Matesa

Matesa
   Matesa was the most famous corruption case under the Franco dictatorship, centring around a textile firm of the same name, Maquinaria Textil del Norte de España Sociedad Anónima (North of Spain Textile Machinery), which manufactured textile machinery in Pamplona. The technocrats of Opus Dei who had enjoyed political ascendancy in the Francoist regime since the beginning of economic liberalization in the 1950s, were implicated in the scandal which involved the fraudulent use of government funds for the export of textile machinery.
   The Director of Matesa, Juan Vilá Reyes, had presided over the development of a shuttleless loom which was successfully exported to Europe, Latin America and the USA and as such was highly regarded by the technocrats. Vilá Reyes was himself a member of the Opus Dei as well as being a close friend of Laureano López Rodó, the Minister for the Development Plan. However, financial irregularities came to light in 1968, when it was alleged that Matesa had fraudulently obtained government export credits by setting up subsidiary companies in Latin America which had then ordered large quantities of the shuttleless looms. In addition to López Rodó several other ministers, all members of Opus Dei, were implicated in the scandal. Although it seems that Franco himself was not particulary concerned by what he regarded as merely the sidestepping of regulations in order to encourage much needed exports, the Matesa scandal was used as political fodder in the Falange's fight to end what they regarded as the excessive dominance of the Opus Dei in the government. José Ruiz Solís, Secretary of the Falange, unleashed a bitter press campaign with the support of Manuel Fraga Iribarne, the Minister of Information and Tourism, against the technocrats in an attempt to break the hegemony of the Opus Dei group. However, the campaign, which was feasible partly as a result of the new relaxed Press Law elaborated by Fraga, seriously backfired. Franco was far more concerned with the damage to Spain's international credibility caused by the press campaign, and by the debilitating power struggle between the Falange and the Opus Dei, than with the original fraud itself. Ultimately, the two ministers involved in publicizing the scandal, Solís as Secretary of the Movement and Fraga as Minister of Information, were forced to leave their posts, whilst the Opus Dei technocrats escaped rather lightly. The scandal, however, did mark the beginning of the end of the Opus Dei's dominance in the Francoist regime.
   GEORGINA BLAKELEY

Encyclopedia of contemporary Spanish culture. 2013.

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