The Spanish Civil War (1936-39)
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© Cor Faber en Ellen Bijma Last update website march 2024
Deel 4: after Franco Amnesty l aw In 1977 an amnesty law is passed. The law should prevent people from Franco's time from being prosecuted. It is certainly plausible that the first ideas and designs were conceived before 1975. Many people from that time were still active in political circles in that year and after, and the establishment of a democracy should of course not lead to being charged, let alone convicted. Attempted coup d'état On January 23, 1981, another coup attempt was made in Spain. Former Lieutenant Colonel Antonio Tejero stood with two hundred supporters, brandishing a pistol in parliament. Shots were actually fired, albeit as a warning and intimidation and not aimed at people. In 1978 he had already made a failed attempt. King Juan Carlos, however, held his ground and gave a firm televised speech. In the uniform of commander-in-chief, he ordered the soldiers to return to their barracks and the coup failed. Spain joins NATO During Franco's rule, attempts are made to have Spain join NATO. There is great resistance to this within the allies. Of course Spain is at the gateway to the Mediterranean, but as Britain is already the boss in Gibraltar, it is not seen as a necessity that Spain should become a member. The fact that Spain is still a dictatorship also plays an important role. In 1982 Spain is admitted to NATO. Last statue of Franco In 2005, thirty years after his death, the last statue of Franco in Madrid is removed on the mainland. It will take until 2009 that the very last statue is removed in the Spanish city of Melilla, an enclave near Morocco. Act on Historical Remembrance I n 2007 the "law on historical memory" was passed. From now on, victims of the Franco regime can claim recognition and compensation. In addition, extensive research can now be done on the relatives of victims and they can obtain information about the final resting place of their loved ones and family. They also want to put an end to the glorification of Francoist heroes. Street names will be changed and other public expressions will be banned. In many churches still hangs the emblem of the Falange (the fascist party), a bundle of arrows. If a church wants to keep its subsidy, it must be removed. In Madrid, conservative parties in the city council are pushing back when it comes to changing street names. Six-year attempt to bring someone to justice In 2012, an attempt is made to prosecute someone who had had people tortured, murdered and disappeared during Franco's rule: Juan Antonio González Pacheco alias Billy el Niño (Billy the Kid). Since it is not possible to sue in Spain, it is tried through international law from Argentina. There is no cooperation from Spain and Spain even threatens to sever diplomatic ties with Argentina if they continue. They also go so far as to block a video conference with a judge in Argentina. After six years of struggling, they have given up for now. An impressive documentary was made of this attempt, which was released in 2018: El Silencio de Otros (The Silence of Others). My research in Spain In 2016 I went to Spain for research, among other things to visit the area where my grandfather's adventure took place. But also to get an idea of ​​the current situation. Click here to read it. A few impressions are as follows. Spain is still divided into two groups: pro- and counter-Franco. In cafes in small towns like Pendreña, across the bay from Santander, portraits of Franco and Primo de Rivera (leader of the Falange, the fascist party) still hang brotherly side by side on the walls. An appointment with an older person was also canceled twice. Out of fear, it was said. The impulse to be careful who you talk to about the Franco era is still there, almost a conditioned reflex. A mother and daughter are resting on a bench in the upper town of Santander, a great opportunity to start a spontaneous conversation. Mother of more than ninety years old can tell that as a 10-year-old girl she experienced the arrival of the Italians in 1937. As a thank you, a monument has been placed nearby in honor of the "liberators". Both she and her daughter know how to tell that all that digging in the past must come to an end. I ask why that monument is still there. The conversation ended abruptly, apparently wrong question (the monument was actually removed in 2017. When I asked the municipality where it has gone, I got the answer that I didn't need to know). In 2016, on a terrace in a small town near Bilbao, Basque Country, I was told by my host that it is not wise to pronounce the name Franco too loud here. Also taking pictures is not appreciated here. In fact, he tells me that if he stood up now and shouted that "we're going to Madrid to blow things up", he would immediately take that trip along with 40 or 50 people. Although ETA has given up the armed struggle, such feelings are still very much alive in the Basque Country. The terrace where we sit turns out to be a former meeting place of the same ETA. If you want to read the report of My Journey to the Spanish Civil War, click here (check your download folder if you don't see it here). Present - the state of affairs Spain is currently still divided to the bone, a division that will certainly last for several generations, if it can ever come to unity. When you want to talk to people in Spain about Franco and the Spanish Civil War, you will almost certainly be asked which side you are on. If that's the wrong answer, the conversation is usually over. It can also happen that you have to run quickly for understandable reasons. It also happens that appointments with older people are canceled at the last minute for fear of talking. That impulse dates from the time when it was dangerous to talk: watch who you talk about what. But a third group is now also emerging: young people who do believe it all and think that it is something from the past, which should stay there. At the end of 2019, Spain will go to the polls for the fourth time in four years. The earlier formation of coalitions always fails. This time, however, they manage to form a government and the PSOE and Podemos become the two main parties. Prime Minister Sanchez manages to make some important matters from the Franco past into a coalition agreement. He promises that he will continue the path of 'reparation, justice and remembrance for the victims of Francoism'. October 31 will also be a day of remembrance for all victims of the Franco regime. Efforts will also be made to return all property stolen during Franco's rule to the rightful owners. A lot of work is already being done in excavating and identifying victims. This will be further intensified. The same goes for replacing street names and other references, something that certain and predicted parties continue to resist tooth and nail. The desire for independence also continues to play a role, especially in the regions of Catalonia, the Basque Country and Galicia. Recently in 2017, Catalonia declared its independence in vain. The fifth time in three centuries and again with the result that Madrid intervened hard and President Puigdemont fled to Belgium to avoid arrest. Not surprising: if the Catalans were successful with their independence, the Basque Country and Galicia would make an attempt (again) in no time. Spain may be geographically one country, in practice it is certainly not. It is a total of all kinds of cultures, customs and sometimes even a completely different language. Basque is a striking example of this. The language is not even like any other language in the world. Its origin is attributed to an extinct medieval language, Aquitanian. Basque is no longer spoken by everyone in the Basque Country at the moment. It, like Catalan and other languages, was banned during Franco's reign. In schools, children were instructed that if they heard the language spoken at home, they should report it, with predictable consequences. Spain has changed for the better since Franco's time. Yet the echoes of those days still resound or there are things that still have everything to do with the Franco era. Something Spain will have to deal with for generations to come.
Laatste standbeeld van Franco wordt verwijderd
Billy El Niño