In order for a country to transform from a society in which rights were severely repressed to a society in which rights are respected and protected, the violations of the past must be properly and adequately addressed. However, instead of using the transition to democracy to confront the country’s history of violence and repression, the Spanish government and society actively stifled the memory of the Civil War and forty-year dictatorship, failing to address the country’s legacy of violence and the victims left in its wake. Despite the Spanish transition being regarded as a remarkable success story, an institutionalized historical amnesia resulted in many oppositional counter-memories as forms of cultural resistance. This paper will demonstrate how repressing memory left the door open for the legacy of political violence to persist in Spain. Prioritizing processes of transitional justice and historical memory is crucial in working toward sustainable peace in Spain and the Basque Region today. This paper will provide an overview of transitional justice and historical memory and an analysis of the impact of Spain’s lack of transitional justice, specifically regarding the politicization of victimhood. It is important to examine the implications of the pacto del olivido (pact of silence) and the 1977 Amnesty Law in rendering Franco’s victims invisible and in sustaining Spain’s legacy of political violence. Furthermore, this paper will explore how the Basque terrorist group, Euskadi Ta Askatasuna (ETA), carried on Spain’s legacy of political violence for another four decades following the end of the Franco dictatorship. The next section of this paper will analyze how the ‘memory boom’ of the early 2000s led to greater recognition of the victims of Francoism and to the passing of the 2007 Historical Memory Law. This analysis will show how the politicization of victimhood resulted in an inequity between the measures taken to recognize and protect different victims’ groups, subsequently providing more protection for victims of ETA violence. Overall, this paper contends that, in the case of Spain, a lack of transitional justice has perpetuated a long legacy of violence and a silencing of the victims of Francoism that remain unresolved.

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Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial 4.0 License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial 4.0 License