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FIBGAR / Articles  / “Laws of Concord”: a historical setback in the democratic memory of Spain and Europe

“Laws of Concord”: a historical setback in the democratic memory of Spain and Europe

In the last months, in the Valencian Community and in Aragon and Castilla y León, the so-called “Laws of Concord” have been proposed. These legislative measures, to which FIBGAR opposes, constitute a violation of democratic values, as well as a setback of what has been achieved with difficulty by the Spanish society.

The approval of just one of these laws would mean a curtailment of the human rights of the victims and a breach of the obligations assumed by the Spanish State to respect, protect and guarantee the right to truth, justice, reparation, guarantees of non-repetition and, of course, memory.

In the Valencian case, the Law of Concord was proposed on 21 March 2024 and its approval would mean the repeal of the Law of Democratic Memory and Coexistence of the Valencian Community (Law 14/2017). This bill leaves in 5 articles the 65 articles established by Law 14/2017, thus cutting the numerous rights and measures already achieved in the Community, justifying that through Law 14/2017, history is distorted and a manipulation of individual conscience is favoured.

The new measures adopted in the bill establish the temporal scope for the recognition of victims from 1931 to the present day, also including victims of terrorism, they dissolve the bodies and institutions of memory already established by Law 14/2017 while delegating their tasks and duties to a new “Valencian Unit of Concord”, as well as terminating the procedures on memory in process that have already been initiated, but not concluded, when this bill enters into force.

The Castilla y León bill, being somewhat broader than that of the Valencian Community, also repeals the Community’s regulatory framework on memory, the Decree on Historical and Democratic Memory of Castilla y León (Decree 9/2018). The justification for this bill lies in the argument of putting an end to the partisan vision of society, and establishes the objective of favouring concord in the territory of the Community of Castilla y León.

Although its articles include different measures for the procedure of locating and exhuming the bodies lying in mass graves in the territory of the Community, article 4.4 stands out, establishing that the exhumation processes cannot be publicly disseminated with images, documents or any other type of material. This measure encourages secrecy and helps to ensure that the mass murders that took place during the Civil War and Franco’s regime remain in the personal memory of individuals and families, and do not transcend the collective memory of an entire country.

Furthermore, article 13.7, on the request, administrative procedure and resolution of exhumations, states that if the exhumation request is not resolved within six months of the start of the administrative procedure, the interested parties can consider their requests rejected by administrative silence. This short period of time implies arbitrariness when it comes to resolving requests, favouring that only those exhumation requests in the Administration’s interest are resolved within a shorter period of time.

Unlike the Valencian Community’s bill, this document establishes that the processing of memory procedures initiated before the entry into force of this measure will be governed by what the current law states and will not automatically lapse when it enters into force, as in the case of the Valencian Community.

In Aragón, although no regulations have yet been made public, there is talk of a Plan for Concord that unites all Aragonese people around the 1978 Constitution, according to the Regional Minister of the Presidency, Interior and Culture, Teresa Hernández. In order to achieve “concord” among the Aragonese population, this Plan is based on three axes: human rights and democratic values such as equality, freedom and ideological diversity; the dignity of victims (identification, exhumation and remembrance); and an understanding of the past as a tool for peaceful coexistence.

Although all these regulations attempt to provide a vision of Spanish history based on the human rights and freedoms enshrined in the 1978 Constitution, it should be noted that this is only a disguise for the historical revisionism that is being attempted and the whitewashing of national history, based on the absence of key words such as “dictatorship” or “coup d’état”.

These types of measures have led to the creation of the Civic Commission for Memory, Constitutional Values and Freedom. This Commission, of which FIBGAR is a member, aims to join forces through a Manifesto that brings together numerous organisations and individuals against the battery of measures adopted by the Law of Concord of the Valencian Community.

We must not forget that the Valencian bill, together with the Aragón plan and the law of Castilla y León, are just one example of what is happening all over Europe: totalitarian waves that threaten our democracies and aim to rewrite history.

That is why, on Wednesday 24 April, the European Parliament debated these laws in a session entitled “Council and Commission statements on recent attempts to deny dictatorships and the risk of Europe’s return to totalitarianism“.

In this debate, it was stressed that “totalitarianism is not a risk, it is a reality” (Manu Pineda), arguing that “the European values that unite us and that we defend cannot deny Franco’s dictatorship because that is to deny the victims persecuted, imprisoned or murdered by a totalitarian regime” (Inma Rodríguez-Piñero). Furthermore, it was stressed that the Law of Concord of the Valencian Community “falls outside the European framework that defends democratic memory through the CERV programme, in commemoration of the victims of all totalitarian regimes” (Domènec Ruiz Devesa). We must not forget that “Europe cannot be built on injustice, forgetfulness or hatred of those who are different” (Alicia Homs Ginel), and that we must “raise anti-fascism (…) in the name of all those who fought for our freedom” (Matjaz Nemec).

Nadia Gayoso de la Calle, responsible of the area of democratic memory and transitional justice