New Valencia law to unearth Civil War victims’ remains

Forensics teams at work on common gravesite 'No. 113' at Valencia's Paterna cemetery. Photo: Valencia Plaza

• New law to budget 9.5mn euros to recover remains from 300 common graves
• 11,000 killed during war, aftermath said buried in gravesites across Valencia

Valencia’s regional government will cover all costs associated with the disinterment at nearly 300 known common-grave sites throughout the region of the remains of victims summarily executed by either side during the Spanish Civil War and as reprisals against Republican sympathizers under the Franco dictatorship that followed, according to a new law poised for approval in the Valencian regional parliament.

The Valencian region’s new law of Memoria Democrática (Democratic Memory) is supported by the governing coalition of the Socialist party (PSPV-PSOE), Coalició Compromís (Commitment Coalition) and Podemos (We Can) and headed for passage with the anticipated abstention of centre-right Ciudadanos and over the objection of legislators of the conservative Partido Popular (PP).

The legislation’s sponsors last week overrode a proposed PP summary amendment aimed at blocking the new law, which when passed will authorize the Valencian regional government’s expenditure of 9.5 million euros to uncover the remains of an estimated 11,000 victims whose bodies were dumped at 299 common grave sites during and after the 1936-39 civil war. In addition, the provincial government of Valencia has nearly doubled a previous budget for disinterment of common graves and will now spend 500,000 euros to recover the remains of victims buried in the province of Valencia, which covers the region’s capital city and surrounding municipalities.

The victims whose remains are to be unearthed and identified once the new regional law is passed were primarily Republican sympathizers killed by forces under the command of Gen. Francisco Franco. But, in some cases the bodies dumped at unmarked gravesites were murdered at the outset of the war by leftist paramilitaries or trade unionists loyal to the Republic in response to news of atrocities committed elsewhere in Spain by advancing Franquista forces.

In some cases, the common graves are in proximity to each other, as in two gravesites in Dénia and Xàbia in the Marina Alta region that are listed among the 299 gravesites to be unearthed. In Xàbia, a common gravesite on the Montgó mountain in which anarchist militias from Denia dumped the bodies of murdered opponents of the Republic and others in 1936 is to be uncovered; in Dénia, remains will be exhumed at an additional site at the municipal cemetery, where in November 1939 in reprisal killings by victorious Franquista forces, 51 Republicans — including the former Socialist mayors of Dénia, Xaló and Pedreguer — were executed and dumped together in a common grave.

► Read More in Spanish at Levante-EMV, Valencia Plaza and Marina Plaza …

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