World Reactions Influenced Both Soviet and Spain
Counterreaction Spurred by Protests
By RICHARD EDER
Special to The New York Times
MADRID, Dec. 31 — The scathing foreign reaction to the Basque court-martial aroused an angry counterreactíon in Spain, but ultimately it helped to save the lives of the accused.
Day after day, readers of the Spanish press were told about demonstrations in Brussels, boycotts of Spanish shipping in Marseilles, telegrams of protest from the Slovak shoemakers" association, caricatures in the Scandinavian press showing Generalissimo Francisco Franco with fangs dripping blood.
Spain has an obsession: The "black legend." Spaniards are told that the rest of the world, because of perfídious British historiams, think of them as bullfighters, the persecutors of the Jews, and the torturers of the Inquisition.
Part of the foreign protest, it is said here, worked more toward severity than toward clemency. Among the themes in the big right-wing demonstrations of loyalty to General Franco that swept Spain last week were two: denunciations of foreign interference and demands that "separatists"—the Basque nationalists tried at Burgos—be put agains a wall and shot.
But General Franco, when he announced clemency over televisión last night, sáid that one thing that allowed him to do so was the massive demonstration of political support he had been given in the rallies.
In other words, all the slogans of "Damn the French," and "Out with the Communist conspiracy" may really have been a screen behind which the Government could move toward clemency.
Franco decided 15 years ago that Spain must evolve slowly toward Western Europe.
The progress has been slow and halting. The regime know it will have to change befort it can really be accepted.
The Communist and left.wing demonstrations in Brusels and París, the comnuiniqués of Tass, may have given fuel to the extreme right But it was the cautious statements of the West Germán, the French, the Belgian and the British governaments that are said to have really counted with General Franco.
Even more Important was a personal telephone call from Pope Paul. The church—to the despair of many churchmen— is one of the historical supports of the Franco regime.