Friday, October 17, 2008

Confronting the ghost of Franco

In July 1936, Spanish fascists under General Francisco Franco attempted to overthrow the elected Spanish government. During the ensuing civil war and subsequent dictatorship, the fascists disappeared and murdered an estimated 200,000 people. Now, there is going to be justice for those crimes:

A Spanish judge has launched a criminal investigation into the fate of tens of thousands of people who vanished during the civil war and Franco dictatorship.

Judge Baltasar Garzon - Spain's top investigating judge - has also ordered several mass graves to be opened.

One is believed to contain the remains of the poet Federico Garcia Lorca, who was murdered by fascist forces at the start of the war in the 1930s.


In his 68-page ruling, Judge Garzon says that Francoists carried out "illegal permanent detentions" which he says falls within the definition of crimes against humanity.

(Link added)

Since the restoration of democracy in 1978, Spain has had a tacit agreement to forget the past. But that has simply allowed it to fester (and allowed anti-democratic attitudes to survive in the Spanish military). The worst atrocities were carried out during the civil war, and the perpetrators will be long dead by now. But the truth will at least be told, the past confronted, and Spanish society finally allowed to properly reject it.