Investigating Civil War Deaths: Opening Graves and Closing Wounds

Date Added: 20 September 2008
Zapatero denounces as "hypocrisy" the opposition to his policy of recovering national memory

Earlier this month Zapatero denounced as "hypocrisy" the suggestion from members of the PP that the investigation into Civil War deaths threatens to divide the nation by reopening old wounds (..).

I'm inclined to agree. Granted during the Civil War terrible atrocities were committed by both sides.  But the right of an individual to know where a loved one is burried has to be considered in isolation.  When someone is murdered, having the crime acknowleded by society and seeing that the remains are recovered and more respectfully disposed of, is something that most people would consider a basic right.  There are people who have waited seventy years for this right.  In some cases the murder victim was of no particular political persuasion but just got caught up in the holocaust.

But the reason why the word "hypocrisy" is so apt when applied to those who would deny this right, is that when the PP held office in Spain, a large amount of public money went to the Franco Foundation -- an organisation dedicated to the late Dictator's memory (see BBC article).  This itself caused nationwide indignation, and could be said to be more surely "opening old wounds", and with considerably less justification than granting some bereaved senior citizens a long-awaited sense of closure.

Maybe during the transition, or just after when Spain's democracy was still fragile, there was a case for the "pact of forgetfulness" when this and other grievances against Francoism were swept under the carpet.  But now that Spain's democracy is well-established, there can be no serious damage done, and I believe much good.

As Zapatero said himself: it is not opening old wounds but allowing the few remaining ones to close.