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Friday, 18 May, 2001, 14:52 GMT 15:52 UK
Anti-Franco veterans win recognition
Mountains on Spain-France border where maquis operated
The maquis took to the mountains of northern Spain after the war
The Spanish parliament has granted political recognition to Republican guerrillas - known as the maquis - who continued resisting the nationalist dictator, General Francisco Franco, after the Spanish Civil War ended in 1939.

The surviving maquis, most of them now in their 70s, were branded for half a century as conspirators, highway robbers and bandits.

This week the Spanish media gave a voice to the small group of delighted veterans of those post Civil War years. The newspaper El Pais said that their "honour" had been restored.

Today's results bring dignity to this democracy

Francisco Martinez, former maquis

The term "maquis" originates from the French "maquisard," meaning guerrilla or resistance fighter. After the defeat of the Republicans, some refused to give up the war and fled north to the mountains on Spain's border with France.


Many of the 5,000 maquis were killed by Franco's Civil Guards.

Then in 1947, the Socialists voted to leave the movement, leading others to give up the armed conflict. Yet there were still guerrillas in the mountains as late as 1952.

To the French, they were heroes. In Spain, for the past half century the maquis have been officially listed in state archives as "bandoleros," or bandits.

General Franco
The guerrillas held out against Franco until 1952
For some, this week's decision is a "restoration of historical memory".

A debt repaid

The United Left (IU) coalition proposed yesterday's motion. Their spokesman, Felipe Alcaraz, called for a "moral, symbolic and political recognition" of the maquis.

Joaquin Leguina, of the Spanish Socialist Workers' Party (PSOE), spoke of Spain's "debt" to those who opposed Franco.

This week's decision was greeted with jubilation by those survivors of the group who were present in the Congress.

Their struggle to gain recognition has been long. In November 2000, around 40 surviving maquis led a "Caravan of Remembrance" through Spain to publicise their struggle for recognition.

The Secretary of the War and Exile Archive Association (AGE), Dolores Cabra, had feared that once again they would fail.

Spanish fascists salute to honour Franco
Spanish fascists remember Franco on the 25th anniversary of his death
Spanish radio spoke to Francisco Martinez, 75, who was a maquis near Leon. He told the radio: "This unit of the few comrades who survived has allowed our voice to be heard by the political forces.

"I think today's results bring dignity to this democracy."

He said it was wrong and unjust that the survivors of a "collective which died for democracy and who died without asking for anything in return" had not been recognised.

The radio said the maquis now have a different cause to fight. They will call for example for pensions and for their documentation to be included in the Civil War Archive in Salamanca.

Gap in history

Today, the story of the maquis is told in Montxo Armendariz's film Broken Silence, released in Spain in April. Set in a Spanish mountain village, it tells the story of a young woman who falls in love with a maquis.

Armendariz told El Pais he hoped his film would ensure that the men and women who fought for democracy would not be forgotten.

They are also the subject of a recent book, Maquis, by Secundino Serrano. Writer Julio Llamazares said that Serrano's work was important because it "filled an immense gap in history".

"The only bad thing about it is that it is 20 years late," he added.

After 50 years of silence, it seems the maquis' story will now be told and remembered.

BBC Monitoring, based in Caversham in southern England, selects and translates information from radio, television, press, news agencies and the Internet from 150 countries in more than 70 languages.

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See also:

11 Mar 01 | Europe
Pontiff honours Spanish war dead
20 Nov 00 | Media reports
King Juan Carlos: Life after Franco
19 Nov 00 | Europe
Madrid arrests at Franco rallies
18 Nov 00 | Europe
A far cry from Franco
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