45 years have passed since the death of the dictator for a judicial procession to cross the threshold of the Meirás pazo and carry out an exhaustive inventory of the assets that the dictator Francisco Franco and his wife, Carmen Polo, deposited in what was their residence of summer during all the dictatorship. It has been necessary for a sentence to rule that As Torres de Meirás belongs to the State and to order their provisional return to put under the magnifying glass the heritage that hides this palace designed by Emilia Pardo Bazán, which passed into the hands of the dictator in 1938 due to the desire of the Coruña elites to thrive in the heat of the dictatorship.
The decision of Judge Marta Canales upholding the request for precautionary measures from the State Attorney and prohibits the removal of any item from the manor until an inventory is made An exhaustive list of all the assets deposited there marks a new milestone in the recovery of historical memory, but also reveals the gaps, the shadow areas in the management of this Asset of Cultural Interest since 2008.
The judge accepts as good the arguments of the State Bar, which argued that the Meirás pazo has a comprehensive level of protection that, it says, would affect all its elementsTherefore, it must be ensured that it is not emptied “without leaving any kind of proof of the goods found inside.” Following this argument, a question arises: Why does the Xunta, in charge of ensuring the conservation of the Meirás pazo, still lacks a detailed inventory of the assets if, as the State now argues, the BIC declaration of 2008 was accompanied by the protection of all content ?. The Ministry of Culture, which now claims that the handover of the manor must include “everything that is inside it”, has refused to clarify to this newspaper whether during all these years it has supervised the entry and exit of movable property, although its Yesterday’s answer can be deduced that no.
The councilor, Román Rodríguez, who stated a few days ago that the Xunta had an “initial” inventory, stressed this Tuesday that, contrary to what the State Attorney’s Office alleges, the 2008 BIC statement “included only the continent, not the content” And that it will be now, with the completion of this inventory prior to handing over the keys, when it will be necessary to evaluate and analyze what furniture or pieces deserve to be cataloged. “Now the content will be evaluated and it will be analyzed if it has value to be cataloged,” he said. His statement is in line with what legal experts advanced a few days ago, who emphasized the difficulties of preventing the transfer of personal property, which were not the object of the lawsuit, and which the Francos have been able to move at will during all these years, except for the sculptures of Mestre Mateo, which have been declared a Site of Cultural Interest, so the Xunta must authorize a change of Location,
The representatives of the bipartisan that processed the declaration BIC el pazo de Meirás explain that andn that time an actual inventory was not carried out. The then general secretary of the Department of Culture, Carlos Amoedo, told this newspaper yesterday the difficulties they had to face to inspect the pazo. The Francs were opposed from the first moment to the visit of the technicians, who appealed to the Supreme Court, like the BIC of Meirás. “We were afraid of taking a wrong step and that the Francos would manage to annul the entire process for violating their right to privacy“, explains this professor of Administrative Law, who recalls that at that time the law of historical memory was a newborn and there was no specific regulation on cultural property that was in turn domicile.
The fear seems more than founded if one considers that the judges themselves, in the sentence that ratifies the right of the Xunta to inspect the Meirás pazo, pointed out precisely the superficial nature of that inspection and argued that the entry of the technicians “had no other purpose than to check the current state of the building and its surroundings, in order to ascertain what was its level of conservation “.
“We knew we were going to get into a garden, but we didn’t think it would be so lush,” says Amoedo, who explains that at that time they had to walk with leaden feet “so that the process would not sink”, whose main objective was to make Meirás open its doors to the public 32 years after Franco’s death. It was, he says, the first step towards its recovery as public heritage.
The day when an architect and an art historian finally crossed the Meirás gate, they were all nerves in the Department of Culture, he recalls. “We were all pending on the mobile, with our souls in a fist“. That visit allowed us to make the first photographic report of the pazo.” We really enjoyed viewing the photos, it was very exciting, but we were very careful that the images were not leaked and the Francos accused us of violating their right to privacy. ” graphic document, says Amoedo, “remained under seven keys until today.”
When the Franco lost their last legal battle and the Supreme Court ratified the BIC declaration of As Torres in 2011, the PSOE and BNG no longer governed in the Xunta and there is no record that the PP, which initially questioned this cataloging, took any step to detail the inventory of goods. The 2008 BIC resolution has not been touched on since then and only contains a brief description of the furniture and artistic works. It only records the existence of “period furniture, paintings, tapestries, weapons and scrolls” and of “shelves full of books and documents whose value is unknown.”
Carlos Amoedo charged yesterday against the “so hypocritical” attitude of the Galician Government, which now defends the conservation of all property but “looked the other way” during all these years. This expert affirms that the photographic report made then “can be perfectly valid as a tool to identify and protect the belongings that are an inseparable part of the historic site” of Meirás.
There is now a long cataloging job ahead. The work of the inventory of goods should serve to distinguish between the personal assets of the descendants of the dictator, the one acquired during the dictatorship with public funds or that was handed over to Franco as head of state and the one that remains from Emilia Pardo Bazán. Little is known about the heritage that Meirás treasures. During the visits, in which photographs of the interior of the pazo are not allowed, antiques are shown, portraits of Franco and his wife from Sotomayor and Zuluaga, archaeological pieces, such as supposedly “gifted” Roman amphorae; the sculptures of Mestre Mateo; remains of the Dodro pazo that adorn the garden; sculptures, tapestries … The ownership of all these goods was not the subject of the lawsuit and the judge has only ordered for the time being a complete inventory as a preliminary step to the possible removal of goods which, in any case, must be expressly authorized by the court.
Legal experts, such as José Manuel Busto Lago, warn of the legal difficulties of preventing the transfer of assets, since the lawsuit was limited to the building and farms. For this reason, the City Council of Sada therefore requests that the Xunta extend the BIC resolution to include those assets that must be anchored to Meirás due to their interest in interpreting this historic site. The Ministry of Culture has just announced the BIC declaration by emergency means of the Pardo Bazán library, part of whose funds remain in As Torres, although it does not clarify for the moment whether it will allow a change of location.
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