The attempts by people now to uncover the graves, record and try to identify the bodies of the victims of fascism are being obstructed by the authorities of the Spanish state. This is because the top echelons of the military, police, judiciary, civil service, industrialists and intelligencia who were part of General Franco’s dictatorship, remained where they were. They merely adopted the veil of democracy after Franco died while their erstwhile opponents in the PSOE (Spanish Labour Party) joined them.
Just over a fortnight ago the Basque repressive police force, the Ertzaintza, killed a youth. Three van-loads of police arrived at a scene where a crowd were celebrating the victory of the Bilbao Athletic football team and began firing rubber projectiles into the crowd at a maximum distance of 20 metres (despite the stated ‘safe’ distance being fifty). A youth fell dying and some other people were struck with batons, including a person trying to help the stricken youth.
Immediately cover stories began to emerge from the police, echoed by the passive mass media and compliant politicians: “the police were called to an accident; the police were called to a riot; there had been a fight; the youth had fallen ....” This structure is accustomed to going into action when they are supporting the repressive actions of the Basque police against the Basque pro-Independence Left, violently breaking up protest demonstrations or occupations. In addition, the National Police Force and the Guardia Civil remain in existence today as they did in the days of Franco, carrying out surveillance, harassment, arrests and torture of Basque political activists, resulting in the number of Basque political prisoners never falling below 700, out of a total population of less than three million.
There will always be good reasons to commemorate the bombing of Gernika, which inspired Picasso’s famous painting “Guernica” but the context of the continuing reality in the Basque Country makes it even more relevant and I ask your help for us do so.