Wednesday, August 17

Congress approves the Democratic Memory Law with the opposition of the right

The Democratic Memory Law had almost been given up on when the pact between the PSOE and United We Can with several of its usual partners managed to get it off the ground a couple of weeks ago. He took a run on the rule that replaces and extends the one approved by José Luis Rodríguez Zapatero in 2007 and, after saving his first vote last week, has already gone ahead in the plenary session of Congress this Thursday. The law, which declares the Franco dictatorship illegal and assumes the exhumations of victims as the responsibility of the State, has been approved with the vote against the PP, Vox and Ciudadanos, in addition to the CUP and JxCat, and the abstention of ERC and the BNG .

Although it still has to go through the Senate, the Government has managed to carry out one of its most symbolic legislative projects coinciding with the debate on the state of the nation, in which Pedro Sánchez has staged an acceleration of the progressive agenda. And it has done so in the midst of a fierce debate in which the right wing have once again used the victims of ETA to justify their opposition, while a part of the left has endorsed the criticism of various memorial associations, which consider “insufficient” the law and assure that “it will not reverse” the impunity of Spain with the crimes of Francoism.

Faced with a divided parliamentary arch and promises of repeal of the norm by the PP and Vox, the Minister of the Presidency, Relations with the Courts and Democratic Memory, Félix Bolaños has justified the need for a law that “will make more dignified our democracy” and has defined memory as “a right of the citizens and of the victims”. The minister has read fragments of the text to show that “it does not say what some say” and has assured that “he pays homage to all the victims of the Civil War, on one side and the other. And of the dictatorship, that there were, and many”. “This government is always with all the victims, protecting them and not trying to use them,” he snapped.

ETA against historical memory

The recourse to ETA has filled all the speeches of the right, which have not spoken of reprisals or the Franco regime. Guillermo Díaz, from Ciudadanos, has accused the Government of making a “difference in treatment” depending on whether those killed are “because of fascism” or because of the “terrorism” of the armed gang. Bolaños has reminded them that since 2011 there has been a law of recognition and comprehensive protection for victims of terrorism while Enrique Santiago, of United We Can, has described as “shame” that the right “hides behind the victims of terrorism to justify the crimes of a dictatorship”.

But if something has been insistently repeated by both the PP and Vox and Ciudadanos, it is the accusation of the Government of collusion with “the political heirs of the ETA assassins”, according to the popular deputy Jaime Miguel in reference to the pact with Bildu to save the law and despite the message released to the victims yesterday by the nationalist formation. That it is a “totalitarian” law, that it “divides the Spanish”, that it means “crushing the victims” of ETA terrorism, a “frontal attack on the Transition” or the “batasunization of memory” are some of the phrases that the Plenary has heard from the mouths of the three right-wing parties.

Progress and pending issues

Although the groups that have supported the norm have not avoided that it leaves pending questions, they have wanted to defend the advances that it supposes with respect to the current one. “Today we take another step to return to thousands of victims of Francoism a part of the justice, truth and reparation they deserve”, said the deputy of Bildu Bel Pozueta before acknowledging that “we would like to have gone further” . In his opinion, his amendments “have improved” the text, but “it still suffers from a critical view of what the Transition period entailed, since it attempts to convey the idea that a period of peace and democracy began with the Constitution.”

The rule, which among other things will resignify the Valley of the Fallen, will eliminate noble titles granted by Franco and aims to extinguish the Francoist foundations, will study the violations of human rights that were committed beyond the death of the dictator, until 1983. A precept included after the debate with the groups that, although it does not extend the temporary application of the law until then, has focused the opposition of the right, which accuses the Executive of questioning the Transition and the Government of Felipe González. “After the approval of the Constitution, the reactionary forces did not become democrats the next morning”, justified the socialist deputy Valentín García.

Very critical of the norm, to the point of not supporting it, have been the CUP or JxCat, while the ERC and the BNG have abstained. For all, the text lacks a key issue that has also been denounced by victims’ associations and even Amnesty International: the removal of the obstacles that currently prevent Franco’s crimes from being judged and mean that the only cause in the world that investigates them is open in Argentina. Thus, they believe that the amendment introduced by the PSOE and United We Can, which indicates that war crimes and crimes against humanity cannot be prescribed or amnestiable, will not be enough.

For ERC, it is “a law of impunity for the executioners” and “it continues to fall far short of what should be fair compensation for the victims,” ​​said Carolina Telechea, who still recognized that it is “much better” than the that came out of the Council of Ministers. “With what is approved today the wound continues to bleed” and “it will continue as long as justice is not done and the wounds are repaired”, he continued before warning the Government that his abstention “is not a vote of confidence” but rather a “warning ”.

The critical view of organizations

The applause in the plenary when Meritxell Batet announced the results of the votes contrasts with what the associations of victims of Franco’s regime expressed just a few hours before at the gates of Congress. They believe that the law, although it improves the current one, is not very ambitious and “absolutely insufficient to guarantee the right to effective judicial protection,” says the State Coordinator for Support of the Argentine Complaint (CeAQUA). Along the same lines, Amnesty International expresses itself, that although it welcomes and positively values ​​the progress, it is blunt and affirms that “it does not guarantee the right to judicial protection for the victims”, in addition to leaving aside compensation as part of its comprehensive reparation. .

For its part, the Association for the Recovery of Historical Memory, which carried out the first scientific exhumations in 2000, has reacted to the approval of the law by lamenting that it “leaves in force” the Amnesty Law, which it does not believe a body that cares for the disappeared or recognizes the economic reparations to the victims. “The law speaks of truth, but it will not tell who the executioners were; He talks about justice, but he is not going to judge anyone and he talks about reparation, but he is not going to compensate the families of the murdered and disappeared”, he assures.