Spain declares Franco’s regime ‘illegal’ in new memory law

MADRID (AP) — Spain’s lower house of parliament has approved a new historical memory law that outlaws the regime of former dictator General Francisco Franco and makes the central government responsible for recovering the bodies of dozens of thousands of people missing. The Spanish Civil War and the Dictatorship.

Banning the nearly 40-year-old Franco regime that emerged after the end of the civil war in 1939, the new law nullifies the legality of the dictatorship’s courts and their rulings.

It also bans the Francisco Franco Foundation, a private institution dedicated to preserving the autocrat’s legacy, and any glorification of the former dictator.

The government must draw up maps indicating the whereabouts of the bodies of around 100,000 people who are still missing. It will also set up a DNA bank to facilitate the identification process.

The missing are those who opposed or were seen to oppose Franco and were later killed and buried in unmarked graves.

“We will devote our resources to exhuming the remains of those murdered and who are still today in ditches,” Socialist Prime Minister Pedro Sánchez told parliament ahead of the vote.

The law aims to improve on a 2007 law on historical memory that experts and activists say fell far short of emptying the hundreds of mass graves still intact and solving many other problems.

The new bill creates a State Prosecutor’s Office for Human Rights and Democratic Memory which guarantees the right to investigate human rights violations during war and dictatorship.

The bill ran into huge obstacles in parliament, and the left-wing coalition government needed the support of smaller regional parties to push it through.

The bill recognizes as victims of persecution the indigenous languages ​​and cultures of the Basque, Catalan and Galician regions.

Like its predecessor in 2007, the bill failed to gain consensus. Some felt it went too far, while others – including the main grassroots group that helps families organize the recovery of bodies from mass graves, the Association for the Recovery of Historical Memory – argued that was insufficient.

Spain’s three main right-wing parties voted against it, with the main opposition conservative party pledging to scrap it if the party is returned to power in elections scheduled for next year.

The bill will become law once approved by the Senate next week.

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