In the Congress of Deputies there is much talk of history, usually to wield it like a club to hit the adversary in the head. It is not usually a very subtle debate and historians are not always quoted. In order to embarrass the rival, it can even be held responsible for terrible events that occurred decades ago in very distant countries. Guilty by association is a recurring type of accusation, and of course the accuser is the one who decides how far the association goes, which ends up being a concept as malleable as plasticine. What comes first is ‘whataboutism’, responding with a ‘and what about this other’ to continue entangling the skein. In the end, it is common for everything to end with Vox claiming some element of Francoism.
The Constitutional Commission of Congress held on Thursday a debate on two non-law proposals (NLP) that had to do with historical memory. The Popular Party wanted all groups to condemn “the apology of communism.” If you read newspapers in the late eighties, you will know that communism as an ideology of government disappeared in Europe with the end of the Soviet Union. There are still communist parties, but they are not going to reach power and if they are in a government, as in the case of Spain, it is not to apply a policy similar to Eastern Europe at the time. In that case, we would have found out.
However, for the PP we are facing a pressing problem. “In Spain we have a serious problem of apology for communism,” said Edurne Uriarte. After hearing this, there will be those who think that Lenin is the favorite character of the Spaniards or that the PCE will win the next elections alone and impose its political program. The soviets will appear, as Esperanza Aguirre said would happen if Manuela Carmena won the Madrid elections. The only thing that arrived was Madrid Central and Operation Chamartín.
Uriarte accused the left of refusing to condemn communism, as was done in a European Parliament resolution in 2009, supported by conservatives, social democrats and liberals. In Spain, the PSOE and the PCE, which did not end well with each other in the Second Republic, have preferred to recognize the role that the communists played practically alone in the fight against the dictatorship.
Along these lines, Jon Iñarritu, from Bildu, remembered Miguel Hernández, Rafael Alberti, Pablo Picasso or Jorge Semprún as communists who are difficult to label as totalitarians. The socialist Indalecio Gutiérrez said that his party condemns all totalitarianisms and recalled that the PP has not condemned Francoism in plenary session, because it only did so in a Commission. Voted in favor of that conviction at a meeting of the Constitutional Commission in 2002 and it has not done so on other occasions for different reasons, for example not to endorse the transfer of Franco’s remains from the Valley of the Fallen.
It is difficult to catch up with all the declarations of the PP on the Franco regime. At times, it is true that his spokesmen have condemned him. But very recently, Pablo Casado put Francoism and the democracy of the Second Republic on the same level, which he called a period of “lawless democracy”, ignoring that the right won one of the elections held in that historical period, thereby that there was some law.
The PP usually affirms that only the left is interested in remembering the Franco regime. Now Casado has promised to annul the historical memory law, the one that exists now and the new one that the Government wants to be approved. He says these things are of no interest to anyone. In Thursday’s session, he decided that Spaniards are interested in talking about Soviet communism.
The Vox spokesman began by boasting that they are against “ideas as toxic as the fascists or the communists.” The trick is to separate the Franco dictatorship from fascism. In the end, they always leave a space for surprise that does not surprise anyone. “We will not allow the yoke and arrows to be destroyed in Spain, a symbol long before the Falange,” said Francisco José Contreras. Obviously, the yokes and arrows that multiplied throughout Spain for decades were placed by the dictatorship to pay homage to the Falangists.
Another NLP that was discussed in the Commission – the deputies love NLP, even though they know that governments pass them by – was presented by United We Can to remove medals and decorations awarded to leaders of totalitarian regimes and convicted people for crimes against humanity or contrary to democratic values. Gerardo Pisarello recalled that in 1978 King Juan Carlos granted the necklace of Isabel la Católica to General Videla, leader of a dictatorship that eliminated 30,000 Argentines. There are parts of history that remain for the annals of shame and can hardly be erased.
Spanish governments use these decorations to please foreign heads of state with whom they want to have good relations, and so all kinds of Latin American and African dictators or Persian Gulf monarchs have been awarded for decades. The opposition recalled Thursday that Konstantín Chernenko or Fidel Castro were also awarded.
If there is not even a basic consensus on the past of Spain and if the right believes that historical memory is a dirty thing that stains the mind just by referring to it, get everyone to agree on the foreign countries to which it is owed honoring is simply impossible. At least, the PP has brought us a novelty this week: historical memory is a horror unless it serves to shout a few shouts against the Government.