Spain passes law to deliver ‘justice’ to victims of Franco’s era | Spain

Five decades after the death of General Franco and three years after the remains of the Spanish dictator were finally removed from his imposing mausoleum outside Madridthe country’s senate approved legislation designed to bring “justice, reparation and dignity” to victims of the civil war and subsequent dictatorship.

On Wednesday afternoon, the upper house of the Spanish parliament passed the law on the democratic memory of the government led by the socialists, with 128 votes in favor, 113 against and 18 abstentions.

The legislation, which was approved by Spain’s congress in July, contains dozens of measures intended to help “settle Spain’s democracy’s debt to its past”.

Among them, the creation of a census and a national DNA bank to help locate and identify the remains of the tens of thousands of people who still rest in unmarked graves, the banning of groups that glorify the Franco regime and a ‘re-definition’ of the Valley of the Fallen, the giant basilica and memorial where Franco rested for 44 years until his death. exhumation in 2019.

According to the Prime Minister’s Government Pedro Sanchezthe legislation will contribute to “encouraging a common discussion based on the defense of peace, on pluralism and on the expansion of human rights and constitutional freedoms”.

In a tweet after the voteSánchez said: “We socialists have always worked to strengthen our democracy and today we have taken another step towards justice, reparation and dignity for all victims.

The new law is based on Historical Memory Act 2007 introduced under another socialist prime minister, José Luis Rodríguez Zapatero, which was resisted by Spain’s conservative People’s Party (PP). Many on the Spanish right have opposed legislative efforts to revisit the past, saying they risk undermining the 1977 amnesty law and the so-called oblivion pact who helped bring Spain back to democracy after Franco’s death.

Born in 1892 in Ferrol, Galicia, Francisco Franco Bahamonde was a Spanish general and politician who ruled over Spain as head of state and dictator under the title Caudillo between 1939 and 1975.

He and other officers led a military insurrection against the Spanish democratic government in 1936, a move that started a three-year civil war. A staunch Catholic, he viewed the war and ensuing dictatorship as something of a religious crusade against anarchist, leftist and secular tendencies in Spain. His authoritarian rule, along with a profoundly conservative Catholic church, ensured Spain remained virtually isolated from political, industrial and cultural developments in Europe for nearly four decades. 

The country returned to democracy in 1977 but his legacy and place in Spanish political history still sparks rancour and passion. 

For many years, thousands of people commemorated the anniversary of his 20 November 1975 death in Madrid’s central Plaza de Oriente esplanade and at the Valley of the Fallen mausoleum. And although the dictator’s popularity has plummeted, the 2019 exhumation of his body has been criticised by Franco’s relatives, Spain’s three main rightwing parties and some members of the Catholic church for opening old political wounds. 

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Born in 1892 in Ferrol, Galicia, Francisco Franco Bahamonde was a Spanish general and politician who ruled Spain as head of state and dictator under the title of Caudillo between 1939 and 1975.

He and other officers led a military uprising against Spain’s democratic government in 1936, a move that sparked a three-year civil war. A devout Catholic, he viewed the war and the dictatorship that followed as a sort of religious crusade against anarchist, leftist, and secular tendencies in Spain. Its authoritarian rule, along with a deeply conservative Catholic Church, allowed Spain to remain virtually isolated from political, industrial, and cultural developments in Europe for nearly four decades.

The country returned to democracy in 1977, but its legacy and its place in Spanish political history still arouse resentment and passion.

For many years, thousands of people commemorated the anniversary of his death on November 20, 1975 on Madrid’s central Plaza de Oriente esplanade and at the Valley of the Fallen mausoleum. And although the dictator’s popularity has plummeted, the exhumation of his body in 2019 has been criticized by those close to Franco, Spain’s three main right-wing parties and some members of the Catholic Church for opening up old political wounds.

Photo: Photo 12/Universal Images Group Editorial

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The PP, which is now led by Alberto Nuñez Feijóo, has said it will repeal the law if it wins next year’s general election. Former party leader Pablo Casado said the law would only serve to ‘take away grudges’, while the PP’s Mariano Rajoy – who served as prime minister from 2011 to 2018 – boasted that he had cut Spain’s history. zero memory budget after his administration inherited the 2007 law.

Others, however, argue that the new law does not go far enough. The Association for the Recovery of Historical Memory (ARHM), a human rights group that has spent two decades exhuming mass graves and campaigning for justice for Franco’s victims, declares the law 1977 amnesty should be repealed and financial changes should be made to those whose goods and properties were seized by the Franco regime.

The ARHM also demanded that a census be made of all those who benefited economically from Francoism, and that the Roman Catholic Church be investigated and held responsible for supporting the coup. of 1936 which brought Franco to power and to have supported the dictatorship which followed.

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