‘Eroding Franco’ is a documentary project that relates the scientific information published during Franco’s regime with the current desertification state of Spain. 36 years of dictatorship legitimized a culture of destruction and abandonment of the territory through silence in favor of economic growth. Today we know that 80% of Spain will become a desert by the end of the 21st century.
The environmental problem dates back to the arrival of humans in the Iberian Peninsula (46,000 years ago), however, the gears that converted Spain into a 'desertification machine' were established during Franco’s regime (1939-1975), with special intensity between the '60s and ‘70s in southeastern Spain, the driest region in Europe.
Francoism is commonly associated with social repression, but it also laid the foundation of a state conditioned for desertification. Industries such as construction, agro-industry, and mass tourism were hailed as the cornerstones of Spain's economic progress. This period, popularly known as the 'Spanish economic miracle' (1959-1974), proved to be a burden that the Spanish people would continue to bear throughout the 21st century.
During Franco’s time, several scientists studied Spain’s desertification and its implications, but the absence of empirical information in the regime's media regarding matters of popular interest helped to legitimize this culture of desertification in favor of economic growth. The Spanish society was not well informed, while later generations inherited ignorance and a culture of habitat destruction.
'Eroding Franco' project is receiving support from the National Geographic Society and the Royal Photographic Society.