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Biased Application of Spain’s Democratic Memory Law by Carlos Perona Calvete

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Biased Application of Spain’s Democratic Memory Law

Catalan Government Leaves Hundreds of Civil War Victims of the Popular Front Unexhumed

Among the activities to be undergone under the cover of Spain’s existing “Historical Memory” law, as well as its new “Democratic Memory” version, are the investigation and exhumation of Civil War era dead. De facto, however, the law has been applied to pursue the crimes of the National Front (the “Right”), and not the Popular Front (the “Left”). 

This partiality is apart from any de jure biases encoded in the legislation, such as considering the Spanish transition and Amnesty laws to have principally protected Franco-era politicians, and ignoring that leftist exiles responsible for murder were allowed to participate in post-Franco, democratic processes.

Recently, the Catalan regional government provided a flagrant example of this one-sided application, as The Objective reports. In September 2020, it agreed to investigate a mass grave of Civil War victims of the Popular Front in the municipality of Montcada i Reixac. 

To date, however, nothing has apparently been done to honor this commitment, despite the Catalan government recently receiving €341,660.81 to carry out Democratic Memory related activities.

The General Directorate of Catalan Democratic Memory and the Official State Gazette are responsible for publishing a breakdown of activities taking place in this area. As of early July 2022, neither has provided any information concerning moves to exhume the bodies in question. 

These bodies would belong to victims of a large-scale execution taking place between July 1936 and April 1937, with estimates for the number of bodies going as high as 700. Overall, nearly 1,300 people were killed in Montcada i Reixac, mainly by the anarcho-syndicalist CNT-FAI, for being sympathetic to the National Front. 1,200 corpses were exhumed in the 1940s, but about 700 were impossible to identify at the time, and were reburied. Presumably, using modern technology, some of these might be identifiable today and, in any case, a proper cataloging could be carried out. 

Carlos Perona Calvete is a writer for The European Conservative. He has a background in International Relations and Organizational Behavior, has worked in the field of European project management, and is currently awaiting publication of a book in which he explores the metaphysics of political representation.