Thursday, May 18, 2017

British Virtue Signaling and African Republicanism

The fact that liberal to leftist republics predominate in the countries of the world today can be traced back to two immediate and related causes; World War II and the subsequent end of European colonialism, particularly the end of the British Empire which was by far the largest. Prior to World War II, while certainly more prevalent than prior to World War I, the most common form of government in the world was still some variety of monarchy outside of the United States and Latin America. Even the French Republic maintained existing monarchies in parts of its colonial empire in Indochina. In Europe itself, monarchies remained in Sweden, Norway, Denmark, Great Britain, The Netherlands, Belgium, Luxembourg, Monaco, Liechtenstein, Italy, Yugoslavia, Romania, Bulgaria and Greece. Monarchs reigned over the whole of the Middle East, from Egypt to Iran with the exception of the French mandates of Syria and Lebanon, the rest bound up in various ways with the British Empire. In the British Empire of India the King-Emperor in London reigned over a small army of colorful Indian rajas and maharajas, even a sultan or two, stretching all the way over to Burma whose last king had been exiled by the British but, again, the monarch in London took the title as the British soldiers took the country.

Growth of the British Empire
The Kingdom of Siam/Thailand was, then as now, still holding out, the French maintained the Emperor of Annam (in Vietnam) and the Kings of Laos and Cambodia, the British monarch presided over a collection of sultans in Malaysia as the Queen of the Netherlands did in the Dutch East Indies. To the north, China had gone republican and Mongolia had been occupied by the Soviet Union but the Dali Lama was still in Lhasa, the Korean royal family was still around, albeit within the orbit of the Emperor of Japan and as of 1931 the last Qing Emperor had been restored to his ancestral throne in Manchuria by the good graces of the Imperial Japanese Army. Other than the French colonies, most of Africa had a monarch either in London, Brussels or Rome and usually local chieftains closer to home who were maintained by the imperial system. Prior to 1936 the only independent countries in Africa were Liberia and Ethiopia. The most recent colonial readjustments in Africa had been the partition and annexation of the former German colonies after World War I. Other than the slices of Togoland and Kamerun that went to France, the native Africans simply exchanged a Kaiser for a King and German for English as the language of government.

World War II would change this state of affairs as no monarchy, no matter how briefly or nominally, who had anything to do with the Axis Powers would ultimately survive with the exceptions of Thailand and Japan (though it helped that in the case of Thailand the King was not even present in his country for the war). The fact that the Emperor of Japan maintained his throne was due entirely on the good graces of one General Douglas MacArthur who asserted removing the Emperor would plunge the country he was charged with occupying into unrest and irregular warfare so long as a single Japanese man, woman or child remained a live. Other than the “Land of the Rising Sun”, the war would see off the last Emperor of China, the monarchs of Indochina, Bulgaria, Romania, Yugoslavia, Italy and Albania. The aftermath saw the end of the European colonial empires and this brought about the biggest explosion in the number of republics around the world which brought about the state of affairs we have today.

Marshal Badoglio enters Addis Abeba
Winston Churchill set these events into motion during World War II but this was certainly not his intention. It was, nonetheless, the result, particularly with his post-war defeat and replacement by the socialist Clement Attlee. However, even before the war, Britain began a very bad habit of making a national policy of what we would today call “virtue signaling”. The British ultimately took this to the point of being like the stereotypical liberal, a man too broadminded to take his own side in a quarrel (as Robert Frost famously said). The British decided, even before World War II, that the colonialism in which they had dominated and come to control more of the land and peoples of the earth than any other was suddenly a bad thing, originally for anyone other than themselves and shortly thereafter, for their own selves as well. One could, perhaps, excuse this sudden, and rather hypocritical, about-face if it were to have actually benefited the British monarchy but, as the plethora of post-colonial republics attests, it only ultimately diminished it. The first sign of this came with the outbreak of war in 1935 between the Kingdom of Italy and the African tribal empire of Ethiopia.

Britain, by use of sanctions and condemnatory speeches at the League of Nations, gave her moral support to Ethiopia and admonished Italy, taking the side of an African country Britain itself had previously invaded for her barbaric misdeeds, against a fellow western, European country which had been a friend and ally since the time of its formation. In purely liberal terms, there would seem no reason to consider one better than the other. Neither Italy nor Ethiopia were liberal, one was a monarchy ruled by a Fascist dictator, the other was a monarchy in which slavery was legal and widely practiced, something the British had themselves invaded other African countries for in the past. When a French woman challenged Winston Church on condemning Italy for doing nothing that Britain herself had not done, for more often and on a far greater scale, the future Prime Minister replied, “Ah, but you see, all that belongs to the unregenerate past, is locked away in the limbo of the old, the wicked days. The world progresses.” Would this make Churchill the first virtue-signaling progressive? It seems an odd fit for someone who served so proudly for the British Empire in India, the British subjugation of the Sudan and the British conquest of the Boers in South Africa. He never otherwise seem to consider these imperial expeditions “wicked” or “unregenerate”.

Ethiopia's Roman Emperor
On the face of it, British interests were not impacted at all by whether Ethiopia was ruled by the King of Italy or the King of Axum, however, the broader implications were that the British Empire stood to have its interests negatively impacted by alienating the Italians whose considerable fleet sat astride the British naval base at Malta and was well within striking distance of Gibraltar and the Suez Canal. However, in the end, this need to virtue signal meant that Britain lost an ally, gained an enemy, imperiled the central artery of the British Empire and gave Hitler the best friend he had long desired. Britain did eventually recognize the King of Italy as the Emperor of Ethiopia but after the outbreak of World War II fought a long, hard campaign to drive the Italians out of the country and set the Ethiopian ruler Haile Selassie back on the throne he had fled in the face of the advancing forces of ‘Roman civilization’.

This is, of course, all leading up to the final question of what the British Empire gained from this altruistic policy? Did they win a lasting ally in Haile Selassie? No, Haile Selassie responded in an odd way on one hand and a rather more understandable but still ultimately futile way on the other. Rather than cheer the cause of the British Empire which had restored him to his pre-war throne, he instead not only cheered but actually fought for the very cause which had failed him; that of collective security embodied in the post-World War II era by the United Nations. As for the British Empire, he showed more racial solidarity than the British had shown toward their fellow Europeans and cheered the process of decolonization that brought down the British Empire (all the while maintaining his own colonial rule over Eritrea which he seized shortly after returning to power). It is, again, entirely understandable that he should choose the side of people most like himself rather than those most different. However, in the end, this meant not only no British Empire but no Ethiopian Empire in Africa either as the anti-colonial movements were seething with Marxism and Haile Selassie was ultimately overthrown by a communist coup. Unfortunately for him, by that time there was no British Empire to put him back again a second time.

British Africa
However, if choosing the African side over the Italians did not end well, things were little different when the British government chose the African side over, well, the British side. It may be beneficial first though, to look at an African colony in which the non-native minority was less than significant but in an area of the continent with the longest ties to Great Britain such as west Africa. Keep in mind, the subject at issue here is not the right or wrong of colonialism but whether the actions of the United Kingdom in giving up the empire were of benefit to the British monarchy or even the cause of monarchy in general. A conscious decision was made, after all, to concede the independence of the colonies from the British Crown without a struggle on the grounds that it was the ‘virtuous’ thing to do. True enough, Britain could have had a difficult time holding on to a landmass such as India for example, should the British have chosen to fight to maintain themselves, however, the situation in Africa was not seen as so insurmountable. There was no small amount of talk at the time of a “third” British Empire (numbered as the first being lost with America and the second going with the loss of India) centered on Africa. For our first example, we will take the first in-line historically.

British officers with the Ashanti, 19th Century
In 1957 the British Parliament passed the Ghana Independence Act which ended the era of the British Crown Colony of the Gold Coast, renaming the country Ghana and making it an independent Commonwealth Realm. It was an independent country but with HM Queen Elizabeth II as sovereign, represented by a Governor-General and it was the first west African country to be given independence. This period of Ghana as an independent monarchy, however, lasted only until July 1, 1960 when a referendum was held on a new constitution which removed the Queen as head of state and made Ghana a republic with a President. So, unlike the United States for example, Ghana did not have to fight a war for eight years to win independence from Great Britain, instead, the United Kingdom graciously gifted independence to Ghana only for the people of Ghana to show their gratitude (or lack thereof) by, in only about three years no less, voting 88% to 11% to abolish the monarchy in Ghana and replace the Queen with a President. However, it did not end there for while the new President lectured about the benefits of communism and socialism, he also refused to take the side of the British in the Cold War, putting Ghana in the “Non-Aligned Movement”. Taken together, this is rather like saying, ‘we won’t help you and we won’t actively fight against you but we hope you lose all the same”.

Prempeh II of the Ashanti
Naturally, Ghana might have chosen to reject an Anglo monarch but restore to full sovereignty one of their own. Ghana was, of course, a creation of British colonialism and no such historic place existed prior to the British arrival but there were tribal kingdoms that could have been elevated to the position, although no expert on the subject, I would guess that the Ashanti chiefs would have been the most likely source of potential native monarchs of whom the candidate at the time would have been one Otumfuo Nana Osei Tutu Agyeman Prempeh II. However, as soon as independence was given to Ghana as a Commonwealth Realm (and independent country in union with the British monarchy), the local government began confiscating property of the Ashanti chief whose line had not very long before been allowed back from exile in the Seychelles where the British had sent them after losing the Anglo-Ashanti wars. It had been the British colonial government of the Gold Coast, bear in mind, which had allowed them back and granted the Ashanti tribal kingdom self rule in 1935. The first post-colonial government was less generous. Yet, nonetheless, the Ashanti king made peace with new President and has carried on in cooperation with the republic ever since. In the years since, one might say the Republic of Ghana has been less than a resounding success considering that currently 7% of the entire population has applied for visas to move to the United States. It may also interest readers to know that Ghana has a rather unusual name for, taken literally, “the Republic of Ghana” would translate to “the Republic of the Warrior King” which is rather contradictory.

Next, we will look at two more high-profile examples which have the commonality of both containing sizable British and/or European minority populations; South Africa and Rhodesia. Obviously, in South Africa, there was a history of unfriendly relations between the British and the Boers (White Afrikaners of Dutch and/or mixed European descent). The British took the Cape of Good Hope from the Dutch in the Napoleonic Wars, after which the Boers withdrew into the interior, establishing their own republics which were later conquered by the British in the Boer Wars. However, not long after, around 1909-1910, the British granted considerable autonomy to the Boers and they proved their loyalty and gratitude by fighting for the British in the two world wars, though there were a sizable number who hated the British, always would and always have. However, there had long been some tension between the British and Boers over how each dealt with the native Black population. There had long been a strong republican presence among hard-line Boers but it had not gained real political momentum until after British Prime Minister Harold Macmillan came to Cape Town and spoke of the inevitable end of colonialism and criticized the apartheid (racial segregation) policies of the Afrikaner-dominated government.

Twilight of the British Crown in South Africa
This quickly destroyed any vestige of loyalty felt by Afrikaners towards the British monarchy. Only in Natal, which was the only area in which the White population was majority Anglo rather than Boer, was there opposition to the idea of a republic. They staunchly reaffirmed their loyalty to Queen Elizabeth II and warned that republicanism would be the ruin of South Africa. They were the one bright spot for monarchists in this entire period of South African history, however, they too did not seem to be too optimistic about the virtue-signaling coming from London, referring to Prime Minister Macmillan’s “winds of change” speech as “blowing up to hurricane force”. The Black African population also opposed the idea of a republic but made no secret of the fact that, being dominated by leftist ideologies and identity politics, this was simply out of opposition to unfettered Boer rule and not out of any actual support for the Crown. In any event, they would not be voting in any referendum anyway.

In 1960 a referendum was held on whether South Africa would retain the monarchy or become a republic. Those pushing for the republic conveyed the message that the British were abandoning South Africa, along with the rest of the empire, and that the republic was the only way to ensure the solidarity of the White population and their continuation in a majority Black country. Those campaigning for the monarchy mostly focused on the economic benefits of trade ties with the other Commonwealth Realms, the need for British military support against communism and, it should be noted, African racial nationalism. Others, and it is no surprise this was not successful, urged people to vote against the republic but that this did not imply support for the monarchy. Given that the British had already shown more inclination toward the Black majority than the White minority, the campaign to retain the monarchy was at a disadvantage from the outset with their argument. In the end, the republicans won the day, though not by a very wide margin.

Flag of apartheid era South Africa
Again, most opposition had come from Natal and some even talked of secession from South Africa, however the growing belief that Britain would support the Black population rather than the White population, undercut them and most were forced to go along with the republican Boers or face becoming not only a minority but a powerless and hated minority in their country. The Boer-dominated republic made a few conciliatory gestures to the monarchists but generally went their own way and severed all ties with the British Crown. Great Britain later more openly and vociferously condemned the racial policies of South Africa but held back from going as far as others did in the international effort to impose sanctions. Nonetheless, the effort to never stray too far to the left or to the right ultimately succeeded in pleasing no one. Effective support for the monarchy all but disappeared among the White population and had never been genuinely present in the political movements of the Black population either. As a result, when South Africa did end apartheid and gave political power to the Black population in 1994. The result, needless to say, was that the Black African government did not choose to restore the monarchy and become a Commonwealth Realm again nor did they elevate one of their own chiefs to be “King of South Africa”.

The most prominent of these were the Zulu kings and they have not always had the best of relations with the post-apartheid South African government, dominated by the African National Congress. King Cyprian was in place when the switch to republicanism came and King Goodwill has been in place since 1968. He has been the focus of a great deal of criticism for being out of step with fashionable political trends such as speaking disapprovingly of homosexuality and a little too approvingly of the era of White-rule in South Africa. He also provoked calls for an apology when he spoke in a critical way of Africans from outside South Africa moving into the country in such large numbers. In short, relations between the Zulu kings and the ANC government have been less than absolutely cordial. Once again, British virtue signaling and going along with the popular liberal trends of the day meant the loss of a crown for the British Queen, no restoration for the natives and a situation that is worse for everyone.

First Rhodesian parliament
The situation was even more stark in the nearby country of Rhodesia. Established under British colonial rule, Rhodesia had become the breadbasket of Africa with the most consistently productive farms, probably on the entire continent. It was a place of one of the most successful recreations of British society in a foreign land anywhere in the world. However, again, it was a land with a White (this time largely Anglo-Saxon) minority ruling over a much larger Black African majority. In 1923 the British colony of Southern Rhodesia had become, effectively, self-governing within the British Empire. Unlike South Africa had the history of the Boer Wars and thus tensions between the Anglo and Boer populations, Rhodesia had no such problems and the Rhodesians were as ardent defenders of the British Empire as one could ever hope to find and from 1923 to 1953 things seemed to be going fine. However, as decolonization continued and British pressure mounted to give the Black population the vote, which, given the size of their majority, would mean total political domination over the White population, the Rhodesian government began to grow nervous, particularly after witnessing what happened to Northern Rhodesia as it became Zambia.

Stamp showing post-UDI Rhodesia was still loyal
The British government, however, was adamant that the Black population had to be given the vote. There was a choice to be made and the British government chose to take the side of the Black population over the White population and the result was the unilateral declaration of independence in 1965. The Rhodesians established themselves as a Commonwealth Realm monarchy with Queen Elizabeth II as their Head of State and Ian Smith as Her Majesty’s Prime Minister in Rhodesia. However, the British government refused to recognize the country and continued to apply pressure to end White rule and bring about Black rule. Ultimately, Rhodesia’s time as an unrecognized, independent monarchy did not last long under such circumstances. In 1970 Rhodesia officially became a parliamentary republic, severing all ties with the British Crown. There were probably no more reluctant republicans in the world but the British government was far more active than it had even been toward South Africa in forcing change on the Anglo population of Rhodesia with sanctions, diplomatic opposition and even a military blockade of sorts.

Ultimately, after holding out for decades, Rhodesia was finally forced to surrender. With the fall of the Portuguese empire after the Carnation Revolution and the weakening of the Boer regime in South Africa, Rhodesia was completely isolated and could not survive. Finally, in 1979 the first steps were taken toward Black majority rule and in quick order Rhodesia was destroyed and in 1980 the country became the Republic of Zimbabwe led by the Marxist dictator Robert Mugabe (still in power to this day) and the opening of a reign of terror against the White population. The British, who never recognized Rhodesia, did recognize the Republic of Zimbabwe and even allowed Zimbabwe to join the Commonwealth as a republic the same year though Mugabe eventually took the country out in 2003. It is the second most impoverished country in Africa today, which is a far cry from the prosperous colony that had such surpluses that it exported food which leads to an important point.

Still protesting Cecil Rhodes. It's not going away.
This is why virtue signaling and fashionable political trends make for bad policy. In the end, in every case detailed above, the Africans have ended up worse off than when they started. However, from a purely monarchist perspective, one thing *should* (and I emphasize should, because some do not seem to) be very clear. Robert Mugabe was no different than any other post-colonial African leader in one regard; not one of them chose to maintain the monarchy and retain the British monarch as their Head of State. Neither did any choose to become a monarchy with their own sovereign, though they certainly had plenty of options in most cases. The only Black, African monarchies today are Swaziland and Lesotho which never lost their status in the first place and which are, let us be honest, essentially dependencies of South Africa. The British had a choice between their own people and the Africans and they chose the Africans. Now, majority opinion says that was the right and virtuous choice to make, which remains so even though no one could call any of the post-colonial countries a resounding success. However, it certainly did not benefit the British monarchy at all.

Britain leaves Africa, Africans move to Britain...and
then protest against the British in Britain.
Today, no country in Africa has restored Queen Elizabeth II as their head of state even after Her Majesty’s government chose to empower the African people at the expense of the British minority populations in those countries. At the same time, by and large, the British surrendered forever the goodwill and support of that same White population which had previously been so loyal. The Rhodesians were, again, once the most ardent supporters of the British in the world. Today, however, it is not uncommon to find surviving Rhodesians who will damn the British in no uncertain terms, some even more than they damn Robert Mugabe and, frankly, it is not difficult to understand why. They have adopted a diehard Boer-level hatred of all things Anglo. Given all that has happened to them since 1980, it would be rather shocking if they did not harbor fierce resentment for the government, made up of people like themselves, who completely abandoned them and furthered their displacement. Yet, in spite of this, as I have mentioned (and refuted) in the past, the British monarchy is still accused of racism! Even when they support other races against their own, no sizeable population is won over and accusations of racism continue. So, how has this policy benefited the cause of the British monarchy in any way?

The short answer is that it has not. It has not even benefited the Africans as liberal opinion assumed that it would. All it has done is to increase the number of republics and grow the ranks of those bigoted against the British and Anglo-Saxon civilization. Yet, it does not yet seem that the lesson has been learned though there are signs that people are starting to come around. Hopefully, for the sake of the monarchy and a thousand years of British tradition, they will not adopt the Boer attitude when they do. Personally, I have come to my limit on the subject. Warm feelings of doing 'the right thing' is no substitute for victory and just because you think you are doing good for those who hate you, doesn't mean you really are. No one should abide those who are willing to let their own civilization fall in exchange for a feeling of moral superiority.

12 comments:

  1. Sooooooo the British killed their own empire????

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    1. Most tend to. You could say the French and British both condemned their own empires the instant they declared war on Germany in 1939. After that, they were at the mercy of those who did not have the interests of traditional empires in mind.

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  2. Mad Monarchist

    "Personally, I have come to my limit on the subject. Warm feelings of doing 'the right thing' is no substitute for victory and just because you think you are doing good for those who hate you, doesn't mean you really are. No one should abide those who are willing to let their own civilization fall in exchange for a feeling of moral superiority."

    I could not agree more!

    Mark Moncrieff
    Upon Hope Blog - A Traditional Conservative Future

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    1. I'm a big believer in reciprocity and doing good for others, doing evil for your own, and then to have those others damn you afterward for your favor, is not something I consider praiseworthy policy.

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  3. This comment has been removed by the author.

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  4. the worse Empire to be colonized on this planet in my knowledge is the British who took away more than they gave to their subjects as well as destroying Western Civilization in the process. I blame the Rothschilds for plunging the British Empire to extinction and over-expanding it beyond its limits.

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    1. Well, you can't have your cake and eat it too. If the British Empire was so damn terrible you should be thanking the Rothchilds for ruining it. You might also ask yourself why the Rothchilds in London were any worse than the Rothchilds in Paris or Berlin.

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  5. 'Better off as a UK colony' could be a recurring feature. I'd love to read your thoughts on India. So many are seeking visas while misrepresenting and condemning the colonial era. Thanks again for the blog.

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    1. Well, that's the unavoidable fact looking everyone in the face isn't it? If the British (or French, or Germans, or Dutch or Italians etc) were so terrible when they ruled over other countries, why are the people of those countries rushing by the millions to the lands ruled over by those same British, French, Germans etc?

      The number of Indians who have relocated to Britain or America is a rather obvious condemnation of the independent Indian republic. As is the flood of Africans currently crossing the Mediterranean for Europe. The problem, of course, is that the Europeans allow all of these peoples to have it both ways, as you say, castigating them in the harshest terms and then still moving to the countries where the Anglos still rule.

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  6. I find some similarities in the fall of the British Empire in Africa and the Spanish one in the Americas. Both desintegrations were fuelled by London, and in both cases there were 3 sides tensions between the Crown, the white colonial population and the indigenous one. The main difference is that in the Spanish Empire, the mixing of races was a large scale phenomenon and the cultural integration was deep in the mestizo and indian world (even among the black slaves) but in the British colonies white and black indigenous were completely different worlds.
    It is not very known that indians of Chiloe and Peru fought beside the Spanish against the criollo white republicans. Spanish Crown, as the British Government did, was protecting the indians against the colonists abuses. Te new american republics were a nightmare for the indigenous populations who were expelled from their communal lands or simply anihilated (Argentina). I want to pay tribute to the Royalist Army of Peru who resisted the republican armies of Bolívar and San Martín until 1824 isolated in the andean region of Cuzco and Ayacucho and the Chilote Indians who resisted in the name of Fernando VII against the Republic of Chile until 1826.
    If the liberal uprising of 1820 in Spain didn't happen, Iturbide wouldn't have chaged of side and more than 35,000 Spanish troops would have reinforced the Royal Army of Peru. The History of Latin America have been completely different.

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    1. Weeell, yes and no. For one thing, the British, King George III certainly, would point out that it was the King of Spain (along with the King of France) who took up with the rebel Americans and cost him British North America. As the Spanish supported the independence of the British colonies, it is a bit much not to expect the British to return the favor.

      Race mixing was certainly more widespread in the Spanish empire but integration less so. The Spanish colonies actually had a more detailed sort of racial 'pecking order'and race mixing did not equate to a lack of racism (certainly more pronounced in Brazil).

      You are correct that the Indians in both the Spanish and British colonies tended to be loyal but, unfortunately, in neither case did this count for very much. I'm not as familiar with the South American situation but certainly in Mexico it was the mixed-race population that was most of the problem, going back to Hidalgo's uprising which was essentially a race war to kill of anyone of pure Spanish blood. As such, the Criollos were united with the Peninsulares in the beginning and it was only after the constitution crisis that the Criollos turned in favor of independence, symbolized by the famous abrazo of Iturbide & Guerrero. That alliance didn't last long.

      You are correct that independence was not good for the Indians as evidenced by how most tended to support Emperor Maximilian in Mexico even over one of their own, the Zapotec Juarez, they knew they had been better off. You are also correct that Peru was the main Spanish royalist stronghold in South America, the last hope Spain had of restoring the empire and reuniting the Spanish-speaking countries all focused on Peru, however, too many people in Spain were unwilling to put their own political agendas aside in favor of the good of the empire.

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  7. Well, the 13 colonies independence was fought shortly after the 7 years war and Britain and Spain were strong rivals at that moment.
    But in 1808-1814 Spain and Britain were supposed to be allies against Napoleon and the British took advantage of this situation to travel in every corner of the Spanish Empire to recruit the most radical members of the Juntas and finance them to fight for the independence.
    You are right that social differences between Castas were huge (as today we can say) in the Spanish America, but not so cultural differences were. Maybe because of centuries of very strong Catholic indoctrination, maybe because the Spanish Crown considered the new territories not just as colonies but as realms of the monarchy like the peninsular ones.
    It's clear that a town or a village in Nigeria, Ghana or Kenya is not a version of Devonshire neither Wessex. But every town of the Andes or Mexico can easily be related to the pueblos of Castilla, Extremadura and Andalucía.
    Old Cuzco, Quito, Candelaria district in Bogotá, Guanajuato, San Juan de Puerto Rico are so similar to their spanish models.
    Yes, Mexico was a different story: it was a Spanish stronghold until its sudden independence and criollos and peninsulares fought in the same royalist side but deep spanish influence can be tracked in the country for exemple in the Cristero war: Viva Cristo Rey and Viva la Virgen the Guadalupe became Viva Cristo Rey and Viva la Virgen del Pilar in the Spanish Civil war 10 years later.



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