Thursday, May 23, 2013

Franco is not dead, by Ernest Folch

Originally published in El Periódico on May 23, 2013. Translated here with permission of the author.

by Ernest Folch

The now infamous decoration of the Blue Division by the Spanish delegate to the Catalan Government was not an oversight as some would have us believe, but rather a symptom of the deep metastasis that is affecting the entire system. Almost four decades after the Caudillo [Franco, Spain's dictator from 1939-1975] died peacefully in his bed, Spain continues to reveal this malaise through an inexhaustible supply of intact Francoist symbols: just take a look at the shameful Valley of the Fallen [Franco's mausoleum, recently awarded a 280,000€ grant for its preservation], the Avenue of the Generalíssimo [the supreme General, i.e., Franco] in Boadilla del Monte, the monument to Carrero Blanco [long time confidant of Franco] and so many other innumerable offensive structures that you all have right outside your very doors, right in 2013. Nevertheless, the most dangerous Francoism is not that which is used to name streets, but that which hides in the idiosyncracies of the Wert Education Reform Law, in the unitary fatherland that the newly resuscitated Aznar demands, in the rulings handed down by the so-called Constitutional Court or in the ante-democratic tv and radio talkshows in which those old reds and separatists from yester year continue to fight. Ah yes, but it's all perfectly legal, which is what Spain will tell you as it runs roughshod over morality.

The Transition Scam

A few years ago—can you remember?—the story went around that the Transition was the only possible agreement that would lead to democracy. Now we know that that agreement was nothing more than a scam, a maneuver for avoiding justice and absolving those responsible. After apartheid was dismantled in South Africa, a Truth and Reconciliation Commission was set up that was able to set the record straight and mete out justice, two basic premises necessary for a society to return to freedom. Spain chose the opposite path. It swept its sinister past under the carpet and humiliated the victims of the dictatorship with the worst possible punishment: oblivion. A fully orchestrated repertoire—in the form of movies, acclaimed books and outdated speeches—tried to convince us that the transition was nothing short of exemplary. But well into the 21st century, the wounds that they told us would heal over are not only open, but oozing and infected. One example of this is what happened just a few days ago in Spain's Congress. A harmless non-binding proposition that urged the declaration of July 18 as a day of condemnation of the Francoist dictatorship was defeated, with the votes of the PP of course, the party whose President of Honor was a Francoist who had been a member of the Council of Ministers in which the execution of innocent people was a regular occurrence and who died, in line with the spirit of the transition, with all his honors intact.

The result is that a malignant idea has now begun to take hold which insinuates that Franco's rule was in reality a benign dictatorship. Those who were imprisoned, tortured, or persecuted for their ideas are astonished to have to now experience a second, terrible sentence. Because what the descendants of the victors of the Civil war actually want is to keep winning until the end of time. Like Arias Navarro's announcement back on Nov 20, 1975, but reversed: “Spanish countrymen: Franco is not dead”

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