Fresh row over Civil War parade veterans

11th October 2004, Comments 0 comments

11 October 2004, MADRID - Spain's Defence Minister Jose Bono insisted Monday an upcoming National Day military parade should unite all Spaniards after left-wing parties blasted the planned inclusion of veterans who fought alongside the Nazis against the Soviet Union in World War II.

11 October 2004

MADRID - Spain's Defence Minister Jose Bono insisted Monday an upcoming National Day military parade should unite all Spaniards after left-wing parties blasted the planned inclusion of veterans who fought alongside the Nazis against the Soviet Union in World War II.

"All Spaniards are welcome in this parade. Tomorrow's parade is not about making a moral judgment about people who were here or people who were there," Bono told Spanish National Radio.

"This is about celebrating the day of a nation which is committed to peace and harmony," Bono added.

"The only ones not welcome (in the parade) are those who kill, those who belong to (armed Basque separatist group) ETA, their accomplices and those who shelter them," said Bono.

The annual military parade, to be held Tuesday, is set to include veterans from the losing Republican side of Spain's 1936-39 Civil War who later helped Allied troops liberate Nazi-occupied Paris in 1944.

But some veterans of General Francisco Franco's Blue Division who fought alongside the Nazis will also be present.

The inclusion of veterans from Franco's division has caused a row, with left-wing opposition politicians claiming it shows lack of respect for those who fought against fascism.

"In a celebration that is already a homage to fascism, the decision shows total disrespect for the victims who gave their lives for democracy by equating those who defended the republic with fascist supporters of a military coup," said Joan Tarda, spokesman for the Catalan separatist Republican Left Party, partner in the region's left-wing ruling coalition.

"True reconciliation would mean breaking the silence of the Franco years, punishing those who violated human rights and compensating the victims," Tarda added.

Josep Maldonado, defence spokesman for the conservative Catalan Convergence and Union party, criticised as "horrendous" Bono's "decision to reopen the conflict of the two Spains".

Gaspar Llamazares, leader of the pro-communist United Left Party condemned the idea of putting side by side "someone who fought for liberty with someone who broke constitutional legality. That's an affront to republicans and democrats."

The parade generated controversy last year when Prime Minister Jose Luis Rodriguez Zapatero, then leader of the Socialist opposition, remained seated as the Stars and Stripes flag was carried past dignitaries.

On that occasion and also in 2002 US marines marched in the parade in honour of the victims of the September 11, 2001 attacks in the United States.

Bono said last week French soldiers would replace US marines in this year's parade and vowed that Spain would not "fall to its knees" before another country.

The comment was an allusion to the Zapatero government's view that the rightwing administration it replaced in April was in thrall to Washington over Iraq.

Aside from Spanish and French forces troops from several Latin American nations will march in Tuesday's parade.

Also taking part will be victims of the March 11 train bombings in Madrid and relatives of last year's Yak-42 military air crash in Turkey in which 62 Spanish peacekeepers returning from a mission in Afghanistan were killed.

[Copyright EFE with Expatica]

Subject: Spanish news

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