- The Washington Times - Saturday, August 5, 2006

MADRID — The Spanish government has approved a divisive bill allowing reparations for victims of the Spanish Civil War and the ensuing dictatorship of Gen. Francisco Franco, one of the darkest chapters of Spain’s modern history.

The bill also bans symbols and references to the 1939-1975 Franco regime in public buildings and asks local governments to rename streets or plazas that are named after the former dictator or allude to his regime.

“This bill is going to help heal without reopening old wounds,” said Deputy Prime Minister Maria Teresa Fernandez de la Vega. She expressed hope it would allow Spain “to close with honor a tragic chapter of our history.”

The legislation, prepared by an ad hoc government commission, is expected to gain the majority approval required in Parliament. It was not certain whether it would reach lawmakers by the end of the year.

“Revising history is a great mistake,” said Popular Party leader Mariano Rajoy. “Spain has to look at the future and resolve the problems that people are really interested in. The vast majority of Spaniards don’t want to talk about the civil war or Franco.”

Under the legislation, all victims of the civil war begun by Franco’s revolt against the republican government and his dictatorship — exiles, former prisoners and relatives of those executed — would have a year to claim reparations.

The bill urges local authorities to help relatives exhume those who were buried in mass graves, and calls for the organization of government archives on the period to improve access to documents scattered around the country.

It also prohibits political events at the Valley of the Fallen, a colossal monument outside Madrid that includes Franco’s tomb and is the most potent symbol of his regime.

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