Spain has taken another step in dealing with its troubled relationship with the regime of General Franco.
The Spanish Congress (lower house) has passed a new historical memory law that declares his regime, that ruled Spain from 1939 to his death in 1975 illegal as well as holding the central government, responsible for the recovery of the bodies of victims of the Civil War and subsequent regime.
The text of the law also nullifies the rulings of its courts, though falls short of amending the pre-constitutional amnesty law of 1977, which was considered a key step in ending the post Franco regime and the restoration of democracy a year later.
However the new law creates a State Prosecutors’ Office for Human Rights and Democratic Memory that guarantees the right to investigate the human rights violations during the period from 1936 until 1983.
The amnesty law, a key element of Spain’s so-called Pact of Forgetting during the transition to democracy, continues to prevent investigations and prosecutions for the crimes that happened during the dictatorship.
“The wound continues to bleed,” ERC MP Carolina Telechea said, lamenting that the new law continues to guarantee “impunity for executioners.”
The law also creates a Spain-wide DNA bank to identify remains, as well as a victim’s census and a map of mass graves.
An estimated 100,000 people are still unaccounted for from both the Civil War and the Franco Dictatorship.
The Spanish Prime Minister, Pedro Sanchez, told the Congress that the government “will pour our resources into disinterring the remains of those assassinated and who today are still in ditches.”
The Valley of the Fallen, a site built by imprisoned Republican soldiers that housed Franco’s remains until late October 2019, will be renamed the Valley of Cuelgamuros – a change that will almost certainly force the exhumation of Primo de Rivera, the founder of the fascist Falange party.
It also bans the Francisco Franco Foundation, that is dedicated to preserving the dictator´s legacy.
The vote in Parliament split on party ground – supported by the left and opposed by the right – the latter including the main opposition Popular Party vowing to scrap it if the party wins the next election.
The law will now have to make its way through the Senate where it is expected to pass this week.
The last few years has seen the final vestiges of Franco being removed from Spain´s public places with the last statue taken down last year.