OPEN LETTER TO THE GOVERNMENT, THE PARTIES REPRESENTED IN PARLIAMENT AND THE HISTORICAL MEMORY COLLECTIVES

Tuesday 11 September 2007, by Martín Bellido Antonio, Alberola Octavio

OPEN LETTER TO THE GOVERNMENT, THE PARTIES REPRESENTED IN PARLIAMENT AND THE HISTORICAL MEMORY COLLECTIVES

The deputy premier María Teresa Fernández de la Vallée laid stress at the end of August upon the significance of the "six impassioned months" ahead of the Executive in the run-up to the March general elections. Premier José Luis Rodríguez Zapatero stated some months ago that among the bills to be passed would be one on "historical memory", but in an interview carried by El País on Sunday last he made no mention of it and merely stated that "there is a back-log of 30 bills in Parliament" and that "we should make use of the legislature right up until the very last moment".

Is government is to use "the very last remaining minutes" of those"six impassioned months" to push through the "Historica Memory" law for which the relatives of of the victims of Francoist repression have waited so many years? We have no idea: but the fact is that since the inter-ministerial commission was set up in 2004, it has been promise after promise and adjournment after adjournment and it was only in July 2006 that the cabinet approved and tabled the bill.

After which the bill was shelved, no consensus having been forthcoming on the setting aside of sentences handed down by Francoist courts and not until around mid-April last did the PSOE and IU-ICV reach agreement on breaking the logjam and decide to incorporate into the wording a reference to "the illegitimacy of courts and judicial processes instituted for ideological motives during the civil war and Francoism". But the other parties rejected that agreement and the Bill remained on hold in Parliament.

The government reckoned it could finally count on the CiU [the Catalanists]: but on the 30th of last month, that party requested that the bill mention "abuses" committed by the republican side during the war. The deputy premier’s response to which was that the bill was intended to "acknowledge trespass against the rights of the victims of the conflict" rather than passing any "historical judgment on what happened".

Which is where things stand and there is less and less time for the most controversial of the legislature’s laws to get through Congress and be processed by the Senate prior to the government’s winding up the Cortes in order to convene elections. We cannot say whether the refusal to incorporate the CiU’s suggestion will complicate endorsement "of the Bill whereby rights are recognised and widened and steps taken vis a vis those who endured persecution and violence during the Civil War and Dictatorship" for having fought to secure freedom; but we ALL know this, that if this opportunity is allowed to go begging, rehabilitation and rights for "those who suffered persecution or violence during the Civil War or Dictatorship" for having fought to secure freedom, will be filed away indefinitely.

In face of such a shameful prospect and since the Executive’s aim - according to the deputy prime minister - is not to use that law to arrive at a "historical assessment of what occurred" but rather to compensate folk "who lost their title to gratitude after the war", we feel it is EVERYONE’s duty to achieve that goal before it is too late.

Let the socialist government and the parties face up to their political and moral obligations in having failed - over 30 years on since the death of the Dictator - to put paid to the disgrace of a Democracy that validates the crimes of Dictatorship. And this despite wholesale - and undiluted - rehabilitation of Francoism’s victims being clamoured for by the most democratic elements in Spanish society. They had their chance to do so during this parliament and to win the gratitude of every democrat. Which stance was endorsed in advance by the Council of Europe in a solemn, categorical statement that the Spanish socialist government has thus far disregarded.

Let them face the fact that all they are capable of is a general pronouncement about the "illegfitimacy" of Francoist trial proceedings. Those responsible for this cowardice will have to answer to the Spanish people and to history. Yes, let it be understood that the government and the parties (who ought to be the ones most concerned by this disgraceful institutional continuity betwee, Dictatorship and Demoiracy face the fact that all they have done is to label as "illegitimate" the findings of the courts martial and repressive penal agencies of the Fracoist democracy. We have done our duty by exposing this. Their job was and still is to bring it to an end. For which reason what really should be worrying us (us and all the historical memory groups) is that STARTING HERE AND NOW, folk "who forfeited their right to post-war gratitude" should secure recognition of rights that, for a variety of administrative "motives", have thus far been denied them.
So our main duty now should be to urge the the government and the parliamentary parties to do whatever is doable RIGHT NOW. Their cowardice and rabble rousing have been suitable exposed throughout the process of the recovery of historical memory, a process that forced them, after so many years of amnesia, to face up to the moral and political debt they owe to the victims of Francoist repression. That debt is not going to be completely discharged by an institutional pronouncement of "illegitimacy" passed on the court that sentenced many of those victims and of "injustice" in the case of those convicted without trial. And it is not going to be repaid by deeming that acknowledgment inadequate.

So we have an inescapable moral commitment to do all in our power to see to it that victims’ rights are vindicated before it is too late.

Madrid 4 September 2007
pp. Lobby for the Revision of the Delgado-Granado Case"
Octavio Alberola and Antonio Martin Bellido