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Last Updated: Friday, 28 July 2006, 17:08 GMT 18:08 UK
Spain tackles civil war fallout
General Francisco Franco
Franco ruled Spain for four decades
Spain's government has backed a bill to address the grievances of the losing side in the civil war of the 1930s.

The law, which must be approved by parliament, offers the possibility of compensation to victims of the war and dictatorship of Francisco Franco.

The deputy PM said the bill would help Spain to close a "tragic chapter", but it was criticised by the opposition.

An estimated 500,000 people were killed in the three-year war before the Nationalists defeated the Republicans.

Correspondents say Spaniards remain divided about the causes of the conflict and how to deal with its consequences.

For Spain's military, backed by conservative political forces and the Roman Catholic Church, the civil war was a battle against communism. For the Republican government the conflict was a struggle against fascism.

Republicans were executed, jailed or exiled following the Nationalist victory, and Franco established a dictatorship spanning nearly four decades.

'Rewriting history'

Under the new bill, the use of symbols from the Franco era would be banned on public buildings, and it would be made easier to locate and exhume the bodies of thousands buried in mass graves.

The vast majority of Spaniards don't want to talk about the Civil War or Franco
Mariano Rajoy
Popular Party leader

Deputy Prime Minister Maria Teresa Fernandez de la Vega said the law would help "to heal wounds without re-opening them".

"And to do this it is necessary to honour and restore everyone who suffered injustices and wrongs," she added.

But the leader of the right-wing opposition Popular Party, Mariano Rajoy, said it was a mistake to try to rewrite history.

"Spain has to look at the future and resolve the problems that people are really interested in," he said before the bill was approved.

"The vast majority of Spaniards don't want to talk about the civil war or Franco."

Civil War legacy divides Spain
18 Jul 06 |  Europe
Country profile: Spain
03 Jul 06 |  Country profiles
Timeline: Spain
03 Jul 06 |  Country profiles

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