Spain’s justice minister announced on Wednesday plans for an ‘integral’ reform of Spain’s Historical Memory Law, the first legislation condemning the era of General Francisco Franco, who ruled Spain from 1939 until his death in 1975.
The new measures will ban organisations that praise General Franco, and also fund exhumations of those killed and buried in unmarked graves during the Spanish Civil War, which pitted General Franco’s Nationalist forces against the left-wing Republicans led by Spain’s Republican government.
Thousands of Spaniards still do not know the exact location of where their loved ones were buried during the conflict.
Spain’s Historical Memory Law was passed in 2007 by the Socialist government of Prime Minister José Luis Rodríguez Zapatero. It aimed to recognise victims on both sides of the Spanish Civil War, as well as encourage the removal of statues and the changing of street names connected to General Franco.
But the subsequent Popular Party (PP) government of conservative Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy was slow to enact the law, cutting state subsidies for exhumations of those killed during the civil war.
“It is unacceptable for Spain to continue to be the second country after Cambodia with the largest number of missing people,” said Justice Minister Dolores Delgado on Wednesday, July 11, 2018.
The reforms will provide state funding for exhumations of the mass graves of General Franco’s victims, Delgado confirmed. Over 1,200 mass graves have yet to be exhumed.
Spain’s new Socialist government is also studying banning groups that praise General Franco and his memory. One of the most notable is the Francisco Franco Foundation, which was founded in 1976, one year after the dictator’s death.
Members regularly visit General Franco’s tomb at the Valley of the Fallen to lay flowers in memory of the dictator.
Since taking office on June 2, 2018, Spanish Prime Minister Pedro Sánchez has promised to remove General Franco’s remains from the macabre monument, to make it a place of reconciliation rather than somewhere that glorifies the dictator.