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.

News
people
Arts and Entertainment
Armstrong, left, and Bain's writing credits include Peep Show, Fresh Meat, and The Old Guys
TVThe pair have presented their view of 21st-century foibles in shows such as Peep Show and Fresh Meat
Arts and Entertainment
Keys to success: Andrew and Julian Lloyd Webber
arts + entsMrs Bach had too many kids to write the great man's music, says Julian Lloyd Webber
Sport
footballMan City manager would have loved to have signed Argentine
PROMOTED VIDEO
News
ebooksAn unforgettable anthology of contemporary reportage
News
people
News
i100
Arts and Entertainment
Hand out press photograph/film still from the movie Mad Max Fury Road (Downloaded from the Warner Bro's media site/Jasin Boland/© 2014 Warner Bros. Entertainment Inc.)
films'You have to try everything and it’s all a process of elimination, but ultimately you find your path'
Arts and Entertainment
Imelda Staunton as Dolores Umbridge in the Harry Potter films
books

New essay by JK Rowling went live on Pottermore site this morning

News
people

Top Gear presenter is no stranger to foot-in-mouth controversy

News
Russia Today’s new UK channel began broadcasting yesterday. Discussions so far have included why Britons see Russia as ‘the bad guy’
news

New UK station Russia Today gives a very bizarre view of Britain

Arts and Entertainment
Keira Knightley and Benedict Cumberbatch at the premiere of The Imitation Game at the BFI London Film Festival
filmsKeira Knightley tried to miss The Imitation Game premiere to watch Bake Off
News
i100
Sport
Enner Valencia
footballStriker has enjoyed a rapid rise to fame via winning the title with ‘The Blue Ballet’ in Ecuador
Arts and Entertainment
A top literary agent has compared online giant Amazon to Isis
arts + entsAndrew Wylie has pulled no punches in criticism of Amazon
Arts and Entertainment
Charlie Sheen said he would
tv

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

Mobile Developer (.NET / C# / Jason / Jquery / SOA)

£40000 - £65000 per annum + bonus + benefits + OT: Ampersand Consulting LLP: M...

Humanities Teacher - Greater Manchester

£22800 - £33600 per annum: Randstad Education Manchester Secondary: The JobAt ...

Design Technology Teacher

£22800 - £33600 per annum: Randstad Education Manchester Secondary: Calling al...

Foundation Teacher

£100 - £125 per day: Randstad Education Chelmsford: EYFS Teachers - East Essex...

Day In a Page

Bryan Adams' heartstopping images of wounded British soldiers to go on show at Somerset House

Bryan Adams' images of wounded soldiers

Taken over the course of four years, Adams' portraits are an astonishing document of the aftermath of war
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
Paul Scholes column: Beating Manchester City is vital part of life at Manchester United. This is first major test for Luke Shaw, Angel Di Maria and Radamel Falcao – it’s not a game to lose

Paul Scholes column

Beating City is vital part of life at United. This is first major test for Shaw, Di Maria and Falcao – it’s not a game to lose
Frank Warren: Call me an old git, but I just can't see that there's a place for women’s boxing

Frank Warren column

Call me an old git, but I just can't see that there's a place for women’s boxing
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