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Ignacio Garca

Spanish Heritage Foundation

Ignacio Garca
The Spanish Migration Scheme, 1958-1963
The Spanish Heritage Foundation
Sydney 2002
Copyright Ignacio Garca 2002
ISBN 0-9577990-1-2

The Spanish Heritage Foundation

P. O. Box 333 Jamison Center
ACT 2614 Australia
Cover design by Joseph Coll
Printed in Sydney by:
Coll Creativity Pty Ltd

The publication of this book has been possible

thanks to the financial assistance of:
Direccin General de Ordenacin de las
Migraciones, Ministerio de Trabajo y Asuntos
Sociales y Consejera Laboral y de Asuntos
Sociales de la Embajada de Espaa en Australia.

Foreword ................................................................................... II
List of abreviations ...................................................................... VI
Acknowledgements ................................................................... VII
Introduction ................................................................................... 1
1. THE AGREEMENT ........................................................................ 5
1.1. The migration agents ........................................................... 5
1.2. The role of the Australian Catholic Church .....................20
1.3. The role of the sugar cane industry..................................27
1.4. The migration agreement ...................................................36
2. THE SUSPENSION OF THE AGREEMENT ................................47
2.1. After Canguro ...................................................................48
2.2. The migration scheme at work .........................................54
2.3. The protests of the people ................................................61
2.4. The suspension and its consequences .............................72
2.4.1. The diplomatic issue ...............................................73
2.4.2. Arrangements after March 1963 .............................80
3. THE MIGRANT ODYSSEY ..........................................................91
3.1. Operacin Canguro ............................................................94
3.2. Plan Marta ...................................................................... 104
3.3. Family migration ............................................................... 114
3.4. Territorial and occupational distribution ........................122
4. THE MAKING OF A COMMUNITY. ......................................... 127
4.1. Social clubs. ...................................................................... 129
4.1.1. The Spanish Club of Sydney ................................ 129
4.1.2. Other clubs and associations ............................... 142
4.2. The Spanish press in Australia ........................................ 150
4.3. Religion and politics ......................................................... 153
4.4. Coping with Australia .......................................................161
NOTES ............ ................................................................................ 171
Appendix 1. Spanish Clubs Committees, 1962-66 ...................... 191
Appendix 2. Statistics .....................................................................196
Bibliography ................................................................................ 201

Soon after I arrived to Sydney in the mid eighties, I could not
help but feeling captivated by the stories of those Spaniards who
had preceded me. They had been born around the time of the
civil war, had grown up enduring the famine years of the forties,
and come into adulthood in the still bleak fifties, ill prepared for
what was going to be the most important trip of their lives: the
month long journey (ship was then being supersided by plane
transportation, but most came still by sea) that brought them to
Australia in the early sixties. In those days of still assimilationist
policies, they managed to carve a space here overcoming tough
barriers, linguistic and cultural. In the broad history of migration
they were at the edges. The Spanish-Australian flow took place at
the time the big cicle of European transoceanic migration was
fading, while the much shorter cicle of intra-European migration
had not yet fully developed. Australia was still in his European
only intake mood, but soon to move to allow inmigration from
other continents. To some extent as a consequence of this, it was
to be short lived. Spanish migration to America and to Western
Europe had been massive. In contrast, what we will find in Australia is a small community -in the twenty thousand at its peaktransported to the antipodes with a paid one-way tickect and left
here to fend for itself. The resiliance shown was apparent from
my first conversations with some of these pioneeer migrants in
our still vibrant Spanish Club. When I considered engaging in
postgraduate research at The University of Sydney, I knew it had
to be on their history, that until then had been completely neglected.


I finished my The Spanish Migration Scheme, 1958-1963 thesis, and with it my Master of Arts degree (by research only) in the
bicentenial year of 1988, the year after the Spanish Club had celebrated, with not as much display as it deserved, its 25 Anniversary. Since then, the work laid dormant, not much interest aroused,
known only by a bounch of friends. It was not until a decade later
that the community itself, the institutions Spanish and Australian
that had shaped this migration flow, and some academic experts
started paying attention to this remnant of Spanish-Australian history. On the occasion of the Association of Iberian and latin American Studies of Australiasia (AILASA) Conference in Aukland in
1997, the then Counsellor of Embassy of Spain, Agustn Maraver,
introduced me to Carmen Castelo, Sergio Rodriguez and John Garcia
with whom we were to form in 1999 the Spanish Heritage Foundation that now is editing this book. What followed were months,
years, of frantic activity that saw an ambitious program of oral
history recorded by Carmen Castelo, and the successful Memories
of Migration Seminar celebrated on 4 and 5 September 1998 at the
University of Western Sydney. The book with a selection of its
Proceedings, coedited by Maraver and myself, was launched precisely at the following AILASA Conference, in Melbourne, in 1999.
This expansive wave of studies on the Spanish in Australia did not
stop there: in 2000, Castelos The Spanish Experience saw the light,
also edited by The Spanish Heritage Foundation. It is encouraging
to know that even in Spain interest in these topics is also being
shown: former embassador in Canberra Carlos Fernndez Shaw
published last year a book on 500 years of Spanish-Australian relations. This that now appears is another Spanish Australian contribution to the now just finished Centenary of a Nation, a Nation
that was built also out of Spanish stock.


Over a decade has passed from the time the writing of this
book was finished in 1988 till the moment of its publication in
2002. When I was approached to prepare it for publication, I felt
myself in the disyuntive of being faithful to the original or to
update it on the light of the new evidence that could had since
been uncovered, published. I first tried the updating path, soon
to realise that it would not serve well the text. The language itself
was enmeshed in the late eighties: I do not write English like that
now -updating it would have needed a complete rewriting as
well. The story was also enmeshed in the late eighties, with voices
that were spoken then, some of them since silent: let us just
mention those of Pilar Otaegui, Jos Luis Goi, Fernando Largo,
just to name a few. I was discouraged as well by the limitations
of what was to be gained: whatever new aspects of the Spanish
imprint in Australia have been uncovered since, whatever new
approaches have been developed did but confirm what here was
written. Thus, I felt the reader was best served by the voice of the
original. The changes have been kept to a minimum.
I should note that emerging in this text from piles of archival
material are the voices of a generation that came to Australia in
the prime of their life, at the pick of their employability, a generation that is crossing now, forty years later, the line into retirement.
Having faced so many challenges in their past, these migrants are
now facing a new one: that of making their lives meaningful after
having completed their reproductive and working cycles; that of
avoiding the risks of social exclusion that, more so that to their
peers in Australia or in Spain, stalk them. Uprooted from Spain in
the early sixties, uprooted from the routine of their working lives
in the late nineties, torn between their large families and old
friends in the Peninsula, and the their sons and daughters and

their new friends in Australia, they do need to know that they

have a history. Apart from filling an important gap in the academic discipline of Migrations Studies, this book aims at showing
to the migrants studied in it that they have reasons to feel proud
of themselves; and at showing to the offspring of these migrants
the social humus where they come from.
This book owns a lot to the Spanish institutions in Australia.
How far now seem the days in which the ennemity between the
diplomatic personnel and relevant sections of the inmigrants were
as explicit as shown in a section on the fourth chapter of this
book. Democracy in Spain brought about a reconciliation of the
two Spains in Australia, and a reconciliation also between the
Spanish representatives and the Spanish migrants. If individual
migrants and individual migrant institutions have benefitted much
from it, so this research has. I mention in the Acknowledgements
section the late Salvador Barber, Spanish consul general in the
eighties, himself an excellent researcher. I have mentioned above
Agustn Maraver, to whom the Spanish Heritage Foundation is so
much indebted. It must be said now that that this book sees the
light owns a lot to the office of Santiago Villalta, Consejero de
Trabajo y Asuntos Sociales of the Embassy, and to the Direccin
General de Ordenacin de las Migraciones of the Ministerio de
Trabajo y Asuntos Sociales in Madrid. A special word of thanks
has to go in Canberra to Jess Santos, Councellor, and to Teresa
Gracia of the Consejera de Educacin, both at the Embassy of
Spain; and in Madrid, to Jos Babiano and Ana Fernndez Asperilla
of the Centro de Documentacin de la Emigracin Espaola of
the Fundacin Primero de Mayo, for their encouragement.
Sydney 26 January 2001


Authors Personal Collection.


Australian Sugar Producers Association.


Australian Workers Union.


Comit Catlico Espaol de Emigracin.


Centro Democrtico Espaol.


Cristina Ferrando Colection.


Comite Intergubernamental para las Migraciones



Colonial Sugar Refinery Co. Lt.


Director de Emigracin - Asuntos Sociales.


Director General de Asuntos Consulares - Emigracin.


Federal Catholic Immigration Committee.


FCIC Collection.


Intergovernmental Committee for European



International Catholic Migration Committee.


Instituto Espaol de Emigracin.


International Refugee Organisation.

PICMME Provisional International Committee for the Migration

Movement in Europe.

Sydney Spanish Consulate Collection.


Sydney Stott Collection.


Sydney Spanish Club Collection.

UNHCR United Nations High Commission for Refugees.


World Council of Churches.


Waterside Workers Federation.

That this book has reached some for of completion is due to the
cooperation, help and support of a number of persons and institutions. I am greatly indebted to a number of people who helped
me to find and gain entry to a wide range of sources. My thanks to
Salvador Barber, then in the eighties Consul General of Spain in
Sydney, to Monsignor Crennan, Head of the Federal Catholic Immigration Committee, to Harold Grant, from the Intergovernmental Committee for European Migration office in Canberra, and to
Bob Goddard, from the Department of Immigration in the same
city. In Madrid, Jos Ramn Manjon, Jefe del Servicio de Estudios
y Planificacin, gave me access to the records available in the then
Instituto Espaol de Emigracin, and Beln Verastegui to those of
the Comit Intergubernamental para las Migraciones Europeas office. The 1986 committees of the Spanish Club in Sydney, and of
the Spanish Australian Club of Canberra, kindly allowed me to
read their documents. Cristina Ferraro and Sydney Stott shared
with me important records they had kept from the early sixties
My gratitude must also be expressed to Jim Blackie, Chief of the
Australian Mission in Madrid during the period studied, and first
Consul General of Australia in that capital, and to Al Grassby, the
author of the only took that has dealt, if only partially, with the
subject of this book; in Madrid, to Juan Rico and Paquita Bretn,
both posted by the Comit Catlico Espaol de Emigracin to
attend to the religious needs of the migrants in Sydney. Their
comments on matters they knew well were very helpful. I appreciate the help given to me by the staff of the Fisher Mitchell and


New South Wales State Libraries, and the Centre for Migration Studies in Sydney, the National Library in Canberra, the State Library of
Victoria, and the Hemeroteca Nacional in Madrid.
I would like to thank specially the people I interviewed for this
book, who gave unstintingly of their time and their opinions, and
who, I hope feel the finished product reflects their thoughts and
feelings. I have interviewed the following migrants, who came assisted to Australia under the scheme studied in the book:1
Alonso, Bernardo; Arjonilla, Antonio; Bilbao; Calzada, Moncho;
Carrasco, Basi; Corral, Francisca; de las Heras, Honorina; Enguix,
Roberto; Esparza, Antonio; Estanillo, Anbal; Estanillo, Carmina; Farina, Pilar; Garmendia, Pascual; Gonzlez, Oscar; Goi, Jos Luis;
Guerra, Violeta; Ingelmo, Manuel. Jimnez, Adolfo; Judak, Valentna;
Leiva, Armando; Lpez: Elvira; Lpez, Fermn; Martn, Justo; Martnez,
Enrique; Medina, Ernesto; Medina, Mara Luisa; Moreno (Otaegui),
Pilar; Moyano, Ana Victoria; Orea, Alfonso; Emilia Orea; Otaegui,
Juan; Prez, Maximiliano; Recio, Elisa; Rincn, Alejandro; Rincn,
Maruja; Roch, Emilia; Rojo, Carmen; Rubio, Alfonso; Rubio, Pilar; Ruiz,
Alfredo; Snchez, Julio; Santos, Carmelo; Santos, Sara; Sueiro; Ugarte,
Mara Jos; Unzueta, Manuel; Uriguen, Jess; Villegas, Claudio;Vulcano;
Zabala, Flori; Zaruz, Victorino.

Interviews have also been made with unassisted migrants who

reached Australia either before, during or after the implementation
of this migration scheme; their contribution has also been very
valuable. These migrants were:
Alonso, Manuel; Aranda, Luis; Bastida, Antonio; Bertrand, Jos Antonio; Carceller, Manolo; Crdoba, Paulino; Crdoba, Conchita;
Fernndez, Concha; Gallego, Frank; Gauter, Amparo; Largo, Fernando;
Largo, Mari Carmen; Lasala, Toby; Gamero, Roman; Lpez, Mximo;
Marcos, Ricardo; Marcos, Raquel; Monreal, Nieves; Morales, Eusebio;
Moreno, Tomas; Orell, Bernardo; Ortega, Francisco; Prez, Antonio;
Roch, Francisco; Rodrguez, Luis; Vzquez, Juan; Vivas, Luis.


All personal names mentioned in the text are real; however, I

assume full responsibility for the final interpretation of the information presented here.



From 1958 to 1963, the Spanish Assisted Migration Scheme

brought to Australia 7,816 migrants, nominated by the Commonwealth, apart from a small number who came under the Family
Reunion Programme (see Table 1).
Table 1. Assisted Migrants (Spain)
Financial year







3,994 (1)




3,558 (2)

Sources: (1) Commonwealth Consolidated Statistics, 1968, Table 30,

Assisted Migrants Nominated by the Commonwealth, Spanish. (2)
Ibidem, Table 14, Arrivals under Assisted Migration Programmes.

The starting point for this research was found in the following
quotations from The Commonwealth Year Book of the early sixties:
Negotiations were completed in 1958 with the Spanish Government
and the Inter-Governmental Committee for European Migration (ICEM)
under which selected rural workers suitable for sugar-cane cutting
were offered assisted passages to Australia. Later, this arrangement


was extended to include other occupational groups. The Commonwealth contributes 44/12/9 pounds ($100) towards the passage costs
of each approved migrant, while the Spanish Government, the migrant and the ICEM contribute the balance.2
At the request of the Spanish authorities, these arrangements, so far
as workers are concerned, were temporarily suspended in March
1963 . . . negotiations are in course with a view to restoring the
previous arrangements.3

The first two chapters focus on the political and diplomatic

machinery that created and then cut this migration flow. The time
period covered in this part starts in 1955, with the visit of Monsignor Crennan, head of the Federal Catholic Immigration Committee (FCIC) to the Spanish Foreign Affairs Minister Martn Artajo. It
finishes in 1964, when the diplomatic uproar created by the suspension of the Scheme faded away. It is to be argued that the
Scheme was launched in 1958 due to the interest of the FCIC and
the North Queensland sugar industry in opening migration from
Spain. However, the lack of a formal agreement signed between
the Governments, due to their lack of diplomatic relations, caused
this migration to be cut when minor problems in the selection
and placement of Spaniards occurred, in the global context of a
Spanish emigration policy oriented towards Western Europe.
The other two deal with the migrants who arrived from August
1958 with the aim to answering the questions who were they,
why did they choose to come to Australia, how did they come
and what did they do after arrival, both as a part of the work
force and in their spare time. Once migrants left the hostel, the
barrier between assisted and non-assisted migrants blurred. When
convenient, we have inserted non-assisted stories into the main
frame of the work. The origins of the present day Spanish com-


munity in Australia can be found in this vintage of migrants,

and we will consider the role of the forces that shaped this community: social clubs, church, ethnic press, politics and religion.
The time period studied in this part is limited to 1968. In that year,
a sociologically different vintage of assisted migrants from Spain
started, thus creating a new social space.
This book aims not only to present the main trends during the
period, but also to illustrate the epoch, to bring to light remnants
of texts, thoughts, images, that belong to a time past, and for that
reason may help to understand better why things happened the
way they did. With this in mind, the quotations, and the cartoons





Spain has been, traditionally, a land of emigration. Since the

end of the last century, tens of thousands of Spaniards each year
migrated to Latin America. On the other hand, the history of Australia has been one of two hundred years of immigration. During
the nineteen fifties, the migration patterns of both countries
changed. The economic boom of Western Europe caused the
classic sources of migrants for Australia, the United Kingdom and
the north of Europe, to dry up, and the Australian Government
had to scan the map to find other suitable sources. As for Spain,
immigration in South America became more selective, with the
latter showing a preference for skilled migrants, who faced economic prospects that were not as good as in the decades earlier.
Mid century brought yet another important change to migration policies at a world level: spontaneous migration gave way to
assisted migration. To implement assisted migration, governmental, inter-governmental and voluntary agencies were set up. While
the migration policies of Australia and Spain were objectively
converging, they would probably not have coincided had these
agencies not intervened. Australia and Spain were still, geographi-


cally and culturally, two worlds apart. The Intergovernmental Committee for European Migration (ICEM ) helped to bridge the geographical distance. The International Catholic Migration Committee (ICMC), through its filial organizations in both countries, did
the same at the cultural level. The assisted migration flow from
Spain to Australia was created and carried out along the guidelines established by these governmental, intergovernmental and
voluntary bodies. A closer look at them will help us to understand better the working of the migration machinery.
Post-war Australia made a gigantic effort in attracting migrants,
basically for economic development, though defense figured as
well. After the Japanese scare in the Second World War, there was
a strong feeling that the country, in its particular geographical
position, was very difficult to defend unless its population greatly
increased. Populate or Perish, become the slogan of the moment. The aim was to reach a population growth of two per cent
per annum, one per cent of it to be achieved through immigration. During the Prime Ministership of J. B. Chifley (Labour), Arthur
Calwell was charged with setting up the Department of Immigration. This was achieved in July 1945. H. E. Holt took over the
portfolio when R. G. Menzies (Liberal) took power in 1949. In
October 1956, Athol Townley was appointed Minister for Immigration, with Holt keeping the portfolio of the Department of
Labour and National Service until December 1958. The latter Department retained responsibility in some areas of policy making
in the immigration field.
Tasman Hayes, Head Secretary of the Department of Immigration, was in charge of the coordination of the immigration machine until November 5, 1961, when he was replaced by Peter


Heyden. The Commonwealth Immigration Advisory Council and

the Commonwealth Immigration Planning Council assisted the
Department of Immigration in the task of making its policies.
Yearly, an Australian Citizenship Convention was held, to discuss
and publicize the most relevant social issues related to immigration. The first, in 1950, set in motion the nation-wide Good
Neighbour Movement that was meant to play a leading part in
making the newcomers feel welcome in Australia.
The legal system that framed this policy, had its foundations in
the Immigration Act 1901-1949. Following the trends of the White
Australian Policy that inspired and maintained it, no person from
a non-European race was allowed to settle in Australia. Persons
of European race desiring to settle were required to obtain authority for admission from the Department of Immigration or an
Australian overseas post. The admission was granted subject to
the compliance of the established requirements in regard to health,
character, freedom from security risk and general suitability as
settlers.4 In 1958, a new Migration Act was passed by Parliament,
which came into force on June 1, 1959. Amongst other measures,
the new Act abolished the Dictation Test as a means of excluding or deporting arbitrarily undesirable settlers thus softening the
prevalent White Australian Policy.
Every possible effort was made to attract United Kingdom nationals to Australia. There not being enough to fulfil the yearly
quota, Canberra officials started looking for white aliens. They
sought North Europeans, through the Empire and Allied Ex-Servicemen Scheme, and later from the General Assisted Passage
Scheme and other bilateral agreements with Netherlands and Germany. The post war refugee problem provided Immigration offi-


cials with persuasive arguments to encourage Australian population to accept assisted migration from the Eastern European countries. Through the Displaced Persons Scheme, 170,700 people
arrived in Australia. An important group of Hungarians came after
the 1956 uprising. When the flow of refugees decreased, the Immigration Department moved to the Southern European countries, making agreements to bring migrants from Italy (1951) and
Greece (1952)5 The Spanish Migration Scheme came at a moment
in which many of the countries that were previously sending
migrants were reversing their migration trends owing to their own
extraordinary economic development.
On the Spanish side, the fifties were key years in the development of the regime set up by General Franco on September 29,
1936. At the economic level, these years saw the transition from
the post-war autarchic system to another in which Spain entered
into the network of the Western World economy. At the politicoideological level, the national-syndicalist revolution gave way
to a more technocratic manner of looking at politics and society. These variations in the economic and ideological spheres,
allowed Francos regime to survive, by adapting itself to the changing circumstances, without making major political concessions.6
Francos regime, internationally outcast during the forties while
the issue at stake was democracy versus fascism, gained acceptance during the Cold War years when the enemy was no longer
fascism but communism. With the diplomatic boycott ended, the
Spanish Government began to join international organizations,
amongst them, and of special interest to us, the ICEM, in 1956.
More important than the survival of Francoism was the dramatic
shift in Spain from a rural, pre-industralized society to a urban,


Migration and tourism were key factors in the economic development

of Spain in the sixties. Spanish cartoonist Dtile discovered some of the
paradoxes of the process: While some go to Germany to work, others
come here to laze about. Carta de Espaa, December 1963.

industrialized one. The strong economic situation of Western Europe allowed Spain to avail herself of international credits and
foreign currency brought in by tourists, or remitted by migrants.
This accounted for much of the Spanish miracle during the sixties.7
In Spain as well as internationally, the fifties were the years in
which spontaneous migration gave way to assisted migration. To



make this shift, some legal measures had to be taken, and new
institutions were to appear. The first post-war legislative initiative
in the field of migration was the bill passed on July 17, 1956,
through which the Instituto Espaol de Emigracin (IEE), was
created.8 This bill, for the first time in Spain, aimed not only at
regulating emigration, but at assisting it as well. Through a decree
of May 9, 1956, this Institute, which previously had been assigned
to Presidencia del Gobierno, was to be dependent upon the Ministry of Labour. Another decree of July 23, 1959 developed the
1956 bill, detailing its functions and structures. The Bill 93/1960
of December 22, and the decree 1000/1962 of May 3 which develops it, completed the legal framework on migration during the
period covered in this study. The IEE was governed by an
Interministerial Council presided over by the Minister for Labour.
A Director General was in charge of the operations of the Institute.
Prior to 1960, the IEE was involved in various migration schemes.
The first was the Family Reunion Programme with Latin America.
Then came the Operaciones Bisonte and Aloe with Canada and
the emigration scheme with Australia, which we will analyse here.
After these, a Family Reunion Programme and also some temporary migration schemes with France for the recollection of rice
and beet. The IEE also sent miners to Belgium, arranged employment before departure for workers headed for Brazil, and dispatched Basques to work as shepherds to the United States.9
From 1960 on, its task grew in importance as a consequence of
the big increase in the migration flow to Western Europe.
The IEE shared the implementation of the Spanish policies on
migration with the Direction General of Employment of the De-



partment of Labour. The later was in charge of the planning and

of the control of the execution of the migration policies, while
the former was in charge of the execution of these policies.10
Some other responsibilities of the migration policy felt over the
ambit of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs -areas such as presiding
over international meetings when negotiating migration agreements, and the welfare action carried out by the consulates. In
charge of these areas were a Director General of Asuntos
Consulares Emigracin, and a Director of Emigracin Asistencia
Social. These positions were filled at the start of the scheme by
Flix Iturriaga and Antonio Garca de Lahiguera respectively. The
consuls also played an important role in the migration plans,
particularly in the case of Australia. Santiago Ruiz Tabanera was
involved in the negotiations that led to the carrying out of the
Canguro scheme. After the arrival of these migrants, he was replaced by Jos Garay. Ramn de la Riva Gamba arrived at Sydney
at the delicate moment in which the migration agreement between Spain and Australia had been suspended.
The Delegacin Nacional de Sindicatos was charged to assess
the migratory trends through its provincial offices of Encuadramiento,
and to assist expatriates in their countries of destination through
the Agregados Laborales, who acted also as delegates of the IEE.
Other institutions, national and international, governmental and
non-governmental, collaborated with the IEE in its task of assisting and protecting migrants. Amongst them Caritas, and sections
of the Ministries of Education, Information and Tourism, and Home
Affairs and, more importantly, as far as the Australian Migration
Scheme was concerned, the Comit Catolico Espaol de
Emigracin (CCEM) and the ICEM.



The ICEM had its origins in the Brussels Conference of December 1951. This Conference was convened by the US after the one
held previously in Naples and organized by the International
Labour Office failed to reach conclusions.11 With the obstacles
superseded in Brussels, the Conference set up a provisional international Committee for the Migration Movement in Europe
(PICMME). In its second meeting, in Geneve, in February 1952,
the twenty countries12 that were members of the Committee decided to carry on with their work on a permanent basis, and the
The ICEM was primarily concerned with the movement of national migrants from Europe (economic migration). In January
1951, the United Nations High Commission for Refugees (UNHCR)
was established, to perform some of the functions that were formerly carried out by the International Refugee Organization. In
conjunction with that body, which did not have executive functions, the ICEM assumed as well the responsibility for the resettlement of refugees (humanitarian migration). In addition to economic and humanitarian migration, the third function of the ICEM
was the de-development of activities and technical cooperation
such as language training, vocational and orientation training and,
in particular, measures to facilitate the acceptance of European
migrants by Latin American countries.
The basic function for the ICEM was to make arrangements for
the transport of migrants for whom existing facilities were inadequate, and who could not otherwise be moved. At the request
of and in agreement with the governments concerned, the ICEM
carried out the processing, reception, first placement and settlement of migrants which other international organizations were



not in a position to provide. Each member government was required to contribute an agreed percentage of the Committees
administrative expenditure. The contributions to its operational
expenditure were voluntary, and governments could stipulate the
terms and conditions under which they were to be used. The
ICEM was governed by a Council that met twice a year and in
which all government members were represented, and by an
Executive Committee that also met twice a year, and in which sat
the representatives of nine governments.13 During the first ten
years of its existence, the ICEM moved over a million people, 30
to 40 per cent of them being refugees. The figures in Table 1
relate to the number of migrants transported by the ICEM since
its constitution to January 1959, out of a total of 850,000.
Table 1. Migrants transported by teh ICEM until January 1959
Countries of origen

Countries of destination



Source: M. ROTHVOSS Y GIL, Familia y Emigracin. Instituto Balmes

de Sociologa, Madrid, 1959, p. 22.

During the sixties, most of the demographic tension created in

Europe after the Second World War had already been dissipated.
The size of overseas migration from Europe decreased, and so
did the activities of the ICEM.



Up to the early sixties, nearly one third of national migrants and

one fifth of refugees processed by the ICEM were directed to Australia. Apart from being a foundation member, Australia was elected
to all the ICEMs governing bodies, subcommittees and ad hoc
working groups. The Department of Immigration arrangements
for receiving migrants were so comprehensive that the task of the
ICEM Liaison Mission in Canberra was minimal. However, in relation to the Spanish Scheme, and due to the lack of diplomatic
representation between both countries, the ICEM liaison office in
Madrid played a major role on the Australian behalf.
In 1954, the Italian Edgar Storich contacted Spanish officials with
a view to gaining Spanish government membership for the ICEM.
It seems that the main difficulty at this stage was the payment of
Spains contribution to the ICEM in US dollars. Superseded the
difficulties, the Spanish Government finally became a member of
the ICEM on March 23, 1956.14 Storich was, up to the mid sixties,
the Chief of the ICEM Liaison Mission in Madrid, to which we will
refer from now on as CIME (Comit Intergubernamental para las
Migraciones Europeas, using its Spanish initials, the name by which
the organisation was known to the Spanish migrants). The Spanish Government appointed as a Deputy Chief Antonio Lago Carballo.
In 1959, Spain was elected a member of the Executive Committee
of the ICEM, and in 1961, the Spanish delegate, Jos Manuel Ariel
Quiroga, was named its President for the following year.15 Also in
1961, Spain was elected to the subcommittee of Budget and Finances, and a meeting of the European countries of emigration
was held in Madrid.16
From 1956, CIME intervened in the Family Reunion Programme,
in a scheme to send about 400 workers to pre-arranged employ-



ment in Brazil, and in the Australian migration programme. CIME

did not assist the flow of emigration to Canada and South Africa,
or those Basques shepherds to work in the US, or obviously, the
emigration to Europe. Until 1962, the CIME had helped in the
movement of nearly 60,000 Spanish nationals, as shown in the
Table 2:
Table 2. Spanish Migrants Transported by CIME.

Australia Reunion






MOP: arranged employment before departure (Mano de Obra

Precolocada). Source: Carta de Espaa, June 1961, p.5, and March
1962, p. 5.

The Catholic Voluntary agencies gathered around the ICMC also

played an important role in the migration movements of the fifties
and sixties. The Committee was formed following papal instructions by the Vatican Secretary of State Monsignor Montini on April
12, 1951, who outlined the reasons for its existence:
It is only clear that this pressing need for migration, particularly in
view of the very considerate proportion of Catholics involved amongst
refugees, displaced people and surplus populations, calls for a more
intensive effort of broadened scope on the part of the Church.17

James J. Norris, a US citizen working for the War Relief Services

in Europe was co-opted for the task of directing the Committee. A
Deliberation Council and an Executive Committee governed the



ICMC. To act upon the migration problems at a national level,

offices were opened in countries where such organizations did
not exist before hand. Pious XII Apostolic Constitution Exul Familia of August 1, 1952 regulated the action of the Church in the
migration field. Following this Constitution, Diocesan Committees
were formed, being the Secretary of this Committee the Director
of the filial organization of the ICMC. In Germany, Poland, France,
US and Australia, where Catholic Agencies had been already established, these institutions were simply aligned to the directions
provided in the Exul Familia. The International Catholic Migrant
Loan Found acted as a sort of department of finances of the ICMC,
its technical organization being handled by a Secretariat General
and an Information Centre.18 Triannual international Congresses
were held. The first was in Barcelona in 1952, using the opportunity of the International Eucharistic Congress held there for enlarging its scope.
In the first ten years of its existence, the ICMC and its filials
assisted around 150,000 migrants. Most of this help was channeled
through family reunion programmes, as it was an emphasis of the
Catholic Church in this aspect of migration. The following table
depicts the main countries of origin and destination of migrants
helped by the ICMC from 1952 to 1959, as shown in Table 3.
The ICMC cooperated with other Voluntary Agencies, Protestant, Jewish and non-sectarian, with the UNHCR, and particularly
with the ICEM. Harold H. Tittman, Director of ICEM, talking on
the relations between the two organizations at the Third International Congress of the ICMC, held in Assisi (Italy), and centered on
the theme The role and functions of Catholic organizations in the
field of migration, could very well say that if the role of a Catholic



Table 3.
Countries of origen

Countries of destination

Latin America
United States


Source: F. Bastos de Roa, Immigration in Latin America, Pan American Union, Secretariat General of the Organization of American States,
Washington D.C., 1964, p. 253.

Organization is spiritual, their function is practical before paying

tribute to the magnificent, manner in which Catholic organizations have fulfilled their spiritual role, and the devotion with which
they have performed their practical function.19
In November 1954, the recently formed Spanish Episcopal Migration Commission held its first meeting. The Comisin Catlica
Espaola de Migracin (CCEM), was constituted within it. The
Episcopal Commission was presided over by Cardinal Arrieta y
Castro, and formed by the bishops of Palencia, Tuy and Calahorra.
Monsignor Fernado Ferris was its Secretary and, therefore, the
Director of the CCEM, its executive organ.20
By 1961, the CCEM ran 77 field offices, 64 diocesan delegations, three diocesan sub-delegations, a delegation in Tangiers to
assist Spanish residents in the area of the former Spanish protectorate who were fleeing Morocco, and eight assistance offices in
the main embarkation points. Also at its disposal was the network
of 20,000 parishes throughout the country, and many other voluntary organizations related to the Church such as Caritas, Accion



Catlica and Juventud Obrera Catlica. It published monthly a

Boletn Informativo and a magazine, Emigrantes Transplante de
Catolicismo, which had a circulation of 25,000. Within the framework of its concern for the spiritual welfare of migrants it had
sent, by 1961, 73 chaplains to Europe, 16 to Latin America and
one to Australia, and this number of chaplains increased considerably in the following years.21
At the operational level, the CCEM carried out the various
programmes referred to above. The most important was the Family Reunion Programme, established in July 1956 in conjunction
with the CIME, the IEE and governmental agencies for eight Latin
American countries (Venezuela, Brazil, Colombia, Chile, Argentina, Uruguay, Paraguay and Costa Rica). Later it was extended to
Australia. Migrants wanting to claim relatives sent letters of nomination through a Spanish consulate to the central offices of the
CCEM. From here and through its network of Diocesan Offices
and parishes, the CCEM got in touch with the nominees, the IEE
and the Direction General of Security provided documentation,
and the ICEM arranged travelling.22 The major operation not related to family migration the CCEM was involved in during the
early sixties was that of migration of single girls to Australia, known
as Plan Marta.
At the point of reception there was a kindred organization to
oversee intake. In the Australian case, this organization was the
Australian Federal Catholic Immigration Committee (FCIC). It had
been founded in Sydney in 1948, four years before the ICMC was
set up: The Organization, already well formed, had easily fitted
in to the framework of the Apostolic Constitution Exul Familia
which it welcomed wholeheartedly.23



Its objectives were to provide spiritual care for all catholic migrants, to assist in their integration into parochial and community
life, and to act in liaison with the Government and other organizations in the interests of Catholic migration. Included in its activities were, apart from the recruitment of immigrants abroad,
the distribution of religious publications and leaflets of instruction in various languages, the appointment of ships chaplains,
and the disposition and support of priests of required nationalities to work with their fellow nationals in camps, hostels and
parishes. In the field of operations, the FCIC granted travel loans,
did counselling of migrants, carried out processing and documentation tasks, and assisted in the reunion of families and in the
placement and integration of migrants.24





On the morning of October 29, 1955, in Madrid, Monsignor

Crennan, head of the Australian FCIC, met Alberto Martn Artajo,
Spanish Minister for Foreign Affairs. The purpose of his visit was
to asses the possibility of a migration programme from Spain to
Australia. Acting in a semiofficial capacity from the Australian
Government, he suggested Australia would assist such migration
by paying a percentage of the passage fare. The migrants should
be industrial workers, as there had been a great deal of industrial
development in the last decades, and Australia could be considered no longer an agrarian country.
Martn Artajo was briefed on how the Australian immigration
system worked, and Monsignor Crennan signaled that, should
Spain wish to start this migration plan, a bilateral agreement, similar
to that established with Italy, would be convenient. The lack of
diplomatic relations between Spain and Australia was the first
obstacle to overcome. Crennan suggested that the Australian representative in Paris or any other neighbouring country could be
also accredited in Madrid. He was concerned as well about the
pastoral care of the proposed immigrants, for which the FCIC, he
said, would count with the help of the Spanish Benedictins already established in the Abbey of New Norcia.25
This meeting was to be the starting point of a six years migration programme between both countries. Since the end of the
Second World War, and mainly through immigration, the catholic



presence in Australia had increased (see Table 4). The Australian

catholic hierarchy was eager, no doubt, to encourage this process. The FCIC was directly helping migration programmes with
Italy and Malta. Monsignor Crennan visited Europe yearly with
the purpose of determining in which areas the money and influence of this institution could be better directed.
Table 4

Roman Catholic

Church of England

In 1955, and after commenting on the matter with some Department of Immigration officials including Hayes, Monsignor
Crennan decided to include Spain in his agenda. He visited different provinces in which, with the help of the Diocesan Emigration Committees he could observe, first hand, the desires of so
many Spaniards to emigrate anywhere, Australia included. Later,
through the CCEM, he made his move to the Minister.
The timing was right. Spain had joined the United Nations only
months before, and negotiations to become a member of the
ICEM were under way. The foreign policy mechanisms of the
Spanish state, still stiff after so many years of isolation, were gradually receiving the lubrication they needed to perform adequately
in international politics. Spanish Foreign Affairs welcomed
Crennans visit, if not for other reasons, because it allowed the
Department to rehearse some of its new functions.
As an immediate consequence of this meeting, the Spanish diplomatic machinery started to move. From the Minister of Foreign



Affairs via the Director General of Asuntos Consulares, Director

of Emigracin Asistencia Social, information was sent to the newly
appointed Consul General in Sydney, Santiago Ruiz Tabanera. It
was the first of a series of documents headed: Possibility of emigration to Australia. It outlined the first and most important mission the Consul was instructed to carry out in his new post, which
was to asses the feasibility of the proposition.26
On November. 17, 1955, Tabanera a met the Head Secretary of
the Department of Immigration, Tasman Hayes. According to the
memorandum drafted after the visit, the Consul told the Australian that Spain would consider seriously the possibility of a bilateral agreement concerning migration, as long as diplomatic representation was first established between the two countries. Hayes
showed moderate interest in the project, and indicated that the
first step, before proceeding further, was for the Spanish Government to complete a questionnaire which he would forward to
Tabanera. He also pointed out the necessity of the intervention of
the ICEM in a project of this kind, and directed the Consul to the
ICEM Liaison Mission in Australia which, conveniently, was located in the same building as the Department of Immigration. Mr.
Wendling, the head of the Mission, considering that Spain had
already asked for membership in the last ICEM General Assembly
in Geneve, promised the Consul all the help his office could
It took more than a month for A. L. Nutt, Acting Secretary in
Hayes Absence, to send the Consul the confidential questionnaire Hayes had promised. In it, the Spanish officials were informed that nothing could be done for the financial year 1955-56
as the migration programme was already prearranged. The possi-



bility of action for the next financial year was delayed by the
Australian request for detailed information on eleven points.
Canberra officials wanted to know whether Madrid would agree
to all the customary conditions on assisted migration: to make a
free contribution toward the passage costs on equal basis to Australia; to provide documentation and carry out the preliminary
processing and inland transportation of migrants; to assist the
Australian selection team with police and other records, as well
as with office accommodation, interpreters and clerical workers.
The Department of Immigration was also interested in the number of migrants Spain was prepared to assist, and whether there
were any restrictions on the migration of skilled tradesman or
single girls. It also asked if migrants could make a contribution to
their passage costs and, if not, how the difference could be covered.
Consul Tabanera felt constrained to explain a number of clauses
to Madrid. Regarding clause (v) which stated that Spain would
agree to ... every migrant signing an undertaking to work in employment approved by the Australian Government for two years,28
he pointed out it should not be taken too seriously, as there was
so much demand of workers that it was not difficult for migrants
to change their jobs. However, care should be taken, according
to the Consul, to avoid Spanish migrants being sent to inhospitable areas, and being forced to remain there.29 Tabanera also
elaborated on the reasons behind the question in clause (vii),
relating to the Spanish Government disposition on the departure
of single girls, explaining that the Department of Immigration
was anxious to avoid a gross sexual imbalance amongst the new



It seemed that Tabanera was genuinely interested in the project.

He signalled that, despite Australian politicians being cold and
taking a month to answer, they were interested and that, in so far
as he knew, the Spanish immigrants living in Australia were happily settled.30 It appears that neither Australian Immigration nor
Spanish Foreign Affairs shared the Consuls enthusiasm. It took a
month for the Department of immigration to send the questionnaire; Madrid showed even less hurry, as it seems that the questionnaire was never answered.
By the end of January 1956, negotiations had stalled. The movement generated by the meeting of Monsignor Crennan with Martn
Artajo had already been halted. If the launching of a migrant
scheme from Spain was to succeed, a new push would be
needed. In April 1956, three different initiatives were taken in an
effort to bring this project to reality. Two were directed at shaking up the inertia of the Spanish Government; the third came
from within the Australian political system. We do not know
whether it was all coincidence, or whether the movements were
orchestrated, but it is clear that the Australian catholic church
was involved in each of the initiatives.
The first of these was taken by Father Eugenio Prez, a Spanish missionary at the Benedictine Abbey of New Norcia. He went
to Madrid in April 1957 to propose to the Spanish Government a
plan to fund a Spanish colony in Australia. The Bishop of Ballarat,
he argued, was interested in such a project, land was easily available, and Catholics could be brought either from Italy or from
Spain. When the Consul was asked about the project, he answered in a polite tone that, evidently, Father Prez was very
optimistic and the idea was interesting; however, he felt such



plan could not be put into practice at the moment.31

The second initiative was personally taken by Monsignor
Crennan, when on April 18, 1956, he visited the Spanish consulate in Sydney. The items debated at this meeting were similar to
those already mentioned in his Madrid visit to Martn Artajo. There
was just one important difference: in Madrid, Crennan suggested
that industrial workers would be needed; in Sydney, he argued
that it would be an absolute condition for the coming migrants
to accept rural employment.32 He insisted on a Spanish Australian bilateral agreement, in which the major problems like cost of
travel, and provision of work and accommodation should be considered. A prerequisite was, of course, an Australian representation in Madrid, and Crennan knew that the Spanish Minister for
Foreign Affairs was eager to facilitate it. Spanish membership with
the ICEM would help in getting travel loans. Crennan knew also
of the willingness of many Spaniards to come to Australia, and
concluded by saying that the Australian catholic organizations
wanted to benefit the Spanish and the Australian people as much
as they could.
Tabanera informed Martn Artajo of this meeting, and urged an
interchange of diplomatic missions. Although he foresaw difficulties because the Australia Minister for External Affairs was Protestant, Mason and furiously anti-Catholic, and no friend of ours at
all, he did not consider them insurmountable.33 This move did
not get any apparent response from Madrid; Spanish officials
seemed still to be busy with the colony affair suggested by
Father Prez.
The third initiative was to be the most effective: its consequences
can be followed through to the signing of bilateral migration agree-



ment in May 1957, and its materialization when the first expedition of Spanish assisted migrants disembarked in Brisbane in August 1958. The initiative was taken by Senator John Ignatius
Armstrong, member of the Australian Labour Party, fervent Catholic
and, as the Consul put it, the best friend Spain has in Australia.
Through him, an agreement was reached in April 1956 to send
two people to Spain in December the same year, to study the
feasibility of bringing two hundred labourers to work in the North
Queensland cane industry for the 1957 season. The two representatives to be sent were R. Muir, secretary of the Queensland
Cane Growers Council and member of the Commonwealth Immigration Advisory Committee, and R. E. Armstrong, Australian High
Commissioner and head of the Australian Migration Office at
Australian House in London.34
In this way, the Queensland sugar cane industry was to join
forces with the FCIC in fighting, from within the Australian political system, for the opening of a migration flow from Spain. Why
the cane growers were so interested, and how they managed to
influence the course of events are the questions to be considered
in the following section.




A Spanish presence has been well documented in Australia

since the mid nineteen century. J. Lyng wrote in the thirties about
early Spanish colonists, amongst them the Parer family, whose
first member has been traced to the gold diggings of Victoria
around 1856. According to Lyng, the Spanish colony in Victoria
consisted of about 136 people in 1873.35 There has been a Spanish consulate in Sydney since 1853, and the first Consul General
was appointed in 1869. Al Grassbys book mentions J. Merrey
Vzquez, Peronella, Gras, Alvaro and other Spaniards settled in
Victoria and NSW at the turn of the century.36 Table 5 shows the
numbers of the Spanish population in Australia, prior to the enactment of the Spanish migration Scheme.
Table 5.
Spanish Population in Australian Censuses:
1901 .............
1911 .............
1921 .............


1933 ................. 1,141

1947 ..................
1954 ................. 1,354

In the pre First World War years, an important colony of Basques

settled in Queensland. The first of these were sailors who jumped
ship. Then the Spanish community grew through chain migration. Oddly enough, Basques were at the time migrating to the
United States, Argentina and the Philippines to work as shepherds, but when they reached Australia, they turned to the cane
industry in preference to shepherding.37 A smaller group of
Catalans escaping from the Moroccan War also appeared at this



time. They chose to settle in North Queensland and Victoria. By

1913, three sugar cane gangs made up exclusively of Basques
were operating in the Innisfail area. By 1924, eleven farms in the
Ingham area were owned by Basque and Catalan settlers. Chain
migration increased the Basque population in North Queensland
during the twenties; In one remarkable case of chain migration,
Teresa Mendiolea, from the Ingham district, helped 700 Basques
migrate to Australia, in many cases advancing their travel costs.38
The political upheavals in the late thirties and early forties in
Spain and elsewhere, halted this flow of migration, and the numbers of Spaniards settled in the area decreased.39 The post Second World War migration boom brought a small number of refugees from the Spanish civil war, who found their way to Australia
helped by the International Refugee Organization first, and by
the ICEM in the fifties. After two years of Commonwealth arranged work, they mostly settled in Sydney and Melbourne. During the fifties, chain migration from Spain to North Queensland
resumed. The sugar industry press run by the Queensland Cane
Growers Council (QCGC) recorded this trend:
In all over the past two or three years, the comparatively small number of Inghams Spanish origin families have assisted several hundred
young men to come out. At present it is estimated, that there would
be close to a hundred Spaniards either working in the harvesting or
on farms. Others have entered trades . . . Quite a large percentage of
the young men are from the Basque country in north west [sic.] Spain.40
Established families of Spanish origin not only assist the migrants to
pay their passages here. They make special efforts to ensure that the
newcomers are absorbed into the community as a whole. People in
the Ingham district believe that the nominations and assistance by the
families will have a snowball effect. New settlers will, in time, assist
other members of their families to migrate.41



Despite the importance of the snowball effect, the bulk of the

Spanish presence in North Queensland in the following years
was to be due to a different scheme that at that time was already
under way. The manpower requirements of the industry was far
greater than what these individual nominations could achieve. In
fact, the opening of assisted migration from Spain was prompted
by the sugar growers. A closer look at the Queensland sugar
industry in the fifties will give us a better understanding on what
were the forces that moved the strings to get the Spanish assisted
migration scheme into motion.
Queensland produced 95 per cent of the Australian sugar output, both for domestic usage and for export. Its export trade
value made the Commonwealth Government to take a keen interest in the fortunes of the industry. Three organizations, the
QCGC, the Australian Sugar Producers Association (ASPA), and
the Colonial Sugar Refinery (CSR) covered the different aspects of
the industry: growing, milling and refining respectively. They
depended, to a large extent, of seasonal work. During the fifties
and early sixties, the three organizations were engaged in industrial disputes against the restrictive practices of several unions,
mainly the Australian Workers Union (AWU), the Federated Engine Drivers and Firemens Association (FEDFA), and the Waterside Workers Federation (WWF). The employers organizations
tried, and finally succeeded, in breaking the unions power with
the help of the Federal Government by drafting new legislation,
by introducing additional labour, including migrants, into the area,
and by mechanization. The assisted migration agreement signed
with Spain, may well have been one of the by-products of this
industrial conflict.



The conflict in the sugar industry has been best examined in

the case of the efforts by the CSR to break the power of the WWF.
The WWF was one of the toughest unions in Australia. It exploited the strategic moment to present their grievances to the
employers at the end of the crushing season. The Federal Government acted on the side of the hapless employers, drafting
amendments to the legislation, in an attempt to take away the
WWFs power to recruit waterfront labour. However, the massive
upsurge of strikes in November 1954, which has been termed the
Fourteen Day that Shook Menzies, forced the Government to
back down.
The CSR realized that mechanical loading and unloading of the
ships was the only way of stopping the WWF. The mechanization
of the waterfront started at the Pyrmont refinery in Sydney in May
1955, and was then implemented in Mackay in 1957 and Lucinda
in 1959. The 3,000,000 pounds spent by the CSR in the effort,
soon seemed worthwhile.42 The power of the union dented, legislation was passed trough Parliament that entailed the employers
to contract workers others than WWF members.
The QCGC passed through a similar process. Mechanization
was also seen as a measure to ease industrial problems, but in the
cane cutting area this was not a short term solution. As B. Foley,
President of the QCGC suggested in 1957, for a long period, we
will require a substantial labour force to assist in the harvest.43
Meanwhile, to increase the number of canecutters by introducing
migrant labour was seen by the growers as the way to cope with
the unions restrictive practices.
Lack of man power for the harvesting season was a chronic
problem of the area. Since the mid fifties, according to M. E.



Flaws, Regional Director of the Department of Labour and National Service in Townsville, the 80 per cent of the canecutters
employed were non-British migrants.44 The sugar industry tried
to overcome its labour shortages in the mid fifties by arranging
with the Department of Immigration to bring to the area Italian
migrants specially selected for cane-cutting tasks. As the problem
remained, in the late fifties employers in the industry tried a similar scheme, but bringing instead Spaniards from the Basque provinces.
A closer study of how the Italian scheme was enacted will
reveal two central matters. Firstly, why still more migrant workers
were needed in the second half of the decade, thus giving the
cane growers reasons to press the Department of Immigration for
migrant workers from Spain. Secondly, to appreciate how the
negotiations were conducted with the Department of Immigration for that purpose. In fact, we will argue, the Spanish scheme
for North Queensland was a small-scale version of the Italian.
The Italian migration Agreement of 1951 opened North
Queensland cane growers to a new source of migrant labour
after the Displaced Persons Scheme had terminated. Nevertheless the QCGC as well as the ASPA, still stressed in their annual
meetings, the chronic labour shortages in the area.45 It was suggested that a pool of migrant labour for cane cutting and field
work be established in North Queensland prior to the commencement of the harvesting season.46
The problem was not only to attract migrants, but to attract the
right kind of migrants. As far as labour was concerned, the 1954
season was considered the worst season that sugar producers
had endured, not excluding even the war years.47 At the begin-



ning of November, only 300 of nearly 900 migrants sent to the

northern canefields were still on the job. As it was pointed out in
this year Australian Sugar Producers (ASPA) annual conference:
It was not likely that the right type of rural workers could be recruited from Amsterdam or Rome or Paris in large numbers. Barbers,
musicians and bootmakers were being brought out and sent into the
cane fields, and they were hopelessly incompetent.48

Selectors should be required to go into the rural districts of

Europe to find suitable land-minded men willing to work well
and settle down. A suggestion was made to H. E. Holt, Minister
for Labour and Immigration, that representatives of the sugar
industry should go overseas to choose suitable migrant labour for
the industry.49 They also asked for the migration centre in Cairns
to be reopen in order to provide accommodation for some of the
dependents of immigrant workers, and for the immigrant ships to
proceed directly to Cairns, thereby avoiding some of the wastage
that had occurred in moving from the southern States to the north.50
The Minister agreed on these recommendations, after they were
examined at the Immigration Advisory Council. Then, Peter Lalli,
F. M. Pavetto and A. Lando, of Italian origin and themselves
successful cane farmers were appointed as the industry selection committee to be sent abroad to cooperate with the Australian Migration Office in Rome: Each selector has been equipped
with a movie showing cane cutters at work, and with a pamphlet
for distribution to prospective migrants.51
On May 27, and in what was called the best planned immigration scheme in Queensland history,52 the Italian Migrant ship
Flaminia, carrying 800 carefully chosen workers for the North
Queensland sugar cane districts, arrived at the port of Cairns.



Some 400 of the men with their womenfolk and children disembarked, and the remainder landed in Townsville. A second expedition came on the Toscanelli, that arrived at Sydney on July 13,
completing the figure of 1,500 migrants the Queensland team had
helped in the selection; 350 of them were allotted to the North
NSW canefields.53 They came from the South of Italy and Sicily.
Peter Lalli, who accompanied the expedition, said on arrival: The
migrants proved to be an excellent type, willing to do hard work,
and accustomed to a rural environment.54
The success of this scheme led to arrangements for similar measures for the 1956 season. The Chief Migration Officer in Rome
was instructed to recruit 500 cane cutters plus up to 200 dependents to arrive on or after May 15, 1956. A further 300 cane cutters
to complete the industrys estimated total requirements of 800
were to arrive early in July. But the scarcity of suitable cane cutters was only part of the problem the sugar growers had to face:
Of very serious concern to all growers, apart from the shortage of
reliable cane cutters was their extortionate demands for over awarded
cutting and loading rates, the breaking of contracts, and the unpredictable drift of cutters from farm to farm and from district to district.55

Already in 1954 and just prior to the commencement of the

crushing season, there was an overtime ban, followed by a general strike by key sugar mill employees. There was also a threat of
a general strike amongst cane cutters on the issue of cutting burnt
cane, although it had been averted by the decision of the
Queensland Industrial Court of increasing wage rates in the industry.56 Industrial unrest mounted in the 1956 season. From May
15, the State Industrial Court was hearing claims by the Australian
Workers Union and the Federated Engine Drivers and Firemens



Association for a ten per cent general wage increase under the
Sugar Industry Award, and many other items affecting both the
growing and milling side of the industry. A general strike occurred between September 4 and 9. The spread of the trouble
was averted by a compulsory conference held at the instigation
of the President of the Industrial Court.57
By then, conversations were well under way between the QCGC
and the Department of Immigration to bring migrants from the
Spain. They were to constitute a labour surplus for the growers,
to weaken industrial action. Late in 1956, the Commonwealth
Immigration Advisory Committee met in Brisbane and recommended the Government to seek migrants in Spain for sugarcane cutting in Queensland. From then on, the issue arose regularly on the different forums where migration policies were discussed. QCGC Secretary R. A. Muir visited Spain in December at
that effect, and he was impressed with the hard working qualities of Spanish workers. On his return he said he thought Australians would get on well with Spanish and that Spanish would like
Australia and assimilate easily.58
The first group of Spanish migrants was expected to arrive for
the 1957 season. The growers press announced the plan on January
15, 1957:
The proposal to introduce Spanish labour into the cane fields was
discussed at the recent meeting of the Commonwealth Immigration
Advisory Council in Melbourne. If the Spaniards are recruited they
probably will come from the Basque provinces. Australia will investigate the possibility of arranging to transport the Spaniards in association with the ICEM, of which Spain is now a member. Under such an
arrangement ICEM would contribute substantially to the cost of transport..59



All the prerequisites to make possible a migration agreement

between Australia and Spain had already set up. The Spanish
Ministry for Foreign Affairs interest was triggered by the October
1955 visit and other further contacts by Monsignor Crennan. The
Department of Immigration interest, by the QCGC. There is not
much data available as to how this contact between the cane
growers and the Department of Immigration was made; we only
know of the April 1956 intervention of senator Armstrong through
the correspondence at the Consulate. It all seems to indicate that
arrangements made followed the Italian model, even to the point
that some farmers of Spanish origin were also sent to Spain to
help the Australian selection team.60
However, the Spanish programme was not going to be so easy
to enact. Spain had not yet signed a Migration Agreement with
Australia, as Italy had; they did not, maintain diplomatic relations.
The reaching of an agreement proved more difficult than expected, and these difficulties accounted for a years delay in the
plans: the first Spanish assisted migrants arrived in time for the
1958, not the 1957, season.




The next push towards a migration programme following the
visit of Muir and Armstrong to Spain in December 1956 also originated on the Australian side. On April 15, 1957, the Duke Primo
de Rivera, Spanish Ambassador in London, received a document
sent by R. E. Armstrong, Australian High Commissioner in that
city, stating that the migration arrangements had been already
established for the 1957-58 financial year. However, for the next
financial year, Australia, the ICEM intervening, was prepared to
pay 85 American dollars towards the cost of the passage of every
migrant recruited for employment in the Australian sugar cane
Hayes arranged a stop in Madrid for his next visit to Europe, to
consult with the IEE and the CIME over the details of a scheme
which in the jargon of the IEE was already named Operacin
Canguro. A meeting was set for June 4, 1957, at 12 noon, on the
premises of the IEE. The Australian side was represented by Hayes
and Armstrong, the High Commissioner in London; the Spanish
Ministry for Foreign Affairs was represented by Director of
Emigracin - Asistencia Social Antonio Garca de Lahiguera; the
IEE by its Director General Rodrguez de Valcrcel; the CIME by
its Chief and Deputy Chief Storich and Lago Carballo. The visit of
Armstrong and Muir in December 1956, and the document sent
by the former to the Spanish Embassy in London constituted the
background to the meeting. The object of the discussions were to
decide the arrangements for the sending of a group of migrants
to work as cane-cutters in Australia, in which would be a pilot
operation to clear the way to reach an agreement.



Small migrant intake this year, I see.

Beside Rev. McEvoy letter, this Molnar cartoon explained better than a
thousand words what the Australian atmosphere towards Spanish
migration was. The Sydney Morning Herald, January 18, 1958, p. 2.

This venture was to involve from 300 to 500 migrants. These

were to be in equal proportions unmarried, childless couples and
families; accommodation problems precluded the possibility of
sending a bigger group. Thirteen clauses formed the body of the
memorandum drafted after the meeting. They answered most of
the questions asked by the Department of Immigration in its letter to Tabanera of December 1955. In fact, they all dealt with
standard procedures on Australian assisted migration, similar in
their. content to that of the Agreement and the Schedule that
followed it which had been signed with ltaly in 1951.62 The major



difference was that the memorandum referred only to a single

group of migrants.
Spanish migrants eligible for assisted migration under this document were: single men from 18 to 35 years of age; childless married couples up to 35 years; and family units, provided the breadwinner was not over 45. Owing to the shortage of accommodation, married men were to proceed to Australia in advance of
their wives and children. The assisted migrants would be Spanish
workers that had been recruited by the Spanish authorities on the
basis of numerical request lodged by the Government of Australia, and had been finally approved by the appointed Australian
representative. The migrants undertook to remain two years in
the employment to which the Australian Government allocated
them, or to refund the cost of the assistance received towards
their passage fare prior to departure, should they not remain in
Australia for the agreed period. After this two years period, provided they have no proved unsuitable for. settlement, migrants
could remain indefinitely in Australia, and choose any employment and place of residence they desired. The memorandum
guaranteed to all migrants the same wages, accommodation and
general conditions of employment prevailing for Australian workers
in the same occupation. Similarly, they would also be entitled to
workers compensation and other social service benefits.
The Australian Governments contribution towards the cost of
the passages was to be of 85 American dollars, with the Spanish
providing 50, and, counting the help of the CIME, the migrants
35.63 It was learned that the group would depart from Barcelona
on April 15, 1958, with Cairns being their port of destination. The
Australian Government accepted full responsibility for the recep-



tion of the migrants at their port of disembarkation, and for their

accommodation, placement in employment and aftercare. Family
reunion, transfer of funds, and repatriation clauses were also agreed
upon. The document concluded that once Diplomatic relations
were established, this document would serve as an exchange of
Everything was agreed save for one point. Spain wanted to
decide upon the areas from which the migrants would be selected, while Australia put forward the cane industry requirement
that these migrants had to be Basques. Unable to reach agreement on this point, negotiations again stalled.
On the same day, a Report on the Areas of Recruitment of
Cane Cutters to Migrate to Australia was prepared for the IEE,
stating the Spanish position on the matter. The southern provinces should be chosen as the area of recruitment for two reasons, climatic one, the other demographic. Temperature and climatic conditions in North Queensland were much closer to those
on Andalucia and the Canary Islands than that of the Basque
Provinces. Moreover, the Spanish sugar cane industry was localized in Malaga, Granada and Almera, covering 4,930 hectares
and employing 3,300 labourers. The Canary islanders were experts in the use of the machete, and it was from those islands that
thousands of migrants had gone to South America and proved
themselves to be suitable cane cutters. On the demographic factor, the document pointed out that Andalucians were already
emigrating to the Basque provinces, the latter no longer being a
rural area of emigration but, on the contrary, a industrial area of
immigration. It seemed, thus, illogical and socially expensive to
select people from the Basque provinces.65



Valcrcel sent this information to Tabanera, in case the Consulate could do something to change the minds of the Australian
officials. Four days later, he wrote to Amstrong in London, adding
a further consideration: the Spanish Government recognized the
legal right of its citizens to migrate and this right was not to be
restricted only to one particular region of Spain. He ended the
letter by pointing out that it was upon this issue that the further
collaboration of the IEE with the Australian Government would
depend.66 Armstrong insisted on June 26 that, according to Hayes,
it was essential for the migrants to be exclusively from the Basque
provinces, otherwise, the negotiations could be considered terminated. Valcrcel wrote to the Consul that since Armstrong answers with, stubbornness . . . our decision is to freeze the negotiations until we can establish direct diplomatic relations.67
Australian reasons for wanting exclusively Basques can be found
in the sugar industrys previous experience with them, and in its
obsession with getting the right kind of cane cutters. Sociological
ideas may have bolstered this preference as well. A distinction
was often made between north and south, the north considered
as more suitable for settling in Australia than the south (north
Europe vs. south Europe, north Italy vs. south Italy etc.).68 This
assumption was quite common amongst Australians high level
public officials. It often appeared, subtly, in the press, as in the
following instance:
Most seoritas come from the north of Spain which is proving an
excellent recruiting ground for migrants. So far this year we have
welcomed 401 assisted Spanish migrants, and they are proving excellent settlers.69

It was Harold Holt, Minister for Labour and National Service,

former Minister for Immigration, who unlocked the situation. At



the end of a Commonwealth Conference in London, and on his

way to Australia, he made a short stop over in Madrid. Valcrcel
met the Minister at his hotel, and lately they met, in the IEE with
Storich from the CIME and Corley Smith from the United Kingdom Embassy in Madrid. They agreed to change the principle of
exclusiveness on the Basque Provinces selection area, for that
of preference, a change that seemed to suit both parts. They
ended earnestly hoping for the establishment of diplomatic relations.70
Despite this breakthrough in the negotiations, other obstacles
on the Australian side were to delay and change the arrangement
in the months ahead. These obstacles did not have to do with the
exclusive/preferential issue, as Madrid had wrongly guessed
but, as Consul Tabanera learned in his meeting on September 11,
1957, with Holt and Athol Townley, ministers for Labour and
Immigration respectively, with the need to sell the product to
the Australian public opinion, and with the situation the Australian economy was passing through at the moment.71
To appreciate better the image problems referred to, it may
be of interest to know how Spain was seen through the Australian media. Spain appeared in the news in 1957, either in reference to its dictatorial Government (related to episodes of guerrilla warfare,72 or the repression of workers strikes73 ), or to describe its diplomatic advances with the United States.74 Then, larger
coverage was dedicated to anecdotal incidents such as that of
two English twin showgirls, imprisoned in Spain for swimming
where it was not allowed.75 This was not of much concern to the
Australian Government. More important was the wave of reaction
against the latinisation of the country. The Australian public



had not totally come to terms with the presence of Italian and
other South European people, and they were not ready yet for
the Spaniards.
This might have been the reason to explain why the Australia
Government proceeded with such secrecy on the first stages of
the negotiation with Spain. When the press reported the two month
European tour of Hayes, there was a mention of all the countries
he visited (Britain, Denmark, Germany, Holland, Italy and Switzerland), but not of Spain.76 The first time the Australian press
reported the plan, with the exception of the note in the Australian Sugar Journal mentioned earlier, was on July 1957, with the
occasion of the Holt visit to Spain: curiously enough, this visit, to
which large coverage was given in almost all Australian newspapers77 was presented by the Spanish authorities as top secret.78
There was some reaction in the press towards this news. Reeves,
President of the British Australian Society, complained about the
reduction of the percentage of British immigrants, who he estimated comprised only 32.2 per cent of the total79 At the time of
the next Australian Citizenship Convention, a letter by Rev. T. P.
McEvoy broached the matter of Spanish migration. He pointed
out three issues: first he asked whether migrants from a fascist
country were more eligible than migrants from a communist country; second, he signalled that fascists, apart from being politically
reactionaries, do not allow religious freedom, Protestants being
banned; and third, he inquired whether sending Spaniards to North
Queensland, already a little Europe in Australia, would justify
migration on the grounds of defence reasons. Prime Minister
Menzies, who attended for the second time a Citizenship Convention, remarked that migration can not be turned on and off,



like a tap. Dr. Evatt, the Leader of the Opposition, criticised not
the plan in itself, but the way in which it was handled: The fact
that Spaniards are coming to Australia as migrants should have
been explained and related to the other aspects of their coming,
but there was no explanation. Its just being done.80
It was not only a question of the racial preferences or public
opinion. The Australian economy was passing through a period
of crisis. Commenting further on the subject of the five hundred
Spaniards, Holt had to refer to the unemployment situation, despite his disregarding it as important:
I do not regard the current level of unemployment as in any way
serious by comparison with standards in other countries. One third of
one per cent of the work force is as close to full employment as you
can reasonably get, unless you move into the undesirable position of
having an excess demand for labour.81

More than three months after the successful visit of Holt to

Madrid, Townley wrote to Valcrcel setting out the plan approved
by Canberra in which only three hundred migrants, with a limited
number of dependents would be brought to Australia. Hayes from
Canberra, and Amstrong from London were to assist in the operation. Valcrcel suggested to Hayes that the Australian selection
team should operate in Bilbao from February 1 to 11, 1958, and
from Madrid from 11 to 15, in order to screen out those not of
Basque origin. He then wrote to the Consul, congratulating himself and everyone for the success.82 Tabanera, sharing in this euphoric mood, wrote to Valcrcel and Townley: I am only waiting
for a cable which I expect to receive at any minute, that will bell
me to go to Canberra to set up the Legation . . . [and thus resolve]
the other. problem, that of the direct diplomatic relations .83 A
month later, he insisted: I expect to establish the new Spanish



legation in Canberra at the beginning of December, which will

facilitate our contacts in the operation of this venture. 84
It was too early for euphoria. The cable Tabanera expected did
not arrive. As for. the Operacin Canguro, Storich from the CIME
told Valcrcel on the morning of November 21, 1957, that Canberra
had halted it. We do not know what caused this thirteen days
halt and the consequent rearrangement of plans in Canberra. We
know better what happened at the other end. Valcrcel met immediately in his office with ICEM and Foreign Affairs representatives, and a cable was sent to Hayes: Understand some hold up
in cane cutters programme At your end stop we are presently
preselecting stop can you please cable present situation. He wrote
also to Holt expressing his surprise and consternation for the
halting of the programme after having already involved the Organization Sindical with the preselection of 300 workers. In a letter.
to Tabanera, he inquired whether this abrupt and unexpected
suspension, apparently caused by the economic crisis, had also
affected Italy or only Spain.85
The awaited answer arrived in a Hayes letter dated December
3, 1957. It contained detailed information on what finally was the
Australian plan. Hayes had been advised by Harold Holt, the Minister for Labour, that the final number of prospective migrants
was to be reduced to 150 single men, and their departure postponed until mid July. They were to disembark in Brisbane, and
go to work to the Ingham area. In charge of the selection henceforth would be C. L. Waterman, Chief Migration Officer in Rome,
instead of Armstrong. The selection would be made only in Bilbao
as the number of migrants now was not so high. Also, the importance of making a good impression in Australia was stressed, as it



was the first operation of its kind: the Australian selection team
will set the standards as high as possible. On economic matters,
Australia would contribute 100 American dollars for each migrant
(instead of the 85 agreed before). It will also be necessary for the
applicants to be clear from the security point of view. I suggest
that this matter be discussed later, on a personal basis, between
Spanish official and an Australian officer whom, it is proposed,
will visit Spain prior to the commencement of the selection activities. It added that a certificate from the Spanish police relating
to their civil conduct, would be necessary. The letter finished by
directing Valcrcel to the Rome office when dealing with questions of administrative nature.86
The IEE agreed. On January 16, 1957, Valcrcel met with CIME
officials and the Australian selection team headed by Waterman.
By March 23, 400 Spaniards had applied for migration from the
provinces of Santander, Vizcaya, Guipuzcoa, Alava, Navarra,
Huesca y Teruel. Of them, 249 had been preselected.87 In May it
was known that the 166 migrants finally selected were to proceed
from Irun to Trieste on June 26, and then board the Italian ship
Toscana. The 55 year old Father Tomas Ormazbal Ayarbide, who
spoke English, was appointed by Monsignor Ferris, head of the
CCEM, for the pastoral care of the migrants.88 Enrique Lpez
Rodrguez, Mdico Inspector de Emigracin, also escorted the
expedition. Following Vice Consul de Viana suggestion, Alberto
Urberuaga, a Spanish long term settler in Queensland, was appointed honorary Vice Consul in Brisbane.89 The Toscana finally
berthed Brisbane on August 9, 1958, with 159 migrants. They
formed, according to Waterman, one of the bests groups.90
Senator J. I. Amstrong visited Spain in June, on his way to



Lourdes and Dublin. After meeting General Franco he praised

the Caudillo; Valcrcel hoped his praises were genuine. The senator also told Valcrcel that Armstrong, from the Australia House,
had been dismissed for his stubbornness in dealing with Spain.
He suggested an Operacin Canguro bis for 1959, including about
500 people, preferably young childless couples.91
Diplomatic contacts such as that of Amstrong helped the cause,
but were not enough. There still remained the problem of establishing direct diplomatic relations between both countries. On
the Spanish side, Consul Tabanera tried his best. He wrote to
Valcrcel: As you know, I am in Canberra already, but some
problems that came up in our Department have delayed my duly
accreditation. . . I would like you to let my Minister know of the
interest of your Direction in these matters with Australia.92 Minister for External Affairs Castiella did not approve the plan, however, probably due to the lack of interest on the Australian side in
reciprocating the process. Soon after the Operacin Canguro had
arrived in Brisbane, Tabanera was posted to Manila as Ministro




In this chapter we will deal with how the migration Agreement
enacted in August 1956 was carried out until Spain unilaterally
closed it in March 1963. We will look at the Diplomatic contacts
that allowed this Agreement to continue and expand to include
the migration of single girls and of skilled workers, as well as
family reunion programmes. Then, we will consider the Diplomatic manoeuvring that put an end to it.
Special attention will be given to the two most important issues
Spanish and Australian officials faced during this process: those
related to the selection and the placement of the migrants. We
will focus also on what the migrants knew about Australia before
departure, the reasons for their complaints while in the new country, and how these complaints reached the sphere of political
decision-making in Spain. Finally, we will examine the consequences of the suspension of this migrant scheme.




Once the first group of Spaniards reached Australia, it was not

difficult for the organizations involved (IEE, Australian officials in
Rome, ICEM and Catholic voluntary organizations), to arrange a
repetition of the same scheme for the following year. The echoes
of the success of Canguro and the groups that followed flattered
Madrids ears enough for it to overlook, at least temporarily, issues such as the diplomatic accreditation between Madrid and
Canberra. As an example of this confidence, Edgar Storich, who
escorted the Monte Udala voyage that arrived to Melbourne on
August 8, 1960, reported to the IEE:
The immigration officials were very impressed with the appearance
of the emigrants and, in particular, with their character and good
humour, and with the way they followed the instructions given to
them on disembarkation... The only incident during the voyage was
an argument between two emigrants At lunch time, about which of
them could speak English better... This is certainly an outstanding

There were periodic contacts between high officials of both

governments. In July 1960, Minister for Labour and National Service MacMahon visited his counterpart in Madrid, Fermn Sanz
Orrio. At some of their meetings Valcrcel, Storich and Iturriaga
were present. In November of the same year, Valcrcel and Garca
Lahiguera, invited by the Netherlands airline KLM on the occasion of the inauguration of its Amsterdam Sydney service, visited
Australia. Through the contacts they held in Canberra, the family
reunion theme was tackled. Interviewed by the daily newspaper
Arriba before his departure Valcrcel pointed out the excellent



perspectives of this migration scheme. The selection of the migrants was carefully made, and the Australian authorities seemed
contented. The only reserve was the gross exaggerations of the
Spanish press on the economic conditions of the workers there:
Australian prosperity is evident, although some Spanish publications
have grossly exaggerated the wages that are being paid there for
manual work Of all the emigrants sent there by the IEE, not a
single one has been repatriated at our Governments expense, which
speaks for the extreme care with which the selection procedures
have been conducted... The Australian authorities are very satisfied,
despite the high moral, professional and health standards they require from immigrates.94

In July 1961, Manuel Solana, Secretary General of the IEE visited Canberra, and in August, Hayes visited Madrid. Valcrcel again
travelled to Australia in November 1961, also accompanied by
Lahiguera, and by Rev. Justo Prez de Urbel, Abbot of the Monastery of the Valley of the Fallen. Lahiguera announced in Canberra
that Spain was ready and willing to increase its quota of Australian migrants to at least 2,500 a year; the Spanish government
hoped to send more migrants to Australia to balance a fall in
migration to Latin American countries and large increases in the
Spanish population. He understood that the Australian Government had adopted a go-slow policy on Spanish migration to
allow migrants to become fully assimilated to the Australian way
of life. The Spanish Government was very pleased with the treatment and conditions of Spanish migrants in Australia. The Australian migration system was a magnificent one, Lahiguera said.95
The highlight of the diplomatic honeymoon between Australia
and Spain for 1962, was the June visit of Downer and Heyden, as
a part of their European tour. They held conversations with Min-



ister for Labour Fermn Sanz Orrio, Antonio Garca Lahiguera,

monsignor Ferris, Storich and Clemente Cerd Gmez, new Director General of the IEE.96 During this period, Australia established a Liaison Mission in Madrid, presided over by Jim Blackie.
L. H. Hayes, the son of the Secretary of the Department of immigration who was the Chief of operations in the CIME office in
Madrid, was then to cover the Deputy position in the new Australian Mission.
The Australian Church assisted in the task of facilitating the
relations between both countries. The periodic visits of Monsignor Crennan helped to set the basis for the programme Marta
for the migration of single women. The Australian Church also
worked in an indirect but equally effective way. A group of seven
hundred Australian Catholics, presided over by Sydneys Cardinal
Gilroy, toured Spain in May 1960, after having visited Fatimas
sanctuary in Portugal and on their way to Lourdes in France. In
Madrid, Gilroy was received in audience by General Franco, and
the Caudillo also delivered a speech to the group. The Spanish
press gave large coverage to the event, thus enhancing the image
of Australia with headlines such as Very high standard of life,
Most workers have a car, Two million Catholics in the country
Despite the numerous diplomatic contacts, and despite the efforts of the Catholic hierarchy, the important issue of the direct
diplomatic relations still remained unsolved. The new Spanish
Consul-General, Jos M. Garay reached Australia on June 19, 1959,
just in time to receive the second group of migrants. On arrival he
declared he hoped to arrange for an exchange of Ambassadors
with Spain. He complained about the fact that the British Em-



bassy represented Australian interests in Madrid, that Spain had

only a Consulate instead of a Legation in Australia, and about the
lack of an Australian immigration office in Spain: Australian immigration officers from Rome and Paris select Spanish migrants.
Many Spanish people would like to migrate and they would come
here if Australia was properly publicized in Spain.98
For the Australian Department of Immigration, however, there
was no hurry to improve these diplomatic channels with Spain.
There was no reason either to drastically increase the number of
Spanish Migrants. The Spanish Programme was not a top priority
for Canberra. In the Australian Citizenship Conventions it only
deserved minor mentions: We are tapping new sources of migration . . . We are experimenting with batches of settlers from Spain.99
The only voice raised to defend the issue of direct diplomatic
relations with Madrid was that of Senator Armstrong:
We should extend our representation to countries such as Spain . . .
Both the Consul-General and the Spanish Charge dAffairs have been
in consultation with this Government for two years, trying to bring
about a measure of reciprocity. They lived in Canberra for some time
but they left Canberra when the Government refused to give any
guarantee of reciprocity. The departments excuse is that it lacks sufficient manpower...100

Consul Garays ambitions of becoming the first Spanish ambassador in Australia vanished. After the Consulate was moved back
to Sydney, he kept a low profile, with long periods of absence.
After the sudden death of Vice Consul Fernndez de Viana, who
had faithfully served the Consulate interests under the previous
two Consuls, and had followed all the intricacies of the migration
arrangements since its very beginning, Jos Luis Daz was appointed to fill the vacancy. He was in charge of the Consulate



affairs during the periods Garay was absent, and until the appointment of Consul de la Riva in March 1963.
However, the diplomatic contacts allowed the two countries to
develop further migration arrangements. During the 1959-60 financial year the migration officials of Spain and Australia agreed
to carry out two new initiatives. First, to select another group of
single migrants, not to go directly to the Queensland canefields
but to work first in the Murray river fruit area; this group was set
to arrive to Australia in the 1959-60 summer. The second initiative
was the launching of the Plan Marta. In this way, what was just
an informal Agreement signed by both Governments in 1956-57
for one single expedition, was to regulate the relations between
Spain and Australia, without necessitating any more formal Treaty.
From the automatic application of this Agreement, in 1961, the
migration of family units started, and the 1962-63 financial year
saw the figure of migrants coming from Spain soar to 4,326.
Negotiations to establish Family Reunion programmes started
late in 1959. From 1960, Spaniards who were within the eligible
categories101 started joining the groups of assisted migrants. Accommodation was provided for them by the nominators. The
nominees had to pay the full fare, with the help of credits arranged by the CCEM and the CIME. From July 1, 1961, an Assisted
Nominated Dependents Scheme was set up, and both Governments contributed towards passage money for those who came
under it. The eligible categories for sponsored unassisted migrants
broadened, including boyfriends, who are not eligible for an
assisted passage, and can only come if they pay for their fare and
put down a deposit of 200 pounds, to be returned to them once
the marriage takes place.102



Negotiations to bring skilled workers from Spain started in 1960,

but it was not until the 1962-63 financial year that the first skilled
migrants, whose qualifications were fully recognized by the Australian authorities, came. It was a slow and difficult negotiation.
Hayes pointed out to the Consul in February 1961 the complexity
involved in evaluating the Spanish trade training methods in
comparison with the Australian, and the need to do this task
properly: it would be most undesirable for any migrant to be
selected as a skilled worker unless we were reasonably sure that
he would be granted recognition as a skilled man upon his arrival
One year later, Australian officials had already figured out which
were the trades they needed, and the requisites the Spanish workers
should fulfil. This information was made public through a handout published in Spanish by the CIME.104 It explained the advantages of being selected as a skilled worker: Assurance of a job in
their own profession. A minimum wage stipulated by law of 10,000
pesetas per month.105
Only a small number of Spaniards arrived qualified as skilled
migrants. Unfortunately, Hayess fears became real, and the experiences of this group of migrants, which will be recounted later in
this chapter, bear this out.




Through the interaction of the diplomatic contacts described

above, the migration machinery got into motion. We will focus
now on how the different procedures for the selection and placement of migrants were conducted. Once both Governments had
agreed on the number, qualifications and geographical origin of
the migrants, the selection process started. The different sections
of the Spanish Department of Labour, with the help of CIME, and
on occasion of the CCEM, carried out the preliminary stages; the
Australian officials in Madrid, took the final decision. The placement of migrants in Australia was almost the exclusive responsibility of the Department of Immigration, except for some areas
covered by the FCIC.
As for the number and qualifications of the migrants, no major
problems arose. Spain could afford to send any number of migrants Australia might suggest. Spanish emigration to South America
was limited to Family Reunion Programmes and a few skilled
people. As Lahiguera put it in Sydney, an average of 50,000 to
60,000 were migrating there annually, but this number was falling, while the global Spanish population was increasing by 350,000
a year.106 Spain needed to export part of its workforce, particularly unskilled labourers, as it needed the skilled ones to implement the economic transformations needed for the country. Despite the success of some migration schemes carried out by the
IEE with France and Belgium, the Western Europe migration boom
was yet to take off.



Spanish authorities insisted on including in the Operacin Canguro

twenty six workers from Santander. In the photo, this Santander
group with the Delegado Provincial de Sindicatos (front row, fourth
from left), the Asesor Eclesistico de Sindicatos (front row, sixth from
left) and the Delegado of the IEE (far right).

However, Australian officials, for their part, adopted a go-slow

policy on Spanish migration at the beginning. When problems
started arising with Italy107 , and migration from Southern Europe
started being diverted north, Australian interest in the Spanish
scheme increased. The situation within Spanish government circles
was the reverse.
On the subject of qualifications, the interests of both countries
were complementary. Australia needed mostly unskilled labour;
Spain had an excess. One of the drawbacks of the migrant policy
with South America had been its demand for skilled workers.108
Certainly, at some time, Spain wanted to send to Australia her
surplus of doctors,109 an initiative that did not have much hope
for progress, due to the different academic systems of the coun-



tries and the language barrier. Certainly too, many skilled workers found their ways through the selection procedures and arrived in Australia as labourers, as will be explained later.
A more conflicting issue was, however, where to select the
migrants from. This was precisely the issue that interested the
Spanish Government most. Immersed in an almost chaotic wave
of internal migration from country to town and from rural to
industrial areas, affecting millions of people over which little planning was possible,110 the Spanish Government found that external migration was comparatively much easier to regulate. Spanish
officials risked the carrying out of the Operacin Canguro on
these grounds, and only an agreement on the Basque exclusive/
preferential dilemma saved it in the last minute. They included a
group of twenty six non Basques in this first expedition so as to
make it clear to Canberra that they were not prepared to give in
on this issue. The 1959 and 1960 groups were recruited from the
north of Spain, but including Asturias, Valladolid, Burgos and
Navarra as well.
By the time family migration started it seems that Madrid had
already acquired the power to decide where to select the migrants from. An exception to this rule, was, however, the Canary
Islands, a region which accounted for the second biggest number
of emigrants. Canberra needed only to look at the map to know
that Africa was not yet one of the Australian sources of migrant
intake. Only as an exception, some Canarian people went to
Australia during these years.111
Australian officials decided on the number of migrants, their
labour status and the geographical areas in which to place them,
according to the requirements the Department of Labour and



National Service made to the Department of Immigration. Then,

the Department of Immigration informed Madrid of its interest in
recruiting for that financial year a particular number of migrants,
establishing the dates that each group was required to arrive in
Australia. It did so through its offices in Rome or Paris, later through
its Mission in Madrid, and the CIME. Once the Spanish authorities
had given their approval, the selection process began.
The Director General of Employment of the Spanish Department for Labour was in charge of deciding the recruiting areas.
These, with no mediating Australian impositions or political exigencies, were chosen according to the suggestions of the Oficinas
de Encuadramiento y Colocacin of the Organizacin Sindical.
As an example of a recruiting area chosen for political reasons,
there were groups wholly recruited from La Lnea de la
Concepcin, just after the Spanish Government decided to close
the Gibraltar frontier. They all had the advantage of knowing
some English already before their arrival in Australia.112
Once the recruiting areas were decided, it was the function of
the IEE to announce the vacancies, give the information and
preselect the migrants. The selection and the medical examination of the migrants was shared with the Australian officials, who
had the last word on the matter, with the mediation of the CIME
offices. Then, the IEE would give the migrants the needed documentation and transport them within the national territory to the
point of embarkation.
It is appropriate here to outline a contradiction in the Francoist
perception of migration. While the regime needed emigration to
gain economic stability, it disapproved it on ideological grounds.113
The IEE itself was at the center of dilemma. As its Director Gen-



eral, Garca Trevijano, pointed out, there are sections of the Spanish population who do not like emigration.114 They place a lot
of obstacles in our way. Abroad, we are held responsible for
making emigration difficult, and at home they say we encourage
it .115
In the Ley de Ordenacin de la Emigracin of 1960, and with
the aim to channel migration rather than to encourage it, they
banned its advertising. A polemic on whether this ban should be
lifted was still going on inside the IEE after the Australian scheme
had been closed.116 The provincial migration authorities had no
obligation to fill all the migration positions allotted to their provinces. Not that there was any need for advertising, though, as by
word of mouth, all the vacancies available were rapidly filled.
The IEE transferred most of its functions to the CCEM in the
Marta Programme, and the CCEM helped also in the enactment
on the Family Reunion schemes arranged with Australia, before
as well as after the suspension of the Agreement. This was due, in
part, to the lack of adequate infrastructure for the part of the IEE.
It was the reason why the IEE tended to transfer to the CIME and
the Australian Mission some of its most delicate functions in the
selection process, which proved to be a source of conflict, as we
will see below.
The ICEM, jointly with its CIME office in Spain, was in charge
of arranging and supervising the sea or air transportation to Australia. On the sea voyages, an IEE officer, a doctor and a priest
also escorted the Spanish groups. It was also a function of the
CIME to translate into Spanish all the information given by Australian authorities that migrants were supposed to know before
arrival. CIME officials also assisted the CCEM in the training courses



developed in the Marta Plan, and the IEE in the training courses
it organized for migrants in general.
The CIME edited three booklets in Spanish for the use of Spanish migrants to Australia. The first one contained specific information on working conditions in the canefields, stating working
hours, duties, description of the work, salaries, accommodation
etc., and also general notions on history and geography, climate,
religion and language.117 There was another edited by the ICEM
and used for the Marta training courses, and also for the training
of some other single women to be sent to Canada during the
same period.118 CIME also edited a training course for the same
purpose; its sixteen lessons included topics such as personal hygiene, ways of doing the washing up or the cleaning of the house,
the use of household electrical appliances etc.119 A booklet published also by the CIME before 1962 was distributed to all assisted
migrants from mid 1960. In it, apart from the general information
about history, climate, religion etc. detailed information was given
on holding camps, hostels, Commonwealth Employment Offices,
accommodation, education and social security.120 These booklets
represented all the written information that migrants received prior
their departure.
After their arrival at the point of disembarkation, the Australian
Department of Immigration arranged for the reception of all assisted migrants. They were temporarily accommodated in holding camps, most of them at Bonegilla, as we will see later. Breadwinners were interviewed by the Commonwealth Employment
Officers in the camp and placed in employment. Then, they would
proceed either to employer found accommodation, or to a Commonwealth Hostel. These arrangements continued until each in-



dividual or family could secure its own accommodation, or until

vacancies enabled the family to be united in a hostel. An exception to this general trend was the reception and placement of the
Marta groups which was arranged by the FCIC through its Diocesan Committees. Also, migrants who arrived under the Nominated Dependents schemes found work and accommodation
through their sponsors in Australia.
All assisted migrants had to stay in Australia for a minimum
period of two years. Should they wish to leave the country before, they were to pay the return fare and to refund the money
that governments and other agencies paid for their assistance. An
exception to this rule was when a migrant, for serious reasons,
had to be extradited. Then, upon an agreement reached between
both governments, the migrant could leave Australia with the full
fare paid by the Spanish Government.




The relations between the Department of Immigration and the

Spanish IEE were cordial, as we have mentioned, until mid 1962.
Then some difficulties arose in the placement of migrants from
the holding camps of Bonegilla and Northam. The Spanish - Australian relationship was further strained by the complaints of many
migrants who felt they were misled during the selection process.
The lack of sound diplomatic channels between both countries,
and the rapid change of the Spanish emigration patterns from
overseas to Western Europe precipitated the Spanish Governments
unilateral cut of the migration flow to Australia.
Bonegilla, a war-time Army camp spread over 600 acres of land
near the Victoria and NSW border, was the main staging camp in
Australia, with capacity to cater for 10,000 migrants at one time.
Migrants were accommodated there after arrival and, usually within
a week or two, sent from there to all parts of Australia.
In mid 1961, the Australian economy was passing through a
period of recession and because of this, migrants had to remain
in Bonegilla for longer periods of time, sometimes months. On
June 25, 1961, newspapers reported one thousand Germans had
marched up and down the main street of the camp demanding
Give us work or send us to Europe. They also complained that
the food was often too bad they could not eat it.121 On the
second week of July, dozens of placards were erected around
huts in the camp bearing the same message.122
The situation exploded on Monday 17, in a repeat performance
of the Bonegilla riots of 1952.123 The trouble started when two



hundred Italians, later joined by a big group of Yugoslavs, began

another protest march in the camp. They also shouted claims that
German migrants were being favoured whenever. jobs were available. Finally, a group of about one thousand of many nationalities stormed the employment office. They smashed windows,
hurled stones and chanted repeatedly We want work. In the
course of the incident, a police car was damaged and a policeman ended up in hospital after having tried to grab one of the
ringleaders. A fresh demonstration broke out again at 8 p.m. when
six hundred migrants gathered in front of the main canteen:
The men smashed every window in the canteen with stones, then
began hurling rocks at a group of twenty policemen. The police said
they were forced to draw batons and move en masse against the
main group of demonstrators to make them disperse. The night demonstration lasted nearly an hour.124

The incidents were caused by a hundred young men who

have been here since about March without getting jobs. Colonel
H. G. Guinn, the camps executive officer, said that some men,
whom he thought to be Australian Communists visited the camp
the previous weekend and held discussion groups in one of the
huts. Italians denied the demonstration was Communist inspired,
the real problem being that they worried as they needed money
to send to Italy. The Italian Vice-Consul in Melbourne, Dr. Carra
Cagni, addressed a gathering of about two hundred Italians on
the following afternoon, most of whom booed him and walked
away; those remaining signalled that they felt misled by migrant
officials in Italy.125
Minister Downer declared that that sort of behaviour would
not be accepted, and that firm action would be taken against riot
leaders, who he believed to be about twenty migrants, obviously



And in our drive for migrants emphasise the leisure angle.

An ironic commentary by Molnar on the situation that led to the

Bonegilla rioting of 1961. The Sydney Morning Herald, July 19, 1961,

prepared to create trouble.126 Twelve migrants were finally remanded to appear in Court on August 15. According to Labour
MP Dr. J. F. Cairns, the camp riot was a revolt in the Eureka
tradition, and not migrants but the Menzies Government should
be punished.127 The rioting charges against the five Italians and
six Germans and Austrians were finally withdrawn.128
Of the 4,700 migrants in the camp at the time these incidents
occurred, there were about 150 Spaniards, who had arrived on
the Roma on June 21, the first group of family units to reach
Australia. They did not take, as a group, an active part in the riot:
no a single Spanish name come up, on the contrary, they acted
as Red Cross.129 When the next group arrived on the Aurelia,



with over five hundred migrants, only about twelve Spanish families remained in the camp. They told the new arrivals what had
happened and, as a consequence, some Spaniards went to the
employment office, warning they would create a disturbance if
there was not work for them.130 Vice Consul Jos Luis Daz was
then called by the Australian authorities, and held a meeting with
his countrymen in the cinema, in which he asked them to be
The consequences of the Bonegilla riots for the Spanish migration scheme went, however, much further than that, in no a small
part due to Dazs sensationalist approach to the problem, which
we shall discuss later. Moreover, Spanish diplomacy at the migration level seemed to follow the trends of its Italian counterpart,
and Italy, as a consequence of the revolt, was passing through a
delicate moment in its relations with Australia. Italian Deputy Minister for Migration, Ferdinando Storchi, visited Australia, and
Bonegilla in September 1961. Although he stated that the relations between the two countries are very cordial indeed,132 he
also expressed his concern with the system of recruiting and selecting migrants in Italy, the recognition of tradesmens qualifications, and their initial settling in Australia, all in the light of a
pending Agreement to be revised in Rome early next year, to
align it with the present situation in the two countries.133 Through
the Sydney Consulate, Spanish diplomats followed the difficulties,
in 1962, with the revision of the Italian Agreement.134 The reasons
for the Spanish discomfort with the migration scheme did not derive solely from these observations. By the end of the year, Madrid
officials had reasons of their own to be unhappy with the way the
Department of Immigration was handling Spanish migration.



In Western Australia, both Commonwealth and State Governments had carefully prepared a plan, starting from the end of
September 1962, to bring a thousand Spanish migrants to work
on the standard gauge railway project. Changes in the route of
the railway were made when it was too late to alter this plan, thus
eliminating many anticipated jobs. By November 10, three groups
had already arrived by plane, to the Holden Migrant Accommodation Centre at Northam. Five days later, the Aurelia disembarked another load in Fremantle. During the following months,
over a hundred breadwinners, more than four hundred people in
total, stayed in the camp, unable to find work. The only jobs
available, and these were scarce, were in the Avon Valley area,
and many did not want to go, as the conditions were harsh and
the migrants could not take their. families along. On November 3,
Rafael Arias, father of three children, summed up the general
feeling of Spaniards: Everyone at the centre has been wonderful
to us. We have been very well treated. We are not worried yet,
only impatient for work.135
From then on, tension began to build up in the camp. To add
to the problem of lack of employment, those who worked claimed
they were promised between 15 and 20 pounds, and they were
earning less than 13 a week. Some of this tension was released in
a demonstration, in which about a hundred men and women
marched on the township to dramatize their pleas for more work
and more pay.136
This event, a second Bonegilla on a smaller scale, was the
most serious disturbance led by Spanish migrants in the early
sixties. The Vice Consul wrote to Madrid in a long report about a
demonstration by Spaniards in Perth, in a new camp they are



being sent to, who claimed that they were not being paid the
wages they had been promised . . . I fear that things will not stop
here: migrants of other nationalities destroyed the camps last year,
during ten months of total stoppage. I have written to the Director
of the camp, asking him for further information.137
Echoes of this event filtered into the Spanish press in Australia138 , and in the correspondence between Madrid and the Consulate in August 1963, when Garca Trevijano, Director General of
the IEE, asked the Consul for detailed information on the matter: I
hope that this report will be followed up by others, particularly
from the western part of the country, which is the one that worries
us the most.139
In the report on Western Australia sent by Consul de la Riva in
February 1964, he summarized his views on the incident:
The Northam camp was established for the reception of immigrants, as
it was understood that they would easily find employment in Western
Australia, which is now in process of industrial development; but things
did not go as planned, and it became necessary to transfer the workers
to other regions. Some of our fellow countrymen were victims of this
misjudgment. At present, this camp is closed.140

The difficulties in speedily placing into work the migrants at

Bonegilla, and the more flawed Western Australia Scheme, were
only part of the problems that induced Madrid to suspend the
Agreement. Apart from the placement related difficulties, there were
also selection related issues that played a part in the decision.
One aspect of the problem was the immigration of white collar
workers sometimes with tertiary qualifications, who managed
through lies or wirepulling to pass the selection screens. Gaspar
Gmez de la Serna, CIME Chief of Operations, put this very clearly:



Many have concealed their real professions, with the purpose of being included in any of the groups, and these are the ones who create
the biggest problems. Within this class, most are people who have
got some sort of baking from Spanish authorities in very high, high or
medium positions . . . We have had a lot of pressure, as may have
been the case with the IEE, to include them in the expeditions.141

If de la Serna emphasized the selection flaws in wirepulling,

Felipe Vzquez Mateo, IEE official who escorted the last Aurelia
group, in his Memoria del Viaje focused on the deceiving versions given by the migrants to the selection teams, and on the
need to provide prospective migrants with accurate information
on working conditions in Australia:
Flawed selection, based on professional reports made by the applicants, which are untrue in eighty percent of the cases . . . many came
from office work, and are doomed to fail; others have money in
Spain, which hinders their success . . . Solution: a fair selection. No
wirepulling in this matter. Objective and accurate information. (Filling out the questionnaire: About illegal matters concerning emigration:) The emigrant to Australia ought to be well informed.142

Vice Consul Daz recognized the arrival of such quantity of

office workers, but he put all the blame on CIME. When he inspected Bonegilla after the arrival of the Aurelia in January 1963,
there were
over six hundred Spaniards . . . most of them white collar workers,
nurses, draughtsmen etc. [to whom CIME had said that] they would
find employment and that language would not be a problem in finding work . . . They are sorry they came. They also regret not having
asked at the CIME for a written document stating what was promised
to them orally.143

Soon after they had managed to enter Australia, these white

collar workers realized that Australia was not the place to hacer
las Amricas144 as they had though. Only by working on the



heaviest and most dangerous jobs, and by doing as much overtime as they could, may have them been able to save good money.
They were not used to hard work, and they soon realized they
had made a mistake when coming. Then, they complained against
the CIME and the Australian Mission in Madrid, and if they were
game enough, against the IEE as well. Coming from the guild
recommended by very high authorities, as la Serna put it, their
voice surely was heard in the right places.
However, the group whose complaints were taken more seriously was that of skilled workers that had arrived since mid 1962.
It was a very small group, less than ninety, but their claims were
echoed by many other migrants that considered themselves skilled
and equally misled, although they did not arrived to Australia as
Skilled migrants expected to find in Australia a house, work
in their speciality, and minimum monthly salary of 10,000 pesetas, over 70 pounds. They based their claims on a document
issued by CIME on January 30, 1962, which they referred to as el
contrato del CIME, containing a list of specialities in demand,
the prerequisites to apply for them, fares to pay and other details,
including those the migrants alleged were not forthcoming, signed
by Chief of Operations B. H. Hayes.145
As had happened with migrants from other nationalities, Spaniards who felt they were misled by the selection teams in Spain
voiced their anger wherever they could, and one of the most
effective ways for doing so was the Spanish press. In the tightly
controlled Francoist press, complaints had to pass through a severe political screening before publication, but once printed, their
echoes could easily reach the higher ranks of the regime.



An article sent by Marta Pilar Moreno to Juventud Obrera in

Madrid had already caused some upheaval back in 1961.146 A
letter to the editor. was published in May 1962 by the daily Alerta,
from Santander; the sender complained about the lack of information given in Spain, and the lack of support migrants received
from the Sydneys consulate. It was signed by an unemployed
migrant who said he was spending in Australia the savings he
had made in Spain.147 The letter that caused the greatest stir was,
however, the one Miguel Fernndez sent to a daily newspaper in
Madrid in December. 1962. Fernndez claimed he was selected as
a skilled migrant and promised work in his speciality and a house
on arrival; this promise was not fulfilled, and despite his mechanics
qualifications he had to work as a labourer.
Lahiguera promptly asked for explanations, and Vice Consul
Daz was happy to provide them. While in the Santander case
Daz simply defended himself: no one has ever complained in
the consulate . . . I would like to know the names of the complainants,148 he gave more details on the Fernndez affair and,
as requested by Madrid, he asked the Spaniards in the same situation to send to the Consulate los contratos del CIME.
Australian police visited Mr. Fernndez about the letter, and, he
later told the Vice Consul, they were polite but sarcastic. While
Fernndez was not afraid and was willing to testify the truth if
necessary, no other Spaniard dared to send their documentation
to the consulate, fearing reprisals from either the Australian or the
Spanish side. I have tried to convince them without success,
said the Consul; they say they will suffer for two years, saving as
much as possible to be able to pay for their return fare.149 Mr.
Fernndez indignation grew further when a relative of his who



inquired in the CIME offices was told that Mr. Fernndez is perfectly all right, and what was published in the letter is a lie, and
he prepared a new letter of complaint. Following instructions
from Madrid, Daz arranged to repatriate him, as soon as the
Department of Immigration gave its authorization, as he had not
finished his two year period in Australia.
The placement problems at Bonegilla and Northam, the selection of unsuitable migrants to work as labourers in Australia, and
the lack of immediate validity of the working qualifications given
by the Australian Mission in Madrid to nearly a hundred Spanish
skilled tradesmen were not the only caused of the Spanish Government concern with its Australian emigration. To add up, two
small incidents were still to occur. Although of not much importance, their timing had some bearing on the final outcome of this
migration plan.
Fernando Beltran, the IEE officer who escorted the Spanish
group, noticed that the ANZ Bank office operating on the Aurelia
voyage that berthed in Melbourne on January 28, 1963 had altered the exchange rate from 165 pesetas to the pound to 140 pts.
as it should have been. The mistake was redressed in Bonegilla,
but echoes of it reached Madrid.
On Sunday March 3, 1963, the Australian press gave quite large
coverage to the news that five young Spanish women had been
working in the nude at a vineyard near Mildura:
Quite a few Spaniards came to this district this season, but they were
split into groups. All the Spanish women are accompanied by their
husbands. The five nudists are working together at one vineyard and
their husbands on a neighbouring farm. The couples live together in
one or other of the vineyards150 .



Naked women picking grapes . . . Spanish, I guess. Foreign-looking gents

. . . husbands, I hope . . .

The naked women incident seen through the eyes of Molnar in The
Sydney Morning Herald, March 6, 1963, p. 2.

There were heated discussions about it after Spanish chaplain

Father Benigno Martn gave mass in Albion St., Sydney. Vice Consul Daz went to Mildura and, after. proving that there was no
basis in the published report, he asked the newspapers to retract
the story. On this occasion he passed his report directly to the
Minister of Foreign Affairs, rather than to the Director of Emigracin
Asistencia Social as usual.151





In a long interview for Carta de Espaa, Jos Antonio Garca

Trevijano, Director General of the IEE, emphasized the fact that
the Spanish emigration is now directed towards the European
countries. Asked whether there is any plan to increase migration to Australia, he answered simply that, on that matter, we
have to count with CIMEs intervention. By December 1962,
Australian migration was not one of the priorities of the IEE.152
We have already defined some of the causes of Spanish uneasiness with the Australian migration scheme: difficulties over the
placement of migrants from the camps of Bonegilla and Northam;
flawed selection procedures that allowed in white collar and skilled
workers without reasonable guarantees of success; unpleasant
anecdotes such as the money change in the Aurelia, and the
naked women incident in Mildura. However, for a better grasp
of why Madrid decided unilaterally to cut the migrant flow to
Australia, we have to examine these problems within the framework of two macro-considerations: the European trend of Spanish emigration in the sixties, and the lack of proper diplomatic
channels between Spain and Australia.
The statistical information in Table 1 indicates this European
trend. As for diplomacy, we refer back to chapter one to recall
how, at the beginning of the process, it was as important for
Madrid to open new diplomatic doors as it was to find a new
place to export its labour surplus. While Madrid succeeded in the
latter, it failed in the former Spanish officials were never able to



get a formal Agreement signed, like that for Italy, let alone to
have a consulate or embassy representing Australian interests in
Madrid. In normal reciprocity, Spain not only abstained from creating an embassy in Canberra, but it neglected its Consular representation. Once the most delicate diplomatic deal had been done,
Madrid thought it was just a matter of letting the bureaucratic
machine move at its own slow pace.
Table 1.
Spanish emigration

to Lat. America

to Australia

to Europe

Source: IEE, Datos Bsicos de la Emigracin Espaola Madrid, 1975,

pp. 13 and 30; L.A. Martnez Cachero, Emigracin Espaola ante el
Desarrollo Econmico y Social, Madrid, 1965, p. 32.


During the most critical periods, Jos Luis Daz was in charge
of Consular affairs. A curious character, Vice Consul Daz sought
without success to lead Sydneys Spanish community, as we will
see when we refer to the foundation of the Spanish Club; he was,
on the other hand, quite capable of influencing Madrid policymakers. Perhaps his lack of diplomatic education allowed him a
more daring attitude towards his duty.



He painted a bleak picture of the Spanish immigrants for whom

he organized campaigns with people of well-known moral and
economic wealth to raise money to buy toys for their children.
In the populist line of Falangism, Daz stood for what he believed
was a heroic defense of his countrymen, unprepared by the protective Catholic Spanish regime to cope with the aggressive capitalist, Protestant and Anglo-Saxon society. In contrast with the
level-headed reports on the Australian situation written by the
Consuls Tabanera and de la Riva, that preceded and followed
him, Daz reports were sensationalist and biased.
He exaggerated the difficulties of the migrants. Obviously, migration is never an entirely happy venture, and all migrants missed
their families, friends and culture. But many accepted the hardships and were quite contented with their migration decision.
Daz was partial, seeing only the version of the white collar migrants, and blaming only the CIME and the Australian Mission in
Madrid. Office workers were sorry they came, but they were also
responsible for the decision of coming; had they followed the
normal channels, they would have not passed the screening tests
of the selection teams. As on the lack of adequate information,
surely the IEE was as responsible as the other agencies involved
in the selection.
Relaying too much on the misadventures of the small group of
the upper class migrants that surrounded him, Daz was unable
to understand the situation of the thousands of labourers that had
found in Australia a hope they lacked in Spain. Much exceeding
his functions, he wrote to his Government distressing reports,
which were the immediate cause for Madrid to cut the scheme. In
doing so, he did not favour thousands of Spaniards who could



have contentedly joined the actual community of Spanish settlers

in Australia. As an example of his overzeal, taking attributions
which were not part of his function, he wrote to Madrid after the
Bonegilla incidents: In my opinion, no migrant ship should come
for the time being, until the consulate advises you on the actual
situation in the country.153 Daz reports also contained, on occasion, gross inaccuracies, such as: if all other. countries have
stopped sending migrants to Australia [sic.], it has been as a consequence of unfulfilled promises, which is exactly what has happened with our fellow nationals.154
On December 30, 1962, Daz sent a most important and urgent report to Asuntos Consulares Emigracin on Spanish migration to Australia. The immediate reason for writing it was the
Spanish demonstration which had previously occurred in Perth.
In this report, he stated the Spaniards complaint that, unlike other
migrant groups, no one went to receive them on disembarkation,
noting that the Consulate never knew when the Spanish groups
were to arrive. He described the indignation of the latest groups
of migrants for having been misled, when in Spain they lived
well. The situation in the holding camps was dishonest, according to him: migrants were charged for food that they could
not eat, because it was cooked with suet. Despite the Commonwealth Employment Services in the camps, they often had to find
jobs individually, borrowing money from friends or from their
own Consul. The jobs they found were not in their professions,
because of not knowing English, and they were not told of that,
in Spain. The economic situation in Australia was disastrous:
A single person earns, including overtime, 20 pounds per week. He
has to spend: 4 in accommodation, 10 in food, 4 in locomotion, ciga-



rettes, toothpaste, soap etc. They have only 2 left to pay taxes. After
two years work, they do not have enough to pay the return fare if
they wanted to return. If they earn less, they can not live decently nor
save. . . They can be made redundant at eight days notice, and the
employment benefits, 3.5 pounds for a male single, does not cover
even for accommodation. The Consul lend them money, on humanity grounds, and so as not to allow them to insult Spain, and he
invites bosses for dinner out of his own pocket, asking them to employ Spaniards . . . Spanish refugees and renegades tell them that the
difficulties are only at the beginning, but migrants know better. Some
lead almost a monastic life, they would have been millionaires in
Spain . . . others become mad, and have to be repatriated . . . CIME,
Catholic Emigration and the Australian Mission say this is the earthly
paradise when it is exactly the opposite.155

The dormant Spanish bureaucratic machine was shaken up by

this report. As a consequence of it, the Department of External
Affairs again took the initiative on the matter, initiative that had
been handed over. to the IEE for the past four years. Asuntos
Consulares - Emigracin asked the consulate, CIME, CCEM, IEE
and Australian Mission in Madrid for proof of whether CIME or
the Australian Mission had handed out documents promising over
70 pounds a month, and the nominal roll of migrants to whom
this unfulfilled promise was made. Lahiguera also asked Daz for
maximum information on Spanish or Australian institutions or
persons responsible for not receiving the migrants, on repatriations, and on whether there was some discrimination in the application of social legislation between Spaniards and migrants of
other nationalities: As you will understand, it is not possible to
enforce the measures towards the mentioned migration institutions that the content of your report seems to make necessary
unless we have these minimum data. Which, by order of the
Minister for Foreign Affairs I convey to you.156 This request was



reformulated on January 29, asking also for: the number and

relative importance of the Spanish communities as well as their
internal characteristics . . . in order to adopt, if necessary, the
most appropriate political tactics.157
On March 7, 1963, Daz sent his last two reports to Madrid. In
one, he answered Madrids requests. On the key point of los
contratos del CIME, he related the Miguel Fernndez incident
mentioned above. As to the responsibility for not greeting the
migrants on arrival, he blamed Victorias Honorary Vice Consul,
Dr. Francisco Xipell, whom he said was bad-mannered and bearing resentment towards Spain, and the lack of collaboration of
the FCIC: I have written and telephoned them a thousand times,
asking them to notify us of the arrival of the expeditions; they
have kept silent, or if they have answered, they have avoided the
issue. To corroborate this, I enclose the last letter of Monsignor
Crennan, which speaks for itself.158 In the same document, Daz
told of the number of repatriations, twenty five up to then, all
due to mentally related illnesses. He also enclosed some of the
letters of complaint received in the Consulate, many of them
chosen at random, in which they blame Spain and its Government for directly or. indirectly deceiving them.159
In the other report, Daz wrote on his impressions of a visit to
Bonegilla after the money change incident in the Aurelia. He
insisted again that immigration from other countries had been
halted, which was untrue, and reported to Madrid on his factual
activities as an anti-Australian rabble-rouser amongst the Spanish
I visited all the camp premises, and as Spaniards are now the only
immigrants who arrive in this country [sic.], the camp authorities did



all they could to prove to me that everything was going perfectly.

They were overfriendly . . ., but respectfully I told them that I wanted
to visit all [the Spaniards] but by myself. Discreetly, I told the migrants
that they would not be able to take up their. professions because of
their lack of knowledge of the English language.160

To give greater weight to his impressions he added the opinions, sometimes very influential, of the Spanish chaplains: The
Spanish chaplain of Melbourne, Father Eduardo Snchez, and
that of Sydney Father Benigno Martn have visited me, and they
have asked me to inform you of the deplorable situation in which
the Spanish immigrants in this country find themselves.161
At a meeting with Carmelo Matesanz, new Director of Asuntos
Sociales - Emigracin, on March 15, 1963, Gaspar Gmez de la
Serna, Deputy Chief of the CIME, knew that, finally, the Spanish
Government had made up its mind, and the 1956-57 migration
Agreement with Australia had been suspended. At this same time,
Ramn de la Riva Gamba was appointed Consul General in Sydney.
We have already focused on the causes that brought the Spanish migration scheme to this end: the difficulties in the placement
of migrants, particularly in Western Australia; the selection flaws,
bringing into the country office workers who were doomed to
fail, and skilled tradesmen who were not warned on selection of
the impossibility of working in their trades on arrival, because of
their lack of knowledge of English. Problems that were presented
to Madrid through the distorted lense of Vice Consul Jos Luis
Daz, who was able to pass on several occasions his personal
opinions in official letters directly to the Minister.
As already pointed out, for Daz to bear such power. was just a
by-product of the lack of interest on the part of Canberra in the
diplomatic side of the migration programme. It is this diplomatic



issue which should account to a large extent for the drastic and
unexpected end of the scheme. The Italian Assisted Migration
Programme, much larger in size, survived better. the daily wear
and bear. Problems of major importance compared with the Spanish case often arose, but they were more easily solved. A comparison between the Italian migration treaty, and the Spanish informal agreement, may explain why.
All the clauses written in the Spanish agreement were also written, often to the letter, in the Italian treaty; the latter. was, however, more complete, covering more possible situations. One clause
in the treaty had it been in the Spanish document, might have
saved both Governments some embarrassment later: No official
pamphlet explaining the Scheme shall be issued without the concurrence of the two Governments.162 A major difference was that
the Italian treaty was made for a period of five years, and could
be continued there after by mutual agreement, not only for one
single expedition. In the event that either Italy or Australia wanted
to terminate the Scheme beforehand, either party had to give the
other six months notice of its intentions.
Given the disposition of the Spanish officials to collaborate, no
further diplomatic arrangements were considered necessary for
the Australian side. Canberra limited itself to creating the Australian Mission in Madrid when the volume of immigrants from Spain
necessitated doing so. While the volume of migration was small,
the migration procedures ran smoothly. But in 1962, when the
Spanish Scheme really started to take off with thousands of migrants being transported, the problems grew. Not having the diplomatic cover, the Scheme lacked the flexibility it needed to cope
with them; this caused it to break suddenly, to the surprise of the



Australian Government and sectors of the Spanish Government

not directly implicated in the making of that decision.


It seems that the Spanish Government did not give any official
explanation of the reasons behind its decision. The sections of
the Spanish Department of Foreign Affairs related to migration
simply opted to avoid any radical measure that would close avenues that could be utilized later.163 The idea was, as Jos Luis de
los Arcos164 put it to de la Riva, to search for a safety valve, not
to block the negotiations permanently . . ., because in the high
ranks, the Australian migration is not well looked upon, due to
the lack of historical or social ties.165
For their part, all the agencies involved in the scheme reacted
with surprise towards the Madrid decision. The CIME Liaison Mission in Spain thought the main reason for this suspension was the
flawed selection procedures, and blamed the Australian Mission
in Madrid for them. According to de la Serna, the selection may
not have been always adequate, but, from the 3,500 migrants
selected by the CIME there was not one complaint. It was later,
when the Australian Mission convinced the IEE that the CIME
control was not necessary, that the problems started. He pointed
out a solution. If migration resumed, de la Serna wrote, the selection should be handled only by the CIME. The IEE did not have
enough prepared staff and would fell again in the hands of the
Australian Mission. Only the CIME was in a position to balance
the criteria of the two countries involved.166



The FCIC guessed that the difficulties in the placement of migrants were the real cause of the suspension. It thought that the
measures taken to deal with the problem were too extreme, and
did not hide its disappointment:
In April 1963, following the decision of the Spanish authorities, the
migrant flow to Australia was cut. It has been explained that this
decision was based on domestic grounds; however, the employment
difficulties in Australia during the last months of 1962 had also been
mentioned. But these were restricted to Western Australia, affected
only a limited number of migrants and were of a temporary nature.
Certainly, these difficulties were not of such importance as to explain
the suspension of this migration. Otherwise, the placement of Spanish workers in Australia has proceeded without difficulties, and there
is a strong demand for Spanish workers on the part of the employers
. . . They have created a favourable impression amongst the Catholic
community in Australia. The single Spanish women, approximately
800, have gained an excellent reputation, and there is no fear they
will lose their moral standards.167

The Australian Government thought it was then time to upgrade its diplomatic channels with Spain, and established a Consulate in Madrid. This measure was announced by Downer in the
1963 Citizenship Convention held in June.168 In August, J. Blackie,
the Chief of the Australian Mission in Madrid, became the first
Consul General.169 The second Australian move was for saving
the family reunion programme. After some negotiations, at a
meeting of Secretary of the Department of Immigration Heyden
with Consul de la Riva, this was agreed.170 At the initiative of the
Australian Government, ministers for External Affairs Castiella and
Garfield Barwick met in New York in October and for once, some
understanding seemed to appear.171 The discussions were centered on five points, two of which had already been agreed: to
establish an Australian Consulate in Madrid and continuity in the



negotiations between the two countries, despite this temporal

interruption of the migration flow; the other three were: adequate
selection; guarantee of employment in their speciality; and no
migration in periods of high unemployment, and only short stays
in Hostels.172
It seems that Australian officials did not want to make public
the fiasco of the Spanish scheme. In November, the Australian
newspapers registered for the first time Downers impressions on
the matter: In Spain we have initiated a migrant flow which we
must try to maintain without interruption.173 The Spanish decision to cut the migration flow was announced in the Australian
press only one year and three months after it actually happened:
Migrant Flow From Spain Cut. Officials in Canberra said today the
move was disappointing because the 10,000 Spanish migrants in Australia were good settlers, and highly regarded . . . discussions were
continuing in an attempt to have assisted migration resumed, and in
higher numbers . . . it was believed that the Spanish Government
stopped assisted migration because of a shortage of a skilled and
semiskilled labour in Spain.174

It was necessary to wait until July 25, 1968 to see the next first
group of 168 Spanish migrants nominated by the Commonwealth
land at Sydney airport.175
Back in April, 1963, de la Riva was expected to clarify to Madrid
what was the real situation in Australia. Paradoxically, the migration authorities of the Spanish Department of Foreign Affairs, who
did not pay much attention to the migration scheme when it was
functioning, felt compelled to examine it in detail on the months
following its suspension. In his reports,176 de la Riva pointed out
the three major lessons to learn from the migration fiasco: firstly,
that Australia was a long-term, not a two-year migration consider-



ation, as many Spaniards thought; secondly, that, labourers could

easily do well in Australia, while office workers could not; thirdly,
that many migrants were contented, although when talking in
groups, they tended to stress the difficulties. He did not deny the
problems: the guarantees to be taken with the migration of skilled
workers, the easiness of becoming redundant that the rigid regimentation of industrial relations under the Spanish system would
not allow; the Australian officials exaggerations of the virtues of
their migration system.
These were accurate insights and de la Riva tried as well to find
solutions. The following quotations summarize his opinions. Answering Matesanzs general question whether it is convenient to
resume emigration, and in which conditions,177 the Consul suggested:
This should be a long term migration. . ., previous agreement on the
matter of the recognition of qualifications. . ., only one year of compulsory residence. Provisional solution, while the negotiations are
taking place: restricted migration based on letters of nomination that
take into account more factors than family reunion alone, in such a
way that the selection is made by the interested parties themselves.178
Australia is neither paradise nor hell . . . Emigration to this country
suffers mainly from flawed selection. Migration can be resumed, provided the selection is properly made: white collar workers, no;
labourers, yes; skilled workers, only with guarantees . . . The Spaniards are well thought of here, and the authorities try to increase their
quota. . . There is no guarantee of permanent employment in a country of absolute free employment . . . Workers in Spain have benefited
a lot during these years from state protection, and this is the reason
why their first steps in Australia are harder....179

Many are satisfied, although when talking in group, they will

always emphasize the difficulties.180



Immigration officials tend to exaggerate the good aspects; to speak

about emigration with emigrants is a difficult task that requires getting used to it and a lot of patience: each migrant will rival with the
others exaggerating either his difficulties or successes.181

In his reports, de la Riva often sent to Madrid elaborate statistics, with information in pesetas, on wages, family allowances,
expenses etc. In one of them (Table 2) he calculated the possible
average monthly savings of a family:
Table 2.
No. children

0 (wife works)






Source: Informe..., August 30, 1963. SCC. (In pesetas, a pound

equaling about 140 pesetas).

Contrasting this information with that provided through oral

sources, it seems that de la Riva estimates conform much better
with the situation than those Vice Consul Daz made in his report
of December 1963. The actual savings were often greater for two
reasons. The Spaniards tended to choose low standard, thus
cheaper, accommodation, living in rented rooms, in conditions
not much worse than those many were already used to in their
Spanish cities. As soon as it was practically possible, the wife
would work too; having the children attended by other Spanish
families, or working in a different shift than the husband, were
ways of overcoming child-rearing difficulties.



There were still two matters to be dealt with after the suspension of the Agreement. Migration authorities of both countries
and the other agencies involved addressed them: one concerned
the family reunion programmes; the other, repatriations.
The Spanish Government had readily allowed by August 1963
first grade family reunion, for assisted as well as for non-assisted
migrants, and this agreement was applied with lax criteria. Appendix 2 Table 1 depicts the number of arrivals up to 1966. Another matter was that of sending for fiances: in this case, marriage had to precede migration. Blackie pointed out in Madrid
that Italians, as well as Australian Catholics including the Spanish
migration chaplains, preferred the marriage to be realized in Australia rather than by proxy. De Viana was of the same idea, having in mind the risks of marrying by proxi (maintaining a relationship through letters written by a friend of the fiance), and
that disappointed brides might easily blame the IEE for the failure.182
An interesting polemic took place amongst the Spanish authorities, centred on the ideas about the matter of Monsignor
Fernando Ferris, head of the CCEM. He was also against marriages by proxi, only exceptionally allowed by Canon Law, and
asked the Spanish Government to demand from the fiances only
the requirements the Church requires to celebrate a marriage as
listed in the Canon 1017. In this way the interests of the Church
are favoured, without contradicting the regulations on migration
of the state.183 But this would be, according to the IEE, facilitating no family reunion but family constitution. External Affairs did
not agree with this policy either:
Promises of marriage do not legally fulfil the immigration require-



ments until the wedding has taken place. If the wedding is the reason
for the trip, we must demand marriage by proxy . . . [if not, it may
happen] that they would change their mind, and we are left with a
helpless single woman on the wharf, with all the problems that such
a situation involves.184

Consul de la Riva stated his opinion considering two possibilities. In one, the bride claims the groom: not advisable, the groom
is bound to fail. In the second, the groom claims the bride: gives
a deposit of 350 pounds; if they marry, the deposit is refunded, if
not, the bride could fly back to Spain with it.185 Monsignor Ferris
did not agree with de la Riva: my dear friend and most exemplar
civil servant is logical but chrematistic in excess, he argued, asking himself what would happen if the bride is the one who does
not want to get married.186 Migrants, the churchman regretted,
engaged in civil or mixed religion marriages because of lack of
prospective partners, and the Australian Catholic hierarchy worry
because so many Catholic marriages are lost. He summed up his
views on the problem: We are dealing with human beings that
have a soul, and whose eternal life is at stake; sometimes we deal
with these issues with too earthly a criteria.187
While some migrants wanted people of their kin to join them
in Australia, others were eager to return to their families in Spain.
At the Consulate, many claimed they were told by the CIME that,
should they wish to return to Spain after the two year period, the
Spanish Government was to pay for the fare. Again, this was a lax
interpretation of point 20 in the booklet CIME distributed to migrants: Two years after arrival in Australia, the migrant who wishes
to return to Spain and lacks the necessary founds to pay for the
fare, may apply to the Spanish Consulate in Canberra for his repatriation, at the cost of the Spanish Government.188



In de la Rivas opinion, the migrants were prepared to abuse

the system. They claimed that Germany repatriated all the migrants that wanted to return to their home country. The Consul
dismissed this claim after talking to his German counterpart. They
realized that the situation on repatriation was similar in all the
foreign representations in Sydney. Migrants of other nationalities
were also writing to their national Ministers, asking for repatriations that they could easily pay themselves.189
A typical example was that of an unskilled migrant, 50 years
old, married, with three children, who arrived in Australia on
January 25, 1963. He asked to be repatriated while, to save expenses, the rest of the family remained in Australia until the end
of the two year period. The reason was that he had asked for a
years leave from his factory in Madrid, and did not want to loose
his job. The low cost of the trip encouraged migrants to take
leave from their jobs, that were not as long as the two year commitment of assisted migration. In the Consuls opinion, that should
not be the concern of the Spanish Government.190
The number of repatriations could have been hundreds or none,
depending on how the regulations were interpreted, and de la
Riva interpreted them strictly, allowing repatriations only in exceptional cases. De la Rivas position was too strict, according to
the migrant chaplains. They thought that, through their social
work, they were in a better position to know which migrants
should deserve the help of the Spanish Government, rather than
the Consul, isolated in his Sydney Point Piper ivory tower.191 Certainly, except for the 1964 year, not one single Spanish migrant
was repatriated from Australia.192 In 1964 itself, it seems that all
the selection errors of the previous five years were being re-



dressed. During that year, 103 migrants were repatriated. This

might well have been caused by the echoes of Australian life,
published in Spanish newspapers during Christmas 1963.
If the image of Spain portrayed in Australian media had some
bearing on the developments of migration between both countries, as explained in chapter one, the image of Australia in the
Spanish press was going to have far more importance.193 While
the Australian newspapers idea of Spain was similar in 1957 and
in 1964, the vision of Australia reported by the Spanish press
before 1961 was totally different to that reported after 1962. The
former was the paradise, where most workers had a car, and
wages were the highest in the world, as mentioned at the beginning of this chapter. Only the disposition of banning the advertising of emigration following the emigration law of 1960194 altered
this trend. When Australia appeared again on the Spanish press at
the end of 1962, the image projected looked more like hell.
Returned migrants were the makers of this negative vision of
Australia, which reached its peak at the end of 1963. One of its
best examples is an article published in Diario Regional, in which,
the migrant commented:
Where I lived, which is where Spaniards abound [Wollongong], we
celebrated Christmas the Spanish way. But there were sad days, and
we all ended up weeping, yearning for the family and the homeland.
Although most of us had a good situation, there were a few who did
not. They left good and secured jobs in Spain, and now they find
themselves working as mere labourers in Australia, with wages that
do not even pay for a roof over their heads. Many would like to
return, but they can not; the fares are too dear and, although it is
stipulated in the contract that our return journey should be paid for,
very few manage this, and many people go insane at the thought of
never being able to return to Spain.195



A peculiar case was that of the Santander brothers. After some

years of making a killing in Australia, and saving to the limit,
they won the Opera House lottery, and went to Spain in December 1962. They landed in Malaga, and went by car to their hometown in the north. The newspapers of many of the cities they
were passing through published the accounts of their Australian
odyssey, in which everything was portrayed in a negative way:
as a labourer, earning ten shillings weekly, he did very badly . .
., they suffered unemployment and they spent 2,000 pounds, everything that they had managed to save, on their return fare.196
In fact, they had previously sponsored their parents, and, some
months after their return, they had applied again for permission
to migrate to Australia to the Consulate in Madrid, permission that
was denied.197 This also happened in Christmas 1963, which apparently were sad days for Spaniards who had relatives abroad.
Even the Caudillo echoed this sadness -migration was a sensitive
political issue- in his traditional end of the year speech: Particularly these days, when families get together. . . my thoughts are
with those who, driven by necessity, have sought work outside
our frontiers. Our aspiration is that no one should have to leave
his native land for economic reasons.198
These articles caused distress amongst many Spanish families.
They worried that their relatives in Australia were writing to Spain
saying they were all right so as to avoid upsetting them; some
families wrote to Australia offering to pay for their return trip.
The situation persisted for some time. We conclude this section
with an anecdote from February 1965. Aurelia Garca was one of
those mothers who worried. An appeal was made by a very popular
programme of Radio Madrid Ustedes son formidables, to raise



money to pay for her trip to Australia. Through it, she finally was
able to see her son, Miguel, who was happily settled in




In the first chapter we have seen how, through the initiative of

the Australian Catholic church, and of the Queensland sugar cane
industry, the Governments of Australia and Spain, helped by the
ICEM and the Catholic Agencies, arranged the migration plan. In
this second part we will see how the words contained in those
documents transformed themselves into deeds, slightly changing
the human geography of both countries. From August 1958 to
March 1963, 7,814 Spaniards came to Australia, nominated by the
Commonwealth. In this chapter we will consider, first, the subjective reasons that moved these people to come to Australia, and
then, how they came, and what they did here.
Firstly, poverty or bare subsistence turned some people into
migrants bound for Australia. Clemente Cerd, Director General
of the IEE, confirmed this: The low living standards. When a
man is well off, he does not want to any risk. That is why few
skilled men leave the country.200 In one of the most important
books dealing with the Spanish emigration in the sixties, the following indices are used to explain the individual motivations of
to help the family
better salaries
to save
not earning enough
their childrens future
to buy a house




having only temporary work

to gain economic independence
being unemployed



In the Australian migration 1958-63, it seems that individuals

were moved by economic necessity, the possibility of getting a
cheap fare, and the willingness to go almost anywhere and do
almost any work available. Most of them came to Australia because it was the only opportunity of going abroad they could
find, they would much rather have gone to Venezuela, or to France.
Generally speaking, migrants came to Australia because their economic prospects in Spain were bleak. Many migrant families
thought that working abroad for some years, they could save
enough money to buy a house at home, and with their accommodation problem solved, life in Spain would be improved. Most
migrants thought of their trip to Australia as a temporary move
with the aim of saving money. This fact was to have an important
bearing in their lifestyle abroad in the early sixties, and in the
shaping of the Spanish community in Australia.
There were other motives. For some, these were political,
arising from their involvement in anti-Francoist sindical activities.
For others the motives were religious, for example, a small group
of Adventists who migrated to Melbourne. For some Marta women,
fleeing spinstership was more relevant than their economic status. Family reunion brought many to Australia, although not to
the extent of from other Southern European countries. Some,
particularly white collar workers, came for the wrong reasons,
leaving comfortably jobs and lifestyles in Spain; we have referred
to them in chapter two. During the entire sixties, there were always more Spaniards ready to migrate abroad than assisted passages available for them. Some came by chance, because they



were given the opportunity and did not want to miss it. A sense
of adventure drove many single people to Australia on a sort of
two year working holiday. We have found no traces of clandestine migration, i. e. operators that brought migrants to Australia
outside the regular travel fares or the assisted passages of ICEM
and Governments.202
Later in the sixties, the Victorian migrant chaplain Father Eduardo
Snchez, of whom we shall hear more later, wrote:
The arrival of Spaniards in Australia began around 1958. Firstly, woodcutters came, mainly single, from Navarra, the Vascongadas, Santander
and Asturias. Then, as a part of Operacin Marta, 747 single girls
came into the country in several groups. At the same time and afterwards also, couples with children arrived here. About three years
ago, Spanish migration to Australia stopped, with the exception of
family reunion.203

There are obvious errors in this excerpt ( not many migrants

from the first expeditions were, nor were they meant to be, woodcutters; the migration flow closed on 1963 rather than in 1966 ).
However, the three groups suggested by the priest are illuminating. They are utilized in the subsections to follow.
In the first section, we will examine the migration of about
1300 single men who, from 1958 to 1961, came for rural work.
Then, we will focus on the expeditions that brought about 800
single women to Australia, from 1960 to the end of the scheme;
these women were sent with the aim of evening the sex imbalance, and were employed as domestics. Thirdly, we will deal
with the migration of family units (approximately two thousand
workers with their four thousand dependents) who came from
1961 onwards to undertake industrial work. This chapter will also
deal with the migrants on arrival, how they adjusted to the new
environment, and what they ended up doing in Australia.




In this section we are to study the so called Operacion Canguro

and four other similar expeditions (see Table 1).
Table 1.


















Freemantle 29.7.59



Monte Udela



Monte Udela Santander


19.12 Melbourne



20.6 Melbourne 23.7.60


Monte Udela Santander l8.12 Melbourne 21.1.61


All these expeditions had various points in common: they

brought single men (although a few childless couples arrived with
the expeditions Emu and Torres), from 21 to 35 years of age.
They had to have their military service finished and a good
behaviour certificate. This migration programme was advertised
on radio and in newspapers, and prospective migrants had to
present their documents at the Sindicatos offices. Migrants came
mostly from the north of Spain, particularly the Basque Country
and Santander. They paid fares ranging from zero in Canguro to
3,500 pesetas in Torres, and they needed an extra 10 American
dollars cash to cover first expenses.
Apart from these shared elements, each expedition had its own
colour. The Canguro expedition was recruited from Santander
and the Basque Provinces. The cane farming press gave it quite a
large coverage:



A first group of 150 Spanish migrants will leave soon for Australia.
Most of them will be Basques, from the north of Spain. An Australian
immigration expert who recently visited Spain, expressed the view
that Australia could get on well with Spaniards, and that Spaniards
would like Australia and assimilate early. He was impressed by the
hard working quality of these migrants.204

Some anecdotes: Uriguen came from a large family of farmers,

eight brothers and three sisters. An uncle had immigrated to Australia before the war, and a brother went to the United States to
work as a shepherd.205 Esparza tells us how out of 150 applicants
from Eibar, only two were chosen; the others did not pass the
medical examination; a friend in the secret police may have helped
his case.206 Estanillo came from Santander: We were asked do
you know how to drive a tractor?; if you answered yes, you
would not go. We were asked our profession and we had to say
peasants; but in fact fitters, bakers, even musicians came with
us.207 In Patras, 198 single Greek girls boarded the ship (on board
there were also 372 Hungarian, Yugoslav and Polish migrants).
Then, through Port Said, and the Torres Strait they reached
Brisbane. The ship captain said the Spaniards had been very
well behaved and well disciplined.208
When the liner Toscana berthed in Brisbane on August 6, 159 immigrants from Spain, chosen as men suitable for canecutting in the
Queensland canefields, landed from the vessel and were taken in
busses to the Wacol migrant center. The first detachment of them
were due to leave for Cairns and Tully on Sunday 10, whilst other
groups for Ingham and Innisfail were due to follow soon afterwards.209

The selection procedures of the Montserrat expedition were

similar; the voyage was more troubled:
When the migrant liner Montserrat reached Fremantle today, allegations were made of a near mutiny by passengers in the middle of the



ocean, and of a fight in which shots were fired. Passenger alleged

that armed officers and crew members had patrolled the ship to repel
protests groups and to keep order on the 54 day voyage from Europe. Shots were made to halt one melee between Spaniards and
Greeks. . . Fight broke between Spanish men over Greek women;
Spaniards were all bachelor and women were all Greek.210 Greek
passengers complained to their Consul at a stormy wharfside meeting, about the conditions on board which were, they said, worst than
a prison.211 A fine of 500 pounds was imposed on the master of the
ship. . . only three of the twenty two lifeboats were in conditions.
And six of the ships ten rafts were unserviceable.212

From Perth, the migrants were brought to Melbourne by train,

and from there to Bonegilla. Then, the Spaniards, were sent to
Queensland. From then on, most sea borne groups coming from
Spain, entered the Australian workforce through this Bonegilla
holding camp.
The three following expeditions were made in another Spanish
ship, Monte Udala, that had been recently adapted for the transport of passengers. The voyages (thirty three days, through
Capetown) were uneventful, playing cards, studying English and
making friends. The only complain was that the newly weds that
joined the Emu and Torres expeditions had to sleep in separate
berths. The Emu group included people from Burgos and some
from Madrid; after spending some time in Bonegilla, they went to
the Mildura area in Victoria. Karris passengers went to Queensland,
and Torres to Mildura again. Some new arrivals joined friends
and relatives at the wharf instead of going to Bonegilla.
Most of these migrants ended up working as cutters for the
North Queensland sugar cane industry, going there after disembarkation or when the fruit season in Victoria finished. Only a
few Spaniards settled in the sugar cane area for the whole year.



Spanish gang on the North Queensland canefields, 1960 season.

Alonso and Doval in front.

When the cane season ended, some joined the tobacco season,
also in Queensland, while others went to pick fruit at Griffith
(NSW), or to work on the Snowy Mountains Scheme or the Port
Kembla steel industry. Often, they travelled with the same gang
they worked with in the canefields. When the next cane season
started, many would move northward again; others would remain in the industrial areas or were drained towards the big cities
of Sydney and Melbourne. They lived for some years a sort of
nomadic existence, moving in small batches northward and southward, its epicenter being the sugar area of North Queensland.
They kept this lifestyle, common to all workers that engaged in
rural seasonal jobs, until they settled in one area, forming a family, or until they returned to Spain.
The only official information migrants had on cane cutting, and
for that matter, on Australia, was what they could get from a



booklet edited in Spanish by the CIME213 and handed to the migrants on selection. There might have been other information,
not necessary accurate, gathered from people with acquittances
already in Australia. The booklet gave general information about
the tasks involved in the work, salaries, working hours, unions,
baggage they should bring, and other useful ideas.
On the canefields the Spaniards worked at Ingham, Tully,
Innisfail, Cairns, Gordon Valley and Babinda, were most of the
cutters were Italians. Mr. Zamora, who owned a petrol station in
Tully, Mara Pedrola and few other long term Spanish settlers,
gave them the first explanations needed. The new arrivals soon
picked up enough Italian to get by. They divided into gangs,
according to friendship, family ties and village origins, and started
working. The season lasted from June to December, work was
from 6 a.m. to 6 p.m., and included: burning, cutting and cleaning the cane, bundling and loading it, and laying the portable
rails on which it was transported. All in all, one of the toughest
rural jobs in the whole Australia - poisonous snakes including
four metre pythoms, and fevers traced later to parasites carried by
droves of rats inhabiting the fields...214
Salaries were of about 15 pounds, but, after a month, each
cutter got an average of 22 weekly. They had to deliver, by contract, a minimum daily quota, and it was on the surplus, where
the chances of earning more money increased. Another regulation was that the aggregate forthrightly earnings of a gang are
shared equally by the members of the gang. Consequently, slackers are not encouraged and each member of the gang endeavour
to do the right thing by his mates.215 While this system seemed
to work well for employers, the social relations within the gang



Mosman, North Queensland, 1959. Standing up, Basque cutters de la

Fuente, V. Zarauz, J. L. Goi, and Arregui; the rest are Hungarians and
one Islander.

were often strained: The same mates would give you the sack if
you were not fast enough, or else you have to give them money
for allowing you to work with them, as it was in my case ... Fights
within the gang were common, unless you had good friendship
with all of them.216
Despite such difficulties, North Queensland attracted numerous Spanish migrants. Even when family migration started, some
men left wife and children behind and went northward to work
there, at least for one season. La Crnica echoed this attraction:
We loved Queensland from the first moment! They say the tropics attract people, that he who comes here once will always return... 217 Some admitted they could earn more elsewhere, but



went back to Queensland, punctually, every season.218 They liked

working outside and enjoying the social life centered around Mr.
Zamora and Father Ormazbal. Eliseo Zamora was a Spaniard
torn in Australia and a legend amongst the Spaniards in North
Queensland. He welcomed every Spanish gang that arrived there,
and, during weekends, his time belonged entirely to the Spanish
canecutters.219 Father Ormazbal, who arrived with the Canguro
group and lived in Queensland until his death in the early seventies, organized popular social gatherings at the Irish Club at Tully.
He also organized and appeal to rise funds for Alejandro
Gandarillas who, after being seriously injured, was repatriated in
May 1963. The day the plane left Queensland, nearly four hundred Spaniards went to see him off.220 Alejandro pointed out to
his countrymen back in Spain, another reality of life in North
Queensland: There are many Spaniards in Australia who earn up
to a thousand pesetas daily, but there are also many who do not
have a cent. They spend it all.221
He hinted here at the other side of the Spanish legend in
Queensland. It seems that Spaniards worked so hard either to
save it all or to spend (mostly drinking) it all. It took three months
for Pachica to be able to save enough to pay for the minimum
clothing requirements for cane cutters seeking employment in
sugar districts.222
The Spanish cutters seemed to have fulfilled some of the political expectations behind their immigration. Minister Downer
claimed as a success the fist experimental group of Spaniards
sent to Queensland, and announced in the House of Representatives the follow up expeditions.223 In March, the Australian Sugar
Journal announced the labour requirements for the industry for



the 1960 season. The farmers asked for 200 migrants, preferably
Italians suited for cane cutting, to arrive in June, and a further
400, preferably Italians and Spaniards from the Basque Provinces, to arrive in July and August.224 This means that, despite
their small number, Spanish cane-cutters had some positive impact amongst the farmers. However, immigrant labour, Spaniards
included, did not solve the long term problems of the industry as
management sow them. Growers sought machinery to overcome
restrictive practices: The cutters in lots of instances do not want
to take a cut on now unless you have got a loader, they do not
want to hand load cane.225
The industry was also competing for migrant workers with the
tobacco and fruit sectors. It was often thought that these competitors had the advantages:
The better class of cane cutters is lost to the industry . . . Absorbed
into other industries such as tobacco and fruit. Being a good type of
worker, he seeks to better himself and in doing so is lost to us, and
the less valuable men is left there for years, to become a burden on
We are to be faced with competition particularly from the tobacco
industry, towards the end of the season. You know the difficulties of
trying to inject new labour into the industry later in the season. Firstly,
the weather conditions are not propitious, and secondly, established
gangs are by no means anxious by that stage of the season to accept
new labour.227

In May 1962, a request was passed again

that in view of the continuing deterioration of the quality of migrant
labour supplied for the sugar industry, the ASPA executive confer
with the QCGC and approach the Federal Government with a view to
the appointment of a responsible cane farmer as adviser to the migrant selection team at the original point of selection, when migrants



are being selected for definite allocation to canecutting.228

For the 1964 season, migrant labour was recruited from Malta
and directly flown in to Queensland; most of them deserted their
jobs after a week or two to go southward. They did not solve the
problems of the industry either.229
Apart from working in the canefields, this group of migrants
were employed also in the tobacco area in Queensland, and in
the Griffith and Mildura fruit picking areas. Working in the tunnels of the Snowy Mountains Scheme was the most important
non farming related activity this batch of migrants engaged in.
Social life in the tobacco area (Mareeba, Dimbulah), was very
much similar to life in the canefields: similar working hours, hardships, salaries; similar people. The season lasted from November
to March. If they had a car, some gangs could even go and work
in the fruit season at Griffith, where there was always, during the
early sixties, a steady group of Spanish workers. More likely,
though, they would take some time off to see what the conditions were in other parts of Australia, and to enliven for some
weeks the social and financial life of the Spanish clubs in Sydney
and Melbourne.
From 1960 through to the mid sixties, there was an important
presence of Spanish migrants in the Mildura grape picking area.
Mildura was the first point of destination of the expeditions that
arrived during the season. The first Spanish women to work there,
who came in small numbers in the Emu and Torres groups, did
so as cooks. Later, when family migration started and their number increased, they did picking as well.
Many migrants worked in the Snowy Mountains Irrigation



Scheme, usually for short periods of time. Often they did so for
companies that, having finished their jobs there, kept employing
them on other mines or dams in the Northern Territory, Queensland
and even Tasmania and New Zealand. Work was hard, but restricted to eight hours, and wages were, in general, better than
what they could earn in the cane. Despite their mobility, the Spaniards managed to create some social life there, helping each other
in finding work, and spending the weekends together making
paellas and drinking beer.




During their travels He entered a certain village, where a
woman named Martha welcomed Him to her home. She
and a sister named Mary, who took a seat at the Lords feet
and listened to His teaching. But Martha got worried about
much housework; so, approaching Him, she said, Lord, do
you not care that my sister left me to do the work alone?
Then tell her to help me. But the Lord answered her,
Martha, Martha, you are anxious and bothered about many
matters, when there is need of but one thing. Mary has
selected the good portion which will not be taken away
from her.
Luke 10, 38-42.

Since the mid fifties, the Australian press had reported on the
interest of the Department of Immigration in bringing single women
to ease the imbalance of sexes amongst the migrant population.
Every effort is made to encourage male migrants to nominate
their single sisters of marriageable age, said a spokesman, so as
to avoid that situation of single migrants who even kill themselves because of loneliness and failure to obtain a woman230
Despite the special migration programmes to bring single women
from Greece and Italy, the problem had still not diminished by
the early sixties. The subject arose in the 1960 Citizenship Convention,231 and as usual in the press. The lack of marriageable
women was described as
one of the worst hardships of young male migrants from Europe . . .
A bride ship that brought 300 single girls [from Greece] was greeted
at the Woolloomooloo wharf by 4000 Greek bachelors last month. . .
They need a good girl, not a beautiful doll type looking for luxury.232



Another article titled Wanted: brides for 20,000 lonely men,

summed up the problem this way:
Migrant difficulties are not always just economic...Three bachelors to
every spinster came to Australia on assisted passages in the nine
months to March this year... They turn to drink, gamble wackily or
literally go mad... The present policy brings out girls mainly as domestic help. There is not after care of them. They are often worked
up to fourteen hours a day for 8 pounds a week. Such things get back
to Europe. Parents become reluctant to risk their girls coming to

Some Southern European migrants, the article went on, found

a way to overcome the problem, relying on their mothers to pick
out a suitable bride in hometowns and villages. This solution had
its problems; it might well happen either that the original does
not match with mothers glowing report, or that after a month
trip, the girl turns up wearing a rival engagement ring.234
This was the situation in Australia at the time when another
programme to bring out single girls, in this case from Spain, was
to be launched. We are to look now at the assumptions on the
Spanish side, before the programme was put into effect. The concern of the Church about the migration of single women showed
in the following words:
There are so many countries that appeal to our girls. Why? A desire
to see new things, learn languages, earn money... We would advise
you to carry in your luggage, amongst your rosy dreams, a little - or,
rather, a lot - of these three: awareness, vigilance, orientation. Evil
threatens girls in various disguises. It is very risky to trust unknown
people. Girls who go abroad should know the tricks used to take
advantage of them. It is true that the tactics change every day, and
that the traps that they will encounter are innumerable. That is why
we tell you: Beware! Be vigilant!.235



The Spanish authorities were specially wary in regards to the

migration of women under 25:
We should emphasize the fact that girls under 25 leaving the country
with the excuse of doing domestic or other kind of work is really
covering for a white slave trade. The percentage of domestics that are
seduced and used for immoral purpOss deserves special consideration . . . We should call for a favourable report from the Patronato de
Protecin a la Mujer before allowing the departure of women under
25 to work abroad.236

Credit has to be given to Monsignor Crennan to have been able

to supersede the difficulties that, first within the CCEM and then
in the IEE, must have arisen in bringing up the matter, as this was
the first scheme of its kind ever implemented in Spain. It was
agreed that the preselection task would be made by the CCEM,
through its Diocesan Migration Committees and the Parishes network throughout Spain.
Monsignor Crennan was particularly proud of the way this Marta
programme was handled. Despite his involvement in similar but
larger schemes with Italy and Malta, or even through the WCC
with Greece, he often quoted it in his speeches in international
it is expected that this particular project which goes by the name of
Marta, will account for the coming of many more young Spanish
women, who, like the hundreds who had preceded them, will reflect
credit on their country and their families, and enrich the life and
culture of their new country.237

The first group arrived in Melbourne on March 10, 1966. Senoritas will even sexes, was announced in the Sydney Morning
Herald the day before, informing that this group of 18 was the
first of a hundred single women to come to Australia by June 30.
On the same Qantas plane, seventy four Greek girls joined the



group. Happy to be here, read the headline on the first page of

the Sydney Morning Herald, welcoming the first Marta expedition.238 The article included a photo of two girls dancing with
some Spaniards clapping in the background. The news of this
arrival also reached the IEE press: About a hundred men, some
of whom had travelled more than 1,600 kilometres to be there,
threw flowers and shouted greetings when they disembarked from
the aircraft. The Australian Minister for Immigration, Alexander
Downer, was also there to welcome the girls.239
The following groups240 also received quite a lot of press coverage, bearing in mind their small numerical importance. Some of
this coverage, particularly in Catholic magazines, was advertising
for family accommodation: Placements are still required for some
of the fifty girls arriving this month, and any Catholic family interested in taking one of these domestics should contact Rev. Father
Eris Tierney, Diocesan Director of Immigration.241
From the third expedition on, the pattern was to bring groups
of sixty women four times a year. They were sent from Melbourne
to the different capital cities: Sydney, Brisbane, Adelaide, Canberra
and of course Melbourne itself. Father Eris Tierney, the Director
of the Roman Catholic Immigration Office in Sydney and therefore the person in charge for the placement of most of them,
explained why they were not sent to country areas:
Most of them ask to be placed in convents, where there is a chapel
which they may visit briefly during the day. In their homeland, they
are daily communicants, and wish to continue this in Australia. For
this reason, they prefer to work in the cities, where they can also
meet compatriots and keep in touch with each other. They find the
country districts too lonely particularly as they can not speak English very well.242



Two kinds of problems soon arose. On occasions, the girls did

not want to leave the big group in Melbourne or Sydney to go to
other cities. The consul reported one of these cases, asking to
take urgent measures to avoid similar situations.243 The other problem concerned the actual placing of the women. After their arrival at the city of destination, they were driven to the Diocesan
Immigration Offices where their employers were waiting for them.
Then each matron picked a woman; the last in doing so could
only choose amongst the least physically appealing girls and on
occasion they complained of that, with consequent embarrassment to all parts involved. Some other difficulties arose after having been placed in employment. The most common was that of
domestics that wanted to leave their employer after a few days of
living in the house, or viceversa.
Three measures were taken from 1961 to correct these problems. Firstly, a month long training course was organized in a
convent in Madrid that had to be attended by all the women
selected. Father Tierney explained the contents of the course:
They were being taught the Australia style of cooking, elementary
English and the fundamentals of domestic work. Naturally enough all
are anxious to learn English, and we think the best way of doing that
is in a private home. This is also the easiest way to settle in and get
used to Australian customs and home life.244

This course was mentioned in most press releases announcing

the arrival of new groups, as if it were an important part of the
advertising of the scheme: Flight Martha from Madrid brings to
Australia at regular intervals the product of the training school set
up in that city to prepare girls for domestic posts with Catholic
families and institutions here.245



These women came with the Marta group which reached Melbourne
on February 16, 1963 to join their fiancees already in Australia.

During the course, each person would learn to which city she
was going to and to which household. Emphasis was put on the
commitment of working for two years as domestics:
You have undertaken to go to your new country to work as a domestic for two years. Fulfil this commitment seriously. You are helped
with transport and employment. This would cost you so much money
that you would not be able to emigrate on your own account. The
only way to pay for it is by being the best possible employee, and by
fulfilling your work commitment (Australia: two years; Canada: one

They were asked to sign a paper undertaking to work as domestics for two years. This document had no legal validity, as an
Immigration official commented on the arrival of the first group:
We bring them out here and place them in jobs as domestics. They
go their own social ways from there. No condition was placed on the
women to remain domestics. They were introduced into their own



communities soon after arrival and from then on nature usually takes
its course.247

This caused tensions with some of the women, and from mid
1962 they were not asked to sign the paper. Their employers
were warned that, should they refuse to employ the person placed
for them, they would not have the opportunity to apply for another one.
In Sydney, two chaplains who spoke some Spanish, Fathers
Roch Romac OFM and Lenard Hsu OFM, were appointed to
help these migrants and were available to them by phone.248 In
Melbourne Father Hallis SJ fulfilled the same task. The Catholic
Migration Offices of both countries also agreed to send some
Catholic social workers to Australia. Monsignor Ferris contacted
Father Cornelio Urtaso, founder of the Secular Institute Vita et
Pax, who appointed three of its members for the task: Paquita
Bretn, nurse, and Mara Louisa Erro and Carmen Cervero, dressmakers. They landed in Australia with the Marta flight of June 14,
1961, and went to Sydney. As there were misunderstandings on
the financial arrangements in the agreement, Louisa and Carmen
had to put themselves to work so that Paquita could devote herself full time to her social task.
A small group in each expedition came to Australia to marry
their boyfriends or to join relatives that had already migrated
before. They normally would not engage in domestic work. So,
of the group that arrived in December 1960, five girls married
the following week after their arrival.249 Of the twenty four
mothers helps who went to Sydney in March 1961, eight were
married within a few hours of their arrival, four at Port Kembla
and four in Sydney suburbs.250 In some cases, marriage was ar-



Marta women with the Spanish flag on a 1961 Sunday afternoon.

After attending mass at the Cathedral, they bring Spain back to
Sydneys Hyde Park. Third from left, Paquita Bretn.

ranged by letter, and they met for the first time at the airport.
These immigrants were from all walks of life: The fact that
they begin working as domestics does not mean that they worked
as domestics back in Spain. Many have university degrees and
some are schoolteachers and nurses.251 Father Tierneys words
reflect a reality that was often pointed out in the press. The vocational complexion of these women was discussed in the Australian Womens Weekly through interviews with six girls working
in Adelaide as waitresses and ladies companions. Of them, four
were schoolteachers in Spain, one a manicurist and the other:
she is rich, she does not do anything:
[They] explained in broken English: There is much propaganda in
Spain about Australia. Australia, they say, is better country in the
world, where people makes money, where live better, where people



very happy. So we go to Australia. We get help from your Government, who help pay our air tickets if we agree to work in Australia for
two years. So we are here . . . It is hard to say what we think about
Australian men, because so far we have not met many Australian
men, only what you call New Australian men . . . People here seem to
work too hard, rush too much, we have time for other things in
Spain, for the siesta.252

Life for these women was not always as happy as the press
articles seemed to paint. Linguistic and cultural misunderstandings were common and, isolated in their working homes, it was
not always easy to cope. One of the girls, who came with the last
group, was sent to Brisbane, to work with a family with seven
children. She spent the days crying. Her matron tried to entertain
her, took her to English classes, to the doctor and, finally, back to
the Catholic Migration Office. She was offered other jobs but she
refused. She was allowed to stay in a residence for senior citizens, helping the nuns to pay for her keep. Eventually, she became a nurse, married and settled happily in Australia. Her depression was not uncommon, and the women often referred to it
as el mal de Australia.253
They were relieved to find that domestic work in Australia did
not have the pejorative connotations of criada back in Spain at
that time. Some girls found their work interesting and enjoyable,
and kept doing it until they married.254 Some others were soon
dismissed, as in one particular case, after all the electric appliances of the house were broken.255 Most of them did not finish
the two years there but either left to join the mainstream workforce,
or just worked in a different house where the same job was being
better paid. In fact, despite Father Tierney boasting that the old
subsistence and pocket money basis for domestic work had gone,



and nowadays a wage of 6/10/- and keep was usual,256 it was

apparently easy to find similar work, closer to the city, with a
smaller number of children in the family, and earning 9 pounds
instead. Realizing this caused some girls to complain to Spanish
Catholic and governmental migration bodies. Pilar Moreno wrote
an article in Juventud Obrera in Spain entitled At least, like the
oranges. In it, she pointed out that, if they were to be sent abroad,
it should be done, at least, with the same care used for exporting
oranges, and criticized the rosy picture of Australia they received in the training course. Some girls even mocked the name
of the scheme, calling it Operacin Petra for Petra, criada para
todo, a popular character of childrens comics.257
Part of the social life of the Marta group was centred on those
who had first quit domestic work and found independent accommodation. Their rented rooms were the usual meeting places on
weekends. The Diocesan Migration Offices provided another focus of social life. In Melbourne, its Director Father Rafter, helped
by Father Hallis, and by Pilar Casanovas, a Filipino lady who
acted as interpreter for the Catholic Office, provided a meeting
place for them. On weekends, many joined to hear mass in St.
Patricks, and then to have a chat, drink tea etc. The same process
happened in Sydney. Those who went to Adelaide, Brisbane and
Canberra, either were absorbed by Australian society or soon
moved to Sydney and Melbourne.
A small group of girls married non-Spanish New Australians,
usually Italians or East European people. Most of them, however,
married Spaniards, thus fulfilling the function they were brought
here for. Their weddings were social events that lit up the Spanish community.




After the first pilot tests with Spanish migrants in Australia had
apparently succeeded, Australian immigration officials began to
bring family units from Spain, from mid 1961. Amongst these
groups was a small percentage of single and also childless couples,
usually married on the day before their departure. All sea voyages (see Table 2) ended in Melbourne, although on occasion,
important groups of migrants disembarked in Fremantle.
Table 2.
Castel Felice


Arrival date

The Aurelia, a vessel built in 1938 at the express wish of

Adolf Hitler and for his own use258 was converted into a passenger ship first in 1955 and then, again, in 1959.259 In her voyage of
August 1961, the Aurelia transported Agustin de las Heras, wife
Honorina and their eleven children, the biggest Spanish family
unit to migrate to Australia.
The Aurelia also brought the last group to come under the
scheme we are studying, and for that matter, the last sizable group
of Spaniards to come to Australia by sea. We are to focus briefly



on this last trip. The voyage started in Bremerhave on March 8,

1963, left Vigo on March 11, and ended in Sydney on April 12.
ICEM escort officer in charge was Ludovic A. Heuvelmans. Felipe
Vzquez Mateos, Delegado de Trabajo of Asturias represented the
IEE and Cristina Ferrando came from the CIME; a doctor and a
priest also escorted the Spanish group. Despite being the biggest
group on board, there were no films, books etc. in Spanish, although there were in German.260 Tables 3 and 4 show passengers
nationality, sex, age, and type of fare, and date and point of disembarkation:
Table 3.

under l






3-12 over l2 over l2




Source: Memoria del Viaje, Cristina Ferrando Collection (CFC).

Table 4.








(1) COGEDAR: ex Germany, 107, ex England, 191, ex Spain,10.

Source: Ibid., CFC.




From 1961, migrants started arriving by air, and in 1963, the

number of arrivals by plane totalled 1,348, while only 616 had
arrived by sea.261 Migrants travelling by plane were somehow
different from the others. Lacking the month of intense contact at
sea, and the month long training course most Marta groups had,
they had not had enough time to develop in this, the most important trip of their lives, the lasting knots of mateship.
The bulk of migrants arrived in Melbourne and were processed
to mainstream Australia through the holding camp of Bonegilla,
except for one group that went to another camp at Benalla.262
Some found their way through Northam in Western Australia, and
a small group of air arrivals started first at Sydneys Villawood
Migrants arrived at the Reception and Training Centre at
Bonegilla by train, from Melbourne to the Centre Siding, and
from there, they were conveyed by bus to the Assembly Hall.
Then, each person was issued with an identification card, in which
allocation to blocks and cubicles was indicated. A hot meal was
served within forty five minutes of the time of arrival. After that,
migrants were welcomed, in national groups, by the director, by
officers in charge, Commonwealth Employment Services, Film
and Study Centre (in charge of the teaching of English), and the
Minister of Religion concerned.263
The first group of families reached Bonegilla in June 1961. At
this time, the Australian economy was passing through a period
of recession. For this reason, migrants had to stay at Bonegilla for
months, instead of a week or two. Although the Spanish group
did not take an active part in the rioting of July 1961, these events
did upset the Spanish migration scheme, as explained in chapter



two. Some Spanish migrants were employed by the camp as interpreters, cleaners and cooks;264 many new arrivals learnt from
these the first clues about life in Australia, and they were also
often misinformed by them about wages on the cane fields and
the utility of the Commonwealth Employment Service.265
Despite its remarkable success in holding and distributing hundred of thousands of migrants during its history, Bonegilla was
not enjoyed by most newcomers, and the Spanish group was no
an exception. Alejandro Rincn exemplifies what the usual first
reactions of the migrants were and how they tried to cope with
the new situation:
Our first impression was that it looked like a concentration camp: the
women started weeping. The food was good, but we could not bear
this horrible smell of suet; despite being forbidden, we soon got hold
of some portable gas rings, and we used to wash the food they gave
us with water and recook it Spanish style266

The sour reaction to Bonegilla had surely to do with the breaking of the rosy picture the migrants had elaborated in their minds
before arrival. As Consul de la Riva put it: The holding centres
had a bad reputation, not per se, but for the fact of being the
end of a fantasy of exaggerated propaganda and immigrants imagination, and the first shock of reality267 Lack of immediate work
was not the only cause of distress. The whole change of lifestyles
strained family relationships. When sent to rural jobs (grapes in
Mildura, tomatoes in Shepparton, tobacco in Myrtleford etc.), it
was common for men to go first to see if they liked the job, later
bringing their families along; in some cases, it took a month for
the husband to contact his family.268
Apart from the unfortunate Western Australian plan, to which
we have referred in chapter two, family migration from Spain,



fulfilled its function in the four major areas where it was introduced: rural work in the tobacco area in Victoria, and industrial
work in the developing areas of Geelong (Victoria), Whyalla (South
Australia) and Wollongong/Port Kembla (NSW).
Many Spaniards went, from 1961 on, to the tobacco area of
Victoria (Myrtleford, Whitfield, Mount Beauty etc.) to do the seasonal jobs of picking and grading. Some stayed on for the rest of
the year, and formed, during the early and mid sixties, an important colony, with over a hundred families living there. Women
realized that they could help their husbands with the work, taking care of the family at the same time, and this was one of the
reasons for their settling down.269 Most of the settlers worked as
share-farmers, splitting half the profits with the owner, but having to pay from their share the wages for extra labour needed for
the picking season. From February to July work was hard, 16
hours a day seven days a week. Then, during the slack season,
work would consist of preparing the seeds, planting, watering,
spraying and weeding. At weekends, social life flourished: playing soccer against Italians, celebrating birthdays and christening
parties, going picnicking at a local dam, socializing around petrol
stations and milk bars serviced by Spaniards. From 1965 on, the
Spanish population in the area started to decrease; many returned
to Spain, and others to Melbourne, where the study opportunities
for children were better.
By the end of 1962, there were about a thousand Spaniards
residing in Geelong. Most worked on the railways, and in major
industries, Ford, International Harvester and Alcoa. Doing overtime and working on weekends they could earn around 33 pounds
weekly. However, one of their favourite pastimes was to com-



A Spanish family working in the tobacco area of Myrtleford, 1963. The

tobacco was graded and then put into sticks for drying.

plain: We were misled in Spain, they promised us work in our

The opening of a new BHP factory in Whyalla in 1963 drew
many Spaniards from the camps of Northam and Bonegilla. Wages
were not particularly high, but the cost of living was comparatively cheap. Education and health services were not very good,
and life was boring, despite the possibility for some of hunting
and fishing. On summer holidays many joined the grape and
tomato season. A 1980 description of the Whyalla BHP factories,
and work conditions in the sixties were surely no better, highlights the hardship they endured:
Work in the Shipyard and the Steelworks is often very heavy and
physically exhausting. Many workers are forced to take on shiftwork.
The hours are long and there are few rest periods. There are no



decent rest rooms or places to take their meals. The work is monotonous, uncreative and unrewarding. The workshops are hot, noisy,
dirty and ugly and the air is sometimes saturated with smoke, dust or
toxic chemicals. . . Perhaps the group of employees who suffer the
greatest hardship in this respect are the newly-arrived immigrants,
many of whom speak no English. Silenced by the language barrier,
their suspicion of trade unionism, and their unfamiliarity with Australian employment standards and awards, they are found working in
the more hostile and forbidding jobs that steel and shipbuilding can
offer. They are usually prepared to work long hours at any work that
they can get, in order to absorb the inevitable costs of establishing
themselves and their families in a new country.271

This explained also why BHP management always preferred to

employ married workmen. Workers with family commitments were
deemed more stable and reliable than their unmarried counterparts, and more likely to become long-term employees.272
What applies to Whyalla could apply as well to the BHP Steelworks at Port Kembla, and to all the big metal factories in Geelong.
Most of the migrants who arrived in 1961, including many who
came with the Torres group, ended up working in the industrial
area of Wollongong and Port Kembla, particularly in the BHP
Steelworks. They came either directly from Bonegilla, or following the picking season in Mildura. One of them, Adolfo Surjo
arrived there in June 1962. Four months later, he wrote a long
letter to a CIME employee Cristina Ferrando, who was herself
later to come to Australia. His words sum up very well how migrant families felt on issues such as homesickness, the voyage,
Bonegilla, work, wages, the English language and Australian
lifestyle respectively:
It is nice to think that you are right there in the Madrid that I miss so
much; we are keeping well, but feeling very nostalgic, because this is
not, in the least, the way I figured it. I often remember that book that



you showed me when I went to the CIME offices, with those beautiful landscapes; of course they exist, but I have never seen them, and
I doubt whether I will ever see them . . . The first disappointment was
on the ship, because all the other migrants had their movies, their
music and their interpreter, whereas we only had a doctor who took
no notice of us, and it happened that he was threatened once, but
not by me, I did not have any problem during the voyage . . . I have
been fortunate enough to escape having to go to Bonegilla, as a
friend of mine here sponsored me, but you should hear the way they
talk, those who had to go there. Everybody tells me that I have been
very lucky . . . I have got a job in a big steel factory in Wollongong,
but I work with a pick and shovel, even though I am qualified as a
Mechanic Tradesman . . . I do three shifts. I will also tell you that I
suffer immensely from the heat when a blast furnace has to be repaired, because they put me in some galleries to clean out the cinders, and they are very hot . . . I earn 34 pounds a fortnight . . . I have
been here for four months and I have not got a cent, because I have
six mouths to feed . . . I am a trained mechanic, but as I am unlucky
enough not to be able to learn a word of English for love or money,
in spite of the fact that I go to the school . . ., but as you told me, one
has to be patient, and keep working at it . . . it is true that people eat
much better here than in Spain, and that here nobody minds other
peoples business, and everybody lives his own life, and that is precisely what I wanted, to live quietly and earn everyones respect, and
in this sense, things are very good here.273





From the moment of leaving the holding camp and the hostels,
differences between assisted and non-assisted migrants practically blurred. Obviously, the former had still to wait for two years
before leaving the country, unless they reimbursed the money
paid towards their trip by the ICEM and the Spanish and Australian governments. Table 3 in Appendix 2 shows the numbers of
assisted and non-assisted migrants who came to Australia during
the period studied.
Amongst the non-assisted migrants, two small groups of Spaniards arrived in Australia from Latin America and the Philippines
respectively. In Latin America, the economic situation of the subcontinent had worsened since the late fifties. Its traditional role as
an immigration land was quickly reversed. Many migrants, and
some Spanish amongst them, particularly from the Ro de la Plata
area, opted for a second migration; they could not come assisted,
however, as ICEM by-laws did not allow a migrant to receive its
assistance twice. In the Philippines, political instability forced many
economically affluent Spaniards to leave the country, and some
came to Australia. A third small group of Spanish migrants came
to Australia in the mid sixties after having first migrated to Western Europe (France, Germany, Holland etc.)
Some assisted migrants kept coming after the suspension of the
Agreement in March 1963. In most cases, they came under Family
Reunion Programs sponsored by different voluntary organizations
as well as the ICEM. Both assisted and non-assisted Spanish mi-



grants joined the Australian workforce on equal terms. Their paths

met with that of Spaniards who were here before and most sought
or approved the creation of a Spanish community. We will refer
from this point onwards to the whole Spanish population in Australia, as it is not possible to maintain the boundaries between
these three groups any longer.
Table 1 in Appendix 2 shows the territorial distribution of these
migrants according to the censuses of 1961 and 1966. For every
state, first the data for the capital is given, and then for statistical
divisions in order of its numerical importance. It is interesting to
observe that, for the 1961 census and in Adelaide and Brisbane
females outnumber males, though the all-Australian proportion
of women was only 31.8%. This was accentuated by the FCIC
which placed Marta women according to the offers for employment available, and demand in Adelaide and Brisbane was high.
The number of females was still greater than that of men in the
1966 census in these two cities.
In the two major cities there was a trend for migrants to settle
where other fellow nationals had settled before; so, in Sydney, the
statistical divisions of Sydney, Randwick, Woollahra, Leichhardt and
Marrickville, those in which more Spaniards lived in 1961 are also
outstanding in 1966; similar concentrations are evident in the metropolitan area of Melbourne, where the Spanish population concentrated in Fitzroy, Melbourne and Richmond. As for the rest of
the country, Spaniards concentrated in those areas where they
were sent to work, on arrival. In the 1961 census, North Queensland
and Wollongong - Port Kembla in NSW, and the tobacco area in
Victoria were the most populated areas; the presence of Spaniards in the Riverina (Griffith) in NSW, and Mallee (Mildura) in



Victoria, is not statistically evident as censuses were taken during

the slack season. In the 1966 census, new groups appeared in
Geelong (Victoria), Whyalla (South Australia), and even in Western Australia, despite the migration plan fiasco. North Queensland
lost Spanish people quite dramatically, if we look only at the
male figure that accounts for most immigrant workers. Population in the Southern Tableland includes two different areas, that
of Queanbeyan (31 in the 1961 census, 87 in 1966) which relates
to that of Canberra, and Cooma, relating to the Snowy Mountains
Hydroelectric Scheme.
Not only Sydney and Melbourne, but Adelaide, Canberra, Perth
and Brisbane, in this order, increased their numbers of Spanish,
draining resources from the rural areas. Even minor cities such as
Newcastle participated in this trend. While in the 1954 census the
Spanish rural population accounted for 32.4% of the total Spanish
presence, in the census of 1961 the figure was 28.7%, and only
14.8% in 1966.274 However, we should bear in mind that these
figures do not take into account how hundreds of Spaniards would
leave the urban areas for seasonal work in the countryside: cane
cutting in Queensland; tobacco picking in Queensland and Victoria;
grape and fruit picking in Riverina in NSW, and in Mildura and
Shepparton in Victoria.
Assisted migrants did not always follow migration plan expectations. They went to the capital cities of their own accord. After
an initial phase of grinding labour in the countryside, or in an
industrial town, they frequently saw in the big cities education
opportunities for their children, entertainment and social life for
themselves. Spanish migrants came here to provide manpower
for some rural and industrial areas, and that is what they first did.



Later, attracted by the capital cities, they moved there and worked
as labourers in the building and other industries, and in the services sector. As for the women, once they quit domestic work
they found different jobs, many of them as cleaners. Child rearing
permitting, dual income families were the norm.
Most migrants were categorized as unskilled on arrival. They
joined the work force in similar conditions to other thousands of
labourers of South European background that every year entered
Australia. They were ready to be recruited straight into the hardest type of work, and to take as much overtime as possible. The
financial attraction of hard and dangerous jobs made them risk
work fatigue and industrial injury. They could not find time to
learn English. Handicapped by language, and with limited knowledge of local opportunities, many migrants found themselves in
work which they would not have accepted in Spain.
A large percentage of them were concentrated on the unstable
motor and building trades, where they were vulnerable to unemployment. Unions were not of much help. Union officials were
mostly Australian or English, and felt that newly arrived migrants
would break down working conditions. Nor did they help in
establishing recognition of work qualifications that migrants may
have had. They shared with the rest of the Australian population
all the prejudices about migrants. Non-English speaking migrants
rarely involved themselves in union activities, barriers of language
and training, and their unfamiliarity with the arbitration system
being some of the causes.275 The Spaniards were no exception.
Only about ninety migrants arrived from Spain as semiskilled
or skilled workers to have their qualifications fully recognized by
Australia.276 Some of these also worked for some time at un-



skilled jobs, due to their lack of English. White collar workers,

specially those who held tertiary qualifications, returned to Spain
as soon as they could. An exception was Jos Louis Dachary,
veterinarian, who in 1967 was able to pass all the exams to practice in Australia.277
Some migrants escaped factory work, being able to establish
themselves as independent tradesmen, or to join the services sector, setting up their own businesses: restaurants, milk bars, travel
agencies, etc., catering for the needs of the Spanish community
and the general public. We will develop this point in the next
chapter. There was no big business enterprise amongst this vintage of migrants, but rather family businesses, with half a dozen
employees at the most.




Before 1956, and with the possible exception of North

Queensland, the Spanish intake into Australia was small in number
and geographically dispersed. It was, thus, easily absorbed by
mainstream Australia. This situation changed with the implementation of the Assisted Migration Scheme in 1958, leading to a richer
and more permanent interaction amongst Spaniards in Australia.
The fruit of this interaction was the appearance of stable institutions, which maintained their own rules, language and codes of
behaviour within the Australian social fabric. The function of these
institutions was two-fold: they allowed some migrants a slower
and less traumatic integration into their new country; and, for the
others whose target was to get back to Spain as soon as
economically practicable, they provided a more enjoyable interval.
Also, they showed Australia new ways of living, behaving, cooking
and singing, enriching its scope.
There is an idea of post-war migrants extending their influence
over Australian society from inside the house to the backyard,
then to the street and finally to the suburbs, cities and whole
nation with its social clubs, press and other institutions.278 The
Spanish way of making a community certainly did not follow this
pattern. On the contrary, it started at the club level. As the first
waves of migrants were single people, it was obviously difficult
for family units to be the catalysts of all this social chemistry.
Clubs were the first and most important of institutions that the



Spaniards created in Australia. Restaurants, milk bars and other

small businesses, including the community press, came later. In
the big cities, these first opened around the clubs, and gradually
gained more independence.
The institutional powers of the Spanish state abroad, through
the Consulate General in Sydney, and of the Church through the
migrant chaplains, influenced the shaping of this community. In
no lesser degree, anti-Francoist Spaniards also left, their mark on
it. The life of a community, however, is richer than that of the
institutional forces that framed it: anecdotes, legends, and the
gamut of day to day experience, all helped in its making too. This
chapter deals with these riches. Special attention is given to the
foundation and role of the Spanish Club of Sydney, as it was
undoubtedly the major achievement of Spaniards during this
period, and, to some extent, exemplifies the socialization patterns
all over Australia.





Before the establishment of the Club in its present locality, there
were two small groups with much the same sort of aim in mind. One
on premises provided by the Catholic migration office in Castlereagh
St... The other used to meet in a bar in Kings Cross.279
The idea of forming a Spanish club was discussed in different places.
Little by little, the project began to take shape: in a bar in Kings Cross,
in the Catholic club of the city . . . In whichever place a group of
Spaniards met, they talked of the need to do something, to have a
place of their own, a corner, something like a second home. 280

These are the oldest records kept in the Clubs archives

explaining why and how the Spanish Club was founded. As they
show, there were two different groups of Spaniards in the origins
of the Club. The first group, chronologically speaking, was that of
single men who came in the first wave of migration, to whom we
have referred to in the section on Operacin Canguro. They were
in their twenties, full of life, and with money to spend. It was
hard for them to cope with the boredom of Sydney weekends,
with hotels closed by six and drinking being one of the favourite
pastimes of a typical Spanish males weekend. This was, however,
partially overcome through some cafes in the Kings Cross area
that opened until one or two in the morning and that, although
not licensed, served wine in tea cups.281 There, in the retrospective
view of the Spanish Club Boletn, the Spaniards began to be
known for the conviviality that emanated from their everlasting



friendly gatherings on Saturday evenings, the sort of thing which

until then was unknown in the area.282 The most popular places
frequented by Spaniards by early 1960 were the hotels Rex and
Picadilly, and the cafes Brazil, Piccolo and Balalaika; and in the
George St. area, the Farouk, open all year around, 24 hours a day,
and the Trocadero.
The other group connected with the origins of the Club was
that of single women. From early l960, the Marta flights were
bringing them to Sydney. They were a more homogeneous group
and it was easier for them, therefore, to take some initiatives.
These women joined together on weekends, to hear mass in St.
Marys cathedral or at St. Francis in Albion St. They had their
meetings in the Cusa House and soon the boyfriend of one (Manuel
Escribano), and the brother of another (Valentn Ugarte), started
joining them and bringing their friends (Jos Luis Goi, Santin
etc) along. Then, through the women, the League of Catholic
Womens premises were rented and balls were held, to the accompaniment of a piano played by Bob Reed. Pilar Moreno and
Josfina Fernndez were amongst the most influential within the
Marta group283
Echoes of this attempt to form a club reached Spaniards who
had settled in Sydney some years before, amongst them the Largo
family. Fernando Largo arrived in Australia on board the
Caledonienne in October 1952. Soon after he started working for
John Manners, the shipping company owned by Roberto Lpez
de Lasala of whom he was, for many years driver and caretaker of
buildings. Lasala was to play a major role in the foundation of the
Club. His grandfather was a Spanish Carlist general who found
sanctuary in England following the collapse of the Carlists in the



Roberto Prez de Lasala,

a Spanish-Philippine
first president of the
Spanish Club.

late 1870s. His father, a sea captain, married a Portuguese from

Macao, and settled in Manila, where Roberto was born. Orphaned
at the age of 14, his only inheritance, so the legend goes, was his
fathers advice and a knife.
He went to Hong-Kong where he started his commercial career
as an apprentice with John Manners & Co. Ltd., on July 2, 1922.
Sacked because of staff retrenchment two years later, he was
rehired soon after and, by the age of 27, was the Companys
assistant manager in Canton. In 1949 he became managing director and chairman of directors. On his death, in May, 1967, one
journalist claimed that he was the richest man in Australia, probably a gross exaggeration. He did, however, own a fleet of about



20 ships, and real estate and business of almost every kind in

Alaska, Brazil, Argentina, Indonesia, Timor and London, apart
from Australia and Hong-Kong. Of impressive height and build,
he is said to have known by name all the office-boys, the garbage
collectors, the street cleaners, the newspaper sellers, and every
man who worked for him in any of his ships. Business deals
involving hundreds of thousands of dollars were completed by
merely shaking hands at his club, Tattersalls. Horseracing was his
favourite hobby. He was part-owner of about eight racehorses in
Australia. To win the 1966 AJC Derby, with El Gordo, was just
one of his numerous achievements in this field.284
It was this colourful character who would allow the founders
of the Club to fulfil their aspirations, and to a standard no other
migrant Spanish club in Australia or in the world South America
excepted may have ever achieved without the involvement of the
Spanish Government. Through the Largo family, Lasala and the
new arrivals came together: Around July 1961 a meeting was arranged, with Lasala, Largo, Crilly and do Rozario on the one side,
and Escribano, Goi and Santin on the other. Gois account of
the meeting is as follows: From the first moment, Lasalas proposals seemed to us very reasonable and everyone agreed to join
the efforts. Lasala, through his numerous contacts, would be in
charge of the necessary legal and financial arrangements, and the
rest of us would devote our free time to increasing the list of
foundation members.285 Lasala owned a building Kent house at
88 Liverpool St. On the seventh floor were John Manners offices.
On its ground floor there, was a cafeteria, the Sari Room, and
on the first floor the Taj Mahal, an upmarket Indian restaurant.
Both were managed by Crilly, Lasalas son-in-law.



The Spaniards were allowed to use the ground floor, free of

charge, on Sundays. On occasions they used the first floor as
well, as the restaurant was not open for business. There, some
prepared typical Spanish food -callos, tortilla, pastry - while
others brought wine and beer from the hotel across the road. The
cooking, waitressing and cleaning were all done by them on a
voluntary basis. Most remember this period before the official
opening of Club, as the time when the atmosphere within the
Spanish colony was at its best. Pilar Otaegui described this early
Memories? Lots of them. Lots. For example... the first time that a
dinner was prepared. We were all amateurs, the waiters, the cooks,
but it was possibly the best dinner we have ever had in our Club, for
all those who took part in it . . . The first excursion we made, that was
to Katoomba; it was raining that morning, but in spite of that, nobody
wanted to stay in Sydney. On this excursion, a Spanish couple got

On September 10, 1961, the first general meeting of foundation

members was held on these premises. The fees paid by foundation
members were: six pounds men, three single women, and one
married women. It was one of the first migrant clubs in Sydney to
allow women to pay fees and to give them the right to vote with
the same conditions as men.287 One of the first motions passed
barred discussion on politics and religion.
Two hundred and twenty members were needed in order to
apply for a liquor license. It was not easy to get this number
amongst the still small Spanish colony in Sydney. The task of
recruiting new members was difficult, as not all the Spaniards
welcomed the idea wholeheartedly.288 Some did not want to join
because they considered the joining fee excessive, or because



they had children and/or lived in the outer suburbs, and did not
see the possibility of frequenting it much. On the other hand,
many Spaniards who were just passing through Sydney decided
that it was worthwhile joining the Club.289 An attempt was made
to augment the number with Portuguese but it failed. Underaged
people were enrolled and, because it was thought that the chances
of obtaining the license were better, some women appeared on
the lists with a Mr. title.290
On March 4th 1962, with the 220 members secured, a general
meeting was held. The Constitution was adopted, and the first
committee named, with Lasala as President.291 All the participants
in the July meeting, sat on this first committee, with the exception
of do Rozario. Some other members were co-opted along the
way, amongst them Fernndez, Ugarte and Moreno. There were
no formal elections, members being chosen on the basis of their
capacity and willingness to work, not an easy decision, though,
as there were more enthusiastic people than places available on
the committee. In April, vice-consul Jos Luis Daz, with Lasala,
Ugarte and Largo went to Court to register the Club and in June,
it obtained its liquor license. After the closing of the Taj Mahal,
a lease of the ground and first floors was arranged with Lasala.
The lease was for five years starting on May lst at 3,260 pounds
for the first year and 4,000 for the succeeding years. From March
to September, some alterations were made particularly on the
ground floor where a coolroom and a bar were constructed;
furniture was purchased from Lasala on favourable terms, and
some poker-machines were installed.
A major reshuffle in the committee was carried out on September
29, just before the opening of the Club. Jos Fernndez was



appointed as paid Secretary, Alberti, a Spanish businessman who

had been residing in Australia for over 40 years, filled the vicepresidency, and Comyn, who was to become a very popular family
doctor for the community, joined the committee.292 On October
Saturday 6, the dream of an important sector of the Spanish community came true as the doors of the Club opened finally for
business. The Club, conceived at the July 1961 meeting, born on
March 3rd, was now proudly introduced to social life. Beer was
on the house. At 8 p.m. people started dancing on the first floor,
to the strings of the Victor Barba orchestra.
On February 17, 1963, the first annual general meeting was
held. The new committee elected was still to be headed by Lasala,
although his position within it was not as strong as before.293 The
Club run into financial difficulties, particularly in the February June 1963 period, as the following Table shows, which further
eroded Lasalas prestige.294 The lack of funds, whether it was due
to embezzlement or mismanagement, created numerous conflicts
amongst the members. Lasala, the Committee, the SecretaryManager and the waiters were variously blamed by different
people, with more personal animosity than sound reasons. The
idyllic vision of 1962s community spirit quickly vanished.
Table 1.





Source: Spanish Club, Boletn de Noticias, num. 1, August 1964. SSCC.



Lasala confronted the problem in August 1963, taking three

measures. First, he appointed Rafael Martn as a Secretary-Manager,
after Jos Fernndez had tendered his resignation. Then, a new
position, Assistant-Manager, was created, being filled by Jos Luis
Goi. The third measure was to grant the lease of the dining
room to Grato lvarez. These changes only partially helped the
financial situation of the Club. During the year, the President
warned that he would not stand for re-election. He was criticized
by some members who argued he was out to make a pile at the
migrant expenses.295 His authority, undisputed during the 1961-62
period, was now under attack even within his committee. On
October 20, Lasala resigned. The immediate reason was a dispute
on that days committee meeting as to how to discipline certain
members, amongst them Oscar Gonzlez, who had written an
apparently offensive letter against Lasala to the Committee.
The new committee, elected after an extraordinary general
meeting requested by the members,296 found that the Club had
only been able to carry on because Lasala had guaranteed the
bank account overdraft. Sydney Stott, an Australian businessman
who had joined the Club some months before, was introduced
by Lasala to the manager of the ANZ Bank branch where the
Club had its account. A satisfactory arrangement was made with
the bank, who took a Bill of Sale over the Clubs assets as
security.297 The Club was still not able to pay the pokermachine
tax, due in December. Stott arranged that he and five others would
make personal loans to the Club, and so, that crisis was
overcome.298 The financial problems did not end here. In February,
all poker machines were broken into and robbed early one
morning. Burglar alarms had to be installed. The Committee also



Spanish Club 1965 Committee. Left to right, standing, Majarrs, Tricio,

Salas, Stott; sitting, Contreras, Hickey, Smith, S. Vivas and manager
Bertrand. Mrs Smith was the only Australian woman to sit on a
Spanish Club committee.

had to deal with discipline problems, the most dramatic being the
expulsion of Oscar Gonzlez, a decision taken on its meeting of
February 8. He was the fist member expelled, he would argue,
for thought crimes.299
In the next annual general meeting held on February 23, 1964,
that chose a new committee with Rafael Contreras as its president,
the Constitution was amended to ensure that 50 members signatures would be necessary to call a general meeting. During the
year, a very large amount of time was spent at committee meetings
dealing with matters of discipline, citing members to appear for
fighting and various breaches of the Clubs by-laws. A claim was



made from the Boletn de Noticias: We appeal to all to demonstrate their courtesy, chivalry, brotherhood, good harmony and
common sense during the coming celebrations. The Spanish Club
belongs to everyone, and we all have the right to enjoy its amenities
without anybody upsetting anyone else.300
Problems of this sort were not restricted to 1964. From the
beginning and well into the seventies, the situation was quite
similar. Often, members would not understand Australian laws.
They, for example, insisted on bringing their children to the bar
of the club. This could be normal practice in Spain, but was
against the law in Australia and the club risked its liquor license if
it did not enforce it. Another typical case was that of members
who would not want to leave the club premises at closing time.
There were clashes between members and employees of the club
which occasionally required police attention. Most often, these
incidents were caused by excessive alcohol consumption, the
strains and tensions of hard work and language isolation adding
to cultural misunderstandings.301
There were more crises in 1965. On January 31 the annual
general meeting took place, and the elected committee chose
Herminio Gonzlez as president. On March 14, an extraordinary
general meeting was held following the receipt of a letter alleging
that there were irregularities in the elections held in January. Although a vote of censure was lost, a lot of unrest remained. In
April, the decision of the secretary-manager Bertrand to dismiss
his assistant-manager began a dramatic chain of events. At a crucial
committee meeting held on the 11, the president and four members
resigned and Bertrands resignation, effective on April 30 was
received. To carry on, new office bearers were then appointed,



including Lancelot Hickey as the only native Australian president

in the clubs history to date. Once again, unrest and questions
of discipline resulted in a major upset. The highlight of his term
of office was the visit of the Spanish Davis Cup team to the club
in December 1965, on the evening after Manuel Santana defeated
Roy Emerson. The club benefited a great deal from the popularity
that surrounded the match, being visited by many Australians and
also by Spaniards who, until then, had ignored its existence.
On February 20, 1966 the annual general meeting named ngel
Lpez president of a committee of directors in which nobody
wanted to serve.302 The main issue at stake during this year was
whether to rent new premises, or buy Kent House.303 It was a
decision that could not be postponed for much longer, as Lasala,
who was the owner of the building, was going to sell it soon. On
September 14, an extraordinary general meeting was summoned
to debate and decide over the issue, and its purchase was approved
by 35 votes to 19.304 The negotiated price was: cash, on exchange,
16,650 dollars, thereafter quarterly instalments of 13,690 until
August 22nd 1969.305 After the purchase was approved, the ANZ
Bank advanced 50,000 dollars, secured by a first mortgage, to
allow the club to fire proof and modernize its lift, install fire
sprinklers and alter its second floor for the clubs use. The Kent
House floors not in use by the club were kept leased by its regular
users, the seventh floor, 405 square feet vacated by John Manners
to the Spanish Chamber of Commerce.306
After a period of apathy and poor attendance at general meetings,
the room again was packed with members for the next annual
meeting, held on February 20, 1967 that had such a formal chilly
atmosphere about it that created a certain hostility towards the



outgoing committee.307 In the sixties, and later, the atmosphere

at a meeting would usually be tense yet restrained while the regular
items on the agenda were dealt with. When, however, the moment
for Questions and Complaints arrived, things would deteriorate.
Minor problems could take hours to settle.308 Within the committees, the climate was not much better, and that would account for
the fact that, from 1965 to 1968, no one president completed his
term of office. Despite these problems, the Club was a great help,
especially for new settlers. Many left their baggage at the Club
when they arrived, until they found accommodation. They were
helped to find jobs. On occasion they were also helped to find
bail after having been arrested on minor charges.309
Table 2.



Mar. 62
Nov. 63
Apr. 64
Dec. 64
Dec. 65
Dec. 66
Jun. 66










Source: Sydney Stott Collection (SSC).

Table 2 shows the evolution of the number of members during

these first years. These figures show that, despite the halting of
the migration flow in March 1963, and despite mismanagement,
personal enmity and other problems, the club was able to fulfil its
aim: to give the scattered Spanish population a place of their
own, shaped by them, in which they could express themselves at



ease and both make and keep up contacts. On the weekends, the
restaurant and the dance floor were crowded. People came from
as far as Wollongong and Canberra to attend its functions.
As the number of members and the experience of the club
increased, so did the number of activities organized. From the
beginning, Spanish lessons for non-Spanish members were given,
at first on a voluntary basis. Pedro Matas was the first teacher,
later replaced by Luis Vivas. Free English classes were also conducted for Spanish members. Other activities held on the Club
premises at the time included: on Thursdays, movie screening or
other cultural activities; on Fridays, Cabaret Night with flamenco
shows or exotic dancers, jugglers, contortionists, puppets, singing
or dancing contests etc. On Saturdays and Sundays, ballroom
dancing.310 In August 1964, a first order for 175 Spanish books
was placed to form a library.
Playing cards was one of the favourite mens pastimes. The first
mus311 competition was organized in 1964 and won by Jos
Luis Herrera and Guillermo Redondo. They also liked to discuss
the governance of the club, or to form regional groups, competing
to see who outdid the others in singing and drinking. The Saln
de Seoras on the ground floor became, by January 1964, a cafeteria
decorated with murals by Jos Martn. This section of the Club
was to become extremely popular for the quality of its coffee.
While women were very active in the foundation of the Club,
their presence was less noticeable afterwards. From 1966 to the
mid seventies, no women were elected to the committees. Their
new roles as wives and mothers separated the Marta generation
from the politics of the club, although they were still active in
those subcommittees related to child rearing and education. A



much needed but yet insufficient baby-sitting service was opened

on the ground floor around this time.312
On April 19, 1964, the clubs first football match was held at
Moore Park, between single men, captained by Vctor Rodrguez
and married men captained by Julin Oriuela. Thenceforward,
soccer was another of its regular activities. Victor Rodrguez was
the captain of the clubs first soccer team to join the Soccer
Federation of NSW in April 1966, coached by Pepe Buenda, a
former professional footballer in Spain. Cndido Garca was then
on the Sports subcommittee.313
In the 1967-68 period, a choir and a rondalla were formed,
directed by Vctor Barba. From 1968, a teen-ager club for children
from 12 to 18 years of age was set up on the seventh floor, occupied
previously by the Spanish Chamber of Commerce. As a result, the
teaching of Spanish language and folklore (particularly regional
dancing) to the second generation developed much further.


On October 27, 1960, Australians interested in Spanish culture
formed the Sydney Hispanic Society. Its patron was the Philippines
Ambassador Mr. Ezpeleta, and the first meeting was held at the
Spanish Consulate in Cathona Av., Darling Point.314 Carlos Zalapa,
a Mexican businessman who was Consul of Brazil and for some
time monopolized the imports from Spain, mainly olive oil, was
its president for some years. 315 Similar societies appeared in
Canberra and Melbourne as well. They preceded the clubs, and
then ran a parallel existence with them. Were made up of middle
class people who held their meetings in English; migrants who



approached them soon found that, with some exceptions, they

did not fit in. These were in fact Australian societies, and as such
they do not fall within the scope of this study. It should be noted,
however, that in Sydney, many members of the Hispanic Society
joined the Spanish Club, to attend Spanish lessons, and some
(Sydney Stott, Lance Hickey) played an important role in its
Two other clubs appeared in Sydney in the early sixties, also
founded by the generation of migrants we are studying: the Centro
Asturiano de Sydney and the Gure Txoco,317 which were meant
to cater for the particular needs of migrants from two Spanish
regions, Asturias and the Basque provinces. They were not made
to compete with, but rather to complement the main Spanish
Club, and their members were often members of it. However,
sometimes there were tensions. These clubs were created because
their members felt that their identity was not totally preserved or
represented in the main club; the latter regretted their appearance
as it was seen as creating divisions and draining the effectiveness
for the whole community. A similar situation occurred in Melbourne
and Whyalla. 318
The Asturian Club held its first general meeting in June 1965, in
the Community Center Hall in King St., Newtown.319 Soon over a
hundred members joined it. They rented a building in 19 Boundary St., Rushcutters Bay,320 and elected a Junta presided over by
Benjamin Osorio, with Oscar Gonzlez as its secretary and treasurer.
After April 1967, the society dissolved itself, apparently due to
lack of voluntary effort.321
In 1965, more than half of the nearly 40 Spaniards working on
the building of the Opera House were Basques. It was there that



the idea of forming a Basque Club started. They counted on the

help of Ramn Peagaricano, an Argentinian born Basque who
had married an Australian woman in Germany. Although he lived
in Australia for only a short period, he influenced the shaping of
this club a great deal, and was also its first president. A place was
found in Liverpool St, Darlinghurst, and the first general meeting
was held there in April 1965. Twenty six foundation members
registered the club in October the same year. Among its social
activities were mus and pelota (they built a pelota court in the
backyard), weekend lunch in the club, and the annual celebration of the St. Ignatius festivities in Centennial Park.
The socialization patterns of the Spanish colony in Melbourne
were similar to those of Sydney. The newly arrived migrants (single
men, many of them doing seasonal jobs in the country, and single
girls, isolated by their domestic work) wanted to have a place of
their own to socialize, and to release the stress of hard work in an
alien environment. In November 1960, two years earlier than the
club in Sydney, there appeared the Centro Espaol of Victoria,
located on Spring St, Melbourne.322 The following year, its premises
moved to Swanston St. in front of the Town Hall. Settled immigrants
from the early fifties (Pepe Rosales, Salvador Torres) were of great
help. Antonio Saliba, Luis Ordez, Daniel Carrasco and Mart
were amongst the pioneers. In 1963 they rented a more permanent
site in Elizabeth St. on the corner of Lt. Lonsdale St. Ricardo Marcos
Bolita, a professional boxer who came to Australia in 1954 and
won the light-heavy weight championship title of Australia in
1956, 323 was its first president, with Antonio Fernndez vicepresident and Rafael Ramos secretary. At the next annual general
meeting on February 26, 1964, Antonio Ros, who came to Australia



A function in the Centro Espaol of Victoria in Elisabeth St, 1963. In

the middle, A. Gautier.

in November 1962, was elected president. At the time, the club

had 527 members, and by July this figure rose to 706.324 The
financial situation was not good, though. The rent was 173 pounds
a year, and the club was often in the red. These difficulties forced
them to find new premises on 238-40 La Trobe St. by May 1965. A
new Board of Directors elected in April 1965 and presided over
by Pedro Jimnez helped the club to survive during this difficult
The Centro Espaol opened daily, but it was only on weekends
and, particularly, on special occasions such as the festivities of
San Isidro, and Santiago, that the club was packed with over two
hundred members attending the functions. The Spaniards found
it hard to cope with the strict Victorian liquor regulations at that
time.325 The Club was allowed to sell alcohol only once a month.



On that day, a big and financially profitable party was organized.

Its social activities were similar to those of the Spanish Club in
Sydney, and were often brilliantly portrayed in the articles of
Manuel Valera for La Crnica.326 The highlight of this period was
the Gran Velada organized on the June 12, 1965, counting
amongst its attractions, the presence of a Spanish boxer, Hrcules,
who was then fighting in Melbourne. As in Sydney, problems of
discipline often arose. M. Valera describes one of them:
The most important attraction was never on stage, it was at the bar. It
is understandable that after a week of hard work, men look forward
to relieving their boredom and problems over a few drinks, but what
is unacceptable is that whilst enjoying those drinks, they pay no respect
whatsoever to the performers who are doing a real service to the
community, even if they are only amateurs.327

Two regional clubs were also founded in Melbourne. A Gure

Txoco appeared in 1964 trough the initiative of Juan Ugalde and
brothers Tomas and Antonio with Javier Iriondo. It was located in
Stable St. Unlike its counterpart in Sydney, it disappeared some
years later.328 In 1965, a Club Gallego was founded, with premises
next to the Central Market in North Melbourne. Jos Casal, its first
president, who arrived in 1962 explained to M. Valera the reasons
for its foundation: to remember, enjoy and show the dances,
music and customs of Galicia and for the pride of putting another
link on the chain of Gallician centres throughout the world. Its
aims: a good library, a choral society and a dancing group... Its
realities, according to the journalist: a good pote gallego, pulpo
da feira, ribeiro329 etc. so that galleguios and other Spaniards
too could curarse la morria, living so far away from their
In mid 1963, 70 Spanish migrants founded another club in



Geelong, Victoria. Samuel Nieto, correspondent for La Crnica

interviewed Joaquin Garca Navarro , who came to Australia in
the mid fifties, on the first anniversary of the Club:
Unity and interaction among us were the principles which prompted
its foundation. The idea was my own. I gathered a few Spaniards at
my place, and that was the birth of the centre which at present has
130 members, more than one third of the Spanish population in
Geelong. It was at my home that I was elected interim president.
Later on, at the first general assembly, I was ratified with a majority .
. . The main problem [of the club] is not being able to get a liquor
license. As you all know, we Spaniards always enjoy a drink. . . This
would all be solved by banning drinks but, as that would not be
possible, we will just have to wait and see.331

The club opened only on weekends, and occasionally on

Fridays. When Jimnez was President, and with the help of Father
Eduardo Snchez from Melbourne, the first classes for the children
of Spanish migrants ever organized for a social club in Australia,
were set up:
In the month of June, in Geelong, a childrens school for Spanish and
Religion was opened. The inauguration was celebrated in the presence
of some fifty boys and girls. The teacher began the way it should be:
with a prayer, that all the children and those present took up in
Spanish. Then, the chaplain Father Eduardo, addressed the group...332

Also in 1963, the Casa de Espaa was set up in Whyalla, South

Australia. Rafael Gonzlez, Juan Valero, Ceferino Gonzlez and
Fernando Recuero were amongst the foundation members. Disputes between people from Madrid and Andalucians and, later in
the sixties, the decreasing number of the Spanish colony, accounted
for their inability to buy their own premises, despite good conditions offered by BHP.333 Ceferino Gonzlez, who was its President in 1965, told La Crnica:



Fernndezs family with friends. When the photo was taken, in 1962,
J. Fernndez was vice-president of the Spanish Club. Fernando Largo,
front row, left, wrote on the back the following comments in 1965: 1.
J. L. Daz, vice-consul of Spain. 2. Mr and Mrs Fernndez. 3. Jorge
Jacobi, that goes back to Spain on February 18. 4. Valentn [Ugarte]
and girlfriend Barbara. 5. Two sisters from Madrid, one of them
married to a Czech philosophy professor. 6. J. L. Navarrete. 7. Anbal
[Estanillo]. 8. Francisco. Isabel will not let him alone. 9. Dulce, niece
of Fernndez. X. All Fernndezs family. Ester is the madrina of El
Espaol en Australia.

We do not have premises of our own. Committee meetings are held

weekly, each time in the house of one of its members. Every month
a party is held at the Viscount Slim Hall, usually attended by all
Spaniards resident in Whyalla. Admission is 30/- per couple, and 20/
- for singles, but I swear that included in this price are all the beer
and refreshments you can drink.334

The patterns in Canberra followed a different path. By Christmas

1964, classes for Spanish children were organized in the Ainslie



hostel. It was not until Christmas 1965 that, sparked by the tragic
death in a car accident of Andrs Morejn, the idea of a club was
seriously envisaged. Through the initiative of the Villegas brothers,
Eduardo Lamadrid, Jos Ortega, Sanjiau and many others, on
October 16, 1966, the Spanish-Australian Club of Canberra Inc
was founded. Political problems amongst its members, aggravated
by the setting up of a Spanish Embassy in 1967, diverted their
efforts, and it was not until 1971 that the land for building the
club was bought. Mximo Lpez, a Spanish refugee who came in
1952, through his construction company Lpez & Sons, helped to
erect the building. The club finally opened for business in August
The other big, stable colony of Spaniards was in Wollongong,
NSW. Probably due to the gravitational attraction of the Spanish
Club in Sydney, it was not until November 1968 that the creation
of a local social club began in earnest.336




Vice-Consul Daz, with the help of Frank Gallego, a former

Jesuit priest who settled in Sydney, edited a newsletter called El
Espaol. This was the first attempt to give the Spanish community
much needed information in their own language about news and
current affairs within the community, and in Spain and Australia.337
However, it was not until Saturday July 11, 1964 that the first
weekly newspaper in Spanish was launched. La Crnica, eight
pages, appeared in Melbourne, published by La Austral Espaola
de Publicidad. Its director was Manuel Perdices and its chief editor
Manuel Varela, both having come to Australia on board a KLM
flight arriving at Melbourne on December 12, 1962. They received
encouragement, technical help and numerous contributions from
a Spanish professional journalist, Frank Vzquez de Vivero, who
migrated to Australia, unassisted, in the late fifties.
Manuel Varela wrote most of the information concerning the
community, helped in this task by a network of correspondents,
including Alfonso Gonzlez and later Salvador Vivas from Sydney;
Jos Antonio Velasco from Wollongong; Samuel Nieto and then
Pedro Gil from Geelong; and Ceferino Snchez from Whyalla. E.
M. Ordonez, 17, wrote during the first year a chatty Pgina
femenina. Spanish clubs and businesses, particularly restaurants,
accounted for most of the advertising.
La Crnica is the best source of information about the
happenings in the community at the time. Its readers would, from
the first issues, argue so violently in its columns that the editors



opted to censor them, arguing that when one can not make any
sense of what is written or read, it is best to discuss it at the
pub.338 Two issues were the main focus of the polemic: the
community soccer team, and whether the migrants were misled
before their departure. Having financial problems from the
beginning, it once warned that from the first of January we shall
stop mailing issues to subscribers who have not paid up, their
names and addresses will be published so that everyone knows
who they are. At the same time, we will send this list to our
solicitor to begin the process of debt collection.339 The year 1965
brought a paper with two pages less, but a new interesting feature,
Los ripios de la semana, in which Valera tackled the explosive
community issues, this time in verse.
The launching of El Espaol en Australia, a fortnightly
publication of the same kind in Sydney, in March 1965, was a
serious drawback for La Crnica. It certainly did not greet the
appearance of the Sydney paper with enthusiasm; on the contrary, a bitter polemic broke out early in September.340 Despite
claiming 568 subscribers in Sydney alone, La Crnica could not
compete with El Espaol, which benefited from a better technical
organization. In April 1966, it announced that, due to changing
the typographic workshops, the paper would not appear for the
next three weeks.341 In fact, this was its last publication.
In the first issue of El Espaol en Australia, an independent
Australian-Spanish newspaper, Jos Fernndez, its founder and
editor during the sixties, stated the aim of the publication as being
to keep our manners and customs for the time we stay in this
country, so that the next generations do not feel themselves to
be foreigners within their own families.342 John Jakobi, who



published a German newspaper, offered Fernndez the use of his

technical equipment, in return for a share of the profits. Profits
never amounted to much, though, and Fernndez always had to
work outside the newspaper to support his large family.343 Although his community information never got close, in quantity,
quality or polemic effect, to that of Varela, he was able to maintain
a delicate equilibrium between the different tendencies in the
community. However, he did suffer criticism, and on occasions
physical and legal threats.
Apart from these two newspapers, there were other minor
publications in the sixties. Migrant chaplains distributed periodical
newsletters through their Missions. The most influential was that
of Father Snchez in Melbourne. Published monthly from June
1963, El Pilar (Santiago Apstol, Misin Espaola de Victoria,
Australia) publicized the views of Father Snchez on religion,
politics, Australian migration, attitudes to life etc. It also printed
information on the activities of the mission, and of interest for the
community: how to get married by proxy, claim relatives etc.
There was no mention, however, of community activities outside
the Mission. In 1969, Father Rico, who was posted to Sydney by
the CCEM in 1963, published Excelsior, a bimonthly paper. Carlos
Zalapa paid for most of the advertising. It was meant to compete
with El Espaol en Australia. In fact, it was published as a
consequence of a row between Rico and Fernndez. It failed in
this attempt and disappeared the following year, when Rico
returned to Spain.



Father Leonardo Hsu,

Chinito, presiding at
the wedding of Mara
Jos Ugarte and
Manuel Ingelmo,
Sydney, 1961.


According to the 1961 census, 80.66% of Spaniards resident in

Australia were Catholics.344 Lacking points of reference in their new
land (family, entertainment, language), religion was one of the few
things some migrants could rely on: there was still the same God, and
a similar liturgy. For them, the Church provided the link between the
perplexed individual and the unchanging deity.345



The priests in charge of the migration offices at a Diocesan

level, where possible, appointed priests with some knowledge of
Spanish for these newly arrived migrants. Father Tierney in Sydney
appointed Father Lenard Hsu OFM, to this task. Known as
Chinito, this Franciscan Chinese priest had studied in Onteniente,
Valencia, and, knew a little Spanish. Father Rafter in Melbourne
appointed the Jesuit Father Hallis, who also spoke some Spanish.
Whilst in this way the most urgent religious needs of migrants
(marriages, christenings, funerals) were catered for, the Australian
Church was not in a position to hold this Catholic community
together. The Spanish Government arranged with the CCEM to
send, first, Father Ormazbal to Queensland, and then three secular
nuns and Father Rico to Sydney. The Franciscan Order, for its
part, substituted Father Lenardo with Father Gonzalo Moreno,
later replaced by Father Benigno Martn, and then by Father Jos
Oss. It also appointed Father Eduardo Snchez to Melbourne.
Spanish Benedictine priests from the Abbey of New Norcia,
particularly Father Eugenio Prez, visited the Spanish subcolonies in South Australia and Western Australia.346
Father Ormazbal was, until his death in the early seventies, in
charge of the Spanish Catholic Mission in Tully, where he was
held in high esteem. He travelled all over North Queensland, and
wrote numerous articles that appeared in the publications of the
CCEM and the IEE. He organized social activities for the Spanish
colony at the Irish Club in Tully. Not only Spaniards benefited
from his presence: On Sundays I hold Mass twice in Dimbulah,
and a third one in a suburb called Mutchilba. I preach a small
sermon in English, and another much the same in Italian, because
it so happens that all these Spaniards already speak Italian, and



the Italians constitute by far the greater part of the audience.347

Father Moreno was not as popular in Sydney, and was soon
replaced by Father Benigno Martn in January 1961. Father Rico,
who arrived early in 1963, was the most influential priest in Sydney
in the sixties. His pastoral zeal was, however, flawed by the lack
of financial support from the CCEM as well as from the FCIC and
its Diocesan body.348 He said Mass in St. Francis Church in Albion
Street on Sundays and religious holidays, and during the week
visited families, hospitals, gaols etc. He spent one week each
month in Wollongong. A more colourful character, Father Snchez
arrived in Melbourne in January 1962, and soon managed to gather
around his Mission a group of Spaniards that was referred to as
el club del cura, totally independent from the Centro Espaol in
Victoria. He said Mass in the Cathedral at 5 p.m. on Sundays, and
two Sundays a month went to Geelong.
Australian institutions acting for the welfare of migrants were
not well developed in the early sixties, and in any case the Spanish
migrants, isolated by the language barrier, could not make much
use of them. Their welfare needs were mostly catered for by the
Spanish chaplains, in Sydney with the help of Paquita Bretn and
the other two nuns. They visited periodically the Spanish internees
in hospitals and gaols. They provided much needed counselling
and sympathy when individual migrants passed through psychologically depressive periods. They often mediated between
husband and wife, and between parents and children, when marital
or generational conflicts arose. These family feuds were frequent,
with the migrants living between two quite opposite systems of
values, the Spanish authoritarian as opposed to the Australian



Priests felt that to better fulfil their spiritual mission, they should
take care of these welfare tasks. For doing it properly, they needed
financial support, and they sought it from the IEE via the Consulate
in Sydney. The first letter asking for such help, came from the Spanish
Mission in Victoria, and was also signed by Father Benigno. They
asked for a Mission Centre in Sydney and another in Melbourne,
with a chaplain office, a welfare office, twenty-five beds, a childrens
school and a hall to hold parties.350 Without them, the priests argued,
migrants would feel no protection and would drift away from their
Christian morals and their Patria. Soon after his arrival,351 Rico
insisted on the idea, arguing that the social club could not fulfil its
purpose, and stating that the cost of such a Mission, in Sydney,
would be about 5,850,000 pesetas, or 45,000 pounds.
Consul de la Riva did not endorse the priests demands. He
believed that it would solve only a minimal part of the problem. He
proposed instead that the chaplains direct people to their respective parishes, and then travel to meet their spiritual needs, rather
than ask the migrants to come to the chaplains centre. Paradoxically
enough, as the Consul himself recalled, he seemed to focus on the
spiritual well-being of the community, while the priests main concern
was at the temporal level.352
The Consulate channelled the help of the Spanish Government,
via IEE, to the social clubs and other organizations of the Spaniards
in Australia and Consuls used this help as a weapon to gain some
control over the them. Whilst the clubs of Geelong and Whyalla
maintained cordial relations with the Consulate,353 those in the major
cities were always a source of problems.
Vice-Consul Daz, nicknamed Consuln within the Spanish
community in Sydney, who was in charge of consular affairs prior



to the arrival of de la Riva in March 1963, tried to gain some

leadership over the community by joining in the efforts to found
a club in Sydney. As his voice was not very influential, he ceased
to attend the meetings and was expelled from the committee.354
After that, Consuls divorced themselves from the club. Not even
the temperate de la Riva trusted Lasala or the club.355 The Spanish
Club was organized as a business by an Australian who claims to
be of Spanish origins, wrote de la Riva.356 His successor, Manuel
Garca, treated Lasala as a mysterious character of uncertain
ancestry, who made a fortune trafficking in the ports of the Pacific.
The club was even feared, and, in Garcas words, was seen as a
conceited, vociferous and quarrelsome flock that I keep at a
respectable distance, and with an enmity towards us that grows
or diminishes according to the different boards of directors, but
that does not change. Books and school stationery were
sometimes given to it to maintain a precarious and insubstantial
contact.357 This situation did not change until a democratic government sat in Madrid.
Relations between the Consulate and the clubs in Melbourne
were no better. The Centro Espaol was apolitical; the club del
cura was loyal to the Franco regime but Father Snchez was
never liked in the Consulate. Not even in 1969, when he managed
to attract the mainstream community in Melbourne to his Hogar
Espaol, after buying a building in Johnston St. with money from
the IEE that had not been channeled through the Consulate. Consul
Garca accused him of using short and encouraging
correspondence [from the IEE] for his own interest, and against
any control, saying that the funds at his disposal were incorrectly,
if not dishonestly, employed.358



The relationship between the Consulate and the clubs can not
be fully understood without considering another social force that
operated within the community: that of the militant anti-Francoist
Spaniards. Some of these were refugees, who came from Europe
through the IRO and the ICEM in the early fifties; others, assisted
migrants who filtered through the tight political screening done
by the Spanish Government and the Australian Mission in Spain.
Anarchists and Socialists predominated in the former group, communists in the latter. Whilst the political refugees tended to remain apart from mainstream assisted migrants, the others, on the
contrary, despite their lack of formal organizations, developed a
non-sectarian, intelligent approach which had a lot to do with the
apolitical character (that at the time meant anti-Francoist) of the
clubs in Sydney, Melbourne, and later in the sixties, in Canberra.
It is to their credit that the Spanish community in Australia was
and remained as a whole apolitical as well.359
Only a few politically active Franco supporters came to Australia.
The leftists had the advantage of being better prepared, if for no
other reason than for having had to defend their opinions against
the wave and with extreme care for so long. On the other hand,
the Francoists had an easier task, as they only had to refer to
patria, bandera, and anti-Communism, all those stimuli that
Spaniards had been so conditioned to, to attract peoples attention. They succeeded only in Melbourne, where Sanjiau and Adolfo
Jimnez managed to split the Centro Espaol and attract some
tens of members for their Club Hispano Australiano -los de la
bandera.360 When Father Snchez, another Francoist activist, made
his second coming to found the Hogar Espaol, and los de la
bandera joined him, the Centro Espaol was left a minority, and
referred to as el club de los comunistas.361



During the sixties, the anti-Francoists were gaining confidence,

and Anarchists, Socialists, Communists and others joined together,
outside the clubs, with more political aims. Then, the Free Spain
Committees appeared. Later, the Centro Democrtico Espaol
(CDE) was founded in Sydney. Its aim was: The union of Spanish
democrats or those of any other nationality, for a cultural and
social undertaking that allows them to emancipate themselves
intellectually and socially, and for the fostering and defense of
the democratic spirit.362
In Sydney, they held monthly meetings on the premises at 531533 George St., and, on occasions, conferences and other cultural
activities.363 Along the same lines, a Grupo Democrtico Espaol
was formed in Canberra. The precarious equilibrium between
Anarchists and Communists within these organizations did not
last long. From 1968, communists founded Solidaridad con
Comisiones Obreras364 groups, and later, their own Spanish
Communist Party branch in Australia. In the meantime, all antiFrancoists took part jointly in May 1 rallies, and other
demonstrations organized to protest against some political situations
in Spain.
In February 1967, Rafael Guijarro, 23, a student, threw himself
out of a window at the University of Madrid, while being sought
by the police. Then, on February 18, at noon, about a hundred
persons demonstrated in front of the Spanish Consulate, at
Rushcutters Bay.365 It was the first time something of this kind
had happened in Australia, and caused distress within the community. A polemic arose in El Espaol en Australia. Those who
were against it, argued that disturbances would not help to create
a good image of Spain in this country, and protested against the



presence of Australians and Spaniards without Spanish nationality

in the rally. On the other hand, CDE members stated their right of
freedom of expression in a democratic country.366
Also in Sydney, on February 15, 1968, about thirty Spaniards
of scruffy aspect, long hair, grown barb and ragged clothes367
protested against the state of emergency declared by Franco. Demonstrations took place in Canberra, in July 1967, at the opening of
the Spanish Embassy. Again in December 1970, there were protests
in Canberra and Sydney against death sentences for Basque nationalists. In Sydney, about sixty demonstrators scuffled outside
the new premises of the Consulate at Darling Point, as police
tried to arrest a man who had torn the brass plaque of the Consulate
from its door:
constables lost their caps during the brawl. One constable battled
with four men, and was almost beaten to the ground . . . After fighting
had gone on for about five minutes, the man who had been carrying
the plaque was taken away by his friends, screaming and clutching
his stomach.368




Cultural and linguistic barriers prevented the Spaniards of this

generation from quickly assimilating into Australia. From the
beginning, the expectations of the Australian people and Governments and those of the migrants did not match well. This was
consequence of the exaggerated propaganda of Australian officials in Spain, and of the exaggerated imagination of migrants
who thought that after a few years of hard work they could return
wealthy to Spain.
When Australian officials scoured Spain for workers, they were
looking for settlers rather than for temporary migrants. Migrants
were not concerned with Australian economic logistics. They came,
generally speaking, because they were not happy with their present
or future economic situation in Spain, and they found a cheap
way of leaving it behind. Most migrants started their trip with the
idea of coming to Australia on a sort of a two year working
holiday.369 For many, the goal was to save enough money for a
flat. There was a serious housing shortage in Spain, with slums
areas growing rapidly on the outskirts of the big cities. Others,
more ambitious, thought that by working a few more years in
Australia they could finance a small business in Spain.
Some migrants achieved their goal. Most often, however, their
expectations on leaving Spain did not match with the reality they
found in Australia, and plans had to be rearranged. It was not as
easy to return as it was to come here and that, we have seen,
created some distress within the community. Having decided to
stay for a longer period, many migrants now started seen certain



problems in a new light. This was the case with language, the
major barrier preventing them from fully joining mainstream
society. The language problem was shared in Australia with many
other migrant groups; however, it was a specific problem of the
Spanish emigration. Long distance emigration went traditionally
to Latin America, where the language barrier was not as important. As guest workers in Western Europe, Spaniards were
surrounded by thousands of compatriots, and they could always
spend holidays in their home towns. In the Australia of the early
sixties, for the Spaniards the language related problems went
together with a deep sense of isolation. 370
Learning the language was considered by most migrants to be
an insurmountable task. With thoughts of a return to Spain, they
found it more important to make money than to spend time in
such unproductive activity as attending classes. English classes
were conducted at the Spanish Club of Sydney from the beginning, but they did not prove popular: One always hears it said
that the biggest problem in Australia is the language. Nevertheless, because of the tiny number of students who attend the English
classes it seems that the greater part of our members speak write
and understand the English language perfectly.371
James Jupp wrote in 1966:
Until a migrant can cope with the English language, he can not hope
to be anything other than a labourer. He may be exploited by his
fellow countrymen either as employers, as traders, or as guardians of
his interests. He will be unable to apply for hospital benefits . . . or
for industrial injury redress. He will only be able to get a drivers
license illegally, through the various agents who operate in the
capital cities . . . the language barrier is the greatest single factor
keeping [migrants] in the lower-paid, heavier jobs.372



The Costa Brava was the most popular Spanish restaurant in Sydney
during the mid sixties.

This certainly applied to the Spanish group. All migrants suffered

from this lack of command in the English language, particularly at
work. On many occasions, they had to pretend to know enough
English to keep a job; however, they were guessing rather than
understanding the instructions given to them by foremen and coworkers. Their relations with supervisors, fellow workers, unions
and neighbours were poor, and often nonexistent. They found
refuge within their own community. They tended to rely on fellow
nationals to find work and accommodation, or to buy a car or a
washing machine. Sometimes this led to misunderstandings, or
clearly unfair dealings, proving true what Consul de la Riva wrote
once: The worst enemy of the migrant is the migrant that preceded



For linguistic reasons, Spaniards tended also to rely on Italians.

They formed, in fact, a sub-group within the larger Italian group.
The important role of Italians was acknowledged by Manuel
Perdices in La Crnica: In any office, shop or factory, in any
town or village, or even in the most distant farm, there would be
an Italian. He has always helped us, when we had had problems
with English. We have always relied on them, although, on
occasion, we have been deceived by them... They create a problem
for us: that related to our slow progress in English, as we find
Italian easier and more entertaining. 374 Varela, in his more direct
style, pointed out one of the problems with Italian... lawyers:
they manage to half understand us, yet charge us the full fee.375
During the early sixties, Spaniards were sometimes employed
in small businesses of Italian origin (travel agencies, real state
offices, driving schools and others). Because of the lack of
command of English, the whole community tended to channel
their needs through them. In country areas (Myrtleford in Victoria,
North Queensland), a petrol station or a milk bar run by Spaniards
with some command of English would become the centre of
community life.
In the cities, apart from the clubs, Spanish restaurants centred
this community life. Restaurants were the most noticeable
businesses Spanish migrants engaged in. By 1960, there were
already two Spanish restaurants in Sydney, Madrid in Neutral
Bay and El Patio in Double Bay. After the opening of the Club,
many appeared around it, the Costa Brava being the most popular
of them. Founded by Amado Pieiga and Grato lvarez, it was
very well-known in Sydney, by Australians as well, and its fame
even reached Spain: In the Costa Brava we [the Spanish tennis



team and entourage for the Davis Cup in 1965] have eaten garlic
prawns, we have sung jotas and we have talked about bullfighting. Amado has put tourist posters up on the walls, and bullfighting
sketches. He serves cider, escancindola376 into the glass from
very high up, with style.377
Closely related to the activities of the restaurants and the clubs
were those of the entertainers, who also played an important role
in further tightening the bonds that joined together the Spanish
community in the early sixties.378 Artists and sportsmen (Luisillo
and Solera de Jerez, boxer Hrcules and others) touring
Australia also made an impact in the community life. Particularly
important was the arrival of tennis player Manolo Santana in
December 1965, to play the finals of the Davis Cup in Brisbane.
His victory against Roy Emerson, Australias number one, gave
the Spaniards an awareness of their own bonds as a community
and a sense of pride in belonging to it, and gave the Australians
an occasion to know and appreciate them.379
However, relations between Australians and Spaniards, were
not always as cordial as depicted by the press at the end of 1965.
Spanish migrants were still seen as foreigners at the lower ranks
of the social ladder and speaking a language Australians could
not understand. Out of this, some cases of discrimination against
Spaniards arose. This was part of the general trend of discrimination against New Australians of Mediterranean background.
Spaniards felt this discrimination at work, in the neighbourhood
and on the streets. Non English speaking migration was not accepted by the Australian working class on equal terms. As G.
Collins explains:
Non-British immigration was from the outset pitchforked into manual



labour, dumped in outback concentration camps, and regarded as

foreigners and cheap labour. Moreover, because they were working
at manual jobs which Australians did not want, the reserve army of
immigration workers was seen as separate from, not part of, the
Australian working class.380

OGradys Theyre a weird mob depicts some of the current

attitudes of Australians towards migrants on account of their
language problems:
All that is needed is the will to learn. Well, dont be bludgers. Hop in
and learn. Ive heard parents in shops talking to kids in their homeland
language, and the kids translating into English and making the
purchases. This is disgraceful. Those parents should be bloody
ashamed of themselves. It makes me very irritable...381

Many Spaniards can recall such attitudes: the use of the Spanish
language in public places was usually the source of conflict.
Cultural misunderstandings such as singing outside the clubs lead
on occasion to police harassment. There were some cases in which
this discrimination against Spaniards bore more dramatic
consequences. Manuel Valera wrote one of his famous Ripios de
la Semana382 as well as an editorial on the problem:
Last week, five Spanish young men driving back from visiting friends
at Geelong were attacked by a gang of long-haired youngsters. Some
months ago it was another Spaniard who died in mysterious
circumstances which have not yet been clarified.383 Not long ago,
another Spaniard hung between life and dead in a hospital, with
massive head injuries. We know of similar cases in Sydney.384

In December 1965, Pilar Herrero, 23, who arrived in Australia

in 1962 and was in her fifth month of pregnancy, was savagely
bashed by an unidentified man who followed her for about 200
metres, when returning from her evening shift work at 11.30
p.m. I could not clearly understand what my attacker said to me



as he hit me, but he shouted something about New Australians,

Pilar declared later to La Crnica. She worked on the evening
shift because I have a little boy, so this way he spends only a
very short time alone, before his father comes home.385
It was, however, the death of Jos Mara Bilbao on July 21,
1972, which caused the most distress within the Spanish colony.
Bilbao, 45, who had arrived to Australia in 1959, was arrested and
charged with unseemly words in the centre of Sydney. On the
following morning he briefly appeared before M. Farquhar, CMS,
just before being sent to Sydney Hospital where he died on the
same day, as a consequence of injuries produced the night before
while in police custody. The two police constables charged with
the murder, Terry G. Swift, 21, and Peter G. Abel, 20, were acquitted
on August 25 because of lack of evidence. The fact that such
crime remained unpunished was felt by the Spanish colony as an
act of discrimination against them. According to an unverifiable
story widely circulated within the Spanish community, the death
of Bilbao while in police custody was also due to language
misunderstanding; the unfortunate immigrant, while being beaten,
screamed repeatedly basta, meaning stop, but that was
interpreted by his guardians as bastard..386
If only sporadic, such incidents, which were experienced in a
multitude of variations, made the Spanish community feel
unwelcome in Australia and this, adding to the language difficulties,
reinforced for many the desire to return. Certainly, the Spanish
community looked to those who did return with envy. If we
were to write up the first ten years of [the Spanish Clubs] life in
detail, we could write many volumes, that would tell of the
nostalgia and the hopes of those who arrive, and the joys of those



returning, 387 wrote at the beginning of the seventies Senn

Hurtado, then its president.
Eager to return to Spain as soon as possible, making a killing
was the approach many migrants took towards their Australian
sojourn. In an article The migrants who starve for their families,
this point was acknowledged in the Sydney Morning Herald with
reference to all South European migrants. They were the real
poor of Sydney, the Herald argued, mentioning how they lived
together to save costs in accommodation, worked overtime or
had many jobs etc. One Spanish migrant worked so hard over 18
months that he sent his wife back home 7 pounds a week and
still managed to save 1,800 towards a house.388
Anecdotes from interviews are numerous. One of the best known
is that of the Sastres389 brothers. They each had two full time
jobs, one in Roseberry, the other in Abbotsford; they slept on the
train between jobs, and carried an alarm clock to know when the
time for leaving the train had arrived.390 Working long hours and
depriving themselves of all comfort, many migrants managed to
save more than the average local worker, and this was sometimes
a source of resentment among Australians.391
It is very difficult to quantify how many migrants returned to
Spain. S. L. Thompson has estimated that 33.5 per cent of all the
Italians who came to Australia in the sixties went back home; the
percentage of Spanish returnees should be similar.392 Nor is it easy
to know whether those who returned were more successful than
those who stayed. Many migrants managed to go back to Spain in
the mid sixties and these were probably amongst the luckiest.
Thanks to migration, they could fulfil those objectives -the flat,



the small business- that brought them to Australia.393 On the other

hand, those who stayed in Australia, particularly if skilled or white
collar workers, know that had they remained in Spain, their social
status would not have been much different.
For the migrant from this period still residing in Australia, about
forty years have already passed since they first landed in the
country. Their language problem is not as important now as it
used to be, their make a killing approach has given way to a
more stable lifestyles, and they generally feel more welcome now
in a country where multicultural policies have eased racial tensions,
at least for the Southern European people. Spaniards have learned
to cope with their new environment and to become a part of it.
They still keep their Spanish ways, as much as the rules of good
neighbourhood allow, and grow older in the company of a few
good friends, sometimes those they first met on the ship that
brought them here. A second generation has grown up and has
provided these pioneers with roots in Australia which they lacked
before. Occasionally, once or twice, they have gone to Spain on
holidays, and they have realized that fitting back into their home
country would not be easy.
They still buy the typical turrn and mazapn at Christmas,
and a ticket in the Spanish national lottery, hoping Luck will
strike again in Australia, as it did in December 1986, with Jos
Nunez, 61, who arrived in 1962 and spent most of his hardworking
life in the tobacco fields of Myrtleford. Nez won the Gordo
(475 million pesetas). The news of this event hit the front pages
of all the Spanish daily newspapers. Through the words of Joss
sister Concha, one of the most outspoken members of the Nunezs
family in Spain, we can glance, once again, at the way relatives



and friends of the migrants in Spain, shared with them their

Australian adventure:
He went there looking for a job. Working in Australia he was
gored by a bull which tore him to shreds. All those who went
came back, except him, because in that jungle there are many
animals, and life is very hard. My brother has been through a





On occasion, the maiden name is given.

Commonwealth Bureau of Census and Statistics, Commonwealth
Year Book, 1962.
Ibid., 1964.





Commonwealth Year Book, num. 44, 1958, p. 348.

Excellent overviews on Australian post-war. immigration can be
found in G. Sherington, Australias Immigrants, George Allen and
Unwin, 1980, ch. 5, and J. Wilson and R. Tosworth, Old Worlds, New
Australia, Penguin Books Australia, 1984, ch, 1.
J. A. Biescas and M. Tunon de Lara, Espaa bajo la Dictadura
Franquista, Labour, Barcelona, 1960, ch. II and IV. Also, J. Ros
Hombravella, Capitalismo Espaol: Politica Economica Espaola
(1959 - 1973), Barcelona, 1979.
J. A. Biescas, op.cit., pp. 88-91.
The earlier basic legal codes were the Emigration Law of December
12, 1907 and the Act of December 20, 1924.
Instituto Espaol de Emigracin, Memoria, 1956 and 1959.
Decree 1000/1962 of March 3.
The point of fiction was that the US Congress only allowed countries
that recognized the rights of the people to move freely to join the
conference, if the US was to provide financial assistance.
US, Canada, Germany, Denmark, Belgium, Venezuela, Austria,
France, Luxembourg, Paraguay, Israel, Costa Rica,, Norway, Italy,
Switzerland, the Netherlands, Australia, Greece, Chili and Brazil. By
the early sixties had also joined it Argentina, Bolivia, Colombia,
Malta, Spain and the United Kingdom.
F. Bastos de Roa, Immigration in Latin America, Washington D.C.,
1964, pp. 235-240.
M. Rothvoss y Gil, op. cit., pp. 20-22.
Carta de Espaa, June, 1961








Ibid., November, 1961.

Monsignor. Montini, foundational letter, in Migration News, JulyAugust 1961, num. 4, p. l.
J. J. Norris, The Tenth Anniversary of the ICMC, in ibid., JulyAugust 1961, pp. 1-2.
ICMC, Third International Migration Congress, 1957, Geneva, 1957,
p. 36.
Spain. CCEM, in Migration News, num. 5, 1957, p.21.
Confederation Catlica Espaola de Emigracin, Mensaje del Dia del
Emigrante, Madrid, 1962.
The financial arrangements were most favorable to the migrant. In
1959, for example, the voyage was free for migrants from group A
(husband/wife, children under 18, and fiancees married by proxi);
group B (parents, sons and daughters over 18, grand parents and
grand children) paid 1,800 pesetas; group C (other relatives and coworkers), 3,000 pesetas; the reclaimants paid US $40 in each case.
M. Rothvoss y Gil, op. cit.,pp. 20-26.
Monsignor P. M. ODonell in ICMC, International Catholic Migration
Congress, 1954, Geneva, 1954, p.83.
Australia. FCIC, in Migration News, num. 5, 1957, p. 5. Also, G, M
Crennan, The Tasks of Catholic Organizations in Overcoming
Opposition to Immigration, Ibid., num. 6, pp. 1121.
Memorandum, November 15, 1955, Sydney Consulate Collection
(SCC). The Abbey of New Norcia was founded in 1847 by the
Spanish Dom Rosendo Salvado OSB. Spanish monks have been
serving in the Abbey since. See, R. Salvado, The Salvado Memoirs,
University of Western Australia Press, 1977, and A. Grassby, The
Spanish in Australia, A. E. Press, Melbourne, 1983, pp. 39-43.
Direccion de Emigracin Asistencia Social (DEAS) to Consul, November 4, 1955. SSC.
Consul to DEAS, November 18, 1955. SSC.
Acting Secretary Department of Immigration to Consul, December
20, 1955. SCC.
This clause was still on the Italian Agreement of 1951, although, as
the Consul suggested, it was not in use. It did not appear in the final
Agreement signed with Spain in 1957.
Consul to, DEAS, January 14, 1956. SCC.
Consul to DEAS, April 26, 1956.
Monsignor Crennan to Consul, April 19, 1956. Federal Catholic







Immigration Committee Collection (FCICC).

Consul to Ministro de Asuntos Exteriores, April 23, 1956.
Consul to DEAS, April 26, 1956.
J. Ling, Non-Britishs in Australia, Melbourne University Press, 1935,
pp. 132-135.
A. Grassby, op. cit., pp. 150-60.
On the Basque emigration at the beginning of the Century see
McCall, G. E., Basque-Americans and a Sequential Theory of Migration and Adaptation, San Francisco State College, 1968.
Grassby, op. cit., p. 52.
On the incidence of the Spanish Civil-War. on the Spaniards living in
Queensland, see D. Menghetti, The Red North, James Cook University of Norbah Queensland Press, Townsville, 1981, pp. 67-75.
Ibid., January 15, 1957, p. 770.
Australian Sugar Journal, September 15, 1956, p. 492.
D. Hull, Capitalist Technology and -the Division of Labour Towards
a Working Class Response, Third National Political Economy Conference, Adelaide, September, 1978, pp.16-30.
Australian Sugar Year Book, April 1957-March 1958, p. 97.
Australian Sugar Journal, 1956, P. 35.
Ibid., num. 43 April5l-March 52 p. 85, Ibid., num.44, April 1952March 1953 p. 155, Ibid., um 45, April 1953- March 1954, p. 108.
Ibid., num. 43, p. 155.
Ibid., December. 15, 1954.
Ibid., November 15, 1954, p. 507.
Australia. Parliamentary Debates. House of Representatives, September 23, 1954Australian Sugar Journal, November 1954, p. 507.
Ibid., January 1955, p. 649.
Australian Sugar Year Book, April 1956-March 1957, p. 24.
Australian Sugar Journal, August 1955, p. 405.
Australian Sugar Year Book, April 1956-Ma-rch 1957, p. 123.
Ibid. , p. 101.
Ibid., April 1954-March 1955, p. 99.
Ibid., April 1956-March 1957, p. 76.
The Times. January 21, 1956, p. 7Australian sugar Journal, January 1957, p.770.
Interview with Jess Uriguen, July 20, 1966.
Australian High Commissioner in London to Spanish Ambassador in







London, April 15, 1957. SCC.

Australia, Treaty Series, 1951, No. 12, Agreement between Australia
and Italy for Assisted migration, Department of External Affairs,
In comparison with the Italian Agreement, of 1951: Australia 25
pounds, Italy 25, migrant 70.
Memorandum, June 4, 1957. SCC.
Instituto Nacional de Emigracin, Informe sobre las areas de
reclubamiento de cortadores de cana para Australia, June 4, 1957.
Director General IEE to High Commissioner in London, June
10,1957. SCC.
Director General IEE to Consul, July 10, 1957. SCC.
J. Lying, op. cit., pp. 5; 10-111- 22; 94; 107; J. Wilson, op. cit., pp. 56.
S-Sydney Morning Herald, March 9, 1960, p. 8.
Memorandum, July 15, 1957. SCC.
Consul to DEAS, September 12, 1957. SCC.
Facerias ceiught, Sydney Morning Herald, September, 8, 1957,
p. 67.
Ibid., March 30, 1957, p. 5.
Ibid., December 21, 1957, p. 3.
Ibid., September- 21, 1957, p. 34. Also, 20 year old model Judith M.
Roberts, arrested for wearing her blue bikini: the court was packed
for the trial . . . there was a lot of discussion and people laughed a
great deal, ibid., November 1, 1959, p. 21, and others.
Ibid., May 15, 19.57, p. 3, May 16, 1957, p. 2.
500 Spaniards sought for Australia, ibid., July 7, 1957 p.1, Holt
ends visit to Spain. Discussed pilot, scheme in Madrid, Sun Herald,
Jul 14, 1957, Coming home. Holt left Lording via Spain, Sun
Pictorial, July 13, 1957, Australia seeking Spanish migrants, Age,
Melbourne, July 12, 1957 Holt to Spain, Courier Mail, Brisbane,
July 13, 1957, 500 Spanish Migrants Plan, Sun, July 12, 1957, We
ask for Spanish migrants, Melbourne Herald, July 13, 1957.
Director General IEE to Consul, July 15, 1957. SCC.
Sydney Morning Herald, July 28, 19.57, p. 11.
Consul to Ministro de Asuntos Exteriors, January 29, 1958.SCC.
Sydney Morning Herald, August, 4, 1957, p. 9.
Director General IEE to Consul, November 30, 1957. SCC.
Consul to Director General IEE, October 24, 1957. SCC.





Consul to Ministro de Asuntos Exteriores, November 25, 1957. SCC.

Director General IEE to Consul, November 21, 19.57. SCC.
Head secretary of the Department, of Immigration to Director tour
General IEE, December 4, 1957. SCC.
Director. General IEE to Consul, March 23, 1958. SCC. Applicants
from Huesca and Teruel were probably residing in the Basque
The Catholic Weekly, June 12, 1958.
Director General IEE to A. Urberuaga, April 16, 1958. SCC.
Chief of operations CIME to Consul, June 11, 1958.SCC.
Director General IEE to Consul, June 13, 1958. SCC.
Consul to Director General IEE, January 30, 1958. SCC.





CIME to Director General IEE, August 12, 1960. Comit

Intergubernamental para las Migraciones Europeas Collection
Carta de Espaa, December 1960, p.b.
Sydney Morning Herald, November 21, 1960, p.8.
Carta de Espaa, July 1962, p. 4.
Ya, May 13, 1960, pp. 1 and 4, May 14, 1960, pp. 1-2.
Sydney Morning Herald, June 20, 1959, p. 4.
Digest, 1960, p. 15.
Australia. Parliamentary Debates, Senate, November 8, 1960, p.
Wives and dependent children under eighteen, unmarried sisters and
fiancees eighteen or over.
Consul to DGACE, February 2, 1961. SCC.
Secretary Department of Immigration to Consul, February 28, 1961.
The trades in demand were: fitters, machinists, sheet metal workers,
welders, toolmakers, tractor mechanics, boilermakers, turners,
electrical fitters, panel beaters etc. The Spanish workers required a
minimum of three years of school training and five years experience.
L.H. Hayes, Jefe de Operaciones CIME, January 30, 1962. APC.
Sydney Morning Herald, November 21, 1960, p. 8.
The Bonegilla riots of July 1961 and other problems related particu-







larly to the placement of skilled workers, delayed for some months

the signature of a new Migration Treaty between Australia and Italy,
and lowered the Italian intake. See J. Wilson and R. Tosworth, op.
cit., pp. 72 and 172-173.
Serrano Carvajal, J., Montoya Melgar, A., La Emigracin a Europa,
Madrid, 1965, p. 8.
DEAS to Consul, June 6, 1962. SCC.
Internal migration affected 3,339,000 people during the sixties, 10
per cent of the total Spanish population. J. A. Biescas, op. cit., p. 77.
Interviews with Valentne Hudak, August 11, 1986, and Cristina
Ferrando, April 26, 1987. APC.
When closing the frontier, all the Spaniards working in Gitraltar
found themselves unemployed. Many of them came to Australia. The
Fairsea group that landed in Melbourne in November 1962, and
some other groups that arrived by plane at the end of 1962, all came
from la Linea de la Concepcion. Interviews with Maximiliano Prez,
April 25, 1986, and Justo Martn, April 16, 1987. APC.
On fascists rejecting migration on ideological grounds, Wilton ;and
R. Bosworth, op. cit., pp. 69-71.
J. A. Garca Trevijano, Problernatica de la Emigracin Espaola,
Madrid, 1963, p. 7.
Ibid., p. 47.
EE, Memoria, 16:3, g. 94.
CIME, Australia, SSC.
ICEM, Practical English for domestics, February 1961, 8
CIME, Curso de Capacitacion para el servicio domestico, 64 pp. APC.
More information on the courses in International Migration,
Geneva, vol. II, 1962, num. 1, pp 37-51.
CIME, Australia, printed, 19 pp., APC.
Sydney Morning Herald, June 25, 1961, p. 35.
Ibid. , July 18, 1961, p. 1.
On the Bonegilla riots of 1952, see R. Bosworth, Conspiracy of the
Consuls? Official Italy and the Bonegilla riot of 1952, Historical
Studies, vol. 22, no. 89, October 1987, pp. 547-568.
Sydney Morning Herald, July 18, 1961, p. 1.
Ibid., July 19, 1961, p. 1.
Ibid., pp. 2 and 8.
Ibid., July 31, 1961, p. 4.
Ibid., August 16, 1961, p. 12.







Vice Consul to DGACE, November 2, 1961. SCC.

Interview with A. Rincn, July 11, 1986. APC.
Sydney Morning Herald, September 8, 1961, p. 4.
Ibid., September 12, 1961, p. 10.
Vice Consul be DEAS, June 20, 1962. SCC.
John McIlwrait, Spaniards wonder- which way ball will bouce,
Western Australian Weekend News, Nov.3, 1962 p. 10.
No Spaniards in the West, Bulletin, February 29, 1964. Al Grassby,
op. cit., p. 70, sets the date on one sunny April Saturday afternoon
in 1964, which must be a typing error meaning 1963; in an interview with Francisca Corral, April 25, 1987, APC., she said she was
present at a demonstration held in this camp on Christmas Eve,
1962, giving as an immediate cause of the demonstration the bad
quality of the food. The report of the consulate that follows agrees
with Mrs. Corral in the likely date in which the demonstration took
Informe sobre la emigration Espaola a Australia, December 30,
1962. SCC. Ten months of total stoppage is obviously another of
the gross exaggerations of Daz we are to refer to in the next section.
La Crnica. October 3, 1964, p. 3.
DGACE to Vice Consul, August 13, 1963. SCC.
Informe... February 4, 1964. SCC. If Daz was overly sensationalist,
de la Riva tended to fall short of the mark. According to No Spaniards in the West and interviews, the Spanish were the only victims
of this failure, and this fact should have been emphasized, rather
than diminished.
CIME to Consul, May 7, 1963. SCC.
Memoria del Viaje, March 12, 1963. SCC.
Vice Consul to DGACE, March 7, 1973. SCC.
To make a lot of money.
CIME, January 30, 1962. APC.
Interview with Pilar Moreno in I. Garca, 25 Aniversario del Club
Espaol, El Espaol en Australia, no. 39, 1987, p.
Direction General IEE to Vice Consul, April 13, 1962. SSC.
Vice Consul to DEAS, June 5, 1962. SCC.
Vice Consul to DEAS, March 7, 1963. SCC.
Sun Herald, March 3, 1963, p. 5.






Vice Consul to Ministro de Asuntos Exteriores, March 3, 1963. SCC.

Carta de Espaa, December. 1962, p.4.
Informe..., November 6, 1961. SCC.
Informe..., March 7, 1963. SCC.
Informe..., December. 30, 1962. SCC. Again, Daz refers to those
migrants who lived well in Spain. His disastrous view is exaggerated and we will comment on it later in this chapter, when considering Consul de la Rivas estimates. As for the help Daz provided out,
of his own pocket, this point has no been confirmed by
interviewees who knew him well, for example E. Roch (July 27,
1986) or F. Largo (July 6, 1986).
DGACE to Vice Consul, January 7, 1963. SCC.
DGACE to Vice Consul, January 29, 1963. SCC.
Informe. March, 7, 1963. SCC.
Informe... (2), March 7, 1963. SCC.
Agreement between Australia and Italy for Assisted migration,
clause 11, in Department of External Affairs, Treaty Series, 1951, no.
12; for example, major care could have been taken in the wording
of point 20 in the printed edition of CIME, Australia, p. 18 mentioned later in this chapter.
CIME to Consul, March 28, 1963. SCC.
He had replaced Flix de Iturriaga in the Direccion General of
Asuntos Consulares - Emigracin.
DGACE to Consul, May 10, 1963. SCC.
CIME to Consul, May 7, 1963. SCC.
FCIC, La migration Espaola a Australia, undated, FCICC.
Consul to DEAS, June 19, 1963. SCC.
Carta de Espaa, August 1963, p. 4.
Consul to DEAS, April 4, 1963 and August 1, 1963.
Carta de Espaa, November 1963, p. 5.
DEAS to Consul, October 11, 1963. SCC.
A. R. Downer speech at a Naturalization Ceremony, Murray Bridge,
November 21, 1963.
The Sydney Morning Herald, June 25, 1964, p. 11.
El Espaol en Australia, July 31, 1968, p. 1.
He sent to Madrid four Informes... in 1963 (May 31, September 2
and 16, and October 25), and three in 1964 (February 7, and April 6







and 7).
DEAS to Consul, October 21, 1963. SCC.
Informe..., October 25, 1963. SCC.
Consul to DEAS, April 19, 1963. SCC.
Informe..., October 25, 1963. SCC.
Ibid.., February 7, 1964.
Consul to DGACE, August 3, 1963. SCC.
CCEM to Director General IEE, December 6, 1963. SCC.
DEAS to Consul, February 23, 1963. SCC.
Consul to DEAS, March 26, 1964. SCC.
CCEM to DEAS, undated. SCC.
CIME, Australia, undated, p.18. APC.
Informe..., May 31, 1963. SCC.
Consul to DEAS, June 20, 1963. SCC. Other reason argued: he begs
... he wants to educate his children on the Christian ways he was
taught by his elders and, above all, God and the Motherland.
Interview with J. Rico, December 28, 1986. APC.
IEE, Memoria, 1963, P. 107, 1964, PP.81-84, 1965, p.142, 1966, p.
105, 1967, p. 109.
On the importance of a social group views of itself or others, and
on the ways these views change, see R. White, Invention Australia.
Images and Identity 1688-1980, George Allen and Unwin, 1981.
J. Serrano Carvajal, op. cit., p. 29.
Diario Regional, Valladolid, December 22, 1963, pp. 18-19.
From Alerta, Santander, quoted in Consul to DGACE, January 9,
1964. SCC.
Interviews with F. Largo (July 6, 1986) and J. Blackie (April 26,
1987). According to Blackie, they were asked to retell their account
of Australia to the newspapers that printed it prior to granting them
the immigration visa; they did not appear at the Consulate again.
Alerta, December 31, 1963, p. 5.
La Crnica, February 18, 1965, p. 1. Also, IEE, Memoria, 1965, p.


200 Carta de Espaa, January 1962, P.5
201 ngel Barrutieta Saenz, La Emigracin Espaola. Ed. Cuadernos



para el Dialogo, Edicusa, Madrid, 1976, p. 8

202 Emigration to Western Europe outside the IEE channels was common, however, in the early sixties, and was often reported on the
Spanish press. See for example, ATC, December 31, 1964.
203 Eduardo Snchez in Secretariado de la Comisin Episcopal de
Migraciones, Boletn Informativo, num. 127, February 1969, p.11.
204 Australian Sugar Journal, February, 1958, p. 801.
205 Interview with Jess Uriguen, April 20, 1986. APC.
206 Interview with Antonio Esparza, August 10, 1986. APC.
207 Interview with Anbal Estanillo in I. Garca, 25 Aniversario del Club
Espaol, El Espaol en Australia, no. 33, 1987.
208 Courier Mail, August 7, 1958.
209 Ibid., August 8, 1958, p. 139.
210 Newcastle Morning Herald, June 30, 1959, P.l.
211 Ibid. July 1, 1959, p.l.
212 Ibid., July 8, 1959, p. 3.
213 CIME, Australia, undated. APC.
214 Grassby, op. cit., P. 51
215 Australian Sugar Year Book, num. 52, April 1960-March 1961
p.1006, giving the reasons why Australian cane-cutting output was
the highest in the world; other reason was: they were conscious
workers (only the far north employs migrants)[sic.]
216 Interview with Robert Enguix, August 8, 1986. APC.
217 Mr. Zamora in Queensland, La Crnica, October 3, 1964, p. 3.
218 Interview with Antonio Esparza, August 10, 1986. APC.
219 La Crnica, October 3, 1964, p. 3.
220 El infortunado emigrante de Noja en Santander, Alerta, May 16,
1963, p. 2.
221 Ibid.
222 Interview with Manuel Unzueta in I. Garca, op. cit., no.35, p. 3.
223 Sydney Morning Herald, March 11, 1959, p. 12.
224 Australian Sugar Journal. March 1960, p. 986. p. 157
225 Australian Sugar Year Took, num. 55, March 63 April 64,
226 Ibid., num. 53, April 1961-March 1662, at the ASPA Annual Conference, May 1961.
227 Australian Sugar Journal, May 1963, p. 159.
228 Australian Year Took, num. 54, April 1962-March 1963, p. 164.
229 Australian Sugar Journal, August 1964.



230 Lonely mens brides, Sydney Morning Herald, September 2, 1956,

p. 2. See also Ibid. September 7, 1955, June 30, 1955,
231 Department of Immigration, Digest 1960, p. 11.
232 Migrant Plea for Girls, Sydney Morning Herald, February 14, 1960,
p. 23.
233 Ibid., July 30, 1961, p. 35.
234 Ibid. The same issue in Ibid. Feb 26, 1961, p.11; the proposed
solution: to bring them by plane (it cost twice as much the 110
pounds sea fare) or in ships only with women.
235 Juventud Obrera, Suplemento del Boletn de Militantes de la JOC
no. 36, December 1959, Madrid, p. 9.
236 Primer Congreso de la Familia Espaola, Madrid, February 1959.
237 M. G. Crennan, Voluntary Agencies on a Migration Programme in
International Migrations, vol.2, num.2, 1964, p.133.
238 Sydney Morning Herald. March 11,1960, p.l.
239 Carta de Espaa, April 1960, p. 5.
240 The Marta expeditions came by Qantas, KLM and BOAC, riving
usually at Melbourne airport. The first group arrived in Melbourne
on March 10, 1960; the last, with sixty Spanish girls on board, on
February 2, 1963; other groups arrived on June 10, 1960 (23 girls),
Dec. 17, 1960 (65 girls), March 13, 1961 (60 girls), June 14, 1961 (57
girls), June 24, 1961 (64girls)
241 Catholic Weekly, June 23, 1960.
242 Ibid., April 20, 1961, p. 20.
243 Consul to Direction General de Asuntos Consulares Emigracin
(DGACE), March 19, 1961.
244 Sun Herald, March 19, 1961, p.25.
245 Catholic Weekly, April 20, 1961, p. 20.
246 CIME, Curso de Capacitacion Para el Servicio Domestico, undated, p.
9. APC.
247 Sydney Morning Herald, March 13, 1960, p.22.
248 Catholic Weekly, June 23, 1960.
249 Carta de Espaa, Marzo 196 1. p. 5.
250 Sun Herald, March 19, 1961, p.25.
251 Ibid.
252 Australian Womens Weekly, August 16, 1961.
253 Interview with Sara Santos, August 13, 1986. APC.
254 Interview with Valentne Hudak, August 11. 1986. APC.








Interview with Mara Jos Ugarte, July 27, 1966. APC.

Catholic Weekly, April 20, 1961, p. 20.
Interview with Pilar Otaegui in I. Garca, op. cit., no. 39, 1987.
Australian Sugar Year Book, April 1956-March 1957, vol 48, p. 269.
Aurelia News, undated. APC.
Interview with Cristina Ferrando, April 26, 1987. APC.
Carta de Espaa, May 64, p. 6. Some dates of arrivals of this plane
groups were: 30-1-62, 20-12-62, 26-1-63 and 6-2-63.
This was the Aurelia group that arrived in Melbourne on November
16, 1962. Interview with Armando Leiva, April 16, 1987. APC.
Department of Immigration, Reception and Training Centre.
Bonegilla, undated. APC.
Twenty Spaniards were employed at the camp in May 1963. Consul
Informe sobre la Emigracin Espaola a Australia, May 31, 1963.
They told us the fantastic amounts of money we could earn as cane
cutters, and that the CES provided only the jobs that nobody
wanted. Interview with Maxi Prez, August 25, 1986.
Interview with Alejandro Rincn, July 11, 1986. APC.
Consul, Report on Spanish migration to Australia, February 7, 1964.
Interview with Justo Martn, April 16, 1987. APC. Justo Martn was
employed during six months at the Bonegilla camp.
Interview with Mara Luisa and Ernesto Medina, April 18, 1987, and
with Justo Martn, April 16, 1987. APC.
La Crnica, December 3, 1964, p. 3.
R. J. Kriegler, Working for the Company. Work and Control in the
Whyalla Shipyard, Oxford University Press, 1980, p. 263.
Ibid., p. 264.
A. Surjo to C. Ferrando, October 20, 1962. CFC.
Nationality (i.e. Allegiance) of the population: Metropolitan Urban,
Other Urban and Rural Divisions of Australia, Censuses of 1954,
1961 and 1966.
On union attitudes towards migration see M. Quinlan, Australian
Trade Unions and Post-War Migration: attitudes and Responses,
Journal of Industrial Relations, 21, 1979. These generalizations are
surely more appropriate for the sixties.
Consul to DEAS, May 31, 1.963. SSC.
El Espaol en Australia, May 31, 1967. p. 4.




278 J. Wilton, op. cit., p. 129.
279 Pilar Otaegui, in Spanish Club, Boletn, no. 14 February, l972.
Sydney Spanish Club Collection (SSCC),
280 Diego Baron in Ibid.
281 Interview with J. L. Goi in I. Garca, op. cit September 22, 1987,
p. 3.
282 Spanish Club, Boletn, no.14, February, 1972. SSCC.
283 Interview with Pilar Moreno and J. L. Goi in I. Garca, op. cit.,
September 22 and 29, 1987, p. 3.
284 Hugh Curfew, Requiem for a gentle tycoon, Sunday Telegraph,
Sydney, May 28, 1967. Also, interview with F. Largo in I. Garca, op.
cit., no. 31, 1987, and interview with R. P. Interview with J. L. Goi,
in Ibid., September 22, 1987, p.3.
285 Op. Cit., September 29, 1987, p. 3, and September 22, 1987, p. 3.
286 Spanish Club, Boletn, num. 14, February, 1972. SSCC.
287 This was remarkable, coming from a country in which male chauvinism were so accentuated. The important role women played in
the foundation of the Club may account for it. See interview with P.
Otaegui (Moreno) in I. Garca, Ibid., September 29, 1987, p. 3.
288 Interview with Luis Aranda, August 22, 1986. APC.
289 See interviews with M. Unzueta and A. Estanillo in I. Garca, Op. cit.,
nos. 33 and 35, 1987.
290 See details in I. Garca, op. cit., nos. 27, 31 and 38, 1987.
291 See the list of all the Spanish Club Committees 1962-1968 in
Appendix 1.
292 Ibid.
293 Election of Committee, Candidates for election, Year 1963. APC. See
also Appendix 1.
294 Spanish Club, Boletn de Noticias, num. 1, August 1964. SSCC.
295 Interview with Fernando Largo, in I. Garca, op. cit., no. 31, 1987.
296 Spanish Club, Requisition for a extraordinary general meeting,
October 31, 1963. Sydney Stott Collection (SSC).
297 Lasala, Largo and Rogers ceased as trustees on November 15, 1963,
ANZ Bank to F. Largo. APC.
298 The six members were: J. de Blas, A. Carilla, R. Lpez, V. Snchez
and S. Stott. SSC.
299 Interview with Oscar Gonzlez, July 25, 1986. APC. Oscar, an
Asturian of Anarchist background, often challenged Lasalas authority



in the Club.
300 Spanish Club, Boletn de Noticias, no. 4, November December, 1964.
301 See interview with J. L.Goi, August 30, 1987.
302 Jos Fernndez, El Espaol en Australia, March 2, 1966.
303 Jos Fernndez, Objective Spanish Club, in Ibid., May 11, 1966,
p. 6.
304 Ibid., September 9, 1966, p. 5.
305 SSC.
306 Spanish Chamber of Commerce to Spanish Club, August 18, 1967,
Spanish Club to Dean Forbes Advertising, January 23, 1967, Dean
Forbes Advertising to Spanish Club, January 3, 1966. SSCC.
307 J. Fernndez, Jornada de verdadera tension emocional, in El
Espaol en Australia, February 22, 1967, p.2.
308 Ibid., February 22, 1967, p.2.
309 See, for example, shoplifting cases in interview with Bertrand, July
3, 1986. APC.
310 Spanish Club, Programme of Future Events, 1964, and Floor
Shows, Spanish Club, Boletn de Noticias, no. 4, November-December 1964. SSCC. A splendid description of one of the Friday night
events is given in M. Varela, in La Crnica, June 25, 1964 p. 2.
311 A typical Spanish card game.
312 Spanish Club, Newsletter, December 12, 1963. On the role of women
in the Club, see interview with Pilar Otaegui (Moreno), in I. Garca,
op. cit., September 29, 1987, p. 3.
313 El Espaol en Australia, April 13, 1966, P.11, and April 27. 1966, p.2.
314 Sydney Hispanic Society formed, in Sydney Morning Herald,
October 28, 1960, p. 8.
315 La Crnica, October 31, 1964, p. 3.
316 Interview with B. Haneman in I. Garca, op. cit., no. 29,
317 Basque for Our corner.
318 See M. Varela interviews with Jos Casal, President of the Centro
Gallego in Melbourne, and Ceferino Snchez, President of the Casa
de Espaa in Whyalla, in La Crnica, April 29, 1965 p.3, and June
24, 1965, p. 3.
319 El Espaol en Australia, June 25, 1965.
320 Ibid., August 2, 1966.
321 Interview with Oscar Gonzlez, July 25, 1986. APC.
322 Interview with Amparo Gauter, April 17, 1987. APC. No written








records of this period are kept, but La Crnica, November 19, 1964
p. 9, refers to celebrations of the fourth anniversary.
Sporting Globe, June 12, 1956.
Manuel Varela, El Club de los Espaoles, Ibid., July 11, 1964, p. 3.
The number of members of the Club in 1987 was of about 450.
M. Varela often complained about it in La Crnica, for example
December 8, 1965, p. 4.
Ibid., August 22, 1964, October 17, 1964, and June 10, 1965, p. 3.
Ibid., November 19, 1964, p.9.
Mentioned in La Crnica, September 5, 1964, p. 2.
Typical Gallician dishes and wine.
So that Gallicians could fight homesickness living away from their
homeland, in a dialectal form of Spanish spoken in Galicia. La
Crnica, April 29, 1965, p. 3.
Ibid., August 1, 1964, p.2. Adolfo Jimnez, who was on the first
committee, and then, for two years, president of the Club, says that,
on the inauguration day, the police raided its premises and found
alcohol. From then on, this was the major problem the club had to
face. Fortunately, the owner of the premises had influence in the
right places and helped the Spaniards through. Interview with
Adolfo Jimnez, April 17, 1987. APC.
El Pilar, Melbourne, June 15, 1965, pp.2-3.
Interview with Francisca Corral, April 25, 1967. APC. Kriegler, op.
cit., pp. 7-8, signals the BHP paternalistic, sometimes philanthropic,
role in its efforts to aid the establishment of clubs; on the other
hand, BHP did not pay rates or taxes on its vast industrial sites, to
the City Council.
La Crnica, June 24, 1965, p. 3.
Spanish Australian Club of Canberra, Boletn Mensual. Interviews
with M. Lpez, April 3, 1986, and C. Villegas, September 3, 1986.
The first written reference on the Spanish Club at Wollongong in El
Espa;ol en Australia, November 11, 1968.
No record of this publication has been kept. Interview with Frank
Gallego, August 29, 1987. APC.
La Crnica, December 3, 1964, p. 3.
Ibid., December 17, 1964.
Ibid., September 1, 1965, p. 1-3.
Ibid., April 13, 1966, p.l.



342 El Espaol en Australia, March 3, 1965, P.l.

343 Interview with Concha Fernndez in I. Garca, op. cit July 14, 1987,
p. 3.
344 A percentage comparatively lower than that of Italians (91.98%) or
Maltese (92.82%), whilst the percentage of Non Reply, including non
religion, is higher, 14.23% versus 6.84% Italians and 5.87% Maltese,
in M. Gibson, The Foreign Language Press in Australia 1848-1964,
A.N.U. Press, Canberra, 1967, p. 177.
345 L. Benyei, An Integration Study of Migrants in Australia, Melbourne,
1961, p. 48.
346 For more information see Consejo Superior de Misiones, Espaa
Misionera, Madrid, 1962 pp. 163-164 and 215-217 and CCEM,
Boletn Informativo, num. 115, July 1964, p.4.
347 Emigrantes. Transplante de Catolicismo, March-April, 1967. To this
article belongs the only written reference on Aboriginal people
recorded from this generation of Spaniards during the early sixties:
Many Aboriginal families, the primitive settlers of Australia, also live
in Dimbulah. As the color barrier do not apply here, blacks and
whites get on with each other well. More information on Father
Ormazbal activities is in CCEM, Misiones Catlicas Espaolas Para
la atencion de los emigrantes, Madrid, 1967, p. 210, and Secretariado
de la Comisin Episcopal de Migraciones, Boletn Informativo,
num.111, July-August 1966, and no. 115, March 1967.
348 Interview with Juan Rico, January 8, 1987.
349 Interviews with Juan Rico, January 8, 1987 and Paquita Bretn,
December 27, 1966. APC.
350 Migrant chaplains to Consul, October 8, 1962. SCC.
351 Father Rico to Consul, undated (around May 1963). SCC.
352 Consul to DEAS, November 14, 1963. Also, Informes... of October
8, 1963, and April 6, 1964. SSC.
353 Informe..., February 2, 1964. SSC.
354 See Appendix 2. Also interview with J. L. Goi in I.Garca. op. cit.,
September 22, 1987, p. 3.
355 Perhaps due to Carlos Zalapas influence. Zalapa and Lasala did not
get on well, and Zalapa through the Hispanic Society was closer to
the Consulate. See interview with B. Haneman in I. Garca, op. cit.,
no. 29, 1987, p. 3
356 Informe..., February 4, 1964. SCC.
357 Informe..., December 12, 1971. SSC.



358 Ibid.
359 A Francoist member of the Committee of the Spanish Club, exemplifies what apolitical meant for them when he wrote, to his later
embarrassment, in a letter to the editor of a rightist Spanish magazine: For unknown reasons, migrants arrive to Australia with a hate
against Spain that I can not understand . . . indifferents and conformists [the members] have made possible for a bunch of reds to
take over the destiny of the club. Because of them, our Consular
authorities do not want anything to do with the club, in Fuerza
Nueva, 1970.
360 There was a polemic, all over Australia, about whether to put in the
clubs the Francoist bicoloured flag or the Republican tricoloured
one. The division was usually averted by putting none.
361 Interviews with A. Leiva, April 16, 1987, and A. Jimnez, April 17,
1987. APC. The most serious act of political violence took place in
Melbourne in the early seventies when the new premises of the
Centro Espaol of Victoria were set alight, supposedly by a maverick
362 Articulo 1, Estatutos of the Centro Democratico Espaol, undated.
363 For example, The Spanish Socialism and the future of Spain, by
Diego Garca, undated, and July 16: Remembering the heroic fight
of the Spanish people for their freedom, with reading of poems by
Lorca and Machado, undated. APC.
364 Workers Committees, Spanish anti-Francoist union movement.
365 El Espaol en Australia, March 1, 1967, p. 1.
366 Ibid., from March 8 to April 12, 1967, Manuel Vivas, Juan Antonio
Garca, Antonio Jimnez, Jos Baquero and Francisco Villa engaged
in a heated polemic in the section Letters to the Editor in page 2.
Similar controversies occurred when other demonstrations were
organized, or with the polemics within the clubs in Melbourne.
367 Acting Consul to Director General America and Far East, February l6,
1968. SCC. More information in Sun Herald, February 16, 19613.
368 Daily Telegraph, December 31, 1970, P. 3.
369 Most migrants from Spain originally come to Australia with the idea
of making money and returning home, but get hooked. From The
Spanish speaking people, Bulletin, September 11, 1976, p. 179. A
throughout review of all the journal sources has revealed that
virtually no journal coverage on Spanish migration in this period has








been published. This article is one of the few exceptions. The fact
that they considered their coming to Australia only as a temporary
move may be one of the specific characteristics of the Spanish, in
comparison with the rest of Southern European migration. See L.
Benyei, op. cit., p. 11.
Of the migrant families of this vintage, none suffered more the
consequences of their inability to make themselves understood in
English, than that of Felipe Munoz. On April 12, 1963, his eight
months old daughter Maranela died in the hospital of Albury, after
incorrect treatment due to a language misunderstanding at Bonegilla.
Consul to DEAS, May 29, 1963. SCC.
Spanish Club, Boletn de Noticias, no. 3, October, 1964.
J. Jupp, Arrivals and Departures, Cheshire-Lansdowne, 1966, pp.
Informe February 7, 1964. SCC.
La Crnica, April 4, 1965, p. 3.
Ibid., January 21, 1965.
Pouring it in Asturian style.
F. Mellizo, Hemos descubierto Australia, in El Espaol en Australia,
April 13, 1966, P. 8. Mellizo was a journalist from the daily Pueblo,
from Madrid, who escorted the Spanish tennis team in December
1965. He published a series of articles under that title in Pueblo,
which were later reproduced in El Espaol en Australia.
Only a few were professionals in Spain before emigrating, but a
bunch of them managed to live for some years from their art,
singing, dancing and playing guitar: Juan y Carmen Dos Maravillas;
Miguel de Triana, who with Veronica Vargas la Titi and others
formed the group Los Tarantos, and later Sol y Sombra; Manolo
Danza, Barbara Ramos and Andre Levis Trio Espaol; guitarists
ngel Garca el Brujo and Jos Luis Gonzlez, etc.
El Espaol en Australia, April 27, 1966, P. 8; Sydney Morning Herald, December 30, 1965, p. 1.
G. Collins, The political Economy of Post-War Migration, The
Political Economy of Australian Capitalism, vol. 1, Sydney, 1975, p.
J. P. OGrady, Theyre a weird mob, Ure Smith, Sydney, 1957, p. 204.
La Crnica, May 20, 1965, p.4.
Miguel Barbero, 52, died when run over by a car; apparently his
house had been broken into earlier, and another attempt had also



been made to kill him with a car. Ibid., August 8, 1964, p. 3.

384 Ibid., July 11, 1965, p. 1.
385 Ibid., December 8, 1965, p. 4.
386 El Espaol en Australia, August 16 and 21, 1972; Sydney Morning
Herald, August 16, 1972, p. 2; August 26, 1972, p.l; November 15,
1972, p. 19; Daily Telegraph, August 11, 1972, p. 13; see also, I.
Garca, El caso Bilbao, in El Espaol en Australia, nos. 30 and 31,
387 Spanish Club, Boletn, February 14, 1972. SSCC.
388 Sydney Morning Herald, March 26, 1961,p. 68. In the same article,
Baltinos, Secretary of the New Settlers Federation, declared: Many
Southern European families save for years to send one of their
number to another country. The migrant then is expected to support
their parents, provide a dowry for his sisters, and earn passage
money so that his brothers can migrate also. However, this was not
a common practice in the Spanish case.
389 Tailors, for their former profession in Spain.
390 Interview with F. Largo, July 6, 1986. Amongst the less lucky was
Frutos Gmez, killed in a car crash, apparently because of his
tiredness, when driving from his job in a metal factory in Alexandria
to his evening shift work in a restaurant in the North Shore. Interview with A. Rincn, July 11, 1986. APC.
391 Interview with Volcano, April 20, 1986.
392 S. L. Thompson, Australia through Italian eyes, Oxford University
Press, Melbourne, 1980, p. 231. Boomerang migration has also
been, from the mid sixties, a common practice. Spaniards who
came back, El Espaol en Australia, March 1, 1967, p.2. Chain
migration, a major issue for most South European countries, was not
so common in the Spanish case. This was due to the comparatively
late start of the migration programme, the greater attraction of
Western European countries, the improving working conditions in
Spain, and the lack of facilities to migrate to Australia after March,
393 We should have gone to Spain in 1965, at the end of the tobacco
season, with 4000 pounds. We went in 1969 instead, with more
money, but we could not buy the same goods. Interview with Justo
Martn, April 16, 1987. APC.
394 El Pais, December 23, 1986, p. 1.





Spanish Club Committees 1962-1967
(1) Foundation Day 4.3.62
R. de Lasala
Jos Luis



Until Notes





de Lasala (Jnr)

Jos Luis



de la Torre
de Lasala

Jos Luis











(3) extraordinary general meeting 10.11.6

Jos Luis



8 31.12.63



Until Notes

















(5) annual general meeting 31.1.65






Until Notes

VP1 (P)


VP2 (T)


De Costa




Lpez Monlen
Lpez Gmez

Jos Luis
Jos Luis
Jos Luis

VP2 (P)
T2 (VP2)




Snchez Molla












Until Notes

(7) annual general meeting 12.2.67

Len Burgo
Lpez Snchez
Snchez Molla

Jos A.









20 17.4.67
16 28.5.67
12 25.6.67
9 17.9.67
3 17.9.67
5 26.11.67
9 25.6.67



Da Costa

















10 15.9.68
13 7. 8. 68
3 15.9.68
10 29.968
7 15.9.68
9 13.10.68


Until Notes
19. 1. 69


Number of votes had in the elections.


Number of committee meetings attended.

From/Until: Date they sat on the committee for the first/last times

P President, VP Vice-President, S Secretary,

T Treasurer, 1 Senior, 2 Junior, ( ) new office bearers
chosen within the same committee.




Table 1
Population of Local Government Areas. By Nationality: Spanish.
Census 1961

Census 1966






Wollongong/South Coast Male






Southern Tableland




















North Easter






Geelong/West Central


Census 1961





















Census 1966























Census 1961

Census 1966
































Sources: Censuses 1961 and 1966, Population and Dwellings in Local

Government Areas,, No. 3.- Population of Local Government Areas,
BY nationality. Only taken into consideration those statistical
divisions in which over eighty Spaniards lived in June 1966.



Table 2.
Nationality of Permanent and Long Term Arrivals. Spanish
Financial Year










































Source: Department of Immigration and Ethnic Affairs, Australian

Immigration Consolidated Statistics, Canberra 1968, Table 12, pp. 3438.





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