The battle between the left and the right for the naming of some of the streets of Madrid does not stop. The changes began between 2016 and 2017, almost ten years after the Government chaired by José Luis Rodríguez Zapatero approved the first Historical Memory law in 2007. Then, the street map of the capital began to suffer a turnaround when the municipal government of Manuel Carmena applied the recommendations contained in the report issued by the Commissioner for Historical Memory and approved an agreement that changed the name of 52 streets, squares and crossings of the city of Francoist references, replacing them with the names that they had in the past, or with those of illustrious men and women who stood out in various areas. The arrival to the government of the PP in coalition with Citizens, and the irruption of Vox in the City Council, was a blow against that agreement, since the municipal team has managed to cancel some of these changes.
The Justice annuls the change of name of the street “Fallen of the blue division” proposed by Carmena
One of those streets that has suffered these ups and downs has been that of the García Noblejas Brothers, baptized with that name during the Franco regime, which marks the boundary between the districts of San Blas, Canillejas and Ciudad Lineal. The municipal government board, headed by Carmena, decided in 2017 to name it Avenida de la Institución Libre de Enseñanza as a tribute to this educational model founded by the essayist and pedagogue Francisco Giner de los Ríos. But the relatives of the Falangist brothers appealed the decision.
At the end of May 2018, the substitute judge of the contentious-administrative court number 24 of Madrid, Ana Monreal, annulled the change of name and decreed that the Avenida de la Institución Libre de Enseñanza be renamed Hermanos García Noblejas after estimating that resource. The magistrate considered that the decision to change the nomenclature was not in accordance with the law, so she ordered the Madrid City Council of Carmena to keep the name of the street, imposed by the Franco dictatorship.
The judge, in her car, argued that the García Noblejas were effectively “three Falangist brothers and one Carlist who actively joined the military uprising of 1936.” However, for the magistrate the explanation of the Historical Memory Commissioner was a “brief reality of history”, and argued not to find “in what way the García Noblejas brothers collaborated in the military uprising or in the Civil War or were relevant instruments in the support of the dictatorial system implanted by Franco after the war “. The Madrid City Council was the one that appealed the sentence in this case. But the Superior Court of Justice of Madrid ratified it on May 13, 2021, so the plaque of ‘Hermanos García Noblejas’ will foreseeably be placed again on that long avenue.
As a result of this ruling, various groups of the Historical Memory have started a new struggle to prevent it from being re-labeled with its old nomenclature. The first call for a concentration will be next Sunday, November 14, at 12:00 noon, in front of the Municipal Board of the Ciudad Lineal district.
In a manifesto signed by the members of the Madrid Memorialist Movement, which includes organizations of Memorialists and Victims of Francoism, feminist groups, political parties, trade union and social organizations, as well as various personalities and cultural entities, they accuse the current team Government of the PP and Citizens of having made, with the support of Vox, “important changes in memorialist policy with the main objective of dismantling the memorialist policies carried out by the previous municipal government in matters of Historical and Democratic Memory.” As they recall, “these attacks began with the first measure adopted, which consisted of decreeing the closure of the Municipal Office for Human Rights and Memory, established with the aim of complying with the 2007 Memory Law in the capital.”
The Mayor’s next measure – they continue – was “to allocate the money agreed in the previous legislature for the construction of a memorial in memory of the political prisoners of the old Carabanchel prison, to the purchase of two trucks for the transfer of horses from the Municipal police”. Nor do they allow it to pass that “on November 25, 2019, continuing this dismantling policy, the municipal government proceeded to tear off the tombstones with the names of the 2,936 people shot in the first years of the dictatorship, between 1939 and 1944, in the East Madrid Cemetery, for the sole reason of having defended Freedom, Democracy and Social Justice “. Or that “on February 16, 2020 they also erased the verses of the poet Miguel Hernández that accompanied the aforementioned Memorial.”
Later, they add, “the three municipal rights approved the withdrawal of the streets dedicated to Indalecio Prieto and Francisco Largo Caballero, socialist ministers of the governments of the Second Republic.” “The infamous aggression culminated in the destruction and removal by the City Council of the plaque in memory of Largo Caballero located in the Plaza de Chamberí,” they lament.
“It is a question of political will”, they affirm from the Forum for Memory
In the opinion of Juan Jesús Molina Ruiz, member of the Forum for Historical Memory, the municipal government of José Luis Martínez Almeida and Begoña Villacís cannot now justify the change of García Noblejas by appealing to compliance with the judgment of the Superior Court of Justice of Madrid. that “they have the power to decide what name is given to the streets.” “It is a question of political will,” he says. The same opinion is held by the groups that signed the statement, who insist that these powers “reside solely in the will of the municipal Plenary, as the sovereign body that directs the destiny of the city. Therefore, there are no excuses,” they settle.
Given that there are more cases of streets in similar circumstances than in the Ciudad Lineal district, the social groups that signed the manifesto express their “strongest rejection of all these actions, which we can only describe as infamous.”
The statement ends by demanding from Almeida “an immediate rectification of the current memory policies of the Madrid City Council, having shown its absolute contempt for the victims of the Francoist genocide and dictatorship, as well as the violation of laws and universal principles on rights to Truth, Justice and Reparation “.
In addition, they want the council to rebuild the Eastern Cemetery Memorial “in accordance with the original project, the withdrawal of the agreement of September 29, the replacement of the plaque that paid tribute to Largo Caballero, as well as the removal of the Millán Astray streets, García Noblejas brothers and fallen from the Blue Division “.
It so happens that Judge Monreal had already annulled the change in Calle Caídos de la División Azul, in the district of Chamartín, which survives thanks to the appeal filed by the association of relatives of the Spanish soldiers who fought against the USSR, which He opposed the change to Calle de la Memoria on March 11. The City Council appealed again, but the Superior Court of Justice of Madrid once again agreed with individuals. The sentence considered that that squad of volunteers who sided with the German Nazis “was formed in 1941 two years after the end of the Civil War, therefore it does not enter the period of exaltation of the military uprising, nor of the Civil War. “. On this assertion, the sentence made reference to the “spirit of reconciliation and concord” of the Amnesty law.
The same fate ran the other streets mentioned, which had already been changed. The Superior Court of Justice of Madrid considered that they were not “in accordance with the law” as they were outside the scope of article 15 of the Historical Memory Law, the legal precept on which the changes to the rest of the nomenclatures proposed by the City Council Commissioner are based. from Madrid.
The Historical Memory collectives, however, want the three parties that have a majority in the City Council, PP, Ciudadanos and Vox, “to apologize to the families of the victims and to all citizens” for their attitude, while They call “Madrid society and entities committed to Democratic Memory and Human Rights” to support their request and attend the rally on the 14th. Not only that one but others that they are preparing for the next few weeks against “the memorialist policy. of the municipal government, and also its harassment and persecution against progressive groups and social centers “, they affirm.