The Fundación Centro para la Memoria de las Víctimas del Terrorismo [Victims of Terrorism Memorial Centre] or FCMVT is a state public sector foundation under the provisions of Article 44 of Law 50/2002 of 26 December on Foundations. It is affiliated with the Ministry of the Interior and was registered in the Register of Foundations of the Ministry of Education, Culture and Sport by Order ECD/2398/2015 of 2 November, with the number 1774. The establishment of the Foundation is the result of the mandate contained in Article 57 of Law 29/2011, of 22 September, on the Recognition and Comprehensive Protection of Victims of Terrorism, which provided for the creation of a National Victims of Terrorism Memorial Centre, with its headquarters in the Basque Country. The article states, literally, that ‘the Government shall establish a National Victims of Terrorism Memorial Centre, which shall have the objective of preserving and disseminating the democratic and ethical values embodied by the victims of terrorism, building the collective memory of the victims and raising awareness among the population as a whole for the defence of freedom and human rights and against terrorism. The headquarters of the National Victims of Terrorism Memorial Centre will be in the Basque Autonomous Community’.
The Law, passed with the highest level of parliamentary consensus, sought to be a sign of recognition, respect and solidarity with the victims of all forms of terrorism recorded since 1 January 1960. In fulfilment of this mandate, the Council of Ministers, at its meeting on 24 July 2015, adopted an agreement authorising the Ministry of the Interior to establish the Victims of Terrorism Memorial Centre, also known as the Memorial Centre, and the statutes of the new institution were approved. It was established as a state public sector foundation, affiliated with the Ministry of the Interior, with a collegiate-like governing body that includes representatives of the Government of Spain as well as those of the autonomous communities, the Cortes Generales [Spanish Parliament], the City Council of Vitoria-Gasteiz and the victims of terrorism. The purpose of this composition was to reflect the great political and social consensus that the project had enjoyed since its inception.
His Majesty King Philip VI is the honorary President of the Foundation, whose Board of Trustees is presided over by the Prime Minister. From the twenty-one trustees, ten represent the General State Administration, in addition to the Prime Minister, three represent the Basque Government, one, the Government of the Foral Community of Navarre and the other represents the governments of the other autonomous communities and the Autonomous Cities of Ceuta and Melilla. The mayor of Vitoria-Gasteiz, the city where the headquarters are located, is also a trustee, as are two members of the Cortes Generales: one appointed on the motion of the Congress of Deputies, and the other on the motion of the Senate. Two members representing the victims of terrorism complete the Board of Trustees. Furthermore, as a vehicle for victim participation, the approved statutes provide for the creation of Victims of Terrorism Advisory Council with proposal and advisory functions. The principles that inspired Law 29/2011 are the references that should guide the actions of the Memorial Centre, on which its initiatives, projects and activities should be based.
As such, the preamble to the Law on the Recognition and Reparation of Victims underlines ‘the value of memory as the ultimate guarantee that Spanish society and its representative institutions will never forget those who lost their lives, suffered physical or psychological wounds or had their freedom sacrificed as a consequence of terrorist fanaticism. The State therefore safeguards the memory of the victims of terrorism with special emphasis on its political significance, which is reflected in the defence of everything that terrorism aims to eliminate in order to impose its totalitarian and exclusive goal’. ‘The political significance of the victims requires their social recognition and constitutes an essential tool for the ethical, social and political delegitimisation of terrorism’, states the Law. ‘Remembrance is therefore an act of justice and at the same time an instrument of civilization, of education on values and of definitive eradication, through its social delegitimisation, of the use of violence to impose political ideas’.
Having declared that the victims of terrorism constitute ‘an ethical reference for our democratic system’ and that they ‘symbolise the defence of freedom and the Rule of Law against the terrorist threat’, the legislators established that ‘the public powers will contribute to the knowledge of the truth, attending to the real causes of the victims and contributing to an account of what happened that avoids moral or political equidistances, ambiguities or valuative neutrality, which reflects with absolute clarity the existence of victims and terrorists, of those who have suffered the damage and of those who have caused it, and which favours an outcome in which the victims feel supported and respected, without there being any justification for terrorism and terrorists’. These legal provisions establish the framework of principles under which the Memorial Centre operates. These are principles that must guide its activities and it should promote in society.
Article 3 of the Statutes of the Memorial Centre states that ‘the Foundation’s purpose is to fulfil the mandate set out in Article 57 of Law 29/2011 of 22 September on the Recognition and Comprehensive Protection of Victims of Terrorism, which establishes the National Victims of Terrorism Memorial Centre,’ and that the aims of the Foundation are those set out in the aforementioned Article 57:
- Preserve and disseminate the democratic and ethical values embodied by the victims of terrorism.
- Build the collective memory of the victims.
- Raise awareness among the population as a whole for the defence of freedom and human rights and against terrorism.
To achieve these aims, Article 4 of the Statutes mentions that the resources of the foundation will be applied to complete:
- Awareness-raising, educational and pedagogical activities.
- Exhibition activities, through a permanent exhibition and temporary exhibitions.
- Research activities.
- Archive, library and publication activities.
- National and international dissemination activities.
It is this article of the Statutes that establishes the obligation of the Memorial Centre to have a permanent exhibition that will be combined with other temporary ones.