[Marxism] Silence over Franco broken by new Spanish generation

Sudhir Devadas sudhirdin at gmail.com
Sun Nov 20 06:42:47 MST 2005

the britogolovy of russia, calls for forced abortion of black women in
bushland, the stabbings of the coloured people in blair country, resonate in
spain too, as is revealed by the following piece:

   Silence over Franco broken by new Spanish generation
Giles Tremlett in Madrid
Sunday November 20 2005
The Observer

Spain is suffering from collective amnesia about the rule of fascist
dictator General Francisco Franco, according to the makers of a
controversial documentary released last week.

The film, Between The Dictator and Me, will fuel demands that something be
done to compensate Franco's victims and recognise the full horrors of the
40-year regime. Almost all those who were in Spain during the regime who
were interviewed in the films retreated into silence or denial. 'They are
things that should not really be spoken about,' said one.

Yesterday, left and right-wing protesters marched through Madrid on the eve
of the 30th anniversary of Franco's death, showing old rivalries from
Spain's civil war are still deeply felt.

As a toddler, film-maker Sandra Ruesga, was taken by her parents to visit
the tomb of the man whose bloody and vengeful rule still haunts Spain.

But nobody had ever spoken to her about life under the man whose regime
dominated the lives of her parents and her grandparents. Like most of her
generation, she had never really been taught about him. 'I inherited a
falsified history imposed by silences,' says Ruesga, whose generation is now
questioning the silence that has surrounded the man they call El Caudillo
since his death from natural causes 30 years ago.

Her comments, and harsh questioning of her parents' attitude to a man who
was responsible for the deaths of tens of thousands of opponents, matched
the experience of half a dozen other young film-makers brought together to
make the documentary. Silence about Franco, and about the military uprising
he led against the Republican government, was part of a 'pact of forgetting'
that underpinned the transition to democracy after his death.

But now, in a country that has avoided truth commissions or prosecution of
members of Franco's regime, the socialist government of Prime Minister
José Luis Rodríguez Zapatero has pledged to do something but
has already missed several deadlines for announcing a package of measures.

'It keeps delaying coming up with measures for elderly people who have
little time left to wait for the compensation they deserve,' the Association
for the Recovery of Historical Memory, which has dug up 500 victims of
Franco's death squads from mass graves in the past five years, said

The association wants the sentences of Franco's military tribunals
overturned and history teachers obliged to tell their pupils the truth about
the repressive nature of his regime. Among those to have backed its calls is
Amnesty International.

But Spain's right wing has demanded that the deceased dictator, whose
handful of faithful followers were due to attend a mass beside his grave in
the specially excavated basilica at the Valley of the Fallen near Madrid, be
left alone.

'I have no doubt that the judgment of history on Franco will be positive,'
Manuel Fraga, founder of Spain's opposition People's party and a former
Franco minister, said this week.

Fraga warned Zapatero, whose own grandfather was shot by Franco's followers,
against bowing to demands that something be done to provide moral
compensation for those persecuted, killed or tortured by the Franco regime.

'It is best to leave the dead in peace. History needs to be respected, but
it should not be opened up again,' he added.

Ignorance about Franco runs deep. A poll run by the Cadena Ser radio station
last week found that one out of three Spaniards did not know that Franco had
overthrown a democratic government.

Just over half of those questioned, however, said that they thought Franco's
influence could still be felt.

Ruesga wants to know why her parents did not protest or fight to get rid of
Franco. 'It was bad, but what was I going to do?' replied her mother. A new
generation, which did not live under the dictatorship itself, cannot decide
whether that is a good enough answer.

Copyright Guardian Newspapers Limited

More information about the Marxism mailing list