Juan-José López Burniol, 27 November 2021
Entry of Franco’s troops into Barcelona before a crowd of citizens after their victory in the Civil War. LVE
Today, with the transition defeated and forgotten, the radical left-wing parties and the separatists have achieved their last objectives of revenge. The regime of ’78 is over”. This latest campaign rally will put an end to Spain’s long-running feud if the Law of Democratic Memory is passed with the amendment that the Amnesty Law will be interpreted and applied in accordance with international humanitarian law, which stipulates that certain crimes are imprescriptible and not amnestible. If this happens, the real winners will be a conglomerate of the radical left and the Catalan and Basque separatists. The Socialist Party will not be among the winners, because he who betrays himself never wins, and because it will have been the Trojan horse through which those who wanted to destroy it will have entered the citadel of the regime of ’78.
Law 46/1977 of 15 October 1977 on Amnesty established that crimes of political intentionality prior to 15 June 1977 were amnestied. It therefore included amnesty for all political prisoners of Franco’s regime and political crimes committed during the dictatorship. It was approved with 296 votes in favour, 2 against and 18 abstentions (the Communist Party voted in favour and Alianza Popular abstained). Its approval was, according to the press, “a great solemnity and a major celebration in the plenary session”.
Under this rule, the Supreme Court has ruled that no one can be convicted for political crimes committed during the dictatorship for three reasons: 1) Because the Amnesty Law extinguishes criminal responsibility. 2) Because international criminal law is not applicable by virtue of Article 9.3 of the Constitution, which prohibits the prejudicial retroactive application of criminal laws. 3) Because the statute of limitations has expired. As a result, the agreed amendment will, if successful, be of very limited practical effectiveness, given that, although two of the obstacles set by the Supreme Court (the Amnesty Law and the statute of limitations for crimes) are overcome, the non-retroactivity will remain untouched. Moreover, the vast majority of the perpetrators have died. It follows that Esquerra’s initiative, and the amendment agreed to sweeten it are not part of the politics of facts, but part of an ideological struggle that aims to rewrite the history of the transition, to disqualify it as a mere continuation of the dictatorship in disguise, and to provoke a constituent stage – for the radical left – and destitutive – for the separatists – which is a mistake that affects the foundations of civil peace.
Reducing the Civil War to a struggle of the rebel army against the people is a falsehood.
In my opinion, it should never be forgotten that: 1) The Spanish Civil War was the confrontation of half of Spain against the other half; to reduce what happened to a struggle of the rebel army against the people is a falsehood. For years before the war, a confrontation with shared guilt was brewing, leading to disaster. It is true that there was a coup d’état; it is also true that the legitimate government armed the people. It was not a story of good guys and bad guys; it was not just fascists versus democrats. 2) The transition was a pact between the democratic opposition and the reformists of Francoism, driven by the fear of repeating the outrage of the war. The Amnesty Law was the second link in the transition (after the Political Reform Law). Without it, there would have been no Moncloa pacts, no Constitution. And as such a pact it must be complied with. To break it is to destroy the cornerstone of the ’78 regime and civil peace.
The generation that fought the war – my parents’ generation – was marked, on both sides, by tragedy, and wanted peace. The generation of the transition – mine – had an inherited memory of the war and, on this memory and the work of our parents (who gave birth to the middle class), built the transition. Today’s generation no longer has a memory and dispenses with history. I only hope that God distributes good luck. And remember a quote from Plutarch, according to which politics is defined as that which deprives hatred of its eternal character.