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Spain: the government approves the Democratic Memory bill that condemns the Franco regime

The government of Spain approved the preliminary draft Democratic Memory Law, that “condemns and repudiates the coup d’état of 1936 and the subsequent Franco regime.” With this measure, the government intends to comply with international recommendations on this matter and adapt the current regulations to European standards.

The standard includes a large number of measures, including the resignification of Valley of the Fallen, with the exhumation of Primo de Rivera of the main altar of the basilica, and the classification of the crime of apology of the Franco regime in certain cases.

The Minister of the Presidency, Relations with the Courts and Democratic Memory, Felix Bolaños, has appeared this Tuesday to present the draft law that now begins its processing in the Courts with the opposition of formations on the right, such as PP and Vox.

The project also encounters resistance in the complaints of memorialist associations and the pro-independence parliamentary groups of ERC and the CUP, who coincide in pointing out that the norm “Falls short.”

The draft law aims to replace the Historical Memory law approved by the government of José Luis Rodríguez Zapatero, in 2007, and has received the approval of the Council of Ministers already with the former vice president Carmen Calvo outside the government.

Calvo was precisely the one who most promoted this law, which already received a first approval from the Council of Ministers in September 2020, but which has been submitted to 10 months of public hearing and consultations and legal contributions.

A long process

In this period, the norm has received non-binding opinions from the Fiscal Council and the General Council of the Judicial Power (CGPJ). The first, an advisory body of the State Attorney General, Dolores Delgado, approved by the minimum in April (six votes to five) a report favorable to the draft, which it opposed the entire conservative bloc.

The second, on the other hand, approved a critical report with the draft by 15 votes compared to six in which the dissolution of the Francisco Franco Foundation was questioned, for understanding that the mere apology of the Franco regime is protected by the freedom of expression protected by the Constitution.

The draft approved by the Government would include some of the requirements that may allow the dissolution of entities that exalt the Franco regime or the dictator, such as the Francisco Franco Foundation, or prohibit public events of exaltation of the Franco regime.

What’s more, the “vilification” of the victims it would be an element to add to guarantee the constitutionality of these measures, as the governing body of the judges had warned in its opinion.

Vox will appeal the law

In general, protection and recognition of the victims of the Civil War and the dictatorship constitutes the sustenance of the entire legal framework of the norm, which the Executive now takes to Parliament with the idea of ​​collecting the contributions that the parliamentary groups can make, especially those on the left.

From the right, Vox has already announced that, without even knowing its content and without waiting for its parliamentary processing, it is determined to appeal the law to the Constitutional Court. And from the PP, Pablo Casado has already assured that as soon as he reaches the Government he will repeal it to change it for a law of “concord.”


For their part, the memorialist associations believe that the norm falls short and that is why they will try to influence parliamentary formations to change some of its terms through amendments in the Congress and the Senate.

Among these formations, ERC and the CUP have already been against to validate it as it is right now because, like the memorialist entities, they believe that the norm falls short.

ERC spokesman Gabriel Rufián stated in a press conference that his position is “very contrary” to the text sent by the Government to the Cortes and that “right now” his party cannot give you endorsement, except to favor its parliamentary processing in order that the debate continues and proposals can be made.

In the same sense, the CUP has spoken, which also considers “very insufficient” the project and stresses that it lacks measures to return the assets that were requisitioned from many associations, including unions and political parties, as a result of the 85-year-old coup.

But Minister Bolaños has appealed to all the parliamentary groups of the Chamber for the validation of the bill: “Beyond declarations of one type or another, the will of the Government is that the parties join a law comparable to the rest of European countries, that the only thing puts the victims at the center of a dictatorship “, he stressed.

The standard contains a wide range of precepts ranging frome the annulment of the trials of the Franco regime to the creation of a DNA bank to facilitate the identification of those who disappeared during the regime.

The remains of Primo de Rivera

As Bolaños explained, it is the State that has the responsibility of looking for the disappeared persons, for which a three-year plan will be made and the right of access to files and consultation funds is facilitated to find out the truth of what happened.

In addition, it is also included a plan for the transformation of the Valley of the Fallen, once Franco is no longer in the mausoleum, to turn it into a civil cemetery dedicated to paying tribute to the victims of both sides of the war.

“We are going to resignificar Valle de los Caídos “, so that” no body of any protagonist of the Franco regime may be in a prominent place in the mausoleum, “explained Bolaños.

In this way, the mortal remains of the Falangist leader Jose Antonio Primo de Rivera they will cease to be in a “preponderant place” of this mausoleum. His remains must stop resting on the main altar of the basilica, something that the Government intends to do in communication with the family of the Falangist leader. “We will talk with the family, it is the easiest way to comply with the law,” said Bolaños.

But in addition, the law provides for the extinction of the foundation of the Holy Cross of the Valley of the Fallen, which comes from the decree law of 1957 and a new one will be approved that will establish the applicable legal regime.

In addition, we will have to wait to know what will happen to the great cross that dominates the mausoleum. “The law establishes a general framework for the redefinition of the Valley of the Fallen, but within that framework, in due course, we will have to finalize a project in which a decision is made on the issue that you plan,” explained Bolaños.

In this context, the minister has said that they will have to “study the details well” because, as he recalled, the Valley of the Fallen “it’s a basilica, a place of worship. “In addition, he added that they want it to also” respond to a defense, a vindication of democratic values. “

The law provides for the extinction of the foundation of the Santa Cruz del Valle de los Caídos, which comes from a decree-law of 1957. As already announced in September, it is expected to provide the Supreme Court with a court prosecutor to protect the rights of victims and to promote the investigation of the crimes of the Franco regime.

“Will be investigated all violations of State rights from the coup until the promulgation of the Constitution “, guaranteed the minister.

A Territorial Council for Democratic Memory will also be created and the aim is to complete the removal of Francoist symbols in public places by incorporating a sanctioning regime that the Historical Memory Law lacked, while some enclaves may be declared “places of democratic memory”.

They will withdraw from honors, medals and distinctions that have supposed exaltation of the Civil War or the dictatorship, including titles of nobility.

Provisions are also included in the educational field to incorporate knowledge of democratic history and memory into the curricular contents, as well as the obligation to the General State administration to promote their knowledge through informative programs.

This matter “it will be curricular content in high school, ESO and FP “so that” democratic rights will be studied “and” research will be promoted, “explained Bolaños.

The Place of Memory is also created, the Documentary Center of Democratic Memory owned and managed by the state, dependent on the Ministry of Culture, based in Salamanca.

This center will be in charge of safeguarding and disseminating the documentary and bibliographic funds related to the period between 1936 and 1978, all files from the Coup d’état to the promulgation of the Constitution.

By Luis B. García, Barcelona. The vanguard



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