Forty years after the death of dictator Francisco Franco, Spain is still unable to fully move on from its past. The population remains deeply divided between pro and anti-Franco camps. Our reporters went to Madrid to meet those still affected by the memory of El Caudillo.
For many Spaniards, it’s a taboo subject. Some families contain both anti-Franco Republicans and pro-Franco Nationalists, many holding painful secrets from the past. Generations of men and women who grew up after Franco’s rule have sometimes learned during a family gathering that a relative disappeared or was tortured, executed or kidnapped during the civil war (1936-1939) or the dictatorship of General Franco (1939-1975). Atrocities were committed by both sides.
According to the UN, Spain is the country that has experienced the second-largest number of forced disappearances worldwide, after Cambodia. Over 150,000 people went missing during the dark years, according to official figures. Tens of thousands more were tortured and thousands of children stolen from their mothers, who were often communist or left-wing, to be entrusted to "good Catholic families."
Today, more and more Spaniards are seeking justice and compensation. Many want to see their torturers, aged themselves, go to trial. The descendants of those who disappeared also want to know the truth about their ancestors and their fate. In addition to discovering the final resting place of their loved ones, they want to understand more about their own family history. But their appeals often go unanswered; their cases dismissed. For victims and their families, the need for recognition is immense and the fight rife with difficulties.