Tuesday, December 02, 2003

PP Openly Defends Francisco Franco

In several occasions I have mentioned that the Partido Popular in Spain is in reality a haven for former Franco era ministers, politicians and militants. His most infamous member, José María Aznar is the son of Manuel Aznar, top ranked minister during Franco's dictatorship.

So, it is with great pleasure that I present to you this article by no other than Giles Tremlett published at The Guardian:

Spain torn on tribute to victims of Franco

Aznar's ruling People's party to boycott homage by parliament as old dictator's ghost continues to haunt the nation's political stage

Giles Tremlett in Madrid
Monday December 1, 2003
The Guardian

The governing People's party of Spain's conservative prime minister José María Aznar has refused to take part in a homage in parliament today to the victims of General Francisco Franco. The late dictator's controversial legacy is dividing Spanish politicians once more, with the ruling party being the only one to boycott the homage to several hundred, mainly elderly, political prisoners, former anti-Franco guerrillas, members of the International Brigades, exiles, and families of those executed by his firing squads.

"This sounds a bit like a mothball revival," said Luis de Grandes, the People's party parliamentary spokesman, in comments that have outraged the victims and their families.

"Mothballs are what they have in their own Francoist suits," replied Tomás Caballero, grandson of a victim of a death squad from the civil war whose remains were found recently in a mass grave.

The other 11 parties represented in parliament have said they will attend today when representatives of groups who suffered the vengeful repression of Franco's self-styled "crusade" are handed certificates recognising their role in the "battle for freedom".

Jesús Caldera, a Socialist party spokesman, said he could not understand why the government would boycott an act designed to "honour everybody without offending anyone".

Felipe Alcaraz, of the communist-led United Left coalition, said: "One can pardon, but one should not forget."

The People's party, founded by a former Franco minister, Manuel Fraga, has blocked several attempts in recent years for parliament to explicitly condemn the 1936 military rebellion, led by Franco and other generals, that ushered in nearly 40 years of totalitarian rule.

Two years ago, however, it approved a parliamentary motion which, for the first time, officially recognised the existence of victims of "repression of the Francoist dictatorship" and denounced "the violent imposition of ideologies".

The motion gave local authorities the freedom to spend money to help recover the bodies of several thousand victims of Francoist civil war death squads that are believed to be in mass graves around Spain.

The People's party made it clear at the time that this was its final word on Franco and the bloody three-year civil war that he and his allies started.

An ageing Mr Fraga, who chose Mr Aznar to lead the party over 10 years ago, still bears the title of "founding president" and currently heads a regional government in Galicia.

The People's party has consistently rejected accusations of being a party for Franco supporters, especially since Mr Aznar became prime minister seven years ago.

It accuses anyone who refers to the Franco era of seeking to turn the clock back to a time when Spain was bitterly divided between left and right.

But, with no other party on the right, opponents claim that the People's party does not want to offend those among its voters who remain faithful to the memory of the dictator they believe saved Spain from being taken over by communists and anarchists.

The successful transition to democracy that followed Franco's death in 1975 was based partially on what was known as "the pact of forgetting", in which all sides agreed that no attempt would be made to seek revenge or justice for past wrongs.

That meant that many of the stories of repression remained untold. But a recent flood of revelations about the nature of the Franco regime and its brutal treatment of prisoners, political opponents and even the children of leftwingers has led to a fresh debate on just how cruel his regime was.

There has also been a backlash from Franco supporters who believe that his name is being besmirched by people anxious to portray him as a Spanish Hitler.

Historians continue to argue over the full scale of Franco's repressive machinery. Lower estimates talk of 30,000 opponents shot by Franco's firing squads after the civil war, with a further 50,000 to 100,000 executed during the war.

At least one of the victims' groups invited to the homage has angrily turned down the invitation, asking why the Socialists, who governed Spain for 12 years in the 1980s and 1990s, and the United Left have waited so long to organise it.

Now, Giles who so cheerfully ads the death toll by armed group ETA to every single one of his articles regarding the Basque Country has finally been forced to publish the estimate of the death toll by the Francoist regime.

So, let us do the math. The Basque political party Batasuna has been banned and added to a "terrorist organizations" list for never condemning ETA's actions. Yet, the file and rank of the Partido Popular (PP) refuses to take part in an act to condemn Francisco Franco's violence.

If Batasuna has been banned over 800 so called "victims" (let us remember that ETA's list include Meliton Manzanas, a Gestapo informant and Carrero Blanco, a top member of the Franco regime) then what should be done to the PP and its members for their apology Franco's regime with a death toll above the 100,000 figure?

Giles Tremlett always mention the 800 figure in his reports about the Basque Country, yet, he has never ever mention the victims of the air bombings over Durango and Gernika that killed over 2,000 Basque civilians, a crime denied until today by the Spanish establishment. And when it concerns to the Basque Country that was just the beginning.

Giles must be sobbing in some dark corner for disclosing this information about his bosses in Madrid.

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