Elena Cabrera, 16 August 2021
Republican refugees in Argelès-sur-Mer (France) Manuel Moros / Mémorial du Camp d’Argelès-sur-Mer
The settling of accounts of democracy with the Franco regime. Reparation to victims has been carried out mainly through pensions and compensation to former prisoners
The repression on the losers of the Civil War lasted throughout the 40 years that the dictatorship lasted. In 1979 a process of economic reparation begins that the memorial movement and some political parties do not consider settled at all. The Government, according to an internal study to which elDiario.es has had access, recognizes that 21,749 million euros (until December 2020) is the total amount that the General State Administration has dedicated to economic reparations to the victims of the War Civil and Francoism. It is the highest amount the State has ever spent on compensating victims, followed very far by those affected by rapeseed oil.
This amount includes reparations in the form of pensions to the military, combatants, maimed, as well as their relatives in the event of death and those killed and disappeared; These are 547,670 beneficiaries and an amount of 21,349 million euros, the bulk of the reparation being in non-professional military personnel. On the other hand, reparations to people who suffered imprisonment are also included, both in the compensation of contributions to Social Security and in compensation; this has affected 60,683 people, with an amount of 397 million euros. Finally, it also includes the 49 compensation to the heirs of people who gave their lives in defense of democracy between 1968 and 1977 whose files were accepted from among the 190 that were presented; this amounted to 2.8 million euros.
What these data do not collect are compensation for seizures from political parties (6.7 million euros via the Council of Ministers and 21.2 million euros via the judicial system) and trade unions (such as 25 million euros with the that the UGT was compensated for the loss of 492 properties or 1.5 million of the CNT for 38) nor those that, for their part, the autonomous communities carried out.
Step by step of the repair
The history of economic reparation to victims begins during the Transition with the regulation of pensions. In 1977, the Amnesty Law recognizes civil servants, teachers and the administration of Justice who have been sanctioned or expelled from the public function the seniority that would have corresponded to them, but not the receipt of assets for the time in which they were not allowed to work. 64,500 people requested it but it is unknown how much money it meant for the State.
The next step was taken in March 1978, with the regularization of the military faithful to the Republic who had participated in the Civil War, who from then on could count towards their retirement in the years prior to the uprising. 64,152 family members and survivors benefited from these improvements, on which 3,501 million euros were spent.
In November pensions were approved for the relatives of the deceased Republicans as a result of the war, since those of the winning side had already received them. The language of the decree law was not this, but that of “overcoming the differences that divided the Spaniards during the last war, whatever the army in which they fought.” Under this circumstance, 112,983 beneficiaries were recognized, to whom 3,985 million euros went. The condition for receiving this pension was that the direct relative of the military man or militiaman had died in military action, due to injuries or in immediate executions after the war.
Shortly before the end of 1978, the rights of the mutilated were recognized. 55,231 were those who had suffered amputations while fighting and who applied for pensions. Four years later, the mutilated civilians (59,266) who could also request this pension were recognized. In addition, the right of the relatives of the deceased to receive a pension was recognized, which among combatants and civilians totaled 44,250. The total amount for this group was 3,982 million euros.
Evolution of expenditure on pensions during the Civil War
Almost a year later, in September 1979, it was time for widows (or, in their absence, disabled sons, unmarried or widowed daughters, and parents of the murdered). They were protected by pensions and medical-pharmaceutical assistance in case of illness or accident. From that moment until today, the State has spent 3,985 million euros on pensions, which have benefited 112,983 people. Unlike the previous reparations, which were marked by decree-law, this one was debated as law in parliament. It was proposed as “a total equalization of rights between the widows of the victims of the war in the two zones,” according to what Julio Busquets Bragulat, deputy of the Party of Socialists of Catalonia, said in Congress during the voting plenary session. He insisted: “There is no longer any discrimination, but there is a finished topic, totally concluded.” And he finished his speech aloud: “They are granted exactly the same rights as those of the winning side, and for them today the war is definitely over.”
To this day, 42 years later, not everyone sees this issue as “done” and “totally done.” Emilio Silva, president of the Association for the Recovery of Historical Memory recalls that the widows of ’36, like their grandmother, spent more than four decades without the right to anything. “A widow’s pension is not a repair,” says Silva, “they have been given pensions that they were entitled to but they had been denied.” “To view this as compensation is a trick and an insult,” he adds.
From that moment on, patches had to be put on to protect those who had been left out, such as the mutilated civilians and the benefits and equalization for republican bodies such as the Carabineros and the Public Order Forces, which happened in 1984, stopping there the repair process, which would be resumed in 2005.
In the middle of the first decade of the 21st century, a benefit was agreed for Spaniards displaced abroad as minors and who spent most of their lives as expatriates. They are known as children of war. This information, which depends on the Ministry of Social Security, Inclusion and Migrations, is incomplete and the Ministry of the Presidency only has the data of the 878 beneficiaries of the year 2020. What is known is that 124 million euros have been allocated to them . One of the conditions for becoming a beneficiary is having a very low income. “They are aids for those who have a bad time in life,” says Daniel Vallès, professor of History of Law and Transitional Justice at the Autonomous University of Barcelona. “This rule does not repair exile as damage derived from the Civil War but rather helps Spaniards abroad. If exile is not adequately repaired, it seems that this was a decision that people made because they wanted to,” he adds. The patrimonial loss of everything that those who fled the country had to leave behind has not been repaired.
How the deprivation of liberty is compensated
The prisoners – along with the defenders of democracy – are the only group that has received direct compensation, beyond pensions. Of all the people who went through jail – with the condition that they were more than three years – only 60,683 have received compensation. This has meant an amount of 397.3 million euros. As of 2009, specific compensation was agreed for people imprisoned for their homosexuality: there are only 116.
For Vallès, author of the book Economic reparations for damages derived from the Spanish Civil War and the Franco regime, the problem with these tables and their impressive amounts of millions of euros is that “they make money visible but make invisible all those who have not been repaired “, as is the case of women humiliated, raped, violated, forced to stop working or retaliated in any other way, as well as private citizens whose property – seized, occupied or simply stolen – has not been restored, since the who lost their floors or their land, even those who gave money from the Republic in exchange for a piece of paper that was worth nothing. Neither has a reparation been made with the gypsy ethnic group, which was humiliated and criminalized even with specific laws.
To compensate for the deficiencies in national laws, the autonomies have filled in some gaps with repair tools. Regulations that for Arturo Peinado, president of the State Federation of Forums for Memory, “have given rise to certain inequality and unfair situations, where one could be compensated in one place and not in another,” he says. An example of this is that Andalusia is the only community with a gender measure: Andalusian women who, between 1936 and 1950, were victims of events that violated their privacy, honor and self-image, such as shaving or ingesting olive oil. castor oil and subsequent exposure to public shame, are entitled to compensation of 1,800 euros in a single payment. “Only fifty women asked for it because there is an issue of re-victimization, of some grandmothers who did not want their grandchildren to make them visible as reprisals,” says Vallès.
Wounded soldiers rest in the rear, in the foreground one of them appears with amputated legs and riding on a cart Historical Archive of the Communist Party of Spain
The revictimization also explains that only 116 people who have gone to prison under the Law of Vagrants and Crooks and that of Dangerousness and Social Rehabilitation have received compensation starting at 4,000 euros (depending on the jail time). “Very few,” says Vallès. “The figure seems to suggest that the repression was not so much but it is that the person is the one who has to say that he is homosexual and prove that he was locked up in a prison, without counting the police stations, where they could spend a month, such as that of Via Laietana in Barcelona, famous for its torture, “he explains. “It would have been easier to empty the files and for the public administration to be proactive, look for the victims and repair them,” he adds. Not only do you have to take the step, you have to find the information in files that are not digitized, that are not easily accessible, that sleep in basement boxes that have not been opened for years.
To Carles Vallejo, president of the Catalan Association of Political Expressions of the Francoisme, those 116 also seem “very few”. He himself was in prison and dares to say that 116 is perhaps only 0.5% of the total. “There were at least 20 or 30 in my gallery,” he recalls. “Apart from the fact that there are not many alive, many did not claim out of fear. Those who remain, older, have lived it from social humiliation and silence. It is miserable that only this amount of the hundreds of thousands that there were has been claimed”, He says.
His association helped process compensation for Catalan prisoners. He recalls that the Generalitat estimated that seven or eight thousand applications would arrive, “but they fell short and a flood came, they received more than 30,000 applications.” Finally, they processed more than 8,500 files, which helped them create a documentary database of ex-prisoners. Again, the usual conditions functioned as a barrier: the passage of time, revictimization, the lack of documentary evidence, the minimum of three years in prison. “60,000 compensated prisoners is an absurd amount, with all that there were. Most had gone through Councils of War and their files could not be accessed or the management was difficult and required to be in good condition, but they were older people. Many They let him run because they didn’t want to or because they didn’t have help, “explains Vallejo. To make matters worse, some had tax problems because they discovered, late, that the compensation was not exempt from taxation. Carles Vallejo and Emilio Silva agree on a very specific interpretation: “if you don’t make things easier, if you’re not proactive, bureaucratic difficulties help you filter,” says Carles. “You are saving money,” adds Emilio.
Vallejo was a trade unionist at SEAT. In 1974 he was arrested for organizing a representation of the Workers’ Commissions there. “The police seized one million pesetas from us from the resistance fund in solidarity with the detainees. Where is the record of that seizure, who kept that money, where do we have to claim it?” That money, the fines that were imposed on them, the thousands of pesetas spent to pay for provisional release for some detentions that are now considered illegitimate is an economic damage that the State does not contemplate in repairing, not even in the draft of the Democratic Memory Law .
“It is a way of closing in false. Nothing will ever repair the loss of freedom, but economics is a way to do justice,” says Carles. Daniel Vallès adds: “They are scarce, they are poorly designed, they are partial, they do not take care of all the victims but they are reparations, even if they are ridiculous, four hard, little money, but my grandfather received one and felt that it was being repaired”.