Solidarity with The Meirás 19
Defending democracy, freedom, justice and collective dignity is not only a right, it is a duty. This is precisely what a group of Galizan democrats, nationalist militants, trade-union leaders, grassroots and cultural activists and people working to restore the memory of what happened during the Francoist dictatorship, etc., did on 30 August 2017 when they carried out a peaceful and symbolic action which involved unfurling two large banners from the Pazo de Meirás manor house calling upon the public bodies to intervene to reclaim this property on behalf of its rightful owner, the Galizan people.
As a result of this action, the National Francisco Franco Foundation, together with Franco’s daughter, Carmen Franco y Polo, and the dictator’s grandson, José Cristóbal Martínez-Bordiú, have lodged a complaint against 19 people liable to at least 3 years and 6 months imprisonment which could rise to 13 years imprisonment for each of the accused, as well as an indeterminate fine. In other words, they could be facing a total of up of 247 years imprisonment and half a million euros in fines.
We believe that this is nothing short of a political and legal outrage and a renewed serious and unacceptable attempt to outlaw the exercise of the democratic right to the freedom of speech. This is further compounded by the fact that the accusation is brought by the family of the dictator who continue to enjoy the spoils of war and a Foundation whose stated aim is to uphold Fascism and the dictatorship and which by rights the law should prevent from existing and at the very least be barred from receiving public State funding.
We support the accused activists’ demand that all of the properties and items plundered by Franco in Galiza (the Meirás manor house, the Casa Cornide house in A Coruña and the sculptures of Abraham and Isaac taken from the Portal of Glory in Santiago Cathedral) be returned to the Galizan people, as a fundamentally democratic demand and a means of bringing about justice for the victims who suffered the plunder first hand, together with all of the victims of the Francoist regime. In a word, an excellent means of restoring our democratic memory and our collective dignity.
We therefore express our complete solidarity with the 19 people who stand accused and reject the criminalisation of the exercise of democratic rights, to which end we join the demand publically expressed by those accused calling for the Francisco Franco Foundation to be declared illegal, together with the repeal of all of the repressive legislation in place in the Spanish State which curtails individual and collective freedoms and the complete restoration of the rights of all of those unfairly prosecuted as the essential cornerstone of dignity and democracy.