Spanish government allocates €1.5m to exhume 100 mass graves in Spain

First time funds are allocated to "historic memory" since 2013

2 min
A body from the graves of Cortijo de Santa Magdalena

BarcelonaThe Spanish government will allocate €1.5m to the shock plan for the recovery of democratic or historic memory - terms used when talking about victims of the Spanish civil war and Franco's dictatorship - launched in 2020, most of which will be devoted to the exhumation of mass graves in 2021 (€1.2m). A further €750,000 will be direct aid granted by the ministry and the other half will be managed by the Spanish Federation of Municipalities and Provinces (FEMP). They have opted to aid 114 projects to locate, exhume and identify graves and 44 projects for the recovery of democratic memory. "There will not be a single day this year that we do not work on the exhumation," promised the Vice President and Minister of Democratic Memory, Carmen Calvo. This is the first state aid aimed at recovering bodies buried in mass graves since 2013, since despite the fact that the Spanish law of historical memory dates from 2007, the People's Party governments left it without endowment. The Catalan administration will receive €335,000 for four specific projects.

This endowment will be temporary until the four-year plan to search for people executed during the coup d'état, the Civil War and the dictatorship is launched. The vice president announced that despite the effort required by the health and economic impact of the pandemic, Democratic Memory has a budget of €11.3m allocated in this year's budget, €4m of which are for the recovery "of compatriots who are missing". "We cannot tell young people that we will give them a dignified Spain and an equal Spain if we have this darkness behind us," said the minister. She also said that she will ask for the support of all political parties in Congress for the new law of democratic memory that the Socialists want to approve and that it will have a gender perspective "to make visible the contribution and sacrifice of women who were on the side that defended the freedom and diversity of our country".

Calvo said: "After many years without these issues are on the agenda, now I ask that here there be no political colours,". The FEMP, however, did mention that councils that requested funding for exhumations tended to be one particular "colour". "There is no better pedagogy for young people than to be able to tell them: 'This happened and can not happen again, it would be the most tremendous failure'," said Calvo, who believes that the relatives of those shot and killed in ditches have the right to demand justice, reparation and help from public resources. "We owe it to the elderly people who hoped that democracy would shed light and dignity on their pain".