Archive for October 17th, 2007

Condemned to the past

Most people my age who followed the Northern Ireland news will remember a time when Sinn Fein representatives, on being asked will you condemn x, y or z, would invariably reply ‘I’m not about to get into the politics of condemnation here….’

Someone else who is not for getting into the politics of condemnation is Partido Popular grandee Jaime Mayor Oreja, who has refused to condemn Franco’s dictatorship, since it ‘represented a broad sector of Spanish people’. When asked by his interlocutor if broad support for Hitler or Stalin meant that neither Nazism nor Stalinism ought to be condemned, he responded that the dictatorship was ‘the consequence of a civil war in which there were two sides’, whereas ‘with the Nazi regime, there was only one executioner’. He also added that he saw no reason to condemn it since under it ‘many families lived naturally and normally’, although he did not say whether these families included among their number dead relatives buried in Franco’s mass graves. He further added that the disquisitions on Francoism should be ‘left to the historians’, a common approach for people who would prefer that the past were left buried.

So it is fair to say that the Partido Popular is an unequivocal supporter of democracy. Former party leader Jose María Aznar, who took Spain to war in Iraq with support of 4% of the population, is another case in point, as is the party deputy who has sought the withdrawal of a photographic exhibition on display in the Guggenheim in Bilbao which, according to its affiliate organization, the Association for Victims of Terrorism,”attempts to relativise the crimes of ETA, and adopts a false intermediate position of equidistance, and represents, in reality, an apology and voluntary or involuntary justification of terrorism, which is never referred to as such.” Every picture tells a story, and these ones don’t tell the right one, so they need to be taken down.

Protests about street names such as Avenida Generalisimo Francisco Franco, or Calle General Mola, or Calle Queipo de Llano -which are very common in Spanish towns- are rarely heard from the Partido Popular, despite the status of the aforementioned as despicable war criminals directly responsible for the deaths of tens of thousands of Spaniards. Such street names, and other symbols glorifying the military uprising, the civil war or the dictatorship may be removed under the provisions of a new law – La Ley de Memoria (Memory Law). The Partido Popular is not happy about this law, since it is fully committed to democracy.

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October 2007