Spanish 'memory law' reopens deep wounds of Franco era

For the first time since the civil war 70 years ago, Spain has finally made an effort to recognise its authoritarian past, in a bill that condemns Francisco Franco's dictatorship and honours his victims.

After months of haggling, and fierce opposition from the conservative Popular Party (PP), the ruling Socialists will present their Law of Historic Memory to parliament today, 32 years after the death of the dictator.

The difficulty in producing a draft acceptable to most MPs reveals how deeply Franco's legacy still divides Spain. The issue is set to enflame an already heated political atmosphere ahead of general elections next March.

"We have reached an important moment," said the Socialist parliamentary spokesman Diego Lopez Garrido. "The law will provide definitive reparation and recognition for those who suffered in the civil war."

The Law of Historic Memory condemns Franco's actions during the civil war between 1936 and 1939, and his 40-year dictatorship. MPs from most parties had "reached a high degree of rapprochement on the main points of the law", said Mr Garrido, although some details remained to be worked out.

The bill will declare arbitrary sentences handed down by military courts set up by Franco "unjust" and "illegitimate", said Mr Garrido. This will enable victims or their families to seek redress through the courts for executions, exile and persecution never before challenged. It will also offer token compensation for families of those killed, wounded or expropriated.

Supporters of the law say it brings symbolic justice for the first time to those vanquished by Franco. A radio poll this week reckoned up to half of the population approved of the law, a flagship proposal by Jose Luis Rodriguez Zapatero when he became Prime Minister in 2004.

But the PP said the initiative was "a huge mistake" that rakes up memories of the worst time in Spain's recent history. "Zapatero has brought division and confrontation, and reopened the wounds of the past," said Angel Acebes, the PP's general secretary. The PP has never dissociated itself from Franco, and many members covertly admire him.

The ruling Socialists won support from MPs in small parties from Catalonia, the Basque Country, Galicia and Aragon, and from the communist United Left on the main points of the bill. But the pro-independence Catalan Republican Left says it won't back the law because it is too soft and lets old Francoists off the hook. The law would subject victims to a "calvary of legal proceedings", the party warned.

The law was stalled for months, and might have died had the government not made concessions to win majority support at the last moment. Another week, and it would have run out of parliamentary time.

Emilio Silva, spokesman for the movement that seeks to recover the remains of those shot and thrown into unmarked mass graves, said he was shocked that no census was planned of tens of thousands killed by Franco's troops and buried anonymously. Mr Silva's grandfather was among those summarily executed. "I'm happy the law is going ahead, the first recognition of past injustice, but it's very lukewarm and it's unclear how it will be implemented," he said.

PROMOTED VIDEO
News
ebooksAn unforgettable anthology of contemporary reportage
Arts and Entertainment
glastonbury
News
i100
Arts and Entertainment
Shock of the news: Jake Gyllenhaal in ‘Nightcrawler’
filmReview: Gyllenhaal, in one of his finest performances, is funny, engaging and sinister all at once
Life and Style
Taste the difference: Nell Frizzell tucks into a fry-up in Jesse's cafe in east London
food + drinkHow a bike accident left one woman living in a distorted world in which spices smell of old socks and muesli tastes like pork fat
Arts and Entertainment
Kit Harington has been given a huge pay rise to extend his contract as Jon Snow in Game of Thrones
tv
Arts and Entertainment
Don’t send in the clowns: masks and make-up conceal true facial expressions, thwarting our instinct to read people’s minds through their faces, as seen in ‘It’
filmThis Halloween, we ask what makes Ouija boards, demon dolls, and evil clowns so frightening?
News
peopleFarage challenges 'liberally biased' comedians to 'call him a narcissist'
Arts and Entertainment
Liam and Zayn of One Direction play with a chimpanzee on the set of their new video for 'Steal My Girl'
music
Arts and Entertainment
Young Fathers are the surprise winners of this year's Mercury Music Prize
music
News
i100
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Senior IP Opportunity at Major Firm

vary Attractive Salary: Austen Lloyd: MANCHESTER - AN OPENING AT A VERY HIGH Q...

Nursery Manager

£100 - £110 per day: Randstad Education Ilford: Nursery Manager Long term Ran...

Sales Consultant – Permanent – West Sussex – £24-£25k plus commission and other benefits

£24000 - £25000 Per Annum plus company car and commission: Clearwater People S...

SEN Teaching Assistant

£45 - £65 per day: Randstad Education Bristol: Supply SEN Support Jobs in Bris...

Day In a Page

The drugs revolution starts now as MPs agree its high time for change

The drugs revolution starts now as MPs agree its high time for change

Commons debate highlights growing cross-party consensus on softening UK drugs legislation, unchanged for 43 years
The camera is turned on tabloid editors in Richard Peppiatt's 'One Rogue Reporter'

Gotcha! The camera is turned on tabloid editors

Hugh Grant says Richard Peppiatt's 'One Rogue Reporter' documentary will highlight issues raised by Leveson
Fall of the Berlin Wall: It was thanks to Mikhail Gorbachev that this symbol of division fell

Fall of the Berlin Wall

It was thanks to Gorbachev that this symbol of division fell
Halloween 2014: What makes Ouija boards, demon dolls, and evil clowns so frightening?

What makes ouija boards and demon dolls scary?

Ouija boards, demon dolls, evil children and clowns are all classic tropes of horror, and this year’s Halloween releases feature them all. What makes them so frightening, decade after decade?
A safari in modern Britain: Rose Rouse reveals how her four-year tour of Harlesden taught her as much about the UK as it did about NW10

Rose Rouse's safari in modern Britain

Rouse decided to walk and talk with as many different people as possible in her neighbourhood of Harlesden and her experiences have been published in a new book
Welcome to my world of no smell and odd tastes: How a bike accident left one woman living with unwanted food mash-ups

'My world of no smell and odd tastes'

A head injury from a bicycle accident had the surprising effect of robbing Nell Frizzell of two of her senses

Matt Parker is proud of his square roots

The "stand-up mathematician" is using comedy nights to preach maths to big audiences
Adrian Heath interview: Former Everton striker prepares his Orlando City side for the MLS - and having Kaka in the dressing room

Adrian Heath's American dream...

Former Everton striker prepares his Orlando City side for the MLS - and having Kaka in the dressing room
Simon Hart: Manchester City will rise again but they need to change their attitude

Manchester City will rise again but they need to change their attitude

Manuel Pellegrini’s side are too good to fail and derby allows them to start again, says Simon Hart
Isis in Syria: A general reveals the lack of communication with the US - and his country's awkward relationship with their allies-by-default

A Syrian general speaks

A senior officer of Bashar al-Assad’s regime talks to Robert Fisk about his army’s brutal struggle with Isis, in a dirty war whose challenges include widespread atrocities
‘A bit of a shock...’ Cambridge economist with Glasgow roots becomes Zambia’s acting President

‘A bit of a shock...’ Economist with Glasgow roots becomes Zambia’s acting President

Guy Scott's predecessor, Michael Sata, died in a London hospital this week after a lengthy illness
Fall of the Berlin Wall: History catches up with Erich Honecker - the East German leader who praised the Iron Curtain and claimed it prevented a Third World War

Fall of the Berlin Wall

History catches up with Erich Honecker - the East German leader who praised the Iron Curtain and claimed it prevented a Third World War
How to turn your mobile phone into easy money

Turn your mobile phone into easy money

There are 90 million unused mobiles in the UK, which would be worth £7bn if we cashed them in, says David Crookes
Independent writers remember their Saturday jobs:

Independent writers remember their Saturday jobs

"I have never regarded anything I have done in "the media" as a proper job"
Lyricist Richard Thomas shares his 11-step recipe for creating a hit West End musical

11-step recipe for creating a West End hit

Richard Thomas, the lyricist behind the Jerry Springer and Anna Nicole Smith operas, explains how Bob Dylan, 'Breaking Bad' and even Noam Chomsky inspired his songbook for the new musical 'Made in Dagenham'