FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail

The Trial of Judge Baltasar Garzon

by VINCENT NAVARRO

In 1936, a democratic government was forced to face a military coup led by General Franco.  The coup succeeded because it had the support of the majority of the Spanish armed forces which were well-equipped and supported by Hitler in Germany and Mussolini in Italy.  Without that assistance, the coup would not have prevailed.  The purpose of the coup was to stop the popular reforms carried out by the democratically elected progressive government opposed by the Church, banking community, finance companies, large employers, armed forces, and the usual cast of characters that became the major axis of the horrible dictatorship that was established at that time in Spain and which lasted until 1978.

To ensure its survival, the dictatorship required and maintained an enormous apparatus of repression carried out by the Fascist party, La Falange, the armed forces and the Church.  For every political assassination Mussolini ordered in Italy, Franco killed 10,000, according to Professor Malekafis, expert in European fascism.  As a result of that fascist repression, Spain became the European country with the largest number of people who disappeared due to political assassinations.  Even today, their families do not know where they are buried.  How can that be?  

To be able to answer that question, it is necessary to understand the enormous limitations of  Spanish democracy (1978-2011), the outcome of a transition from dictatorship to democracy that took place during the period 1976-1978 under the
dominance of the ultra-right wing forces that supported and benefited from the fascist state.  The transition was based on a pact of silence, Ley de Amnistia, according to which all political forces, including the left wing parties, had to agree not to look at the past, that is, not to look for responsibility or accountability for those terrible crimes committed during the fascist dictatorship in Spain.  That silence meant the disappeared persons remained disappeared and their memory lost.

But the grandchildren of the disappeared started asking what had happened to their grandparents and where they were buried.  They wanted to have a tomb they could visit and bring flowers to once a year. And they wanted to pay homage to their fight for freedom, the cause for which they were assassinated.  In this way, a popular movement began which demanded the Spanish state (supposedly a democratic state) find the disappeared and honor them.  The state, governed then by the socialist party, resisted any response to that demand, even though many of the disappeared were members and sympathizers of that party in the 30s and 40s.

But responding to that pressure, Judge Baltasar Garzón, who had become known internationally because of his intention to judge the dictator Augusto Pinochet (an admirer of General Franco and trained in the Spanish military school), started an investigation and requested the state find the disappeared and pay homage to those whose bodies had not yet been found.  Judge Garzón soon discovered the numbers were much higher than previously believed.  The numbers started with 30,000 and by the end of 2008 they had increased to 152,000.  And still the numbers continue to grow.  People began to lose their fear and came out publicly with the names of their dead, proving they had been assassinated, but not knowing where they had been killed and where their bodies were.  It soon became a mass phenomenon and the numbers grew so large that many believe the killings of the disappeared could be referred to as genocide.

As predicted, the right wing forces and some voices within the left immediately mobilized, accusing Judge Garzón of not respecting the Ley de Amnistia that was supposed to have put to rest any possibility of judging these crimes.  And none other than La Falange, the fascist party, still legal in Spain, and other allied forces brought Judge Garzón to the Supreme Court to stand trial.  The Supreme Court accepted the legal arguments and recently started proceedings against Judge Garzón.

A few days ago, January 24, this judge had to sit in front of the Supreme Court for daring to ask the Spanish state to find and honor the disappeared ones and find those responsible for their killings.  It started a process unique in Europe at this time where a judge defending human rights, freedom and democracy is put on trial for upholding the honor and dignity of democratic forces.  This trial is an offense to all democratic persons in the world and a mobilization of protest should occur worldwide against what is occurring in Spain at this time.

VINCENT NAVARRO, Professor of Public Policy, The Johns Hopkins University. He is a contributor to Hopeless: Barack Obama and the Politics of Illusion, forthcoming from AK Press. 

Vincent Navarro, is professor of Public and Social Policy in The John Hopkins University USA and the Pompeu Fabra University Catalonia, Spain. He is also the Director of the JHU-UPF Public Policy Center in Barcelona, Spain. 

More articles by:

CounterPunch Magazine

minimag-edit

bernie-the-sandernistas-cover-344x550

zen economics

Weekend Edition
December 02, 2016
Friday - Sunday
John Pilger
The Coming War on China
Jeffrey St. Clair
Roaming Charges: The CIA’s Plots to Kill Castro
Paul Street
The Iron Heel at Home: Force Matters
Pam Martens - Russ Martens
Timberg’s Tale: Washington Post Reporter Spreads Blacklist of Independent Journalist Sites
Andrew Levine
Must We Now Rethink the Hillary Question? Absolutely, Not
Joshua Frank
CounterPunch as Russian Propagandists: the Washington Post’s Shallow Smear
David Rosen
The Return of HUAC?
Rob Urie
Race and Class in Trump’s America
Patrick Cockburn
Why Everything You’ve Read About Syria and Iraq Could be Wrong
Caroline Hurley
Anatomy of a Nationalist
Ayesha Khan
A Muslim Woman’s Reflections on Trump’s Misogyny
Michael Hudson – Steve Keen
Rebel Economists on the Historical Path to a Global Recovery
Russell Mokhiber
Sanders Single Payer and Death by Democrat
Roger Harris
The Triumph of Trump and the Specter of Fascism
Steve Horn
Donald Trump’s Swamp: Meet Ten Potential Energy and Climate Cabinet Picks and the Pickers
Louis Proyect
Deepening Contradictions: Identity Politics and Steelworkers
Ralph Nader
Trump and His Betraying Makeover
Stephen Kimber
The Media’s Abysmal Coverage of Castro’s Death
Dan Bacher
WSPA: The West’s Most Powerful Corporate Lobbying Group
Nile Bowie
Will Trump backpedal on the Trans-Pacific Partnership?
Ron Ridenour
Fidel’s Death Brings Forth Great and Sad Memories
Missy Comley Beattie
By Invitation Only
Fred Gardner
Sword of Damocles: Pot Partisans Fear Trump’s DOJ
Renee Parsons
Obama and Propornot
Dean Baker
Cash and Carrier: Trump and Pence Put on a Show
Jack Rasmus
Taming Trump: From Faux Left to Faux Right Populism
Ron Jacobs
Selling Racism—A Lesson From Pretoria
Julian Vigo
The Hijos of Buenos Aires:  When Identity is Political
Subcomandante Insurgente Galeano
By Way of Prologue: On How We Arrived at the Watchtower and What We Saw from There
Dave Lindorff
Is Trump’s Idea To Fix the ‘Rigged System’ by Appointing Crooks Who’ve Played It?
Aidan O'Brien
Fidel and Spain: A Tale of Right and Wrong
Carol Dansereau
Stop Groveling! How to Thwart Trump and Save the World
Kim Nicolini
Moonlight, The Movie
Evan Jones
Behind GE’s Takeover of Alstom Energy
James A Haught
White Evangelicals are Fading, Powerful, Baffling
Barbara Moroncini
Protests and Their Others
Joseph Natoli
The Winds at Their Backs
Cesar Chelala
Poverty is Not Only an Ignored Word
David Swanson
75 Years of Pearl Harbor Lies
Alex Jensen
The Great Deceleration
Nyla Ali Khan
When Faith is the Legacy of One’s Upbringing
Gilbert Mercier
Trump Win: Paradigm Shift or Status Quo?
Stephen Martin
From ‘Too Big to Fail’ to ‘Too Big to Lie’: the End Game of Corporatist Globalization.
Charles R. Larson
Review: Emma Jane Kirby’s “The Optician of Lampedusa”
David Yearsley
Haydn Seek With Hsu
FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail