Wednesday, August 4

A useful Memory Law for Spain

To speak of memory politics is to speak of the present. It is talking about identity. Without memory there is no individual or collective identity. And without collective identity there is no society. A society is not only the sum of its members, but is articulated from the common will to know what we were to understand what we are. To exchange experiences and knowledge to decide together what we will be in the future. This Government is convinced of the need to place memory policies in the context of advancing human rights cultures and practices on a global level. The Spain of the 21st century needs a true State policy in favor of truth, justice, reparation and the duty of memory as a guarantee of non-repetition. Memory is a right. A right of citizenship.

Law 52/2007 on Historical Memory laid the foundations for the development of public policies aimed at the recognition and reparation of the victims of the Civil War and the Dictatorship. Fourteen years after its approval, it had to be reviewed and updated to achieve its objectives.

The draft of the Democratic Memory Law approved on July 20 by the Council of Ministers gives an impetus to the recovery, safeguarding and dissemination of democratic memory. To the knowledge of the vindication and defense of democratic values ​​and fundamental rights and freedoms throughout our contemporary history. Its objective is the recognition of those who suffered persecution or violence between 1936 and 1978, in order to promote both the recovery of their personal, family and collective memory as well as their moral reparation. It is the first law that expressly condemns and repudiates the coup d’état of July 18, 1936 and the subsequent dictatorship. The text declares the unjust nature of human rights violations, the illegitimacy of the exceptional courts and, as a novelty, the nullity of the sentences and resolutions issued by the Francoist repressive bodies for political, ideological, conscience or religious belief reasons. , or sexual orientation and identity.

Relieving the pain that thousands of compatriots still feel who want to recover the remains of their loved ones, find out what happened to them and restore their honor is a human obligation. In this sense, it is a healing law that meets the demands of family members, which we place at the center of the new Law. Their tireless struggle and the firm commitment of the memorialist associations deserve it.

Consolidating public policies from memory in a support of legal rank is a necessity and a duty. The Government has been working for three years on a law that integrates the human, political, legal and social dimensions of democratic memory. It is a necessity, because it is required by the new social and political context, in which supervening elements have emerged, such as the recommendations of international human rights organizations, the laws and provisions on memory approved by the autonomous governments, the new contributions and demands of the memorial movement regarding the deficits in the effective fulfillment of the objectives of Law 52/2007, and the approval of parliamentary initiatives that coincide in that need to solve the deficiencies through the approval of a new Law.

It is also a duty, because it preserves and keeps alive the memory of the victims of the Civil War and the Dictatorship through the four cornerstones of international humanitarian law. In the first place, their right to the truth, specified in the assumption by the State of leadership in the search for disappeared persons, the creation of a national DNA bank, the protection of documents referring to that period and the right of access to the funds and archives. Second, the principle of justice, with new features such as the guarantee of the right to investigate human rights violations or the creation of a Prosecutor’s Office of the Democratic Memory Room. Third, the promotion of reparations by conducting an audit and an inventory of seizures, plundering and penalties, and the promotion of investigations into forced labor. Finally, the establishment of a duty of memory of the public powers to avoid the repetition of any form of political violence or persecution, with novelties such as the establishment of a sanctioning regime.

Because, above all, it is a humanizing Law, with a strong moral component. For decades, selective forgetting led us down the path of forgetfulness. We inherit an artificial memory, created from a partial and interested interpretation of historical events. The account of the victims was eliminated, and that denied memory has been an unjust and heavy burden for several generations. We need to fill in the gaps. Claim the silenced suffering. Know our history fully.

For this reason, this law is not the end of the road, but the roadmap that Spain needs. It is a law for recognition. A law for reunion, which makes us better as a country.

The history that preceded us is the ground we step on. But it has to be solid ground. Memory recovery is a strong bulwark of modern democracies. For this reason, we propose a serene and conscious exercise: rescue it, organize it, understand it and disseminate it. Learn from it, not to rekindle conflicts or create new ones, but to act in accordance with our human and citizenship condition. To lay the foundations for a future coexistence in peace and freedom.

Democratic memory also acts firmly against totalitarian and neo-fascist approaches, and fosters respect for human rights and social justice. For this reason, the draft bill also has the will to intervene on those cultural or ideological constructions of the present that ignore the injustices of the past. Regarding those associations or foundations that defend Francoism, they praise their leaders, with contempt and humiliation of the dignity of the victims, or incite hatred or violence against them.

The text submitted to the Cortes Generales has been the result of a process of broad public participation. Numerous contributions have been received from institutions, entities and civil society. We have worked prudently and with a vocation to listen, but also with determination. We aspire that, during its parliamentary process, the text is enriched with new contributions and achieves the maximum support of the political groups. Democratic forces should have no problem joining a law comparable to those in force in neighboring countries.

Finally, I would like to point out the deeply pedagogical nature of the Law. It is essential to update the contents of democratic memory in compulsory education, in teacher training plans and in the selection processes of the public function. Democratic learning is the key to a more open, diverse and plural society, whose citizens are capable of continuing to consolidate and expand rights and freedoms. Able to think, united, a fairer and freer future. Democratic learning so that new generations can model their destiny with the clay of the memory of their parents and grandparents, in the noble framework of civic and ethical values ​​that make Spain a great country.

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