Barcelona (CNA).- The victims of Franco’s dictatorship, which ruled in Spain after the Civil War in 1939 and lasted until Franco’s death in 1975, were honoured on Sunday, coinciding with the 41st anniversary of the dictator’s death. The ceremony paid tribute to the 309 victims and their families that have been recognised as victims of Franco’s regime since 2009, the last time such a ceremony took place. ‘We confirm that the fight for liberties is still in force today’, stated the Catalan Minister for Foreign Affairs, Raül Romeva, who compared ‘with due respect to the obvious differences’ the justice of Franco’s dictatorship and that of the current Spanish State. ‘Today there are still echoes of the Francoist melody’ he said, referring to the ‘interference of the Spanish Government in the judicial system’. According to Romeva ‘it still has to be proved whether we are enjoying a democracy which is worthy of the name’.
During Franco’s dictatorship, ‘arbitrariness, a lack of rules and impunity prevailed in the legal system’, stated Romeva and pointed out that ‘with due respect to the obvious differences’ some of these values can still be seen in today’s Spain. Praising the courage of those reprised by Francoism, Romeva assured that ‘the fight for liberties is still in force today’. ‘We still see lawsuits and legal action threats for crimes as grave as allowing citizens to express their opinion freely or for democratically elected representatives to debate in the Parliament’, he added.
‘We are under a dictatorship’s yoke: it is clear and denying it would be irresponsible’, stated Romeva and emphasised that ‘it still has to be proved whether we are enjoying a democracy which is worthy of the name’. According to the Catalan Minister for Foreign Affairs, this is the reason why ‘many citizens in Catalonia have decided to build a democratic space’ to ‘guarantee’ the values of freedom and equality. ‘A desire which is related to those multiple fights against Francoism that you all pursued’, he said addressing the audience.
Reparation for victims arrives too late
‘When part of the people you represent lost their fear, the Francoist regime started to wobble, disrupting until the very last moment’, said Romeva, addressing the families of victims attending the ceremony. He also lamented the late recognition of the victims and assured that it should have started ‘at least 30 years ago’. ‘We have the duty to continue until the end and this is our commitment’, he said and emphasised the Government’s will to continue in the path of victim recognition and reparation.
The ceremony, held in Universitat de Barcelona’s auditorium, also included the presence of historians Josep Fontana and Borja de Riquer who made an academic contribution. According to de Riquer, ‘the amnesty law’ was a ‘political mistake’ which ‘represented a fake closure of the Francoist dictatorship’. ‘At that time they said it was too early for curing the wounds and now some say that it is too late’, he added. De Riquer also wanted to stress the ‘huge difficulties’ that victims’ relatives have in order to ‘annul the lawsuits, the judgments, proceedings and political sentences issued during Franco’s dictatorship’. ‘The arguments given by the Spanish state for not doing so are simply shameful’, he stated.
‘Spain has never been held to account for its totalitarian past’
The non-profit association promoting Catalan culture, Òmnium Cultural, paid tribute to Franco’s victims at Barcelona’s Model Prison, which hosted many political victims of the dictatorship. Before Barcelona’s Mayor, Ada Colau, Òmnium Cultural’s President, Jordi Cuixart, explained that the prison ‘witnessed real brutality’ and called for the centre to become a space for ‘historic memory’ so that the new generations ‘can remember the suffering of so many innocent victims’.
Cuixart also took the chance to criticise ‘the Spanish state’s tolerance towards its Francoist past’. ’41 years after Franco’s death, Francoism still hasn’t been judged’, he reported. ‘Spain has never been held to account for its totalitarian past and this is simply unacceptable’, he added. In this vein, he assured that those crimes committed during Francoism ‘don’t expire’ and asked for the ‘Catalan republic to put in place the basis for justice so that the victims can receive the reparations they deserve to’.
Former left wing pro-independence ERC leader, Josep Lluís Carod Rovira, reminded those present of his short stay in the prison and assured that ‘there is still much work to be done’. ‘Franco is dead, but part of Francoism is still alive’, he lamented.
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