Spain already has a new Democratic Memory Law. The Senate has just definitively approved by 128 votes in favor, 113 against and 18 abstentions the rule promoted by the Government and thus puts its entry into force. None of the more than 500 amendments presented by the groups have been supported, nor have the vetoes of the PP, Vox and Ciudadanos gone ahead after the long plenary session held this Wednesday, so the text remains, and it will be published in the Bulletin. Official of the State, as it left the Congress at the beginning of summer.
The law was then about to be written off due to lack of support, but an agreement with several of the usual partners of the Government saved one of the most symbolic projects of the legislature. The rule aims to be a new roadmap in terms of historical memory and, among other things, resignifies the Valley of the Fallen, withdraws the titles of nobility granted by Franco, assumes the exhumations as a State responsibility or declares the dictatorship and sentences illegal. dictated by the Francoist courts.
Senators have been debating this Wednesday for more than five hours on this legislation that comes to replace and extend the current one, approved in 2007 by José Luis Rodríguez Zapatero. “Today we settle a historic debt with those who defended democracy when it was overthrown and suffered jail, exile and persecution for decades, many murdered on the walls of a cemetery or in a ditch, where their remains still remain. We also settle a debt with their relatives and their descendants and, finally, with all of Spanish society”, affirmed the socialist Eva Granados, in charge of closing the session.
The harshest criticism has come from the right-wing bench, which has accused the Government of “questioning” the Transition and calls the law “sectarian”, while a part of the left believes that it is “improvable” and has demanded more ambition. This is the case of ERC, which, as it did in the process in Congress, has abstained. This critical vision is also shared by some memorial associations, who believe that the law is “insufficient” and that it will continue to leave Francoist crimes unpunished in our country, which, for the time being, are only being investigated in Argentina.
The right-wing opposition
“Why do they insist on rejecting a law that is an act of elementary justice?”, he asked the PP, Ciudadanos and Vox Granados, who ended his speech with the applause of the chamber to the experts, victims and groups that have attended the debate from the guest gallery. “Memory is the opposite of oblivion and in democracy oblivion is not an option, memory is the recognition, reparation and dignity of all the victims of the coup d’état, the Civil War and the dictatorship”, the senator has settled.
That the law is “a throwing weapon” and a “betrayal of the Spaniards” that “intends to turn us into a militant left-wing democracy” are some of the opinions expressed by the popular Amelia Salanueva, who has subsequently been complemented by her partner Salomé Pradas to accuse the Government of “rewriting history” and “reopening wounds from the past”. “Until the graves are opened, the wounds will not be closed,” she responded in her turn Granados.
A similar argument has been deployed by Vox, which even speaks of “violation of fundamental rights” and has promised “not to stop until its total repeal is achieved”, in the words of José Manuel Marín. The three right-wing groups focus on a precept of the law included to study possible violations of human rights beyond the death of the dictator, until 1983. Something with which the senator of Ciudadanos, Miguel Sánchez, has accused the Executive of “questioning basic pillars of our democratic system” such as the Transition, despite the fact that the measure does not extend the scope of application of the law, which reaches until the promulgation of the Constitution.
To justify their ‘no’ to the rule, these three parties have also brought up the terrorist group ETA, as they did in Congress. The law “creates an unacceptable inequality” between “first-class and second-class victims”, assured Sánchez, including the people murdered by the ETA members in the second group and those of the Franco regime in the first. The latter victims who are still waiting in many cases even to recover their disappeared relatives and who had to wait more than 30 years to be minimally recognized and named by law.
All the other formations have stood up to the denial of the historical memory of PP, Vox and Ciudadanos. And in fact, one of the first to respond has been the PNV, which in the words of Estefanía Beltrán has lamented that “they do not want any law that recognizes the truth of what happened” and that “they prefer a cloak of silence over this stage of totalitarianism fascist”. “Today we say loud and clear to the right and extreme right that democratic memory is law because that is how the citizens want it, we pay off a historic debt”, added the socialist Granados.
The general feeling is that the norm represents an advance with respect to the current law, but even so, some groups do not hide the bittersweet taste with which they are left. Among them, ERC, Geroa Bai or Compromís, who demand more ambition. The Republicans, who have been clear –“This is not the ERC law”, said Senator Josep María Reniu–, have abstained from the vote, but have warned the Government that they will be “attentive and vigilant in compliance” with the provisions of the project, most of which will enter into force one day after its publication in the BOE.
If several of the critical parties agree on something, it is that they believe that the law should be more forceful with the persecution and prosecution of Francoist crimes, something that Amnesty International has even stated. They consider that the explicit removal of the obstacles that today prevent these human rights violations from being prosecuted in Spain is missing from the text and they believe that the creation of a specialized Prosecutor’s Office or the amendment agreed by the PSOE and United We Can that declares War crimes and crimes against humanity are imprescriptible and not subject to amnesty.
ERC has also regretted that the table has inadmissible for processing one of the amendments presented by the group and that called for the “suppression” of the title of King of Spain, a proposal that has not been debated because “it would require a reform of article 56.2 of the Constitution”, as communicated to them by the Senate. “The disparity of criteria in Congress and the Senate is incomprehensible, since it was processed and voted there,” Reniu denounced.