An Open Letter To Spanish ‘Socialist’ Premier José Luis Rodríguez Zapatero by Octavio Alberola


José Luis Rodríguez Zapatero (PSOE)

Rojo y Negro, 17 October 2011-11-02

Gee, thanks Mr Zapatero!

Thanks for what you, with your government and the help of your PSOE party, have done over two parliaments for historical memory and for the rehabilitation of the victims of the Francoist dictatorship.

Not forgetting, of course, what you have done to preserve the social gains bought at the price of so much struggle and sacrifice in the past.

Oh, and thanks for leaving the ground so ripe for Rajoy and  his PP party to carry on with the consolidation of the Democracy so blighted by social injustice and amnesia and “stitched up” by Franco when he departed.

A Democracy which, thanks to its “stabilisation” measures, has brought about a 4.4% cut in average household income in 2010, hoisting the numbers of Spaniards living below the poverty line to 21.8%. According to the “Living Conditions Survey” of the National Statistical Institute, that is: a one per cent increase on 2009!

Mariano Rajoy (leader of the Partido Popular)

A Democracy that, some 30 years on from the death of the Dictator, shamefully upholds all of the sentences handed down by the Dictatorship’s repressive courts on those who fought for the freedoms now ironically enshrined in its constitution.

Thanks, Mr Zapatero, for going away smug about having passed the craven Historical Memory Law that never even managed to overturn the sentences passed on the Catalan president Lluis Companys and the poet Miguel Hernández. An ignominious law that has introduced and enshrined in lawl the distinction to be made between the victims of Francoism, by splitting them into two types and affording the families of those who perished between 1936 and 1968 compensation payments fourteen times less than the sums afforded to those who lost their lives between 1968 and 1978.

A law which has also done nothing to “transform” the basilica in the Valle de los Caídos into what you said would be a space for “reconciliation in the best spirit of the Transition”, since the panel of experts appointed by your government decided to deliver, after 20 November, the “report” that was to have been ready this month. Yet another display of your cowardice … So Franco stays on and will stay on in the Valle de los Caídos: since Rajoy is not going to be the one who gives the go-ahead for his exhumation.

María Teresa Fernández de la Vega (Deputy Prime Minister)
María Teresa Fernández de la Vega (Deputy Prime Ministe

But for cowardice and hypocrisy on the part of yourself, your government and your PSOE party, the last word is the shameful way in which you have dealt with Stuart Christie. Yes, this victim of  Francoist reprisals who was informed – as you well know – on 1 December 2009, in a letter from the Office for Victims of the Civil War and Dictatorship (OVCGD) that his file was “complete” and “no further documentation will be required (the mater alleged being imprisonment, which has been upheld)” and who was even told that “the waiting period for a resolution runs out on 10 January 2010, on which basis you should expect to receive the appropriate notification” – has still, almost two years later, to receive any such “notification” (a certificate issued by the Justice Ministry “authenticating unjust sentencing by unlawful councils of war”, under the Francoist dictatorship).

Alfredo Pérez Rubalcaba (Deputy Prime Minister)

Yes, Mr Zapatero, the last word in cowardice and hypocrisy because neither you, nor deputy premier María Teresa Fernández de la Vega, nor deputy premier Alfredo Pérez Rubalcaba, nor prime ministerial assistant Ramón Jauregui have ventured to respond to Stuart Christie’s letters asking you for an explanation and requesting that you take an interest in the OVGCD’s  unaccountability and strange behaviour. But a reply was received through the good offices of Carlos García de Andoin, Assistant Chef de Cabinet to the Prime Minister’s Office, informing him on 7 February 2011 that the Justice Ministry had briefed them “that they are indeed seeking relevant documentation in order to proceed with the resolution of your request”, as well as inviting him to rest assured that “you will receive word shortly, in accordance with normal practice in such matters.”

Ramón Jauregui (prime ministerial assistant)

And what has happened since then, Mr Zapatero? Has Stuart Christie received “a resolution to his request”? The answer is, as well you know, no. As in the Valle de los Caídos matter, you have decided that this “matter” too will be left in the hands of whatever government may be elected on 20 November (i.e. to Mr Mariano Rajoy and his PP party). This despite the fact that in the Stuart Christie “matter”, it has been proven that he was a victim of Francoist reprisals, as the press record from the time of his arrest in 1964 and all of the papers of the council of war and prison system up until his pardon in 1967 testify. All of which papers are in the possession of the OVGCD.

So, Mr Zapatero, how come Stuart Christie has yet to receive his Certificate from the Justice Ministry? On what grounds is this matter being deferred until after the elections?

Carlos García de Andoin (Assistant Chef de Cabinet to the Prime Minister’s Office)

Why is it being placed in Mr Rajoy’s hands? If electioneering is a consideration, you are sadly mistaken. On the contrary: it is for such lousy treatment of the victims of Francoist repression, as well as lousy treatment of the workers, that a price will be paid on 20 November

So thanks, Mr Zapatero, for everything that you, your governments and your PSOE party have done over two parliaments to ensure that the Francoist right can charge blithely on with its brazenly anti-social policy and the craven and vile “rehabilitation” offered Francoism’s victims.

Octavio Alberola, 17/11/2011