Restoring the Republic

In response to the Garzón affair, a coalition of human rights groups in Argentina has filed a writ with the courts in Buenos Aires. El Público has an interview with the lawyer, Carlos Slepoy, who made the filing. Below is a translated excerpt:

What is the basis?

The application of the principle of universal jurisdiction, which is the same principle according to which judge Garzón instructed proceedings with regard to the crimes committed during the Chilean dictatorship.

Why now?

There is a sense of paying back the huge favour that Spanish Justice performed to put an end to impunity in Argentina.

What are you demanding?

This is a request for evidence from the Spanish government, which will have to give information about the ministers, still living, that participated in the Francoist governments. We will also request an account from the heads of the Armed Forces, the Civil Guard, the Police, and the Falange.

Will you request other details?

The certification of the number of disappeared of those for whom there is a record, of the number of mass graves that have been found, of the bodies that were covered, of the children kidnapped, etcetera.

Do you have figures?

They are in Garzón’s decree. The Spanish judge talks about 113,000 disappeared and 30,000 children kidnapped.

What is going to be judged?

The main accusation is the crime of genocide but this does not exclude crime against humanity (lesa humanidad).

What is the difference?

In genocide, the purpose of the repressor is to exclude different groups that comprise society with the goal of remodelling it, and, as such, it seeks the elimination of all groups that oppose this purpose. They exterminate individuals with the desire of destroying those groups of which they form a part. Crimes against humanity, on the other hand, imply an indiscriminate attack on the civil population.

Can you give an example?

The bombs of Hiroshima and Nagasaki were crimes against humanity, but they did not aim to reorganise that society nor to eliminate identified groups, something that was done by Francoism and the Argentinian dictatorship. This differentiation is very important because it casts light on the causes, the beneficiaries and their responsibilities.

Who are the plaintiffs?

Darío Rivas, whose father, Severino Rivas, was shot, and Inés García Holgado, who has three murdered relatives, one uncle and two great uncles: the first disappeared and the other two shot.

Why does Spanish justice not wish to investigate?

What is happening in Spain happens in all countries where mass crimes of this nature are committed. The crime is followed by impunity, even through a pact with those who were victims. In Spain, the Amnesty Law was signed, which was supported by different political parties, even by those in Argentina who are descendants of those who were victims. This is how it has happened in places like Argentina and Chile. It is not an exclusively Spanish situation.

What is being pursued in Spain with the possible suspension of Garzón?

Those who committed these crimes in Spain, who control their societies precisely because they achieved this through their genocidal processes, are trying to stop these facts from being investigated. To throw silence, oblivion and impunity over them. As a consequence, what is happening with Garzón is this. He dared to comply with what internal Spanish law and international law demand, which is to investigate those crimes. Immediately all forces of the old Spain turned against him, managing not only to paralyse the process, but also to open a shocking process to suspend him, which discredits Spanish justice internationally in an incredible manner.

In a piece titled ‘The last cackle of Francisco Franco‘ on Mexican news site La Jornada, Luis Hernández Navarro, a son of Spanish republican exiles, talks how on news of Franco’s death he and his family uncorked bottles of cava that had been chilling for several days. He talks about his enormous laughter at finding out finding out how Franco’s death had been announced by a tearful Carlos Arias Navarro (then President of the Government) on Spanish television.

Here’s the moment he’s talking about:

Vodpod videos no longer available.

Right enough, it is pretty funny.

Although his parents were exiles, Hernández Navarro says he never felt nostalgia for a country that wasn’t his, but

for a cause that still has not been won because in its place there was a monarchy installed: the restoration of the Spanish Republic.

He goes on to note that he finds Baltasar Garzón to be

a dubious and ambiguous figure

This image is taken from the Presidency of Arg...
Baltasar Garzón

but that he

cannot but approve of the intention of the judge to give satisfaction, through the courts, to the families of victims of the Civil War and the dictatorship of Francisco Franco who do not accept that the remains of their ancestors remain unidentified in mass graves.

Focusing on the figure of Garzón, he notes that:

Whereas for some he is a disinterested fighter against injustice and terrorism who deserves the Nobel Peace Prize, for others he violates elemental human rights and carries out his work with exhibitionism and in a twisted manner, particularly on the matter of the Basque Country. The defenders of both points of view have presented evidence that back up their claim.

He goes on to note that:

In the kingdom of Spain there was an amnesia about the Francoist past which regaled an amnesty to the criminales who held on to power during decades. The political class and a part of the intellectual world refused to look back and opted only to look forward. In the meantime, the reds became pink, the Francoists transformed into “democrats”, the falangists became entrepreneurs and the conservatives dressed up as progressives without a hint of regret.


Today it is obvious: the repressed past has returned to Spanish society and politics to demand justice, and impunity has replied, demanding it should maintain its grip on the wheel.

And finally:

Perhaps because he was already a mummy in his lifetime, the burial of Franco was full of absurdities: several days of rehearsals were needed to conduct the funeral proceedings; one of the mourners fell into the tomb and was knocket out; apart from Augusto Pinochet, no important head of state attended the funeral; the civil servants in the Valle de los Caidos [massive fascist mausoleum built with slave labour in honour of the winning side of the Civil War- HG] sweated blood to find a tombstone of the same height that covered the tomb of José Antonio [Primo de Rivera, mentioned here the other day]. As such, [I think..] faced with the outrage of the Garzón case, some 35 years on from his death, the caudillo, in an act of vengeance, cackles from his sepulchre: justice in the kingdom of Spain does not punish the crime of criminal disappearances, but the person who investigates them. A sign that it is time to restore the Republic.

You can see more coverage of Franco’s death here:

Vodpod videos no longer available.

Note the prominence of the Catholic Church in proceedings. Wait for the aerial footage at the end of the monumental obscenity of the Valle de los Caídos.

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April 2010

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