Hope in the families of the Jaén victims of the dictatorship

The Spanish Civil War and the subsequent Franco regime left many murder cases unresolved, but the families of the victims of these historical periods see hope in achieving the rights to truth, justice and reparation under the new Law of Democratic Memory. Said law, which entered into force on October 21, aims to establish essential memory policies to avoid forgetting and repeating these historical episodes.

According to Amnesty International, “the State, clinging to arguments contrary to international law, such as the 1977 Amnesty Law, has not investigated or clarified these serious human rights abuses.” However, with the approval of the new Democratic Memory Law, a public policy will be sought “that should collect and channel the aspirations of civil society, encourage citizen participation and social reflection, and repair and recognize the dignity of the victims of all forms of intolerant and fanatical violence”, as dictated by the State official newsletter.

Democratic memory in the province of Jaén

The president of the Association for the Recovery of the Historical Memory of the province of Jaén, Miguel Ángel Valdivia, affirms that in our province there were more than 3,000 reprisals and victims of the Franco dictatorship. Their bodies were found scattered in 28 mass graves. “The capital, with three graves and some individual tombs or niches, is the city with the highest number of victims, reaching 1,255 reprisals,” denounces Miguel Ángel, who also insists that “even children under the age of three who were with their mothers in prisons died of hunger or disease and they are also buried in graves like 702 in Jaén”.

In addition, the president exposes the hardest and most tragic part of the fight for democratic memory, since “when the exhumation is carried out, the skeletons and the skull are seen with the ‘coup de grace’ to finish them off after having been shot.” From this arises the need to “close the mourning and deliver the bones to the relatives so that they can bury them with dignity.”

On the other hand, Miguel Ángel believes that the 2007 Historical Memory Law, promoted by Rodríguez Zapatero, had some obstacles, since “the State gave subsidies to the associations, but they do not have the means, archaeologists or forensic doctors to carry out an exhumation and in-depth investigation”. For this reason, he considers that the new Democratic Memory Law is necessary and, up to now, “the best law that has been approved, because it includes the resolutions of the former UN rapporteur, Pablo de Greiff, who said that the exhumations had to be carried out by the State, both by the Government of Spain and by the autonomies and local administrations (Provincial Councils and town halls)”.

In fact, it points out that this mode of exhumation was carried out during the dictatorship, but “only for a sector of those subjected to reprisals, whom they called ‘fallen for Spain'”, because the Franco regime “had 5% of the annual budgets specifically earmarked for exhuming deceased nationalists,” he adds.

Phases of the struggle for democratic memory

The new Democratic Memory Law is the result of the progressive progress made in previous years. The president of the Association for the Historical Memory of Jaén explains that there have been three fundamental phases throughout the current democracy: the total of 21,000 million euros in compensation for those who suffered from their stay in prisons, for the widows of the retaliated or for the combatants of the Republican Army, assault guards or carabinieri; the ‘monumentization’ over the mass graves, where, from 2006 and 2007, the names and surnames of the victims were placed; and, finally, the promotion of exhumations and resources for historical memory, such as books, documentaries, films and a long etcetera.

In any case, Valdivia attaches special importance to the exhumation processes, which began in the San Fernando cemetery (Seville), continuing through the San Rafael and Nuestra Señora de la Salud cemeteries (Córdoba). Thus, “Jaén and Hueva are going to join the exhumations after having made the delimitations of the mass graves”, where, in the case of the city of Jaén, there is evidence of “three large graves”, he points out.

Objectives of the Democratic Memory Association

There is still a long way to go, but from the Association for the Recovery of Historical Memory of Jaén they do not contemplate the end of their fight, “because there are four ideas that we will always carry forward: truth, justice, reparation and guarantees of non-repetition,” he says. your president. For this reason, he believes that there will always be a message to spread in order not to forget the crimes committed in history.

He also insists on the need to provide this knowledge to the youth, an objective that is being achieved, since “more and more young people are showing interest and attending the events, especially those that are carried out continuously in front of the mass graves. those retaliated by the Franco dictatorship”.

Finally, it also grants great importance and responsibility to the educational system, in charge of teaching the youngest these historical events and the consequences that they left behind and that are still valid today. “I think that when they explain it to them, there is a greater involvement in knowing this stage that was imposed by a dictatorial coup,” he concludes.

Hope in the families of the Jaén victims of the dictatorship