The old town of Belchite will be a pioneer place of democratic memory in Spain. The central government, through the ministries of the Presidency and Transport, and the Government of Aragon, from the Department of Education and the General Directorate of Heritage, work together to make the battlefield of the civil war that was Belchite a space of peace and memory.
The first step to achieve this will be taken in 2022, with the launch of a participatory process with the town council of the town, the Campo de Belchite region and the memorialist associations of the area and neighbors in the first four months of the year, which will continue in the second four months with the launch of a international ideas competition to act in Belchite and, always respecting its essence, turning it into a place of memory.
This Thursday, the General Director of Heritage of the Government of Aragon, Marisancho Menjón, has met in the department with the general director of urban agenda and architecture of the Ministry of Transport, Iñaki Carnicero, and with the general director of Democratic Memory of the Ministry of the Presidency, Diego Blázquez, to start the project that for the first time in Spain unite various institutions to create a place of memory. Throughout the day, they will visit Belchite and meet with its mayor and county representatives.
“The recovery and reconversion of Belchite into a place of memory it will be possible thanks to the coordinated action of two ministries, the Presidency and the Mobility and Transportation, and the Government of Aragon, through the contribution of funds from the Ministry of Mobility “, indicated Menjón.
Carnicero added that the intention is to launch an ideas contest, first with a participatory process to “give people a voice about how to intervene in Belchite and turn it into a place of democratic memory. “In the following years, starting in 2023, the will is to initiate the action that is chosen from the participatory process.
“Belchite is falling apart”
Although the ministries have declined to give an example of references that could inspire the action in Belchite, Carnicero has specified that the intervention will necessarily include the “consolidation of what exists.”
“Right now Belchite is falling apart and you have to stop that process of degradation. On the other hand, it is necessary to give a voice to different professionals, artists, engineers, architects, that they are capable of offering answers on how to make new readings about the place and subverting the negative past of the place. “For now, it has not been specified how much of the 7 million budgeted at a multi-year level will be allocated in 2022.
Nor has it been defined what will be the preferred model for the transformation of Belchite. “We do not want to impose any kind of decision, but trust the participatory process and have the more voices, the better, and open it even to the international scene, looking at examples from other municipalities that also suffered the same story as Belchite, “Carnicero said.
“If we want to give a alternative reading, has to have the basic element of democracy is participation. The first element is to reflect together on the necessary conservation of the heritage, rehabilitation and the elaboration of a speech that serves so that Belchite is a place of democratic memory. After the dialogue, the decisions will be made “, explained the general director of Memoria Democrática, Diego Blázquez.
The intervention, Menjón stressed, will be carried out “with the utmost respect for what Belchite means and what Belchite is for the Aragonese,” although the intervention will entail the conversion into “a place of memory beyond what has been traditional discourse and become a place of peace. ”
“A country challenge”
“It’s a country challenge due to the international dimension that it has in the deepening of the culture of peace and human rights and the important thing is that it is already underway, “said Blázquez, who praised that the entities will be listened to. memorialists and protection of heritage. The amount of the ideas contest prizes has yet to be decided, but the central executive’s claim is “to attract the maximum interest and prestige and the best ideas to make them interesting prizes.”
For now, they have stated, there is no old town structure at extreme risk. The general director has indicated that “always act when there is an element in danger to prevent the most prominent ones from disappearing “.