Wednesday, July 6

The Secretary General of Culture: “I am not worried that the Heritage Law ends up in the Constitutional Court”

“It is an update of the 1985 law. What is good, why spoil it”, explains Javier García Fernández, Secretary General of Culture, about the reform he has made to his own rule: he is the author of the Heritage Law Historical of more than 35 years ago and of the draft that this Tuesday began its parliamentary path. His authority is undeniable. In fact, the 72-year-old professor emeritus of Constitutional Law was recalled at the end of January 2020 by the cultural environment of President Pedro Sánchez, after being part of the team of the former Minister of Culture, José Guirao, who dismissed him in October of 2019 of the position of undersecretary. His task, both then and with the arrival of the team of José Manuel Rodríguez Uribes, has been to carry out this update of the Law, which expands the protection of Spanish heritage thanks to the incorporation of new categories: industrial, underwater and cinematographic and audiovisual heritage . In addition, the Intangible Cultural Heritage Law that the PP approved in 2015 without consensus will be reformed at the same time to carry out the protection of bullfighting. Once both have been approved by Congress and the Senate, the Ministry of Culture will be in charge of merging them into one. A process that will take at least one year.

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As indicated by the senior position in this newspaper, it is not an ambitious update or high-stakes. 75% of the 1985 Law is maintained and there is 25% of new articles, as he explains. “We did not want to touch on conflicting subjects, like bullfighting. We have not changed anything from the one approved in 2015 [con mayoría absoluta del PP], we do not want controversy. The content is peaceful ”, indicates García Fernández, who hopes to achieve the greatest consensus in the Chambers. However, during the parliamentary process, the reform will be indicated by opposition groups, both for the growth of the State’s powers in property matters, and for the perpetuation of the postulates of the PP.

In fact, several heritage managers of the autonomous communities have already expressed their discomfort after the announcement of the creation of the “World Heritage” figure, which will apply only to the complexes declared Cultural Heritage of Humanity by Unesco. They understand that behind this label there is an attempt to interfere in their powers over the declarations and management of their assets.

What will be the new role of the State in management and powers that are exclusive to the autonomous communities? García Fernández explains what this new label consists of: “Until now, Unesco contacted the Ministry of Culture when it understood that some asset on the List was being misrepresented. Then the Ministry informed the communities of the threat of being expelled. With this new figure, what we want is that there be more coordination in the management between the communities and the Ministry. The control and management will continue to be felt by the communities. The World Good is only an instrument of coordination. The regime will not change but the Ministry will be more present in the management. To do this, we will create a body similar to a Board of Directors ”, says the Secretary General for Culture.

It ensures that this reinforcement of the state presence in the management of assets declared by Unesco does not entail economic obligations to the State nor does it violate autonomous powers. Are you worried that the reform will end up in the Constitutional Court? “That they take it. I am not worried, because there are no extensions of the powers of the State,” answers the person in charge. In 2013 Javier García Fernández, without government positions and within the citizen movements for the defense of heritage, presented several allegations against the reform of the Madrid Heritage Law of the PP, which ended with a sentence against eight of the new articles because they were They interfered with the powers of the State. The law remains unreformed and the PP does not keep a good memory of García Fernández, who could now return the move and prosecute the process.

Although the Secretary General of Culture is convinced that the reform “is so well mounted that there need be no discrepancies”, in the PP he has not been slow to show his indignation. Sol Cruz Guzmán, the spokesperson for the popular in the Culture Commission of Congress, finds this reform “a joke.” He says that the deputies do not have the draft: “The PSOE spokesman himself does not even have it. They have not answered the Culture councilors who have claimed it,” he says. Marc Lamuà, spokesman for Culture of the PSOE, confirms that he has not seen it yet. Guzmán understands that the consensus to which the Secretary General of Culture aspires with his law “must be won before reaching Congress” and advances a common front between all the Autonomous Communities of the PP.

In fact, the main associations for the protection of Spanish heritage consulted by this newspaper also show the same indignation, because it is a reform that has been carried out behind the back of civil society. “Obviously, of course they have no record of the reform. Obviously, it is the capacity of the Government. The hearing process will now be directed to the associations that we decide to ask about. No one has been consulted. It is the Government who legislates, not the associations ”, explains García Fernández, who assures that the reform began to be carried out in the autumn of 2018 and was ready at the end of 2019. His dismissal, the change of ministers and the pandemic have delayed this long-awaited update .