Spanish dictatorship’s victims buried after 78 years


This video says about itself:

A step closer to justice for victims of Franco’s dictatorship in Spain

24 February 2016

An Argentine judge has ordered the exhumation of the remains of Timoteo Mendieta. He was executed by Franco’s forces at the end of Spain’s civil war and dumped in an unmarked mass grave on the edge of Guadalajara’s municipal cemetery.

This is a big victory for his daughter, 90-years old Ascension Mendieta, who had to travel to Argentina to get the right to give her father a proper burial.

From Reuters news agency today:

Remains of Spanish dictatorship’s victims handed to families, 80 years on

Juan Medina, Miguel Gutierrez

GUADALAJARA, Spain – The remains of 22 people killed in the months following Spain’s 1936-39 civil war [eg, in 1940] were handed over to relatives in a ceremony in Guadalajara on Saturday after investigations into a suspected mass grave unearthed the victims.

Hundreds took part in the handover following an exhumation at a cemetery thought to contain as many as 800 victims of political violence during the almost four-decade dictatorship of General Francisco Franco that followed the war.

The ceremony, in which the remains were handed to families in simple wooden boxes covered by a red velvet cloth and topped with a white carnation and a photo of the deceased, was a solemn event that also helped draw a line under years of uncertainty.

“This has brought us a sense of calm. We feel better because, at the end of the day, although they’re longer alive, we have their bodies which are ours and which we have the right to have where we want and where they should be, in their own town”, said Maria Angeles Ortega Gonzalo, after receiving the remains of Casto Mercado Molada, her brother-in-law’s grandfather.

Her own grandfather, also known to be amongst those at the site, has yet to be identified, she said.

The families planned to give their loved ones a proper burial at cemeteries across the area later on Saturday.

The resting place[s] of many killed across the country are still unknown, though the Association for the Recovery of Historical Memory (ARMH) has documented 114,226 cases of men and women buried in mass graves around Spain. …

[Since Franco‘s death in 1975,] some have fought to unearth family members who were killed and dumped in unmarked mass graves. The Guadalajara site was opened on the orders of an Argentine judge in a lawsuit seeking redress for crimes committed during the war and the years that followed.

Historians estimate about half a million combatants and civilians were killed on the Republican and Nationalist sides in the war, while tens of thousands of Franco’s enemies were later killed or imprisoned in a campaign to wipe out dissent.

Translated from Dutch NOS TV today:

Conservative Prime Minister Rajoy does not like the search for, and uncovering of, mass graves. In April, the so-called Death Valley near Madrid was opened for the first time after a long legal battle.

Rajoy regularly clashes with relatives of Franco victims who want to know what happened to their grandparents.

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Blue rock-thrush in Spain


This video shows a blue rock-thrush in Extremadura in Spain.

I saw these beautiful birds in Spain and Morocco.

They live in Europe, Asia and Africa.

Spanish police arrests Catalan football fans for yellow shirts


This 22 April 2018 video is called Pro-Catalan Supporters Targeted By Spanish Police.

Sometimes, police arrest football fans for hooliganism. But in this case, the arrests were for wearing yellow shirts; seen as a protest against making Catalans political prisoners.

This was at the King’s Cup match in Madrid yesterday. FC Barcelona from Catalonia won the cup by beating Sevilla 5 to 0.

From AFP news agency today:

Spanish authorities under fire over cup final yellow ban

Spanish authorities are facing a backlash after Barcelona supporters were forced to ditch yellow T-shirts ahead of the club’s Spanish Cup final victory over Sevilla.

Several television stations showed pictures of police forcing Barça fans to discard their yellow T-shirts before entering the Wanda Metropolitano stadium in Madrid ahead of the 5-0 thrashing of Sevilla that earned the Catalan club a 30th Copa del Rey victory.

Many Catalans — including Manchester City manager Pep Guardiola whose ribbon has resulted in a fine by English football authorities — have been donning yellow to show support for nine Catalan independence leaders held in prison near Madrid over “rebellion”.

They face up to 30 years in jail if convicted of that charge. …

Barça have often played a significant role in the Catalan independence movement supported by many of their fans. The club is seen by many as a bastion of resistance against Madrid domination, not just on the football field but in political halls too.

Barça centre-back Gerard Pique has been jeered many times by Spain fans while wearing the national team jersey over his open support for a referendum on Catalan independence.

Saturday’s measures sparked anger in Catalonia.

“Inexplicable. We’re a club that defends freedom of expression”, said Barça chairman Josep Maria Bartomeu after the game, adding that he would demand an explanation from the Spanish Football Federation.

“If now, a simple colour is an offence to the State, where are we going?” former Catalonia president Carles Puigdemont tweeted from Germany where he is in self-imposed exile to avoid a Spanish arrest warrant.

“Banning yellow in a football stadium is absurd and ridiculous, and an unacceptable attack on freedom of expression”, said pro-Catalan independence association Omnium Cultural.

Social media users reacted with irony, asking if the match officials for the cup final would also have their jerseys taken from them as they were wearing yellow.

Some Barcelona fans jeered the Spanish national anthem and the watching King Felipe VI ahead of Saturday’s match.

A goal from Argentine superstar Lionel Messi and two from Uruguay international forward Luis Suarez helped Barça cruise to victory.

Rally for freeing Catalan political prisoners in Valencia, Spain


This video says about itself:

21 April 2018

Pro-Catalan independence activists joined a mass rally in Valencia to honour the victims of hate crimes.

Being drunk in a café is ‘terrorism’ in Spain


This 14 July 2017 Spanish language video is about a big demonstration in Pamplona (Basque language: Iruñea), demanding to free the young people Jokin, Adur and Oihan of Alsasua town.

Translated from Belgian (Roman Catholic pro-establishment) daily De Standaard today:

Eight Spanish youths who, after a night out, have hit members of the Guardia Civil, are on trial for terrorism and risk years of prison.

A café quarrel of national importance

By our editor Corry Hancké

What for eight young Spanish people started out as an ordinary, alcoholic quarrel with police, could end with a prison sentence of 12 to 62 years.

The facts. On an October evening in 2016, a lieutenant and sergeant of the Guardia Civil, together with their wives, go to the café in Alsasua. This town is located in a region in Navarre where sympathy exists for the Basque separatist movement ETA and where members of the Guardia Civil are often not popular.

At four o’clock in the morning a man comes in who quarrels with the police officers. According to his statements in retrospect, he was angry because he had been fined for traffic violations and for his participation in a demonstration for the release of ETA prisoners.

The young people in the bar come to assist the man and the words become more intense … When the law enforcement officers and their wives want to leave the bar, they have to pass a row of furious Basques and get beaten. …

Already the day after the incident, the Spanish Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy in a tweet expressed his support to the policemen who have been victims of ‘brutal aggression’. “There will be no impunity”, he writes.

At the beginning of this week the trial about the incident started.

Delicate

It is yet another extremely delicate matter for Spain, because -depending on the reading of the facts- it is either a banal café quarrel or radical young people who have threatened the police forces.

That last viewpoint is followed by the magistrate, Carmen Lamella. She is also the investigating judge at the Audiencia Nacional who thinks that the Catalan separatist government is guilty of ‘rebellion’ and thus risks 25 years in prison. That is why this case comes before the Audiencia Nacional, the court that deals with special crimes, including terrorism.

Vague definition

That the banal café quarrel goes all the way to the Audiencia Nacional is due to the changes in Article 573 of the Criminal Code, which now uses a very broad definition of terrorism. A too broad definition, says Amnesty International, the NGO that sounded the alarm at the time of the changes in the law in 2015. ‘The definition now includes so many crimes that they actually do not have any sense anymore‘, they said in the press release. “Some parts of the article are so vague that even a seasoned lawyer would have trouble knowing what a terrorist act is.”

Because they are under Article 573, three of the eight suspects have been held in custody in Madrid since November 2016, almost four hundred kilometers from their home in Navarre. They have limited visitor rights.

Textbook example

In the trial, the prosecutor argued that the suspects were guilty of ‘terrorist injuries’. He multiplied the 12.5 years of punishment by four, because there are four victims.

One of the young people is also being charged with terrorist threats because he had called for the policemen to be ‘treated like that’ every time they would show up at the café again. He risks 62.5 years in prison.

The café quarrel has in the meantime got national media attention because critics of the anti-terrorist law see in this case a textbook example of wrong policy. Amnesty International says that the terror accusation must be canceled. The investigative judge Baltasar Garzón [ex-Audiencia Nacional, where he prosecuted ETA members; sacked for political reasons, for investigating crimes of the Franco dictatorship] even writes in El País that the Spanish government has defined a number of laws so broadly that they can be used for political purposes.

Spanish right-wing minority government promotes militarism in schools


This video says about itself:

Portraits of Power – Franco – Caudillo of Spain

Narrated by Henry Fonda

The Spanish general and dictator Francisco Franco (actually Francisco Paulino Hermenegildo Teodulo Franco y Bahamonde Salgado Pardo). He was born on 04/12/1892 in Ferrol, Galicia, and died on 20.11.1975 in Madrid.

In the propaganda of the victors the Second World War was a war against fascism…, nationalist dictators. But not all nationalist dictators. He carried the stigma of being Hitler’s friend, was called the caudillo, the leader of Spain, Francisco Franco. He waged war against Morocco, was commander of the Spanish foreign legion, was Spain’s youngest general.

Franco met Hitler, and sent him Spanish volunteers to fight on the Russian front, the ‘blue division’, on the side of Mussolini and Hitler.

Nevertheless, during the Cold War, he had a military alliance with the United States. He appointed King Juan Carlos as his successor as head of state.

By Alejandro López in Spain:

Spanish government promotes militarism in schools

14 April 2018

Spain’s Popular Party (PP) government has designed a new syllabus for 6-to-12-year-old schoolchildren, “Social Values and Ethical Values”, which promotes militarism and Spanish nationalism. The syllabus has been designed by the Ministry of Education National Centre for Innovation and Educational Research (CNIIE) and the Ministry of Defence Security and Defense Coordination and Studies Division.

The reactionary content is evident in the leaked 245-page draft syllabus, which is composed of 10 teaching units, including the need to respect the army, the police, the flag, the anthem and the King and to uphold the unity of Spain.

The Socialist Party (PSOE) and the pseudo-left Podemos organisation are fully behind the PP’s approach, disagreeing only on the way it is presented.

In a debate in the Spanish Senate this week, PSOE senator Begoña Nasarre declared, “The youngest have the right to know what their armed forces are, a fundamental part of the security and protection of the country and the exercise of our rights and freedoms.” She criticized the PP because it had removed the “Education for Citizenship” topic from the school curriculum, which had been formulated “with participation from all areas and sectors… and maximum consensus.”

According to Europa Press, Podemos Senator Sara Vilà “has not questioned whether a defense culture should exist, but has disagreed about what should be taught in it and why it should exist. In her opinion, the main driver of this objective should be to explain in a ‘transparent’ way… what the Ministry of Defence does with public money.”

Vilà declared that “society will never be close to the military” while it continues to be “an opaque, closed space, with a parallel justice system and without the right to organize or freedom of expression.”

In the new syllabus, teachers will have to “explain to the students how national defence is the responsibility not only of the armed forces”, but that Article 30 of the Spanish Constitution states that all Spaniards have “the right and duty to defend Spain.”

Children will have to learn the anthem of the armed forces and its different divisions (land, sea and air), create publicity posters for the National Day parade, and make pins showing the Spanish flag.

In one of the computer games created for classroom use, the children will extinguish a fire with help from the Military Emergencies Unit (a branch of the Spanish army responsible for providing disaster relief), which will end with a video saying, “They are a public service in the service of Spain.” In another game, children will design cards to show through drawings and phrases “how they as citizens can help national defence.”

Another activity will focus on building teamwork and military values, such as discipline and hierarchy. Children will solve a military-themed puzzle in which “all the pieces are important.” The different ways to enter the army will be explained by a video titled “There Are a Thousand Reasons to Join.”

Another game talks about the “real threats that affect Spain”, including terrorism, organized crime and “illegal” migration. In addition, it identifies the military as “the state’s fundamental tool for national defence.” In the game, children will simulate being soldiers “working for peace” and helping rebuild cities destroyed by war.

In an exercise called “We Want to be Soldiers,” children will be indoctrinated in Spartan values. They will be required to “fill out a form to verify that they meet the necessary requirements to be a good soldier: to be studying 1st or 2nd year of primary education, to exhibit good behaviour in class and not be punished by a teacher, to allocate time to study on a daily basis, to do physical exercise every day, and to respect companions and professors.”

The syllabus continues: “Next, they will take a military card in which they fill in their information and cut out and paste a photograph; this will accredit them as an authentic soldier.”

Private and semi-private schools, which make up 32 percent of Spain’s education system, are also targeted. Minister of Defence María Dolores de Cospedal signed a memorandum of understanding with the Association of Private Teaching Centres so that their “teachers and students know the role of the army” and teach that the Armed Forces “are a good way to strengthen our nation.”

Teachers in private schools will be required to include courses taught by the Ministry of Defence, and schoolchildren will be taken to military facilities such as museums or barracks to see “first-hand the work of the army and the navy.”

Ironically, the announcement of the new syllabus comes amid a massive campaign spearheaded by the main political parties and the Madrid-based press accusing the Catalan education system of indoctrinating children in Catalan secessionism and nationalism.

Such militarist indoctrination in the guise of education is not [new] to Spain. For nearly 40 years (1939-1978), children were indoctrinated in fascist values under the regime of General Francisco Franco, in the form of the compulsory subject called “Instruction in the National Spirit”. The course included lectures on “The Essence of Spanishness”, “Anti-Spanishness throughout History”. “The National Movement, an Effort to Recover Spanishness”, and “Spain’s Mission in the World.”

A student would encounter passages such as: “And what is Spain? It is a blessing from God”l “The state exerts its paternal action on all citizens so that they feel as happy as possible”; “If the citizens of a state are allowed to think however they want in politics, we will have social chaos instead of an organised people”; and “Spain is a totalitarian state: a single chief, a single command, a single obedience.”

Then as now, the Spanish ruling class aims to promote militarism as way of suppressing the class struggle, deflecting social tensions outward and projecting its imperialist ambitions. These objectives were spelled out very clearly in the recently updated National Security Strategy, which foresees the “uncertainty” of a world with “increased geopolitical tensions”.

The document argues that internally the ruling class faces major threats and challenges from secessionist movements as in Catalonia, as well as from an ageing population, rising inequality, a lack of “quality jobs” and high unemployment. Externally, the major threats include “oil dependency” from unstable sources, “new actors challenging the multilateral system [an unveiled reference to Russia and China], droughts, floods and forest fires” caused by climate change, economic protectionism, terrorism and cyber-attacks.

Beset by these threats, Spanish imperialism declares that “the following areas are of special interest for National Security: Europe, North Africa and the Middle East, Sub-Saharan Africa, Latin America, North America and Asia-Pacific”, i.e., pretty much the whole world.

To realise its grandiose imperialist ambitions, Spain announced earlier this year that it will more than double its defence budget by 2024, from €8.7 billion to €18.47 billion.

The Strategic Plan of Grants of the Ministry of Defence, leaked to eldiario.org, explains very clearly the objectives of this campaign: to increase the sense of external threat, increase the percentage of the population that accepts foreign interventions by the Spanish army, supports Spain’s role in NATO and sees as “insufficient” the resources given to defence.

The new school syllabus is an attempt to promote “the culture of defence” and overcome the population’s traditional hostility to the army as a result of the crimes it perpetrated in its former colony in northern Morocco (1909-1927) and during the Spanish Civil War and the Franco dictatorship.

More recently, in 2004, Popular Party Prime Minister José María Aznar was forced from office largely because of his support for the Iraq War, and his PSOE successor José Luis Zapatero was forced to withdraw Spain’s troops.

Targeting children for militarist propaganda is just the latest in a series of strategies rolled out by the ruling class. It has sought to counter anti-militarist sentiment by branding military intervention as humanitarian—in Bosnia-Herzegovina, Kosovo, Libya and Syria … Resources have been made available for funding books, conferences and films glorifying the army and rehabilitating Francoism and legitimising its methods.

Beset by mass unemployment, poverty affecting a quarter of the population, and the growth of social opposition, the political establishment has no answer other than the “culture of defense.” This must be taken as a dire warning that the ruling elite will use the same methods it used in 1936 and is employing today in Catalonia against the entire working class.