Madrid wants to go further in the work of memory

Almost a year after the exhumation of dictator Francisco Franco, the left-wing Spanish government is preparing to continue the work of remembrance. He wants to complete, in a certain way, the law on historical memory of 2007 which ultimately never satisfied anyone, neither his opponents, nor the victims of Francoism, the latter wanting to go further.

“A State responsibility”

The government therefore presented, Tuesday, September 15, in the Council of Ministers a draft bill to incorporate, in particular, measures demanded by victims’ associations and the UN. “Memory, justice and reparation must be matters of state, today we close the wounds a little more and we can look at the past with dignity”, assured the president of the Spanish government, Pedro Sanchez.

First major project announced: the search for 100,000 victims in mass graves will become “A state responsibility”. It is an important shift. Until now, the 2007 law provided a system of grants for family associations, but the economic crisis and right-wing governments had reduced funding possibilities. The government of Pedro Sanchez proposes to create a DNA database to facilitate the identification of the remains of the remains.

Another major announcement: this draft bill, which will have to go through the Council of State before returning to the table of the Council of Ministers, plans to cancel the summary sentences pronounced against Spanish Republicans by the Franco regime. In 2007, the law declared the Franco courts illegitimate, but without going so far as to annul the judgments, for fear of claims for compensation. The current government ensures that the nullity of judgments will still not give any right to compensation.

Transformer le monument Valley of the Fallen

To facilitate searches, a special prosecutor’s office should be created. He would devote himself to the investigation of human rights violations committed during the civil war and the dictatorship. This measure of the draft bill will likely be a sticking point. Until now, the 1977 amnesty law has prevented any prosecution. The famous judge Baltasar Garzon had tried in 2008 to qualify as crimes against humanity the assassinations of Republicans.

The case had caused a stir, the National Hearing having quickly blocked the opening of mass graves, putting forward this amnesty law of 1977. But society has evolved since. When the bill will be discussed by the deputies, the parliamentary debates will make it possible to assess to what extent mentalities have changed or not.

→ READ. Vatican backs Madrid to unearth Franco’s remains

In addition to the desire to ban the Francisco Franco foundation, Madrid also wants to transform the Valle de los Caidos monument, from which Franco was exhumed in 2019, into a civil cemetery and a place of memory. The presence of Benedictine monks would therefore become incompatible with this new project. But there will still be a long way to go before this future bill is approved. It has to go through Parliament where the right and the far right will likely oppose some of its provisions.

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