Friday, July 30

The keys to the Law of Memory: women, graves, the Valley of the Fallen and Franco’s foundations


There are laws that go on highways and others, such as that of the Democratic Memory, which seem to travel on wagon roads. A year has passed, from one summer to another, to complete a round in which the law came as a draft to a Council of Ministers and has now been approved as a bill before a table full of new faces. It even brings a different driver.

The draft of the Memory Law does not convince the associations or part of the left: “Suspend first of antifascism”

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Carmen Calvo’s law went through the consultations of the Fiscal Council and the Judicial Power, transforming itself little by little, perhaps not essentially. And it has reached Moncloa again in the briefcase of the current Minister of the Presidency, Félix Bolaños, to whom the text was not at all unknown.

The Democratic Memory Law repeals the 2007 Historical Memory Law, which is why it includes in its articles many measures that are already in force, such as the removal of symbols contrary to the memory or the moral recognition of the victims. These are its main keys:

What will happen to the victims

They will appear in a single public registry together with the information on the violence exerted on them and the place and date of their death, if known. The law defines what a victim of Francoism is and places a time limit on the approval of the Constitution in 1978.

Long-forgotten victims are those who did forced labor. The law will promote initiatives to mark those places, such as the Madrid-Burgos railway line, the Lavacolla airport or the Valley of the Fallen itself. A census will also be carried out of those jobs and of the companies that benefited, such as Huarte in his day, whose heir today is OHL. Among those initiatives to be promoted will be that these companies adopt measures with a view to recognition. The members of the International Brigades (if any are alive) will be granted Spanish nationality.

What will happen to the political sentences of the Franco regime

The Law of Historical Memory considered the Francoist courts illegitimate. With this law, your political sentences will be considered void, but for that to be effective, they would have to be claimed one by one in court.

What the exhumations will be like from now on

The State will be responsible for the search for the disappeared persons and will have to carry out multi-year search, location, exhumation and identification plans. He will do it ex officio or by request. Until now, this has been a work that the memorialist fabric has voluntarily carried out, with financial aid when the Government was on the left or with zero euros when it was from the Popular Party.

Every year the data of the open graves and the exhumations, both those carried out and those that failed, will be published. If they are on land whose owner does not give consent, the administration may authorize the temporary occupation and compensate the owners. The transfer of remains of victims without administrative authorization will be considered a very serious offense (fines between 10,000 and 150,000 euros), as well as the destruction of graves.

Until now, when a memorialist association found skeletal remains, especially with signs of violence, they brought it to the attention of the nearest court, an act that was of little use since they are considered prescribed crimes and the file was filed immediately, continuing the association with your work. Based on the law, they are obliged to inform the Public Prosecutor’s Office and the administrations, creating a specialized prosecutor for war crimes and the dictatorship.

When these associations completed the identification work, they returned the remains to their relatives in public events, but with the law, a representative of the public powers must always be present. Another novelty is the creation of a national DNA bank, where biological samples of relatives will be stored in order to be able to collate them with a view to future identification.

What will happen to Franco’s foundations

The law designates the body of surveillance of the foundations, the Protectorate, as responsible for judicially urging the extinction of a foundation that apologizes for Francoism and humiliates the victims, since if it only exalted the dictatorship, it would enter the territory of ideological freedom, as the General Council of the Judiciary warned the Government.

How the memory public policy will be articulated

There is currently a State Secretariat for Democratic Memory, created by the Government of Pedro Sánchez. With the law, a Territorial Council for Democratic Memory will be incorporated, attached to the Ministry of the Presidency, in which the autonomous communities and municipalities will participate through the Spanish Federation of Municipalities and Provinces.

The law does not provide for the creation of an office to serve as a one-stop shop or single interlocutor for the families of the victims. Nor is there a specific institute where victims are investigated and accompanied in processes such as the exhumations of the Valley of the Fallen, as does exist in the Basque Country with Gogora.

There will also be a catalog of vestiges contrary to memory to be eliminated and another of places linked to memory, the fight of citizens for their rights, repression and violence as a result of the resistance to the coup d’état of 1936, exile and fight for the recovery of democratic values. This last inventory of assets will have a protection regime and will be published in the BOE. Destroying or undermining a place of memory will also be a very serious offense, as well as the carrying out in spaces open to the public of acts of exaltation of the war or the dictatorship that belittle the victims or their families. It will be seen if the events that take place on November 20 or the tributes to the Blue Division fall into this category.

Another newly created entity will be the Democratic Memory Council, a consultative body participated by the Government and by the memorial entities. In addition, a state registry of the entities that make up the memorial movement is foreseen, provided that they are legally constituted.

What will the documentary archive of memory be like

It will be centralized. The law continues to bet on the Documentary Center of Historical Memory, located in Salamanca, with the function of gathering and recovering all possible documentary collections.

The future of the Valley of the Fallen

With the law approved, the burial of José Antonio Primo de Rivera there will be illegal, so his exhumation would be the next step. The Foundation of the Holy Cross of the Valley of the Fallen will be extinguished, which depends on the National Heritage and which has regulated the monument since 1957 and the rest of the facilities in the care of the Benedictine monks, such as the escolanía and the inn.

The crypts of the Basilica will make up a civil cemetery, which will be dignified and all the people who request the exhumation of their relatives buried there will be attended to. A royal decree will be promulgated to establish the new legal framework for the Valley of the Fallen, which in the Democratic Memory law continues to be called as Franco decided.



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