Socialists advance new Historical Memory legislation

Families, victims of Franco era protest Madrid's removal of memorial plaques, Dec 2019. Photo: EFE via Cuartopoder
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The Socialist party (PSOE) took the first step on Friday of registering the text of a new “Law of Historical and Democratic Memory” that it will put forward for debate and approval by Spain’s Congress in the coming weeks.

One of four legislative initiatives registered by the PSOE in advance of the 3rd February opening of the new congressional session, the new historical memory legislation seeks to amend and strengthen the country’s 2007 Law of Historical Memory, passed by Congress during the administration of President José Luis Rodríguez Zapatero.

If approved by Congress, the new legislation would revoke 37 titles of nobility created during the dictatorship of Gen. Francisco Franco and granted in perpetuity to families of heroes and supporters of the Franco regime, including the family heirs of the dictator himself. The legislation would also enable the revocation of decorations for police, military and other members of the regime who are found to have participated in torture and repression during the Franco dictatorship.

► News Sources: Europa Press, InfoLibre and Cuarto Poder …

The legislation calls for the the creation of a census of victims of Franco-era repression and a DNA bank that facilities identification of the remains of victims by family members, as well as the exhumation of mass graves from the Civil War and Franco era so that the families of victims can reclaim and bury their family members’ remains with dignity.

The new legislation would also give the central government sole jurisdiction over the identification of remains of those buried at the massive Valley of the Fallen mausoleum complex outside Madrid and responsibility for the possible removal and reburial of their remains in consultation with family members.

Seeking to resolve some of the vagaries in the 2007 Historical Memory Law that led to confusion and inaction on the part of regional governments charged with implementing the legislation, the text of the new law includes many more specific mentions of the direct responsibility of the central government for disseminating the “democratic memory” of what actually occurred in Spain during the Civil War and 35-year dictatorship that followed.

That responsibility will include the creation throughout Spain of Lugares de Memoria commemorative sites where plaques and memorials can be erected to explain what occurred on that specific site during the Franco era and honour the memories of the victims of the regime.

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