Subjects: Europe news
Thirty years after Chevy Chase kept telling the world what it already knew about the fate of Spain’s fascist dictator, the nation’s Socialist government wants to remove from public display hundreds of statues, monuments and emblems throughout the country that commemorate his rule.
In fact Prime Minister José Luis Rodríguez Zapatero’s government has passed a law mandating that they be expunged.
That doesn’t sit well with Sinforiano Bezanilla, a city employee who was 11 when Franco died, but who boned up on the man and liked what he read.
Franco saved Spain from communism and elevated the Catholic Church to an exalted status in daily life, he emphasizes. In today’s Spain abortion, divorce and gay marriage are all legal.
“A lot of people are afraid to express themselves,” Bezanilla wailed to the Wall Street Journal. “The left is attempting to rewrite our country’s history. They base it on a series of half-lies, half-truths and outright lies.”
Never mind that Franco’s Nationalist thugs slaughtered tens of thousands of foes after prevailing in a civil war that itself cost 500,000 lives. Or that they sent tens of thousands more to forced labor camps while giving their children away to families who supported the regime.
When Franco died, Spain’s fledgling democracy didn’t put his generals on trial as Latin American nations did, nor did it organize Truth and Reconciliation Commissions like South Africa.
The passivity all but assured the bitter ideological divisions would fester for generations.
In fact Spain’s ambivalence can be heard every time Real Madrid takes the pitch.
Years ago, Spanish politicians decreed that a certain phrase in its national anthem that reminded many of the repressive dictator’s rule would be deleted: “Raise your arms, sons of the Spanish people.”
But the pols couldn’t decide on a suitable replacement, so nowadays Spaniards either roll their own lyrics or just hum along.