The Spanish government has unveiled plans to turn the site of the former Franco General Mausoleum into a civilian cemetery and to ban organizations praising the dictators’ legacy as part of its efforts to help the country reconcile with its past.
Almost a year after Franco was exhumed from the hulking structure, the government on Tuesday unveiled a draft of its Democratic Remembrance Act, which is designed to support measures adopted by another Socialist administration in 2007.
The bill, which has been approved by the cabinet but has not yet gone before parliament, contains dozens of measures aimed at recognizing the victims of the civil war and subsequent dictatorship and ensuring that the horrors of the time are not forgotten or repeated.
This is an important law in terms of this government, said Carmen Calvo, Deputy Prime Minister and Minister for Democratic Memory. But above and beyond all this, it is an important law for Spanish democracy.
Calvo said the bill was intended to focus on victims, justice and human rights and to help educate Spain’s children about their countries’ past.
Under its provisions, the Valley of the Fallen, which housed the remains of Franco until last October, will be turned into a civil cemetery where only the remains of those who died as a result of the civil war will be allowed to lie.
He also stipulates that any remnant have a prominent place in the mausoleums in other words, those of Jos Antonio Primo de Rivera, the founder of the Falangist party will be relocated as was Francos.
The site, overloaded by a 150-meter-long cross, is also a mass grave containing the bodies of more than 30,000 people from both sides of the war.
A census of all victims of the civil war and dictatorship will be made and the state will take responsibility for finding the remains of the missing and establishing a national DNA bank to assist the process.
About 100,000 civil war victims are thought to lie in unmarked graves where they were buried during the conflict.
The bill would also seek to outlaw associations celebrating Franco and his reign, such as the Francisco Franco National Foundation, which was established less than a year after dictators’s death in 1975 to promote the study and awareness of life, thought, heritage and works
Calvo said: We can not allow associations to exist in our country that use public resources to glorify totalitarian ideas and dictatorial figures, including Franco.
The Franco Foundation has suggested he could relocate and retrieve his archive abroad if it is illegal. If necessary, we will go to a vacancy, his head said in an interview on Tuesday.
The Prime Minister of Spain, Pedro Snchez, said that the state should be responsible for issues of memory, justice and reparation.
Today, we were taking another step towards recognizing the victims of the civil war and dictatorship, he said in a tweet. Today, we were closing the wounds a little more and we can look back on the past with greater dignity.
Earlier on Tuesday, Pablo Iglesias, the leader of Podemo who serves as one of Spain’s four deputy prime ministers, had said that the descendants of International Brigade volunteers who fought Franco’s rebellion would be with the right of Spanish citizenship to show countries’ gratitude for the sacrifices of their ancestors.
But a government spokeswoman later said the offer referred to previous legislation that gave International Brigade volunteers citizenship itself and was not open to their descendants.
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