Spanish dictator Franco’s victims exhumed

This video says about itself:

One man sets out to exhume the ghosts of Spain’s totalitarianism past.

The Part 2 video is here.

From British daily The Independent:

Victims of Spanish civil war to be exhumed

Judge says disappearance of thousands in 1936-39 must be investigated

By Elizabeth Nash in Madrid

Friday, 17 October 2008

A crusading judge said he would investigate the disappearance of tens of thousands of Spaniards during the civil war, in the country’s first official inquiry into one of the darkest chapters of its history. Baltasar Garzon ordered the exhumations of 19 mass graves dating from the 1936-39 conflict and Francisco Franco’s subsequent dictatorship, including that of the country’s best loved poet, Federico Garcia Lorca.

Judge Garzon’s controversial decision defies decades of opposition by conservative politicians and state prosecutors who argued that any civil war crimes expired under an amnesty law of 1977. But the judge countered yesterday that Franco conducted a systematic campaign to eliminate opponents and hide their bodies. Such “illegal, permanent detention without disclosing [victims’] whereabouts” constitutes grounds for a crimes-against-humanity case which Judge Garzon says has no statute of limitations.

“Any amnesty law which aims at erasing crimes against humanity that cannot be described as political crimes, is null,” said Judge Garzon. He names Franco and 34 late wartime generals or members of his government as instigators of the campaign.

The groundbreaking decision responds to years of campaigning by those who still mourn relatives who died in the conflict, whose bodies were never recovered or given a proper burial.

“It’s very exciting because I think it’s about time this country recognised the suffering of these people and started something that, 70 years after the events, could be considered as justice,” said Emilio Silva, head of the Association for the Recovery of Historic Memory. The organisation represents families seeking to recover relatives buried in mass unmarked graves throughout Spain.

The names of more than 130,000 people who disappeared during the civil war were handed to Judge Garzon last month by church and human rights groups. Many victims were executed without trial and tossed into mass graves during the war and Franco’s subsequent rule.

Among the 19 graves Judge Garzon ordered to be opened is that of Gabriel Garcia Lorca, who was shot in August 1936 by fascist death squads, and then buried in rough ground outside the city of Granada. “I am so happy. I’ve been waiting 10 years for this moment,”said Nieves Galindo, whose grandfather, Dioscoro Galindo, was another Franco opponent shot and buried alongside Lorca.

For years the Lorca family said they did not want the site disturbed. But last month, in a historic change of heart, they said that, if relatives of those buried with him wanted to open the grave, they would not object.

Judge Garzon’s ruling will enable relatives of victims buried in mass graves to establish the circumstances of their deaths, in what campaigners hailed as a necessary step towards healing wounds caused by a conflict that continues to divide Spain.

They say that since Judge Garzon pursued human rights crimes committed by military rulers in Chile and Argentina, he should do so in his own country. The judge is renowned internationally for his attempts to extradite the Chilean dictator Augusto Pinochet from Britain in 1998 to face trial in Spain for human rights crimes.

Lorca: poet of Spain

Federico Garcia Lorca has been described as a man ahead of his time, living in a Spain that was going backwards. He was born on 5 June 1898, in the village of Fuente Vaqueros in the province of Granada. Lorca grew up to be a prolific poet and playwright and a restless traveller. “I sing to Spain and I feel her to the core of my being, but above all I am a man of the world and brother of everyone”, he said. His best-known plays include Blood Wedding (1933) and The House Of Bernarda Alba (1940).

See also here. And here. And here.

Spain: Supreme Court halts investigation into Franco-era crimes: here.

Spain: Judge Garzón abandons investigation into Franco-era crimes: here.

Spain: The collapse of the investigation into Franco-era crimes: here.

Investigative Judge Baltasar Garzón has appeared in court as a result of a prosecution brought by far-right organisations for investigating crimes committed during the dictatorship of General Francisco Franco: here.

Judge Baltasar Garzón suspended for investigating Franco’s crimes: here.

Women’s Voices from the Spanish Civil War, Ed. Jim Fyrth with Sally Alexander: here.

9 thoughts on “Spanish dictator Franco’s victims exhumed

  1. Murdered poet to be exhumed

    Spain: A civil war-era grave believed to hold the remains of acclaimed poet Federico Garcia Lorca will be dug up in two to three weeks, an official said on Monday.

    It is the most high-profile step yet in a drive for Spain to address atrocities against civilians during the conflict.

    Lorca is one of about 114,000 civilians who were killed or went missing during the war of 1936-9.


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