The intention of the Madrid City Council to remove the names of the historical socialists Francisco Largo Caballero and Indalecio Prieto from the street map of the capital at the proposal of Vox has caused the reaction of historians. A hundred scholars of Contemporary History, from Spanish and foreign universities, have signed a report that dismantles the arguments of the extreme right, assumed by PP and Ciudadanos, to remove the two streets – an avenue in Ciudad Lineal and a boulevard in Vicálvaro – supported by the Law of Historical Memory.
The ‘revenge of the revenge’ in the street of Madrid
The signatory historians conclude, after analyzing the text of Vox approved in the Plenary of the City Council last week, that it is based “on old and discredited pseudohistoric clichés of Franco’s propaganda”. “It confusingly carries the civil war myths enunciated in 1939 by the Opinion of the Commission on the illegitimacy of powers acting on July 18, 1936”, says the letter, supported by renowned experts such as Paul Preston, Walther L. Bernecker, José Álvarez Junco or Antonio Cazorla.
Professors and professors deny Vox’s proposition point by point in a “preliminary analysis” based “on documentary evidence.” “Unlike the null documentation that is attached to the Vox initiative, the undersigned professors and researchers declare that they are in a position to provide documentary evidence of all the claims made in this verification test,” says the manifesto. The signatories make the document “available” to the Madrid City Council so that it is taken into account before adopting “the final decision”: “This preliminary technical judgment aspires to become a report in the near future where it is clarified once and for all all the performance of these two important figures in our contemporary history, subtracting them from the machinations of low politics “.
The experts flatly deny that the changes can be subject to the Historical Memory Law, as PP and Ciudadanos intend. They point out “that a good part of the accusations made in the Vox initiative refer to times before the one covered by the law” –eminently the revolution in Asturias in October 1934– and underline “the incongruity involved in wanting to execute a damnatio memoriæ about political figures who, precisely, distinguished themselves by their opposition to the military uprising, by defending legality in the civil war that it provoked, and by being victims (as persecuted and exiled) of the resulting dictatorship. ” Caballero was shot at his home by the Falange and was a prisoner in the Sachsenhausen camp (Berlin) between 1943 and 1945, the letter recalls.
The six-page analysis carried out by the scholars indicates that Francisco Largo Caballero (President of the Government of the Republic and Secretary General of the PSOE and UGT) was acquitted by the Supreme Court after being charged with a crime of military rebellion as a result of the October 1934 revolution and denies that during his tenure “the greatest atrocities were committed in the republican zone.” “The bulk of the homicidal violence in the republican zone took place from the outbreak of the coup until the end of 1936, when the government of Largo Caballero managed to rebuild a large part of the state apparatus,” the historians oppose.
On Indalecio Prieto, the report denies that his arrival to the presidency of the PSOE supposed a “revolutionary and radical drift along with Largo Caballero as secretary general of the UGT”. “In the summer of 1935, his discrepancies with Largo, with whom he had an intense political struggle, were well known,” says the analysis, which also denies that “the complicity of La Motorizada or Prieto’s staff” in the murder of Calvo Sotelo because one of its members will participate. The report also indicates that the reserves of the Bank of Spain were “used in legitimate defense” to acquire weapons “to support republican democracy against the coup” and that the “seizures of assets” in the republican zone were made “with legal cover “.
The commitment by the City Council to erase these roads –one of them, that of Indalecio Prieto, was inaugurated by a mayor of the PP, José María Álvarez del Manzano– has not only raised historians. The opposition (Más Madrid and PSOE) has also announced this Tuesday that it will take the name change to court as soon as the municipal team begins to process it. At the moment it is only a proposal approved in plenary session by majority whose fulfillment is not mandatory. However, as it is endorsed by the two parties that make up the Government, PP and Ciudadanos, in plenary, has been assumed as a commitment by the municipal group. The mayor of Madrid, José Luis Martínez-Almeida, has confirmed that the administrative procedure will be carried out, although he has left up in the air when it will start. There are, at the moment, no substitute names for those streets.