Twenty days ago, the Law of Democratic Memory of Spain, known in these latitudes as the Law of Grandchildren, came into force, whereby Argentine descendants of Spaniards who suffered under the persecution of the Franco dictatorship, which lasted until 1978, can gain access to Spanish citizenship.
“For more than three years we of the PSOE have been fighting for this law, which it is restorative for those descendants of Spaniards who emigrated for political, ideological, religious or sexual orientation reasons, either because of the Spanish Civil War or because of Francisco Franco’s military government,” he says in an interview with Clarion Pilar Cancela, Secretary of State for International Cooperation, who is in Buenos Aires in the framework of the ECLAC Regional Conference on Women in Latin America and the Caribbean.
The brand new Act of Minors, which was published in the Spanish Government Gazette on 20 October.includes those born outside Spain to a father or mother, grandfather or grandmother, who would have been originally Spanish, and as I said before, they would have lost or given up their Spanish nationality for political and ideological reasons”, Cancela points out and adds: “Also to the children born abroad of Spanish women who they lost their nationality because they married foreigners before the entry into force of the 1978 Constitution”.
– The migration issue in Argentina today is a neuralgic issue. In fact, Argentines are the most important migration in the last year in Spain, reaching almost 33,000 people. What does this news mean to you?
– I am aware of what is happening in Argentina, but it is not just a situation that this country is experiencing. Inequalities and the existence of structural problems existed in the region; no one is exempt from the same conditions. Throughout history this has happened in different areas, including ours, and today With migratory movements, a better quality of life is sought, a possibility that is more concrete than what uprooting means and Spain is willing to cooperate.
– Are you aware of how the demand for Argentines was in these first weeks?
– We know that it is a law that generates hope, but it is not so easy to collect the documentation, much less to give an immediate response. It takes time and what we ask for is patience. The casuistry is very wide and each case is special and demands his detailed study.
– The consulates are the ones who receive the calls and provide the shifts. What are the chances of “system crash”?
– (Smile) We have foreseen the situation and we are taking preventive measures such as e.g reinforce each provincial consulate with more staff, to speed up shifts, interviews and avoid stagnation. Although we expect a movement of important people, we do not believe that a wave of Argentinians will go to Spain overnight.
-Many have to doubt whether their particular case complies with the Act…
-Of course, this is why we insist that those who doubt take their case to be analyzed. The spectrum is very wide and each story is a world. We are in a first big step, but please stress it, it takes time and you have to know how to wait. We know that there are many families who have been waiting for this law. For this reason, we also emphasize that it does not strictly consider those who went into exile for political reasons.
– What is the documentation that must be presented at the consulate?
– As a first measure, it is necessary to demonstrate the bond with the ancestors and demonstrate from them that they were victims of the Spanish exile.
– And how do you prove that the family member was an exile?
,– In different ways. On the one hand, with documents issued by the Refugee Offices of the host states that assisted the persecuted Spaniards and their families. Also with documentation proving that he was a beneficiary of pensions granted to exiles by the Spanish Administration.
– Is there a deadline for choosing nationality?
– Yes, two years and there can be another if an extension is requested.
– Why did the Spanish government promote this law?
– This is an initiative, an achievement of the PSOE, which has always believed that it is important to justify thousands of Spaniards and their children and grandchildren who have lost their nationality for one reason or another and have every right to to restore something so necessary.
– Did you have the support of the opposition?
– No, the opposition voted against, we had 128 votes in favor and 113 against it after a five-hour long debate with tense intersections between left and right, with the PP and Vox as the main opponents.
– What is the goal for Spain to nationalize immigrants?
– The law aims to guarantee access to truth, justice and reparation for the victims of the dictatorship. But on the other hand, we have another concern: Spain is going through a significant demographic deficit, with values dating back to the 1970s. The birth rate has seemingly fallen. We are looking for a generational renewal and the Argentinians who are and those who are going usually cover an age that Spain also finds useful.
– The Argentine is very present in Madrid, Barcelona and for a few years in Valencia. Are you still a required citizen in Spain?
– Historically there is a close bond with Argentina and the flow of Argentinians arriving in Spain is naturally experienced. His arrival is not a novelty, nor was it when Argentina opened its doors to the Spanish. I insist that we all have the right to seek better living conditions. This is said by someone who was born in Stuttgart (Germany), then I went to Venezuela, until I reached my origin in Galicia.
– Is the Argentine who emigrates well considered?
– Yes, there is a good concept based on the fact that they are generally qualified people who for one reason or another could not develop a work or family project and are looking for another destination to carry it out do not feed The Argentine who arrives in Spain does so with economic and emotional effort, but also with a desire to build and get ahead. Furthermore, Spain would not be Spain if it did not have that identity or that path shared with Argentina and Latin America.