Now that the draft of the Democratic Memory Law reaches the Council of Ministers, by the hand of the new Minister of the Presidency Félix Bolaños, it is worth remembering at what point we are and how urgent there is of a law that guarantees truth, justice, reparation and guarantees of non-repetition so that the victims of the Franco regime stop being victims of the third category.
Various memorialist associations, as well as a multitude of victims and relatives, regret that the draft of the Memory Law prepared by the team of former Minister Carmen Calvo does not meet international standards on human rights and recall that it is insufficient, because it does not establish a sanction for the executioners and continues to deny justice to the victims.
Both CEAQUA -which integrates various groups in the Argentine lawsuit- and Amnesty International have proposed modifications to the preliminary draft to bring it into line with international standards. Specifically, they regret that the text does not expressly link the right to the truth with the promotion of collective truth, and recall that the UN has urged Spain on different occasions to consider “the creation of an independent mechanism (such as a Commission of the truth) that allows to clarify the human rights violations committed in the past “.
They have also pointed out that the draft “does not address a single obstacle that continues to cause the victims of these serious crimes to be systematically denied the right to justice in Spain.” Regarding reparation, they indicate that without judicial investigation and without a policy to promote the official truth, “reparation of the stigma suffered by the victims and their families is also prevented,” and that only partial reparation is contemplated because it is it “expressly excludes compensation and all forms of patrimonial responsibility with respect to those persons whose patrimony was seized, carried out forced labor or suffered unjust convictions.”
All these points should not be perceived as whims or tantrums, but as substantial needs not only for the victims, but for democracy itself. The Government has the obligation to listen willingly and with interest to the victims and their families, who explain better than anyone the gigantic obstacles they encounter when looking for their disappeared, when they knock on the doors of some municipalities asking for help, when they try to investigate the archives, when they go to court demanding justice.
ETA victims have received memory, dignity, justice. Nobody dares to question them. The victims of the dictatorship continue to be silenced, disappeared, hidden, questioned. Many of their families had their bodies and property stolen, their sons and daughters suffered from marking, stigmatization, poverty, and lack of education. Their stories are not part of the official history of our country. This has contributed to creating a transgenerational trauma ignored by the officers.
Ending the impunity of the Franco regime is key for all aspects of our present time, not only for those who suffer it in the first person. That the State continues to deny truth, justice and reparation explains that even today there are people who publicly presume to defend the Franco regime, or who minimize the damage that it caused. That the State upholds the Amnesty Law for crimes that do not prescribe because they are clearly framed as crimes against humanity explains that a part of the Spanish right feels owner of this country, that it dehumanizes those who do not think like it, that they bet on the confrontation instead of dialogue every time their criteria are not followed.
That is why the parliamentary debate on the final content of the future Democratic Memory Law will be so important: because said law not only affects the victims of Francoism, but also the collective perception of who we are as a country and how far they can go or not. who continue to deny those crimes against humanity. Laws not only legislate: they also spread values, mark limits, establish categories.
The message transmitted during more than forty years of democracy in the area of Memory has protected criminals and deniers from the crimes of the Franco regime. There is no doubt that this gives a particular social character to a country. As the Association for the Recovery of Historical Memory recalled a few days ago, no democratic government has yet condemned the coup d’état of 1936. Neither have the plenary sessions of Congress and the Senate. Only a small sentence was issued in the Constitutional Commission of Congress in 2002, “not very forceful and condescending with the elites of the dictatorship.”
That Pablo Casado has said that he will repeal the future memory law if he arrives at Moncloa does not mean that it meets expectations. It would be a mistake to fall into the temptation to use criticism from the right to justify the limitations of the draft or to boast of its presumed courage. The reality is that at the moment international standards on human rights are still not being met. These are the ones that should mark a law, and not the fuss or overreactions of political groups that minimize the damage of the dictatorship.
Some partner groups of the Government support the demands of the memory collectives and have announced that they will demand improvements in the parliamentary debate. Hopefully your requests will pay off. At stake is not only the dignity of the victims and their families, but also the democratic character of a State that needs to expel Francoism from all its nooks and crannies.