Pedro Morenés, Spain’s Minister of Defence has blamed the crisis for the government’s decision to reject the declassification of Franco-era documents insisting that “it is not a priority”.
He said that the economic conditions in Spain mean that the technical means and manpower were simply not available for “such an arduous task”.
They were classified in 1968 under the Law of Official Secrets and historians have been prevented from viewing the documents ever since.
But critics, such as Spanish politician Joan Saura from the Initiative for Catalonia Greens (ICV) have stressed that as the law was passed “in the middle of a dictatorship” and therefore should not be legally binding in a modern democracy.
In Britain, for example, documents covered by the official secrets' Act are declassified automatically after thirty years.
Historical memory associations which have campaigned for the rights of relatives of the victims of Franco have long been lobbying for government help. The ARHM has carried out more than 150 exhumations of unmarked civil war graves holding some of the estimated 100,000 people who went missing at the hands of Franco's forces.
Examining Spain's dark era had until recent years been left to foreign historians.
The Franco-era documents were made available to historians in the 1980s by Spanish Socialist politician Fernando Morán but were blocked again in 2010 by the Socialist government.
In 2013 Spain’s current Foreign Minister, José Manuel García Margallo, promised to allow researchers “easier and freer access” to the documents, but “has done absolutely nothing,” Saura told Europa Press.
The ICV politician said it was “shameful” that historians had to resort to British or French historical documents to learn about Spanish history.
Spain’s minister of defence, Morenés, originally agreed with Saura, saying that he would like to declassify the documents and change the 1968 law above all, “to know the history of Spain and know where we came from and where we do not want to return”.
He admitted, however, that declassifying the documents “did not form part of the legislative priorities of the government.”