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Straperlo was a business which tried to introduce in Spain in the 1930s a fraudulent roulette which could be controlled electrically with the push of a button. The ensuing scandal was one of the several causes of the fall of the Republican government and the polarization of the parliament, which finally led to the Spanish Civil War (1936–1939).

Contents

NameEdit

The name had its origin in the names of the Dutch partners, one of whom was Daniel Strauss, but sources differ on the exact name or names of the others. Some sources say that there was just another , called Jules Perel. Others state that there was a third female partner, Lowann, the wife of Strauss,[1] but Paul Preston holds Perlowitz as the second partner.[2] According to other sources, the name was in reference to the roulette machines (extra pearl).[citation needed]

ScandalEdit

 
Rafael Salazar Alonso
 
Partial view of the Kursaal Casino in San Sebastián

In 1934, Rafael Salazar Alonso was the conservative Minister of Interior in Spain. He was one of several prominent Radical Party figures to accept bribes in order to legalize the fixed roulette. He received a gold watch and 100,000 pesetas (£35,000 at present values).[3] Other high-ranking officials in his Ministry also accepted them.

Still, Salazar Alonso considered it too little, demanded more, and eventually arrangimed a police raid into the Grand Casino Kursaal of San Sebastián on the inauguration day. To get back at him, the inventors leaked documents on the matter to President Niceto Alcalá-Zamora.[4] A complementary version notes that since they had invested a lot of money in the venture, they tried to recover it by blackmailing Prime Minister, Alejandro Lerroux whose nephew was involved in the business and in the trafficking of influence.

Lerroux refused to get involved, and Strauss denounced the affair to President Alcalá-Zamora, who made it public. The matter was debated at the Spanish Cortes in October 1935, which exonerated Salazar Alonso 140-137, with the help of CEDA. José Antonio Primo de Rivera went on to shout, "Long live the Straperlo!" However, the Radical Party was doomed and Salazar Alonso's reputation was over although hd hung onto his position as mayor of Madrid.[5]

ConsequencesEdit

The reaction of the parties in the opposition caused the fall of Lerroux and his Radical Republican Party government. The new elections were won by the Popular Front and supported by the Spanish Communist Party, amid great instability. It ultimately resulted in the coup d'état promulgated by General Francisco Franco's Nationalists in July 1936.

UsageEdit

After the scandal, especially after the Spanish Civil War, the word was incorporated as "estraperlo" into the Spanish language with the meaning of any business which is illegal or corrupt, particularly smuggling.[6]

See alsoEdit

ReferencesEdit

  1. ^ Estraperlo in the Diccionario crítico etimológico de la lengua castellana, by Joan Corominas, pag. 445 (10), Francke-Bern, 1954. ISBN 978-84-249-1361-8.
  2. ^ Paul Preston (2013). The Spanish Holocaust: Inquisition and Extermination in Twentieth-Century Spain. London, UK: HarperCollins. p. 102. ISBN 978-0-00-638695-7. 
  3. ^ Preston, Paul (2013), 102
  4. ^ Preston, Paul (2013), 102
  5. ^ Preston, Paul (2013), 102
  6. ^ estraperlo in the Diccionario de la Real Academia Española.

SourcesEdit

  • José Carlos García Rodríguez El Caso Strauss. El escándalo que precipitó el final de la II República Editorial Akrón, Astorga (León), 2008 ISBN 978-84-936725-0-8.
  • Marc Fontbona, El estraperlo, una ruleta política, "La Aventura de la historia" (Madrid), núm. 120 (Octubre 2008), 36-40.
  • Paul Preston (2013). The Spanish Holocaust: Inquisition and Extermination in Twentieth-Century Spain. London, UK: HarperCollins. ISBN 978-0-00-638695-7.