The bodily remains of two victims found in the municipal cemetery of Guadalajara in Spain have been given to their families following their identification by the Association for the Recovery of Historical Memory (ARMH).
The victims of the Spanish civil war (1936-1939) and the era of the dictator Franco (1939-1975) were restored to their families 82 years later.
The ARMH is attempting to recover the bodily remains of around 130,000 people found in mass graves since the turn of the century, having been shot during the Franco dictatorship era, one of the bitterest periods in the history of the country.
Following DNA tests, the ARMH has restored the remains of two people exhumed in October 2020 to their families. The remains were found to be those of Francisco Cordon Herreros (42) and Romauldo Puerto Ibarra (37), who were executed by firing squad on 4 and 8 March 1940 respectively. The family members receiving the remains of the grandfathers they had never seen demanded that the Spanish government face up to this dark era and recognise the families of the victims.
The ARMH officials stated that since 2016 they have recovered the bodily remains of 21 people killed during the dictatorship era from the Guadalajara cemetery, and that after the identification process six of these had so far been returned to their families.
It was also stated that there are bodily remains of more than 250 victims in 12 different mass graves in the cemetery in Guadalajara.
In a press conference Emiliano Silva, head of the ARMH, said that the recovery and the identification of the victims of the civil war and the era of Franco’s dictatorship should be the responsibility of the state rather than a private organisation such as themselves.
Silva added: “It is unacceptable that a democratic government should not see the search for the Franco regime’s disappeared as a fundamental right or create an office for this purpose. We have been demanding a policy guaranteed by human rights from governments for years, but no matter who comes to power, nothing changes.”
The ARMH, who have opened around 235 mass graves in 30 different cities around Spain, have only been able to recover and identify the remains of 1,650 out of an estimated 130,000 dictatorship era victims.