The Democratic Memory Law takes its last parliamentary steps and will enter into force at the turn of the summer. The Government declares its “absolute satisfaction” before a project that has slept for a year in the drawer of the initiatives to be mended by Congress. It will finally see the light of day wrapped in controversy, with the opposition’s outright rejection and without fully convincing some of the Executive’s partners. Bad omens, then, for a norm that should be one of unity and that, on the contrary, has revived old confrontations, has provoked a fierce exchange of accusations and has even opened the door to a revision of the Democratic Transition with the focus of those who filled with pain and blood.

PREAMBLE: ONE AGAINST ANOTHER. It is a long text that sets out the intentions of the law: “Neutralize oblivion” and “avoid the repetition of the most tragic episodes in history” and points out the “responsibility of the State” in promoting a democratic memory “restorative, inclusive and plural”. However, the opposition considers that the law anticipates a biased historical reading based on the left-right dichotomy and the assignment of labels of good and bad. The text emphasizes that the Government of Pedro Sánchez takes back the reins to “close a debt of Spanish democracy with its past and promote a common discourse based on the defense of peace, pluralism and the condemnation of all forms of political totalitarianism” .


It has been one of the burning points of the debate. The Amnesty Law of 1977 is not only not repealed but is also defined as a demand and a historic achievement of the opposition to Francoism. However, it is specified that it must be interpreted in the light of international law by virtue of which war crimes, crimes against humanity and genocide do not prescribe. ERC will not vote in favor of the Memory Law, considering that the Amnesty Law is a “full stop” law that grants “impunity to the criminals of the dictatorship.


They are people who have suffered, individually or collectively, physical, moral, psychological or property damage or substantial impairment of their fundamental rights between the coup d’état of 1936 and the entry into force of the Constitution. It includes the deceased and disappeared, tortured, confined, exiled, persecuted for their sexual orientation, professionally purged, stolen babies, guerrillas… and also their spouses, partners, descendants, ascendants and their collaterals up to the fourth degree. The law creates an Office of Victims that will be in charge of collecting testimonies and evidence and disseminating the facts. The linguistic and cultural communities as well as the government institutions of the Basque Country, Catalonia and Galicia are also recognized as victims.


From this point derives another of the great controversies of the law. The text establishes two stages. The first from 1936 to 1978 refers to the violations and crimes of war and dictatorship. To investigate and clarify it, a Democratic Memory Council will take charge. The second and most controversial is the one that opens between the entry into force of the Constitution and December 31, 1983 and focuses on the serious violations of rights committed during the Transition and the first year of socialist government. To analyze this stage, a technical commission of an academic nature is created, dependent on the Memory Council, which will point out possibilities of repair. The inclusion of the year 83 has been a requirement of Bildu to force the revision of the Transition and even revive the first cases of terrorism of the GAL.


The law extends the explanation and details of the exhumations of remains in ditches and mass graves as well as the creation of a DNA bank to facilitate identification. This is a task that will be carried out with the full protection of the State. In relation to the Valley of the Fallen, the Government hopes to begin the work to recover the remains of thousands of people buried in the crypt of the basilica immediately – there are already 104 requests – and the forensic commission is ready to start the job. The remains of José Antonio Primo de Rivera will also be moved to a secondary location in the temple or handed over to his relatives.


The exaltation and exaltation of Francoism is penalized, a regime that is condemned as “illegal” and all its sentences dictated for political or union reasons are annulled. All associations dedicated to his memory are extinguished, including the Francisco Franco Foundation, and the State seizes his archives. In addition, all Francoist symbols will be removed, the decorations awarded by the regime will be annulled and 33 titles of nobility granted by the dictator will be abolished.


The history of Democracy and democratic memory will be part of the compulsory study curriculum in compulsory secondary education (ESO), in Vocational Training and in Baccalaureate.

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