Falling Back, 2. Making Reparations
Today, a law has been drafted to replace the Law of Historical Memory passed in 2007. This new law would go much farther than that other one. Whether or not it will be watered down, or even pass a parliament with a vocal extreme right wing, is another thing. But the draft sounds like something that should have been approved at least thirty years ago.
It starts by having the State pay for the exhumations of every mass grave created during and after the Civil War (and there are many - after Cambodia, Spain has the largest amount of mass graves in the world). A national DNA bank would be set up, to be able to identify as many remains as possible, and return them to their families. A record would be created with the names of all those killed and persecuted during and after the Civil War.
It continues with making all court sentences based on political ideologies legally void. All records of those condemned to jail or death would be cleaned, because there would be no base in legality for the crimes they were charged with. My grandfather's name would be cleared of the charges of "dangerous Red" brought against him. The State would also condemn the uprising by the Nationalists that brought about the Civil War.
The titles of nobility created by Franco would be retired, as well as all decorations conceded by his illegitimate government. The Duchy of Franco, for example, would disappear, as would that of the Earldom of Fenosa (yes, an earldom with the name of the company the first recipient of the title had founded).
In high school history classes, teenagers will be taught about what happened in the country during and after the Civil War, not just the bare bones of the battles and the ensuing dictatorship. They would learn about all the massacres, the inhumanities, and the humiliations for the mere fact of believing in different political ideologies from the victors. Things which are now not taught in schools, and that not many adults even know anything about, for lack of interest.
The Valle de los Caídos, just outside Madrid where Franco laid until last year, will be converted into a civil cemetery until a final decision on its fate is reached. The friars that are now there will no longer receive state funds for the upkeep of the basilica, and the upkeep will pass to the same state organization that looks after the national heritage.
No association of any kind will be allowed to extol Franco or his dictatorship in any form. That means that the Fundación Francisco Franco will have to close shop. At the moment, it is legal, and its objective is to remember, study, and glorify Franco and his dictatorship. When you enter its main page, rancid news spills out, such as an affirmation that the Nationalists didn't commit genocide; the Republic did. Or an article about this new law that says, "Welcome to North Korea."
There are many, including people we know, who say such a law is a waste of time, money, and resources. These people tend to say it's better to let sleeping dogs lie. But it it, really? There are descendants out there that have died while waiting to have their relative exhumed from a mass grave by the side of a road. People want closure in their personal histories. They want to be able to say that a grandfather, a grandmother, an uncle, a mother, has had justice done to them, and now lie with their loved ones. People want to be able to say that their ancestors that were condemned to prison or the firing squad were really innocent.
This isn't ancient history. This is still recent enough to hurt. My father was ashamed of his father because of his father's political history. He was taught that his father, since he was condemned to prison for his political beliefs, was in the wrong. That it was better to distance himself from his "Red" father. Like him, many others were silent and silenced, in shame and fear. This is what must now change.
Let's see what happens.