Statement rejecting Spanish MP Jáuregui's public declarations regarding human rights violations under Franco.


On 6th March 2006 the Barcelona newspaper "El Periódico" published an article entitled "Debts of our history" ( "Deudas de nuestra historia"), written by Ramón Jáuregui Atondo, Álava Deputy for the Socialist Parliamentary Group and, among other appointments, spokesman for the Constitutional Commission of the Chamber of Deputies.

Mr. Jáuregui has been designated on both occasions by the Socialist Parliamentary Group to attend each of the meetings relating to the matter of Francoist crimes and, in particular, with respect to the document produced by Equipo Nizkor entitled "The question of impunity in Spain and crimes under Franco".

For this reason we have decided to offer a public response to the said article, which, in our opinion, is a demonstration of bad faith with respect to the associations who signed the document.

Therefore, we would like to make the following points:

  • 1) Mr. Jáuregui in the said article states "Here we cannot, and we should not - I add -, in one fell swoop, do away with all the judicial certainty developed over forty years, annulling thousands of judgements, even if we do all acknowledge the lack of justice or judicial guarantees thereof".

  • 2) Mr. Ramón Jáuregui, as a Parliamentary Deputy, cannot be unaware of the legal principles which are binding on states, all states, and which even constitute part of the current constitution; even more so, given that Mr. Jáuregui is a law graduate and a lawyer.

  • 3) To consider that judicial certainty comes with the passage of time and not because of protected rights - in this case the civil liberties and human rights of all the victims of an inherently illegal regime (which illegality was even confirmed in United Nations Resolutions) - is quite unacceptable and constitutes a clear disregard for all the victims of that fascist regime.

  • 4) The annulment of all summary judgements and all similar criminal proceedings does not mean the destruction of "judicial certainty" but the provision thereof to the victims’ descendants. A democratic state governed by the rule of law is obliged to annul such proceedings, not because of the violation of due process, as Mr. Jáuregui states, but because of the absolute nullity that is a result of the illegality of the Franco regime, from the perspective of both internal law, international criminal law and international human rights law. This requirement is also consistent with Repeal Provision No. 3 of the current Constitution.

  • 5) State responsibility for the crimes committed by the Franco dictatorship continue while there exists a Spanish state, and this is the case, not because of a maximalist whim demanded by the associations, but because it is a principle of international law; one which Mr. Jáuregui, in his position as an elected Deputy, cannot ignore.

  • 6) Not only because he is an elected deputy, but also because he is a lawyer and the spokesman for the Constitutional Commission, Mr. Jáuregui cannot be unaware that crimes against humanity have been recognised by the highest courts of the State, notably the Constitutional Court itself, and have been incorporated (with all the consequences thereof) into internal law.

    This renders both futile and illegal his argument that the associations’ demands are "maximalist". As a result his assertion of being "equidistant" is simply unlawful as, faced with serious violations constituting crimes against humanity committed by Francoism, an elected deputy representing the public will, and independently of the parliamentary group of which he is a member, cannot disregard the law in this way.

  • 7) We therefore state again that what we demand is legal recognition of the victims of Francoism, and as a consequence, compensation by the State for the resulting damages, whether these be criminal, civil or administrative. To this end, we are supported by the law and the Spanish Constitution itself.

  • 8) We do not deny that there should exist a moral acknowledgement of the victims, in respect of which there should be a so-called process of "recuperation of memory" and State-financed scientific processes which allow a better understanding of the events which occurred, but these only have any sense in a state governed by the rule of law once there has been a legal recognition and a legal identification of the victims, with the corresponding compensation to their families and descendants, and an assumption of its legal responsibilities on the part of the State.

  • 9) We ratify the demands made in the "Plan of Action" in the document "The question of impunity in Spain and crimes under Franco" together with the legal reasoning in the said document, based on international law binding on the Spanish state. These obligations are recognised in the current Constitution in article 10.2) which states "The principles relating to the fundamental rights and liberties recognised by the Constitution shall be interpreted in conformity with the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and the international treaties and agreements thereon ratified by Spain" and in article 96.1) which states " Validly concluded treaties, once officially published in Spain, shall form part of the internal legal order. Their provisions may only be repealed, amended or suspended in the manner provided in the treaties themselves or in accordance with the general rules of international law."

Given the foregoing, we expressly reject the statements of Deputy Ramón Jáuregui and we demand either his rectification of the same, to comply with the norms of the rule of law, or his resignation from his position as a Deputy, as we believe that his public statements are incompatible with his obligations as a representative of the popular will.

In Madrid, 29 March 2006

Endorsed by:

  • AFARIIREP - (Association of Relatives and Friends of the 2nd. Republic Victims of Reprisals by the Franco Regime), Ana Viéitez Gómez
  • Association for the Creation of an Archive of the Civil War, the International Brigades, the Children of the War, the Resistance and the Spanish Exile - AGE (Archive of War and Exile) Dolores Cabra, Secretary-General
  • Association of Asturias for Historial Memory, Marisa Marinez Caldevilla, President, and Víctor Luis Alvarez, Speaker of the Borad of Directors
  • Association of Salamanca for Memory and Justice, Fermín Sanchez Martín, Secretary
  • Disappeared of the Civil War and Republican Exile (DESPAGE), Antonio Cruz González, Coordinator
  • Equipo Nizkor, Gregorio D. Dionis, president
  • Forum for Memory Federation (Forum for Memory, Eastern Asturies; Forum for Memory, Segovia; Forum for Memory, Burgos; Forum for Memory, La Rioja; Forum for Memory, Santander; Forum for Memory, Madrid Autonomous Community; Forum for Memory, Valencian Country; Forum for Memory, Castilla la Mancha; Forum for Memory, Huelva; Forum for Memory, Jaén), José María Pedreño, President of the Federation.
  • Friends of the Fallen for Liberty (1939–1945), Historical Memory of the Murcia Region, Floren Dimas Balsalobre, Regional President.
  • Gragero Group, León, Mario Osorio, Secretary
  • Luis Bello Foundation, José Esteban, President
  • Manuel Azaña Association, Isabelo Herrero, President
  • Republican Institute of Human Rights, Félix Rodríguez Sanz, President

Debts of our history.
By Ramón Jáuregui Atondo - PSOE Spokesman for the Constitutional Commission of the Chamber of Deputies.

 "I write against forgetting and against time, in order to preserve certain things", Claudio Magris said only a few days ago, when he was made doctor honoris causa by the Complutense University of Madrid. To preserve the truth, for example, I said to myself, whilst reading the reflections of this Italian teacher and writer. This year we celebrate the seventieth anniversary of the Spanish civil war and next year it will be 30 years since democracy was restored. Never, during this period of freedom, have historical facts, or rather, their interpretation, been so openly questioned as they have recently in various political and historical fora. In the climate of political extremism which has taken root in our country, various eccentric theories are emerging about the responsibility of the Republic in general and of the leftist and workers forces in particular, for the outbreak of the Civil War. These practically reach the conclusion that it was the October Revolution of 1934, together with the Popular Front of 1936 and the acts of sectarian terrorism which provoked the military intervention of 18th July in that fateful year.

This historical revisionism is of exactly the same type as that proclaimed by some Islamist fanatics or fascists from the extreme right who deny the Holocaust during the Second World War. The context of the Republic and the responsibilities of the participants during those convulsive years may well merit differing analysis and opinions and may demand self-criticism in many instances, but in no case does it permit the manipulation of the truth. And the truth is that there was a legitimate and democratic Government and that some members of the military rose up against it, taking with them a large part of the army and provoking civil war between the people of Spain resulting in over a million deaths. The truth is that the victors of the war imposed a cruel repression on the defeated: the firing squads, prisons, work camps, exile etc. which have marked for ever an entire generation of Spaniards. The truth is that General Franco and his army established a regime of oppression and dictatorship which lasted forty years. This is the truth. These are the facts and whoever denies them or even suggests that others were responsible for this disaster is a liar or a manipulator.

We have discussed this subject in the Chamber of Deputies. It was not the first time, nor will it be the last with respect to the outstanding debts to the victims of Francoism. Two conflicting views again emerged here in respect of which I have no wish to be equidistant. Esquerra Republicana de Cataluña seeks a maximalist restoration of dignity, honour and compensation to everyone who suffered any kind of repression, oppression or similar act. In a draft law, unlimited in effect, Esquerra demanded that we compensate financially everyone whose rights were violated by the dictatorship, whatever the reason: for being a gypsy, a homosexual or a mason; because of the prohibition against their language; because they struggled against francoism (even in armed organizations - sic). Esquerra wants the annulment of all the summary judgements of the councils of war and the special tribunals. They even want the King to ask forgiveness of the Republicans.

"Whatever our opinon may be with respect to these intentions, Esquerra forgets that our transition to democracy proceeded on legal and political bases which were very different from that which ended the Nazi regime of Germany or the German occupation of France. Here we cannot, and we should not - I add -, in one fell swoop, do away with all the judicial certainty developed over forty years, annulling thousands of judgements, even if we do all acknowledge the lack of justice or judicial guarantees thereof. What we can do, is to publicly and solemnly recognise that these judgements were made unjustly and that the honour of those who were convicted should be publicly restored. We can also recuperate the memory of the war and of the francoist repression, by constructing a centre or a museum which symbolises this period, confronting the truth and explaining in detail that part of our history (perhaps as the IU is seeking to do in the Valle de los Caídos). We can facilitate and expedite access to information concerning the trials and the police files from this period of repression for millions of citizens, although we cannot indemnify half of all Spaniards for having suffered linguistic, sexual, ethnic or political repression. We can and - I add here - we should draft legislation to compensate those who endured mutilation or lost their lives to defend those rights which were later recognised by the Constitution. For example in the case of the families of the victims of 3rd March, from the Vitoria and Basauri events, and many others who are still demanding redress. But it is impossible to re-open these cases under criminal law because the 1977 amnesty was an amnesty for everyone, including those who were responsible for the old repressive regime. All the same, I hope that we see in this legislature a law which compensates the families who suffered unjustly.

The other extreme position is of those who consider that "it is in the past", the Transition closed that period and "it is no good opening old wounds". The PP claims to be comfortable with this position, refusing to deal with the outstanding issues. There is even one sector - extremist rather than centrist - which sympathises with second-rate historical revisionism and welcomes the theory that everyone bears the blame for the war and that "everyone endured the same level of repression and suffering". This theory ignores the fundamental fact that the victors of the war buried their dead, received dignities and honours for their struggle, found their place in the regime and enjoyed the victory, while others were cruelly repressed and still today search the ditches of every town for the places where victims were shot. They also forget that the forgiveness that we gave each other in 1977 should not be confused with forgetting nor with injustice and that there remain debts of history which democracy should repay. For example, by helping those poor people who want to bury their dead with dignity or by offering non-contributory pensions to our "war children". Or by compensating the families of the workers of Vitoria, Granada, Ferrol, Tarragona, etc., who died only because they were exercising their right to strike or to demonstrate or to freedom, which is the same thing.

Yes, I stated in this debate in the Chamber, we have debts from history and the question is: "How should we address them? Will this open unfortunate wounds? If we do it, do we risk opening a new front in the tense battlefield of Spanish politics?

It doesn’t have to be that way, if we do it well and amongst us all. The recuperation of the memory of Francoism and of the Civil War and the outstanding compensation due to the victims does not have to threaten the coexistence of all Spaniards if we do it without hate or a desire for revenge. Without sectarianism or partisanship. Without reviving old divisions which the society of Spain today does not want or accept. Sometimes I doubt if it will be possible with PP determined that everything should be tense and confrontational. I fear that this consensual recuperation of our historic memory may be used by the right to blame us for yet another division, this time a division of the spirit of reconciliation brought about by the Transition, without understanding that a perspective which is more sincere, more free and more open about the truth of our history and justice for its victims, strengthens the foundations of our co-existence. The wounds of history are not cured by concealment but with truth and justice. We who were the sons of war achieved reconciliation in democracy. Hasn’t the time come for the grandchildren to bring justice to the victims before they die?

[Source: El Periodico, Barcelona, 06Mar06. Translated into English from its original Spanish version by Equipo Nizkor ]

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