The Forgetting Pact – Kevin Cassar
Tista’ taqrah bil-Malti.
“Let’s not disturb the graves and let’s not throw the bones at each other,” Jose Maria Aznar, the former Spanish prime minister, once said. Aznar’s Popular Party housed most of General Franco’s unreconstructed supporters. Franco, the brutal dictator of Spain had ruled the country with an iron fist for nearly four decades until 1975. Following his death came the ‘pacto del olvido’ – the pact of oblivion, the choice of Spain to forget the crimes of Franco.
The problem is that when we are forced to forget, we remember a lot. Robert Abela is campaigning to force the nation to forget. Abela does her best to erase the past. The Labor past carries the potent stench of corruption and the blood of a journalist. Abela himself has too much to hide.
“Now expect our friends in the opposition to talk more about the past, that’s what those who have nothing to offer for the future do,” Abela said on February 6. His words echoed those of Pablo Casada, the leader of the right-wing Spanish People‘s Party, an extension of Franco’s Falangists: “I would like to talk about the Spain of my children, not that of my grandparents”.
Both Abela and Casada have one goal: to bury the past before the past bury them.
Labor is trying to obliterate the past by slandering those who dare to remember it. “Bernard Grech is a representation of the past,” Abela announced March 1 at an event in B’Kara. “Grech wants to bring the country back to the time of Tonio Fenech”.
ONE chimed in, “Grech continues to use the face of the past”, “Grech speaks to the youth of the past”, “The PN of the past against everything and everyone”, “PN rooted in the past”, “PN continues to embrace extremist ideals the past “.
In 1977, Spain passed the Amnesty Law which swept aside the crimes of the Franco regime. This allowed Francoist politicians to gain full amnesty, stay in power, and remain in government. Spain has chosen not to condemn its former caudillo, the leader. After all, Franco had brought Spain immense prosperity. Besides Japan, Spain was the country with the strongest economic growth between 1959 and 1974 – the Spanish miracle.
In 2020, Malta’s own leader, he-Mexxej, was deposed after the brutal assassination of Daphne Caruana Galizia and revelations of her office’s close ties to the alleged go-between and mastermind. Like Franco, Muscat was a deeply divisive figure, adored and reviled. Like Franco, Muscat boasted of having brought prosperity to Malta, with economic growth exceeding that of most EU countries – the Maltese miracle.
And like Spain, Malta chose not to condemn its former leader. It was a clever way to allow Muscat’s own consultant, Robert Abela, to become the “prime minister of continuity”. He ensured that Muscat’s close allies won full amnesty, stayed in power, and remained in government.
Now Robert Abela is emulating the Spanish model of impunity with his own pact of forgetting. He wants to erase the memory. He threatens justice not to prosecute Muscat for his part in the scam of hospitals fearing what it will reveal. He threatened the Caruana Galizia investigation to close it to prevent the truth from being revealed.
He doesn’t want the nation to remember Rosianne Cutajar’s deals with Yorgen Fenech, Melvin Theuma’s ghostwork, Refalo’s VR looting, Lawrence Cutajar’s information to middleman, Zammit Lewis’ relationship with Yorgen Fenech .
He wants no one to remember Nexia BT, Brian Tonna, Karl Cini, Keith Schembri, Adrian Hillman, Pilatus Bank, Ram Tumuluri. He won’t let anyone report Konrad Mizzi.
He will not allow Joseph Muscat to participate in his campaign. He completely loses his rags when someone mentions his monthly salary of €17,000 from the Planning Authority. Or its direct orders with ARMS, Air Malta and the Ministry of the Environment. Or his ties to the Maksar brothers.
He frantically eludes the media fearing repeated questions about his stinky deal with a suspected money launderer, kidnapper and narcotics trafficker.
Pedro Almodovar’s award-winning documentary ‘The Silence of Others’ recalls the epic struggle of General Franco’s victims. It offers a cautionary lesson in the dangers of forgetting the past.
Malta must also learn this lesson. She must resist with all her energy Abela’s frantic attempts to bury the past. Seeking the truth is not treason. It is a responsibility, however painful and difficult, to serve justice.
Let’s not collaborate with Abela’s call for silence, the silence of injustice. When one digs up the history of his party, of the country and his own, it is not to look at the past. It is about fighting for the future.
Hiding a skeleton in the closet is hard enough. What chance is there of an entire nation with an exploding closet of stopping the skeletons from falling?
In 2007, three decades after Franco’s death, Spain woke up to its past. It passed the Historical Memory Law to investigate crimes committed under the Franco regime. He finally condemned Franco and his rule. After decades of repression, Spain was able to look at its past openly and honestly, able to prosecute and condemn those who abused their power to the detriment of the nation.
Decades of imposed silence have failed to extinguish the nation’s yearning for justice. In 2019, Franco’s body was finally exhumed and removed from the purposely built mausoleum in the Valley of the Fallen and buried in a family cemetery. Those who abuse power deserve neither shrines nor glorification.
Abela attempts to hold back the tide. By erasing the past, he draws attention to the impunity still enjoyed by his relatives and his Party. He cannot break with the corruption of Muscat. He is trapped there.
The real problem is that the current direction is a seamless continuation of the previous one. The more Abela tries to make us forget, the more we remember. The urgent duty of every honest citizen is to maintain this memory.