This article was translated by John R. Bopp
There are certain details which serve to highlight how we subjects of the Kingdom of Spain live in a political régime that is the natural evolution of the Franco dictatorship. It’s not just that structures of that fascist dictatorship have lived on far beyond the dictator himself, or that the core of the police, the judiciary, or the civil service all got to keep their jobs, rising either by merit or seniority, up the ranks, to their retirement. It’s not even just that the laws passed by a Parliament elected under the “Principles of the Movement” have stayed on the books, even to this day.
It goes much deeper. It’s about how the moral damage, that born of the injustice that is intrinsically linked to every totalitarian movement, has gone on, accepted as normal and inevitable, and any attempt by those harmed to demand reparations are called “vengeful” and “opposed to reconciliation”. No one is even asking for those who are guilty of the murders, thefts, extortion, rape, persecutions, incarcerations, exiles (domestic and foreign), just a recognition of the victims of those injustices. Sometimes, all that’s really being asked for is the ability to pick up, from the mass, anonymous graves, the remains of those shot (sorry, “murdered”) without a trial, a real, non-farcical trial; those who died of hunger and abuse in prisons, or on chain-gangs. All those demands are presented as being “against reconciliation”, the cause/consequence of the Transition. They’re all presented as selfish demands by resentful people who don’t want to let sleeping dogs lie.
All of this came to us today when we saw the event held by Eurobask, the Basque Council of the European Movement, to commemorate their foundation on February 1, 1951. You can read about their foundation and the role the Basques have played in the creation of the European movement on the Eurobask website.
So where did all that written above come from? If you read the story of the place where the plaque was installed, located at Avenue Marceau nº 11, you’d understand what brought this on. That was the seat of the Basque Government in Exile. That building was bought with money from the Basques in the Americas (specifically, Francisco de Belaustegigoitia, a name our readers will recognize), sold to the Basque Nationalist Party, who then ceded it to the Basque Government so it could be their headquarters. That building was stolen by the insurgents, with the acquiescence of the government of the French Republic, who once again showed its solid democratic principles when defending the rights of the Basques (you’re noting the irony, right?) when it evicted the Basque Government from its seat on June 28, 1951 and handed it over to the Francoist government.
A Francoist law passed on January 30, 1940 declared that all Republican assets became property of the Spanish State. A sentence from a Parisian court in June 1941, during the Nazi occupation, gave the Francoist insurgents the ownership of that building, despite it never having belonged to the government of the Spanish Republic. Those were the legal bases used to steal that building from its legitimate owners and hand it over to Franco illegally.
And what about everything that happened after Franco died and we “returned to democracy”? Common sense would dictate that decisions based on unjust laws must be amended. But no. The property of Republicans was never returned; the dead are still shamefully buried in mass graves anonymously; the civil servants and teachers who had lost their jobs because of their “disaffection for the régime” died, often without having had their rights recongized, and the house at Avenue Marceau nº 11 is still in the hands of its illegal owners, the government of the Kingdom of Spain.
That building is now the Library of the Cervantes Institute, and only after many complex negotiations was the commemorative plaque allowed to be placed. They were so complex that the plaque to celebrate the 60th anniversary, which would have been in 2011, was not placed until 2014. Of the few media that picked up on this story, none seem to have noticed that.
At this event, the Spanish ambassador to France and the director of the Paris Cervantes Institute were present. So, the maximum representative in France of a Government that won’t return what doesn’t belong to it, and the director of an institute that is taking advantage of an asset that was acquired by a dictatorship.
Just another moment of shame. If they’re not going to return a building that was stolen, how are they ever going to return more important things that we Basques were robbed of?
We’ll leave you with the article on “España en París”
España en París – 30/1/2014 – France
Acto conmemorativo del 60 aniversario de la constitución oficial de Eurobask (Consejo Vasco del Movimiento Europeo)
El Secretario de Estado de la Unión Europea, Iñigo Méndez de Vigo, la Presidenta del Parlamento Vasco, Bakartxo Tejería , el Presidente de Eurobask, José María González Zorrilla, Sr.Jean Pierre Spitzer Vicepresidente Movimiento Europeo-Francia Sr.Diogo Pinto Secretario General Movimiento Europeo Internacional, Sr Eugenio Nasarre Presidente Consejo General Español del Movimiento Europeo asistieron al acto conmemorativo del 60 aniversario de la constitución oficial de Eurobask (Consejo Vasco del Movimiento Europeo), que tuvo lugar en París jueves 30 de enero. En el acto también estuvieron presentes Sr. Carlos Bastarreche embajador de España en Francia, y el director del Instituto Cervantes en Paris Sr Juan Manuel Bonet.