14 years after the Government of José Luis Rodríguez Zapatero promoted the first historical memory law in our country, the Council of Ministers has given the green light to the bill that repeals it and delves into some pending issues so far. The Democratic Memory Law will now begin its journey in the Cortes, where the fierce opposition of the right awaits it – the PP has already announced that it will take it to the Constitutional Court – and the dissatisfaction of a part of the left and the memorialist associations, which They agree that this is an undeniable advance, but they also demand greater ambition.
The Memory Law extinguishes the Valley of the Fallen Foundation and a subsequent decree will expel the friars
The text, which may incorporate changes in its processing, has hardly undergone modifications after passing through the advisory bodies and maintains the guidelines approved in the first round by the Government almost a year ago. Promoted by the then Vice President of the Government, Carmen Calvo, today she arrives at the table of the ministers by the hand of her newly released substitute, Félix Bolaños, who also worked in her during this time. The regulation represents a new roadmap to correct and repair the human rights violations committed by the Franco regime and seeks to alleviate the gaps in our country in the matter that the United Nations has been pointing to for years.
“It is a necessary law that makes us better as a country,” said Bolaños at the press conference after the meeting was held. The Minister of the Presidency, Relations with the Courts and Democratic Memory has explained that the 2007 law “needed to be updated” and pointed out that the axes of the text go through “placing the victims at the center of political action”, ” to value the role of women “in the fight for democracy and repression and” to give importance to the memorialist movement. Once it is approved, “we get Spain to have a regime similar to that of the rest of the countries in our environment that have suffered dictatorships,” added Bolaños.
The plan is to touch on a good part of the points that were left aside in 2007, among other things, the official assumption by the State of the opening of thousands of graves and identification of the remains of victims through the implementation of a state exhumation plan. In other words, the Administration will be responsible for searching the remains of thousands of reprisals, most of them still unidentified. He will do it ex officio or by request. Currently this work is carried out by associations of historical memory through subsidies that the Government of the Popular Party kept for years at zero. Bolaños has sent a message to the families of the victims who are still missing: “We want the thousands who are still searching today to know that they have the Government to help them with this mission.”
The Government is open to “improvements” in the processing
A National DNA Bank will also be created to facilitate searches and a census of victims. The law dedicates a chapter to the definition of victim, which ranges from death or disappearance, to imprisonment, deportation, forced labor, repression, seizure, purification and many other types of violence, including participation in anti-Franco guerrillas or Freemasonry. However, the associations consider that the norm has fallen short in this regard, among other things because it closes the door to possible compensation to the reprisals or their relatives, and they call for it to be expanded in the parliamentary process.
In this sense, the minister has been open to possible modifications to “improve the law” and with the aim of “achieving a broader consensus” because it is a norm, Bolaños has defended, “which should be approved unanimously.” “If we manage to improve the law and greater support, there will be no problem on the part of the Government,” he has settled.
The law provides for the suppression of titles of nobility granted during the dictatorship that have “connotations” and political ties to the coup d’état and the imposition of the Franco regime and police and military medals and recognitions, and declares the courts formed during the Civil War “illegitimate” responsible for the persecutions and reprisals for religious, political or ideological reasons, annuls the sentences and sanctions issued for these same reasons during the dictatorship and declares the trials “null and void”. However, these are symbolic reparations that do not carry compensation.
Investigation of crimes, but same obstacles to prosecute
It also has a pedagogical intention and incorporates the updating of the curricular contents in ESO, Baccalaureate and Vocational Training with the aim of propping up the teaching of Franco’s repression and provides for the recognition of women in the fight for democracy and the specific forms of repression they suffered. Another of its legs will be the extinction of the Foundation of the Holy Cross of the Valley of the Fallen and the expulsion of the Benedictine friars through a Royal Decree that will be processed in parallel in the framework of a negotiation between the Government and the Church that is already taking place. All this for a future “resignification” that is yet to be detailed.
In addition, a Chamber Prosecutor will be created in the Supreme Court to investigate the events that occurred in the Civil War and the dictatorship until the entry into force of the Constitution, which will investigate these human rights violations, but does not plan to resolve the wall. with which the victims are and that make Spain continue without judging the crimes. With the law in hand, the investigation is assured but the obstacles, the memorialist associations denounce, are still on the table: fundamentally the Amnesty Law or the argument of the prescription of crimes, issues that groups such as Unidos Podemos or ERC will fight in processing.
The text considers as cause of extinction of the foundations the apology of the Franco regime, a requirement to which the humiliation of the victims has been incorporated after recommended by the General Council of the Judiciary (CGPJ) in his report, in which he pointed out that making an apology for Francoism could be protected by law. The rule also establishes that the Administrations must prevent public acts of exaltation or tribute to the dictatorship and, failing to do so, it will be considered a very serious offense with fines that can reach up to 150,000 euros. This is another of the new features of the law, the imposition of a sanctioning regime that will punish, among other things, the destruction of graves or so-called “places of memory.”