The Leonese town of Villadangos del Páramo voted this Friday whether or not to accept the proposal of the Association for the Recovery of Historical Memory (ARMH) that, at the request of relatives, is looking for some 70 disappeared from Franco’s repression in the province. The petition did not go ahead with 22 votes against, 12 in favor and 2 abstentions among those who made up the Neighborhood Assembly of the council that night. During its celebration, the deputy mayor Alberto González (PP), a member of the Board, discouraged as much as possible the approval to carry out the excavation in the municipal cemetery, where the graves are presumed to be.
“I have been investigating this matter, I have contacted the Secretary of State for Historical Memory and I want you to know that there are other alternatives that can give more guarantees,” said the mayor during the ceremony. Among those alternatives was to wait for the approval of the future Democratic Memory Law, since with it “it must be the Government that carries out the excavations.” According to González, this scenario would provide “more guarantees” than an exhumation carried out by the ARMH, an association that has been carrying out exhumations and identification of victims of the Civil War and Franco with forensic protocols for more than 20 years. However, according to the draft Democratic Memory Law, the State is responsible for “the search” for the disappeared persons but, as developed later in the article, the public administrations “will collaborate” in the “investigation, location and identification” with “the victims or those entities that include the development of such activities among their purposes”, which will be done “through the financing and aid mechanisms established”. In other words, the State – and a City Council is part of the State – is expected to have greater involvement, collaboration and willingness to search, but to a large extent it will continue to be specialized associations that continue to carry out this work, with public funding. The difference with this case is that the ARMH rejects the subsidies and maintains its activity due to the membership fees and affiliates. “I say what I have been informed,” added the mayor in his speech.
Sources from the Secretary of State for Democratic Memory qualify as “radically false” that the deputy mayor of Villadangos del Páramo has been advised by the Secretary of State, “because at no time has he spoken with him, nor has he been contacted by phone “. Moreover, they add that “it is not acceptable, in any way, to hide behind false advice to add arguments to the refusal to give free rein to what has to be complied with by law.” The laws that apply in this case and that would be superior to any municipal decision are the Law of Historical and Democratic Memory of Castilla y León, which indicates that the Administration will facilitate the investigation, location and identification of the victims and the State Law of Memory Historic of 2007, in force while the one that is expected to soon begin its parliamentary process is not approved.
Exhuming is a “priority” of the Government
Fernando Martínez, Secretary of State for Democratic Memory, has stressed that “the search, location and identification of the remains of people buried in mass graves is a moral duty of our democratic society, and a clear political and moral commitment to the victims and their relatives “. “Exhumations are a priority policy for the Government of Spain,” he added, indicating that at the moment there are 114 underway and that by the end of the year there will be 302, promoted not only by associations but also by municipalities and autonomous communities.
Despite the fact that Villadangos could have carried out the search work for these 70 executed in his municipal term between September and November 1936, counting on the financing articulated through the Spanish Federation of Municipalities and Provinces, he has not done so. done. On the contrary, according to the ARMH and the family members, this mayor’s office has been dedicated to putting obstacles and delaying as much as possible the request of the families to recover the bodies of their own.
The ARMH has announced that it will file a complaint with the Junta de Castilla y León and will study the possibility of carrying out a complaint for administrative prevarication against the City Council, as well as with the Prosecutor’s Office for non-compliance with the Historical Memory Law. The memorialist association has also regretted, in a statement sent to the press, that “the first deputy mayor of the PP [Alberto González] campaign for the ‘no’ in the meeting of the neighborhood council prior to the vote, and to do so indicate that he has received advice from the Secretary of State for Memoria Democrática. ”
The vice president of the Junta de Castilla y León Francisco Igea (Citizens), spokesman for the regional government and counselor who holds the powers of Historical Memory, announced this Sunday in a tweet that on Monday he will go to know first-hand the situation in Villadangos and “ensure compliance with the law.” In a press conference this week, Igea had declared emphatically on this matter that “it is a right” and “it should not be voted on.”