September 25, 2020

“Without having lived it an objective judgment is not possible”

Former Transition Minister Rodolfo Martín Villa has sent Argentine Judge Servini letters of support from different political and economic personalities before his statement this Thursday for “crimes of aggravated homicide” in a context of crimes against humanity due to events such as the Sanfermines of 1978 or the Vitoria massacre on March 3, 1976. Among these letters is that of José Luis Rodríguez Shoemaker. The former president of the Government explains in a telephone conversation with why he has shown his support for Martín Villa.

The letters of support from politicians that Martín Villa has presented to the judge

The letters of support from politicians that Martín Villa has presented to the judge

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What led you to write this letter of support to Rodolfo Martín Villa?

I’ve known Martín Villa forever, as a Leonese that I am [Martín Villa es leonés]. I was a young militant of the Socialist Youth, and I could have that experience of their behavior in favor of those who defended democracy. It was a time when the ultras, Fuerza Nueva, acted, and Martín Villa always had a positive response when we received attacks from the ultras.

And I have to say that later, with political responsibilities, no one ever told me that he had been repressive.

My position has been autonomous, individual, I have not spoken with any other of those who have supported it.

I know obviously that he comes from the late Francoism and its positions. He asked me for that support and I decided to give it to him. It is my experience with respect to Martín Villa.

The complainants regret that you highlight the figure of Martín Villa as a “consensus maker” to exempt him from the charges against him in relation to 12 homicides in the context of crimes against humanity

The Transition was positive, not perfect. Many people operated there who contributed to the creation of democracy, to the design of autonomies, and one of them was Martín Villa. I say this and it is fair to admit it to him, and that I had confrontations with him.

Here comes into play what the passage of time represents. Legally it is an issue that regulates the Amnesty Law. When we approved the Memory Law, the recognition of people disappeared in mass graves and the disappearance of symbols of the dictatorship was included. It is unequivocal that one of the facets of my public task is to give dignity to those who suffered the dictatorship. And I am in favor of reunion, of peace.

Do you not consider it necessary then that the facts that are attributed to Martín Villa, such as the Vitoria massacre, be investigated and tried?

They are facts that in some cases were judged, perhaps not taking into account that the Transition was a success but not perfect. Maybe some were not properly debugged.

I insist that my experience is only about the figure of Martín Villa, not so much about how the Transition was made. My thoughts were reflected in the Law of Memory itself, which extends the recognition of the victims of the Transition to the Constitution. My trajectory has always been for reconciliation and coexistence, while recognizing the human rights violated, but for reconciliation.

I have delved into memory and I think there is a generational factor. When it is criticized that the fear of the past weighed, of course it was like that, without a doubt, and it does not seem to me to be a trait of a lack of collective intelligence. But I understand that the youngest question and criticize. Now, without having lived it, an objective judgment is not possible.

But the victims in the lawsuit lived it

Of course, when you are a victim you defend everything with everything and I understand that. Martín Villa was the minister, okay, okay, but you have to objectify, at that time someone like Suárez and like him operated for democracy, you had to see what the Francoist police were like. I do not see the UCD as repressors, perhaps there was an isolated case, but there was no State policy of criminal repression.

Should we then renounce the investigation and justice regarding these crimes?

It seems good to me that the new generations question, want to repair damages, although legally there are limits with the laws of the Transition. I insist on the generational question. Until 2000, there was no parliamentary initiative on memory. It is the grandchildren to a large extent that drive it. It is a generational factor.

As for a process, this is more difficult, and that has nothing to do with Martín Villa, who has always offered to testify, he is willing to give all the explanations. The legal system allows assuming many changes but certainly I do not see easy channels. The comparison with other exits from other dictatorships must be done taking into account that they may be dictatorships of another type and of another time that has elapsed, it is more feasible when a little time has passed.


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