The Socialist Party and United Left (IU) coalition are in the next few days to present a proposed resolution in Congress that will urge the Rajoy administration to locate and open — within a maximum period of two years — all the mass graves where, nearly 38 years after the death of Francisco Franco, thousands of victims of the Civil War and the dictatorship remain buried.
In recent years around 400 such unmarked graves have been opened from which the remains of nearly 6,000 people who were shot have been exhumed.
But there are still another 2,000 clandestine burial sites in which nobody knows precisely how many dead remain interred. The Law of Historical Memory — introduced by the previous Socialist government — had provided grants for financial aid to help families recover their loved ones from these graves, but that process was stopped shortly after the Popular Party (PP) took office in 2011.
In 2008, relatives and associations gave High Court Judge Baltasar Garzón a list of 143,353 names of men and women who disappeared during the Civil War (1936-39) and subsequent dictatorship (1939-75).
On September 30, two UN envoys concluded after a one-week visit that the government ought to “assume a leadership role and engage more actively to respond to the demands of thousands of families searching for the fate or whereabouts of their loved ones.”
The Socialists and IU will also ask for the creation of a Truth Commission made up of independent experts who will give “a full diagnosis of these enforced disappearances that occurred during the Civil War and Francoism” and draw up a list of recommendations to be addressed by “all branches of government.”
Truth commissions are instruments that the United Nations recommends that countries who have gone through similar processes set up to deal with their pasts. In the last 30 years, 40 nations have used the mechanism to compensate victims.
Two members of the UN Working Group on Enforced or Involuntary Disappearances met with government officials and families during their one-week visit to Spain. They expect to present a full report to the United Nations next year.