Pay a pro-Franco tax on the verge of extinction to exhume graves of victims of the dictatorship

Pay a pro-Franco tax on the verge of extinction to exhume graves of victims of the dictatorship

199.21 euros. It is the money that the Association for the Recovery of Historical Memory (ARMH) has been about to have to pay the State to search for the remains of Luis Vega González, shot by the Francoist side on September 2, 1936 and buried in a common grave in León. The body that has demanded it has been the Duero Hydrographic Basin, dependent on the Ministry of Ecological Transition, in application of the current rate legislation, but has informed you that it will stop the collection after your complaint. It already happened in 2016 and 2019 with the Ministry of Development, also with the exhumation of two other graves in the same province. The Democratic Memory Law, which is now beginning in Congress, plans to eliminate any type of fee of this type, which continues to tax some exhumations 14 years after the enactment of the first law.

In all three cases, the ARHM, which has been caring for victims’ families for almost two decades and working for the recovery and dignity of the disappeared, has had to request authorization from the ministries. It is not common and depends on the nature and location of the work you are going to undertake. In the most recent case, the grave is located in the Río Luna police zone, in Cospedal de Babia, so one of the permits falls on the Ecological Transition, while those that corresponded to Fomento were projects in areas close to two national highways, over which it has powers.

The fee, which in 2016 was 65.94 euros and in 2019 193.36, responds to the preparation of a technical report as a preliminary step to the authorization of the works, which in the most recent case was concluded, after a technical visit to the area by the Water Commissioner, who “does not observe the circumstances to advise against carrying out the works provided that the land is restored to its original state”, as stipulated in the permit to which has had access. There is the circumstance that the rates related to this management, of Reports and Other Actions, are regulated by a Decree of 1960, signed by Francisco Franco and by his then Undersecretary of the Presidency, Luis Carrero Blanco.

There are other laws relating to the imposition of this type of fees that apply in these cases – for example, the Water Law, the Common Administrative Procedure or the Modification of the Legal Regime of Rates – but the origin of the rate It is in that rule of the dictatorship. The receipts sent to the ARMH refer to it in all cases, the last dated July 16. Specifically, its article 4 establishes the amounts for the preparation of technical reports such as these: those of an optional nature that require “taking field data” suppose 1,500 pesetas a day and 1,000 more for each extra day, which transferred to 2021 has been translated in the 199.21 required.

Regarding the last charge, sources from the Ministry of Ecological Transition point out that “all the formulas are being explored so that in no case this association charges with the payment of the fee.” And Fomento alluded to the same thing a couple of years ago, which annulled the process. But from the association what they demand is that it be definitively eliminated for these cases, since in practice it means taxing the search for disappeared from the Civil War and the Franco regime that memorialist organizations have been doing for years with their own resources. In fact, the 2007 Historical Memory Law itself states that the activities of locating, searching, exhumating and identifying remains are “of public utility and social interest.”

“They cannot treat us as if we were a funeral home, any company that is doing a common work. They should define exceptions in these cases because we carry out an activity that has to do with human rights,” says Emilio Silva, president of the Association for the Recovery of Historical Memory. The organization also focuses on the fact that if it weren’t for the fact that every time they receive the rate they publicly denounce it “the collection would not be paralyzed”, so they do not know if it is happening in other cases.

Asked about this question, the Ministry of the Presidency, Relations with the Courts and Democratic Memory indicates that the collection of this fee “is one of the examples of problems that they want to solve” with the new law, whose project was approved ten days ago, but which still has the procedure in the Courts. “It is contemplated in Article 20.4, where it is said that within the scope of the General Administration of the State the administrative procedures to authorize the activities of location and identification or for access to the lands affected by location and identification works, they will not be subject to any type of rate, canon or encumbrance “, explain the same sources.

The last case corresponds to the search for the remains of Luis Vega González, born in Noceda del Bierzo (León) who worked as a wheat reaper in that same area and who was shot on September 2, 1936. He was only 18 years old when He was captured by several Falangists and transferred to Cospedal de Babia to be assassinated along with another man whose identity has not been known. Thanks to the investigation carried out by the ARMH and the relatives and through the testimonies of several neighbors, it is believed that the remains could be buried in a place called Between rivers, in the Babia y Luna Natural Park.

In 2019, the fee was charged for a search on the N-621 León-Santander highway, where the association tried to find in Las Salas (a district of the Crémenes municipality) the remains of a neighbor of the town who had been murdered in 1936 and thrown into the river Esla. It was known that his body had been refloated a few days later by residents of the area and buried in the nearest farm, but after two days of work, it did not appear. Three years earlier, they were looking in a grave in Santa Lucía de Gordón – near the N-630 Gijón-Seville highway – for 11 men and a woman who were assassinated once the Republican front in Asturias fell. Everything indicated that the remains had been buried outside the town cemetery, but they did not appear either.


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