Fairgoers striking a deal. Extremadura, early 20th century. FAGEX Collection. ↵
During the 19th century, at the start of the constitutional period (1812-1936), the “Roma issue” took on a new direction. The Constitution of 1812 was an important advancement for Roma in regards to their being legally recognised as Spanish citizens. The old concept of citizenship linked to the obligation of having a fixed residence was done away with. The only requirement to be legally Spanish was having been born in the country.
After a long period without anti-Roma laws, the Franco dictatorship brought back some highly negative scenarios for Roma. Speaking the Romani language was prohibited, as it was considered to be a criminal dialect. Nomadic life was considered to be a crime. The Law of Social Danger was applied in a special way against Roma. Furthermore, Civil Guard regulations called for the scrupulous monitoring of Roma and, particularly, of their way of life and their travels.
The Romani doctor Juan Manuel Montoya said:
The Francoist era was characterised by a dichotomy in which total and intolerable cultural repression was brought against the Roma people in particular and against other populations in general. Nonetheless, the dominant classes, influenced by the Catholic concept of charity, initiated warm yet uncoordinated gestures towards the Roma community in order to integrate them into their own religious, cultural and payo (non-Roma) social world view. Programmes funded by the central government but especially designed for Catholic organisations attempted to assist, integrate and teach Roma to be payos. The dominant fundamentalist ideology, so convinced of its superiority, made abandoning an assimilationist perspective very difficult.