Controversy continues to rage over Franco’s crimes

Controversy continues to rage over Franco’s crimes

24th November 2008, Comments 0 comments

The Spanish government is now accused of neglecting Franco’s victims.

MADRID – The Spanish government was accused Friday of not providing justice for victims of alleged human rights abuses during the 1936-39 civil war and the 1939-75 dictatorship of General Francisco Franco.

The government rejected the charges, with Deputy Prime Minister Maria Teresa Fernandez de la Vega saying it would continue working to "repair the pain" of those who had not been able to "close the wounds" of the past.

However, Emilio Silva, president of an association exhuming remains of Franco's victims from mass graves, slammed Prime Minister Jose Luis Rodriguez Zapatero for saying that the Franco era should "sink into oblivion".

Despite passing a 2007 law to restore the honour of Franco's victims, Zapatero's Socialist government had done "absolutely nothing" for them, he said. Silva, who presides over the Association for the Recovery of Historic Memory (ARMH), was speaking in the Basque city of San Sebastian.

Francisco Franco and US President Dwight D. Eisenhower in Madrid in 1959.
"Here there is no need to forgive or forget, but on the contrary, to recognise the damage that has been done and to provide justice," he explained, accusing the government of leaving the task of opening mass graves to private groups.

Silva claimed Francoism remains alive within the opposition conservative People's Party (PP) and the Catholic Church.

The deputy prime minister rejected Silva's criticism of the government, saying decrees had been adopted to put the 2007 law into practice.

However, far-left parties are accusing the government of having helped to block a judicial investigation into the abuses committed by Franco, whose uprising led to the civil war. Franco ruled Spain from the end of the war until his death in 1975.

Zapatero had hitherto been seen by many leftists as seeking the truth about that turbulent period.

But his commitment to the process was called into question after high-profile judge Baltasar Garzon dropped Spain's first judicial investigation into the fate of Franco's victims on Tuesday.

The magistrate holds Franco responsible for more than 100,000 killings in reprisals during the war and dictatorship. Tens of thousands of the late dictator's leftist republican opponents remain buried in mass graves.

But Garzon's probe had been opposed by the public prosecutor's office, which argued that Franco's crimes had been covered by an amnesty granted to his collaborators in 1977.

Garzon's inquiry had a "very dubious judicial basis," though it was necessary to help groups opening mass graves, Socialist representative Ramon Jauregui said Friday.

Critics accuse the government of downplaying Franco's crimes for fear of increasing problems with the PP, which still has a former Francoist minister in its ranks.

Critics believe Spanish judge Baltasar Garzon was forced to give up investigations into Franco's crimes.Historian Ian Gibson said the government had contributed to "silencing" Garzon.

Far-left parties intend to present initiatives to toughen the 2007 Law of Historic Memory aimed at rehabilitating Franco's victims. However, according to the daily El Pais, the initiatives have no chance of being approved by parliament, but they could relaunch the debate about the Franco era.

The affair would end up at the European Court of Human Rights in Strasbourg, Silva predicted.

Prominent intellectuals, including Portuguese Nobel literature laureate Jose Saramago, have signed a manifesto in support of Garzon's inquiry. The manifesto was released Thursday.

PP representative Ana Mato criticised the manifesto, accusing the intellectuals of dividing Spaniards during an economic crisis.

text: dpa / Expatica  
photo credits: Wikipedia

November 2008

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