The Spanish government of Pedro Sanchez, used the 85th anniversary of the 1936 coup this week, to announce its historical memory bill which aims to remove all remaining vestiges of General Franco.
The military coup against the 2nd Republic in July 1936, initially failed, but led to a bloody civil war resulting in the fall of the republic in 1939 and a 40 year dictatorship.
The Socialist PSOE / Podermos minority coalition government, will be introducing the Democratic Memory Law to parliament, where it hopes to garner sufficient votes from regional and centrist parties to overcome the conservative Partido Popular and Vox opposition.
The bill has multiple facets within the overall aim to redress grievances and heal the remaining divisions over the civil war in Spain.
Félix Bolaños, the minister overseeing the bill, said it was Spain’s “first law that expressly condemns and repudiates the coup … and the ensuing dictatorship, which ushered in the darkest period of our contemporary history.”
The parliamentary debate is likely to stir up old memories and re-ignite a debate over freedom of expression as well as Franco´s place in Spanish history.
The wide ranging bill builds on 2007 legislation that was introduced by the then Socialist government of José Luis Zapatero and seeks to rid the country of the last vestiges of the dictator´s rule.
In 2019 the governement authorised the removal of the dictator´s body from his Valley of the Fallen mausoleum in El Escorial to the Franco family crypt in El Pardo.
The main provisions of the bill include:
1. Modify the teaching sylabus in schools to include Franco’s post war repression and condeming the 1936 coup as an act against democratic values.
2. Annulling all court decisions made by Nationalist courts during the civil war. Over 30,000 people were tried and 3,189 sentenced to death by courts in Nationalist held areas. The 2007 law declared Francoist courts illegitimate, but did not strike down the convictions.
3. Establish a central agency to help locate mass graves and execution pits as well as an official register of victims including a database with genetic profiles of victims so that family members can trace relatives.
4. To establish an official prosecutors office with the power to investigate cases of victims as well as violations of international humanitarian law.
5. Liquidation of the Francisco Franco Foundation. The charitable foundation remains active in the promotion of Franco and the Nationalist cause.
6. The removal of remaining Francoist symbols including a new provision establishing fines of up to €150,000 for organizing events promoting Franco. Most public symbols have been removed since the 2007 law, but many private ones still exist including portraits, busts and statues.
7. Extending eligibility for Spanish citizenship to the children of exiled Spaniards from the Civil War. Hundreds of thousands of refugees fled the country on the fall of the republic, many to neighbouring France which has a sizeable population of descendents of the exiled.
8. To create a national museum and memorial to the victims of the war at the Valley of the Fallen mausoleum and the moving of the remains of José Antonio Primo de Rivera, the founder of the fascist Falange to be with the rest of the 33,000 nameless victims buried there.
9. Annulling nobility titles granted by Franco as head of state.
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