Socialists push ambitious Historical Memory Law reform

PSOE's Pedro Sánchez visits Valencia's Paterna cemetery with families of Franco-era victims. Photo: Mónica Torres / El País
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► Proposal includes creation of Truth Commission, victims census & DNA bank ►

Pedro Sánchez, general secretary of Spain’s Socialist party (PSOE), has unveiled his party’s proposal for an ambitious reform of the country’s decade-old Law of Historical Memory, designed as a means of clarifying the truth about human rights violations during the Spanish Civil War and 36-year Franco dictatorship that followed and granting a measure of solace to the families of thousands of victims.

During a ceremony at the cemetery in the Valencia suburb of Paterna, where 2,238 Republican prisoners were summarily executed by firing squad then dumped in mass graves after the city of Valencia fell to Franco’s Nationalist forces in 1939, Sánchez said the PSOE will push in the next legislature for a bold reform of the 2007 law that would include several measures designed to heal the wounds of the civil war and right the wrongs of the Franco era in Spain.

Among the proposed measures are establishment of a national Truth Commission, the creation of a public DNA bank to help with the identification of remains of Franco-era victims, a national census of victims, and access to government and military archives from the period that still remain closed to investigators. In addition, Sánchez announced that the PSOE will push to ensure that all Franquista symbols and signage glorifying the former dictator and his regime are removed anywhere they are found in Spain and said the Socialists will push to have the remains of the former dictator removed from the massive Valle de los Caidos mausoleum complex outside Madrid and reburied in a private grave.

Passed during the Socialist administration of former-President José Luis Rodríguez Zapatero, Spain’s 2007 Law of Historical Memory  languished with the 2008 onset of budget cutbacks associated with the country’s economic crisis and since 2011 has been purposely “ignored” for political reasons, Sánchez said, by the administration of President Mariano Rajoy of the conservative governing Partido Popular (PP).

► Read More in Spanish at El País, Las Provincias and Público …

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