A woman carries a Republican flag near the Valley of the Fallen (Photo: Jon Nazca / GTRES)
A very important step, it had been waiting for years on the part of the left and the associations. The Council of Ministers has approved the new Democratic Memory law, which deepens that of José Luis Rodríguez Zapatero from 2007 and puts the victims at the center. A rule that comes in the middle of revisionism on the part of the right and the extreme right what happened and with the opposition, without reading it, of the Popular Party and Vox. The project started by Carmen Calvo has now passed into the hands of Félix Bolaños, the new Minister of the Presidency and legal mastermind of La Moncloa. These are some keys to the text and the political landscape it faces:
A European standard. Spain lagged behind in memory legislation in many neighboring countries and now aims to be at the level of other European nations, as the Minister of the Presidency himself has recognized. For the elaboration of the norm, the considerations made by the UN through Pablo de Greiff in 2014 have been taken into account and the definition of victims is made according to the parameters of Human Rights. For example, the creation of a census of victims is planned, something that Spain does not have and does exist in other countries such as Germany. The law follows the general international lines in this type of norms: truth, justice, reparation and the duty of memory.
Félix Bolaños (Photo: Europa Press News via .)
Condemnation of the Franco regime. The law expressly includes the condemnation and rejection of the 1936 coup and the Franco dictatorship. This comes at a time when there have been several controversies over the words of the right: Vox has come to say in Parliament that this is the worst government in eighty years (which includes the Franco supporters) and this Monday the Former Minister Ignacio Camuñas said in a ceremony with Pablo Casado that the Second Republic had been guilty of the Civil War and denied that there had been a coup in 1936. The president of the Popular Party was silent and said nothing at these words . La Moncloa warns that this law should be approved by any democratic party. The PP and Vox, without reading it, have already been opposed: the extreme right will appeal it and the PP has promised a law of Concord if it governs.
Justice. One of the most powerful points of the approved rule is that the sentences handed down by the Franco regime’s exceptional courts are annulled, declaring the sentences null and void. In addition, as a great novelty, a Chamber Prosecutor’s Office is created, which will be appointed by the State Attorney General’s Office from among the courtroom prosecutors. Will handle investigations and raise cases. The Government estimates that almost all the possible guilty of crimes are dead, but if it finds any alive, the Prosecutor’s Office will take charge of raising that case or not.
The end of the Franco Foundation. One of the main consequences of the law will be that the foundations that defend Francoism or leaders of the dictatorship will be extinguished, in addition to those that incite hatred or belittle the victims. This would lead to the end of the Francisco Franco Foundation. Likewise, as a result of this rule, an association that apologizes for Francoism may not be declared of public utility. This also equates with other European countries, for example with Germany. The Francisco Franco Foundation has said that it reaffirms that it will continue to defend the dictator.
The future of the Valley of the Fallen. Another of the main points that the law has is the resignification of the Valley of the Fallen, which will become a civil cemetery. None of those buried may have a prominent place, so the exhumation of the body of José Antonio Primo de Rivera is expected. It will be studied in particular what project will be developed to be a place of memory but does not contemplate demolishing the great cross. What will be extinguished is the foundation of the Great Cross of the Valley of the Fallen.
Valley of the Fallen (Photo: NurPhoto via .)
Memory and education. The Government insists that this memory of what happened must exist so that it does not happen again. It is not a law only of the past, but it also serves the present. One of the things that is being pursued is to break that circle in which the Civil War and the Franco dictatorship are never studied in schools. That is why it will be included in the school curricula in ESO, Baccalaureate and Vocational Training. The Executive does not advance how it will be specified once it is approved by the Council of Ministers. Precisely in this area of memory it will also be noted that nobility titles related to the Franco regime will be withdrawn and a Memory Center will also be built in Salamanca. In the project, October 31 is set as the day of the victims and May 8 as the day of the exiles.
The exhumations. The Government estimates that there are still between 20,000 and 25,000 corpses in common graves in Spain. The Government wants to give a boost to these exhumations: now 114 are being carried out and another 190 will join this year, by virtue of the agreement with the autonomous communities with 3 million euros. This would lead to this year having 304. A series of penalties is also set, ranging from 200 euros to 150,000 for very serious actions such as destroying mass graves.
This article originally appeared on The HuffPost and has been updated.