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People & Power
Owning the Past
Spain faces its past by uncovering mass graves of victims of the Franco dictatorship.
Last Modified: 12 Apr 2009 13:00 GMT

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In recent years, the unmarked graves of Republican supporters have started to be uncovered across Spain. Often these graves contain people killed by Nationalist forces in mass executions. These events, it seems, have stirred long repressed memories and animosity between las dos Espanas (The Two Spain's).

In November 2007, the left leaning PSOE government of Jose Luis Rodriguez Zapatero, passed 'la ley de memoria historica' (the law of historic memory) - an attempt, as some see it, to formally come to terms with Spain's recent past.

The law recognises the estimated 100,000 Republican victims of Franco's dictatorship.

Money will be made available to municipal authorities to enable them to fund further excavations of sites thought to contain the bodies of Republicans. Summary trails and executions carried out during the period will be deemed illegitimate.

Not surprisingly, government opponents have been critical of the law. They argue that history should not be revised, and that the law, contrary to the aims of El Pacto de Olivido, will turn Spaniard against Spaniard and re-open old wounds.  

This episode of People & Power aired from September 13, 2008.

Source:
Al Jazeera
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