 May 1988 in Madrid), also known as Gecé, was a Spanish writer, film director, diplomat, and pioneer of Fascism in Spain. His work has been categorized as being part of the Surrealist movement, while Stanley G. Payne has described him as the Spanish Gabriele d'Annunzio.

FET y de las JONS

The Falange Española Tradicionalista y de las Juntas de Ofensiva Nacional Sindicalista (FET y de las JONS, Traditionalist Spanish Phalanx and of the Councils of the National Syndicalist Offensive) was the sole legal party of the Francoist regime in Spain. It emerged in 1937 from the merger of the Carlist Party with the Falange Española de las JONS and was dissolved in 1977 by Adolfo Suárez's transitional government.

Falange (disambiguation)

Falange is the name of a political party whose ideology is Falangism.

Falange primarily refers to:

Falange Española de las JONS, a Spanish political party active 1933–1937

Falange Española Tradicionalista y de las Juntas de Ofensiva Nacional Sindicalista, formed in 1937 of the merger of the Carlist Party with the Falange Española y de las JONSFalange may also refer to other fascist-type political parties:

Falange Española de las JONS (1976), Spanish political party founded in 1976

La Falange (1999), Spanish political party founded in 1999

Authentic Falange, Spanish political party founded in 2002

Bolivian Socialist Falange, Bolivian party founded in 1937

Lebanese Phalanges Party, another name of the Kataeb Party, a Lebanese party

National Falange, Chilean party founded in 1935 and dissolved in 1957Christian Democratic Party (Chile), founded in 1957, successor of the National Falange

Falange Auténtica

Falange Auténtica (English: Authentic Phalanx, FA) is a Falangist political party in Spain. FA emerged in 2002 as a split from Falange Española/La Falange. FA claims to represent the heritage of the dissolved Falange Española de las JONS (Auténtica) (FE-JONS).

The term 'Authentic' refers to the positioning of FA as 'authentic' as opposed to the official Falange under the rule of Francisco Franco. The second National Chief of the Spanish Falange, Manuel Hedilla (1902–1970), had opposed the forced merger of FE-JONS with the traditionalists. Hedilla who had refused to join the council of the new party and had tried to mobilize his supporters was arrested on 25 April 1937, accused of conspiring against Franco, and condemned to death. However, his sentence was commuted to life in prison on the advice of Ramón Serrano Suñer, Franco's brother-in-law.FA contested the 2003 municipal election in various parts of the country. It won two seats in El Hoyo de Pinares, Ávila, and one in Ardales, Málaga.

Falange Española Independiente

Falange Española Independiente (English: Independent Spanish Phalanx, FEI) was a Spanish political party registered in 1977, originating from the Frente de Estudiantes Sindicalistas (FES), a student group of anti-Francoist falangists.

Falange Española de las JONS (1976)

Falange Española de las JONS (Spanish for "Spanish Phalanx of the Committees for the National-Syndicalist Offensive", FE-JONS) is a Spanish political party registered in 1976, originating from a faction the previous Falange Española Tradicionalista y de las Juntas de Ofensiva Nacional Sindicalista. The word Falange is Spanish for phalanx. Members of the party are called Falangists (Spanish: Falangistas). The main ideological bases of the party are national syndicalism, third positionism and ultranationalism.


Falangism (Spanish: falangismo) was the political ideology of the Falange Española de las JONS and afterwards, of the Falange Española Tradicionalista y de las Juntas de Ofensiva Nacional Sindicalista (both known simply as the "Falange") as well as derivatives of it in other countries. Under the leadership of Francisco Franco, it largely became an authoritarian, conservative ideology connected with Francoist Spain.Opponents of Franco's changes to the party included former Falange leader Manuel Hedilla. Falangism places a strong emphasis on Catholic religious identity, though it has held some secular views on the Church's direct influence in society as it believed that the state should have the supreme authority over the nation. Falangism emphasized the need for total authority, hierarchy and order in society. Falangism is anti-communist, anti-democratic and anti-liberal; under Franco, the Falange abandoned its original anti-capitalist tendencies, declaring the ideology to be fully compatible with capitalism.The Falange's original manifesto, the "Twenty-Seven Points", declared Falangism to support the unity of Spain and the elimination of regional separatism, the establishment of a dictatorship led by the Falange, utilizing violence to regenerate Spain, and promoting the revival and development of the Spanish Empire. The manifesto supported a social revolution to create a national syndicalist economy that creates national syndicates of both employees and employers to mutually organize and control the economic activity, agrarian reform, industrial expansion and respect for private property with the exception of nationalizing credit facilities to prevent capitalist usury. It supports criminalization of strikes by employees and lockouts by employers as illegal acts. Falangism supports the state to have jurisdiction of setting wages. The Franco-era Falange supported the development of cooperatives such as the Mondragon Corporation because it bolstered the Francoist claim of the nonexistence of social classes in Spain during his rule.The Spanish Falange and its affiliates in Hispanic states across the world promoted a form of panhispanism known as hispanidad that advocated both cultural and economic union of Hispanic societies around the world.Falangism has attacked both the political left and the right as its "enemies", declaring itself to be neither left nor right, but a syncretic third position. However, scholarly sources reviewing Falangism place it on the far right.

Falangist Movement of Spain

Movimiento Falangista de España (Spanish for "Falangist Movement of Spain", MFE) is a Spanish political party registered in 1979. The party considers itself heir of classic (previous to 1936/1937) Falangism, openly rejecting Francoism, originating from a split of the Círculos Doctrinarios José Antonio, led by Antonio Jareño. Currently the party only has activity in Cantabria.

La Falange (1999)

La Falange (Spanish for "The Phalanx", also known as FE/La Falange) is a Spanish political party registered in 1999. The party originated as a split of the Falange Española de las JONS, led by Gustavo Morales and Jesús López. Ideologically the party claims to be a successor of the original Falange Española of the 1930s, and follower of the ideas of José Antonio Primo de Rivera, Ramiro Ledesma Ramos, Onésimo Redondo and Julio Ruiz de Alda.

Movimiento Nacional

The Movimiento Nacional (English: National Movement) was the name given to the nationalist inspired mechanism during Francoist rule in Spain, which purported to be the only channel of participation in Spanish public life. It responded to a doctrine of corporatism in which only so-called "natural entities" could express themselves: families, municipalities and unions.

National Catholicism

National Catholicism (Spanish: Nacionalcatolicismo) was part of the ideological identity of Francoism, the political system with which dictator Francisco Franco governed Spain between 1939 and 1975. Its most visible manifestation was the hegemony that the Catholic Church had in all aspects of public and private life. As a symbol of the ideological divisions within Francoism, it can be contrasted to National syndicalism (nacionalsindicalismo), an essential component of the ideology and political practice of the Falangists.

National syndicalism

National syndicalism is an adaptation of syndicalism to suit the social agenda of integral nationalism. National syndicalism developed in France, and then spread to Italy, Spain, Portugal ,Romania and Japan.

Phalange Française

Phalange Française (French for French Falange) was a Falangist political party in France founded and led by Charles Luca. The party was founded in 1955.

Ramiro Ledesma Ramos

Ramiro Ledesma Ramos (May 23, 1905, Alfaraz de Sayago, Zamora – October 29, 1936, Aravaca, Madrid) was a Spanish national syndicalist politician, essayist, and journalist.

Ramiro Ledesma was one of the key figures of Francoist propaganda.

Spanish Action Circle

The Spanish Action Circle (Círculo de Acción Española) was a Falangist political organization in Chile associated with Francoist Spain.

Óscar Únzaga

Óscar Únzaga de la Vega (19 April 1916 – 19 April 1959) was a Bolivian political figure and rebel. Most significantly, he founded the Bolivian Socialist Falange (FSB) movement in 1937, and ran for President in the 1956 elections, when his party became the main opposition movement to the Movimiento Nacionalista Revolucionario (MNR).

In 1959 Únzaga was one of fifty who died during an attempted coup by the FSB, with government forces reporting that he committed suicide. Supporters disputed the official version and stated that Únzaga had been assassinated. He is revered as a hero and martyr by some factions of well-to-do Bolivian political elites.

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