Spain marks end of civil war with ceremony

2nd April 2009, Comments 0 comments

The 70th anniversary of the end of the country's civil war was marked with a low-key ceremony and attended by about 100 people.

MADRID – Spain's parliament Wednesday marked the 70th anniversary of the end of the country's 1936-39 civil war with a low-key ceremony to honour the victims of late dictator Francisco Franco.

Organised by leftist parties, the ceremony was attended by about 100 people, including former political prisoners of Franco's regime, which lasted until his death in 1975.

Also present were former combatants from the Republican side, which lost the civil war to Franco's Nationalists.

"If there had not been this symbolic ceremony, something would have been lacking today," said Gaspar Llamazares, a deputy from the United Left coalition and a co-organiser of the event.

The Socialist Party of Prime Minister Jose Luis Rodriguez Zapatero did not officially observe the occasion.

Historians estimate that 500,000 people from both sides were killed in the war, which was sparked by Franco's Nationalist insurgency against the democratically elected left-wing Republican government.

A brutal wave of repression followed the Nationalists' victory as Franco sought to consolidate power.

In 1977, two years after Franco's death, all political parties agreed to put the civil war and dictatorship behind them, and Madrid granted an amnesty for crimes committed under the general's iron-fisted rule.

The Socialist government in 2007 passed the "Law of Historical Memory" which seeks to restore the honour of Franco's victims through measures such as granting them special certificates and removing Francoist symbols from public places.

AFP / Expatica

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