In March, 2005, a statue of Franco on a horse was taken down in the San Juan de la Cruz square in Madrid. A taboo was broken, and other Spanish cities also began to remove symbols of the dictator. Soon this will be compulsory. Under the new “historical memory law” all monuments, plaques and street names that honour Franco and fascism will have to be removed. Public and private buildings will have to comply. Critics of the new law say it reopens old wounds, and breaks a so-called pact of silence that has been in place since the country’s transition to democracy in the late 70s.
The new law also covers Franco’s burial site, a mausoleum built by Republican prisoners in countryside just outside of the capital. Every November the site serves as a meeting place for Franco followers, but those events will now be banned. The site will have to also recognise Franco’s victims.
There will also be financial aid for the finding and retrieval of bodies in mass graves, another taboo subject that has been lifted. The new legislation also grants Spanish citizenship to the children and grandchildren of exiled Republicans, and recognises the victims on both sides. The special courts that sentenced thousands of people to death from 1937 onwards have also been declared “illegitimate”.