Letter from ALBA: United Nations defends Spanish victims

September 9, 2014

Dear Friends,

When things seem bleakest, hope often sparks.

The victims of Francoism have waited long enough for justice. It’s time for action—and the United Nations agrees. In a scathing report on the country’s thousands of disappeared lying in unmarked mass graves from the Civil War, the UN Working Group on Enforced or Involuntary Disappearances has given Spain 90 days to produce a working timeline to assist the victims’ families. The report—issued in late July following a fact-finding mission last year—calls for “a comprehensive, coherent, and permanent state policy” with regard to the disappeared.

The UN report vindicates the work of Emilio Silva, who, for more than a decade, has denounced Spain’s disregard for international law. (Last July, Emilio attended the International Brigade Commemoration in London).

Politically, too, there is hope for change. The Spanish economy has been among the hardest hit by the crisis of 2008. Almost a quarter of the population is unemployed, and the governing Partido Popular has been mired in endless corruption scandals. For a while it seemed that protest politics had fizzled out in Spain. But this year a new grass-roots political movement emerged, calling itself Podemos (We Can). It was founded by a group of activists that include two charismatic Political Science professors: Pablo Iglesias, 35, and Juan Carlos Monedero, 51.

As a political party, Podemos won a surprising five seats at the elections for the European Parliament in May. It is poised to rise higher in the next elections. Its message is lucid and radical, and proudly draws on progressive traditions of the past, particularly the fight against fascism—as Monedero explains in his interview with The Volunteer.

We agree with Podemos and with this year’s ALBA/Puffin Award Winner Bryan Stevenson that we cannot change history without first knowing it. This is the philosophy that guides everything ALBA does: the teachers’ institutes we are running this fall in Florida, Illinois, New York, and New Jersey; our Human Rights Film Festival in September; and our Bay Area event and Pete Seeger tribute in October.
Of course, we could do nothing at all if it weren’t for your continued support. Un millón de gracias for your steadfast commitment.


Sebastiaan Faber Chair of the Board of Governors

Sebastiaan Faber
Chair of the Board of Governors

Marina Garde Executive Director

Marina Garde
Executive Director