Sunday, May 11, 2008

Parque de la Memoria, Sartaguda, Navarra

Relative of a victim of Franco wrapped in a Spanish Republican flag searches for the name of a loved one.

Man points to the name of a family member.

A week ago, I was speaking to a colleague working on the Parque de la Memoria and the museum devoted to the memory of the Desaparecidos at the ESMA former torture site in Buenos Aires. I told her that I wasn't hopeful about such memorials in Spain, as there was a lack of consensus about the dictatorship, with a substantial number of Spaniards believing it was not a bad thing, survivors dying without leaving testimony of atrocity sites, concentration camp locations or mass graves. And the camps and prisons in many cases no longer exist. 

So yesterday I was overjoyed when I saw the news that in Navarra, a monument and memory park was inaugurated memorializing the over 3,000 murdered by Franco in the province of Navarra. The park is in a place known as the "town of widows" because the dictatorship killed 10% of the men. 

The fact that it is sited in Navarra means a lot to me, as part of my family originates from the area. In fact distant cousins still live there in a farm house where my family has resided for centuries, and they speak Euskera. I visited there in the early 1990s with my grandparents and met one cousin (now deceased) who was suffering from incipient Alzheimer's disease. As we traveled by bus from Pamplona to the tiny remote town high in the mountains where the rest of my relations are, she pointed in the direction of a hill and said "That is where they used to shoot people." I decided not to press the point. I am glad others did and I hope that such monuments are erected all over Spain. Perhaps one of my relatives is on this wall, someday I will have to go there and look for my Basque surnames. 

All photos EFE photo agency, Spain.

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