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With exhumation at Sant Francesc cemetery, search begins for the remains of victims of Formentera prison

foto 2022 exhumacio AThis Wednesday, the Balearic Government has started efforts to exhume Sant Francesc cemetery in an effort to locate the remains of the individuals who lost their lives at Es Campament penitentiary in La Savina.

According to documentation of the day and a study carried out by Eivissa historian Antoni Ferrer Abárzuza as part of the Second Graves Plan of the Balearic Government, 58 individuals —in most cases from Extremadura and Murcia, but to a lesser extent from Madrid, Catalonia, the Canary Islands, Valencia and the Balearic Islands— died at the penitentiary between 1940 and 1942 due to food shortages and unhygienic and unsanitary conditions.

The first day of exhumation work was attended by Ana Juan, President of the Consell de Formentera; Alejandra Ferrer, Vice President of the Consell; Jesús Jurado, Secretary of Productive Sectors and Democratic Memory of the Balearic Government; Rafael Ramírez, Councillor of Social Welfare; Raquel Guasch, Councillor of Heritage; Marc Andreu Herrera, Balearic Director General of Democratic Memory, and Lluís Ruiz and Artur Parrón, President and Vice President of the Eivissa-Formentera Forum for Memory and members of the Graves and Disappeared Persons Commission.

"Restoring victims' dignity"

President Juan shared her hope that "the work started this week will lead to uncovering the remains, certifying what the historical studies tell us and, above all, restoring dignity to the 58 who died in the penitentiary of La Savina and to their families". The President applauded the shared efforts of administrations and the Eivissa-Formentera Forum for Memory.

"The goal is to find and identify them, return them to their families and recover their memory", explained Secretary Jurado, who described the process as "opening up the graves in order to close the wounds". "This is a democratic debt that is still outstanding", Jurado continued, "and we are absolutely committed to righting it".

The aforementioned study, together with the testimonies and documentation collected by memorial associations, indicates that the remains could be buried in the neighbouring cementeri nou in Sant Francesc, located just 3 km from the Franco regime's military colony.

This Tuesday, to confirm whether the individuals who died at the prison were buried at the Sant Francesc cemetery, and whether their mortal remains are still where they were buried, the Aranzadi Science Society began taking steps to perform the exhumation, an intervention included in the Balearic Government's Third Plan for Graves of the Civil War and Francoism 2021-2022.

Crews will begin their efforts at the esplanade of earth in front of the main gate of Sant Francesc cemetery, specifically between rows 1 and 6 on the right side, and they will work under old tombs currently in disuse from between the 1960s and 1980s. This area was indicated as a possible burial place of victims, both by the testimonies gathered during the search and the gravedigger at the cemetery.

Additional work will be conducted in an area that was pointed up as a possible burial site by the Eivissa-Formentera Forum for Memory and included in the Map of Graves of the Balearic Government. That site is a little farther west, in front of a block of columbaria.

The regional government, in collaboration with Eivissa-Formentera Forum for Memory and other memorial associations, researchers and specialists including the Aranzadi Science Society, and the Junta de Extremadura, has already begun looking for DNA of relatives who can help to name the victims of Franco's regime who died at the La Savina camp and were buried in Sant Francesc's cementeri nou.

This is the second time that the Balearic Government participates in a local exhumation. The first was in 2017, when the Eivissa-Formentera Forum for Memory called for an exhumation at the parish cemetery of Sant Ferran. Those operations were carried out by the Aranzadi Science Society with grants from the Balearic Government and the collaboration of the Consell de Formentera.

30 March 2022
Communications Office
Consell de Formentera

Certificates delivered to families of 18 victims of Franco regime in the Balearic Islands

foto 2022 memoria dem COn Tuesday, Ana Juan, President of the Consell de Formentera, and Jesús Jurado, Balearic Secretary of Productive Sectors and Democratic Memory, presided over the island's first delivery of certificates to victims of the Franco regime. The ceremony served as a tribute and handed institutional recognition to victims of Franco's repression killed in the Balearic Islands, as well as to their families.

Various authorities, joined for the occasion by representatives of the memorial movement, presented the certificates to relatives of the following eighteen individuals: Antoni "Pere" Mayans Mayans; Antoni Planells Tur; Antoni Tur Marí; Francesc "Xico Mateu" Verdera Castelló; Jaume Escandell Costa; Jaume "d'en Morna" Ferrer Ferrer; Jaume "Mariano d'en Corda" Serra Juan; Joan Tur Mayans; Josep "Bosc" Escandell Mayans; Josep "de Baix" Ribas Marí; Josep "Blaiet" Riera; Josep Suñer; Josep "d'en Pep de na Damiana" Tur Planells; Mariano "Cuevas" Torres Torres; Marià "de s'hereu" Castelló Castelló; Vicent "Fumeral" Cardona Colomar; Vicent Guasch; and Vicent "de Baix" Ribas Marí.

President Juan pointed out that the Consell de Formentera asked the Balearic administration to make this delivery in an intimate ceremony for families who were unable to travel to Palma in October to collect the certificate. She stressed that "with acts like this we are closing wounds, but we still have a long way to go, so we mustn't stop; we must continue this work. Society owes a debt to these people and their families". Juan also praised "the enormous efforts of associations and researchers to make events like the ones today and tomorrow, possible", and described policies of democratic memory as "a priority in progressive administrations".

The ceremony was led by Marc Andreu Herrera, Balearic Director General of Democratic Memory, and was attended by Raquel Guasch, Councillor of Heritage, and Artur Parrón, Vice President of the Eivissa-Formentera Forum for Memory and member of the Graves and the Disappeared Commission. Ximo Estal, flute teacher and assistant head of studies at the Conservatory of Music and Dance of Eivissa and Formentera, performed "Trobarem a faltar el teu somriure" during the ceremony.

"The primary objective of acts like this is to keep memory alive and vindicate the democratic values of the people of Formentera who, from the coup d'état of 1936 until the start of La Transición, fought and opposed Francoism. These are people who risked and sometimes lost their lives defending the democratic legality of the Republic, organising resistance to the regime, fighting for the return of freedoms," said Secretary Jurado.

The certificates are official documents signed by the highest authorities of the Govern de les Illes Balears –President Francina Armengol and Vice President Juan Pedro Yllanes– that the Balearic Secretariat of Productive Sectors and Democratic Memory delivers to the families of all those victims of Francoist repression who request them. They serve to recognise victims of the Franco regime as victims of human rights violations and highlight the serious injustices suffered by victims' relatives.

In January 2021 the Balearic government delivered the first such certificate to the family of Juana Baño, a union and political activist whose remains were identified in 2018 by a team of researchers from the Aranzadi Science Society during exhumation of the mass grave in Calvià (Mallorca).

Since then, the Govern has issued 150 certificates, in addition to the 18 certificates delivered at the event held this Tuesday on Formentera.

30 March 2022
Communications Office
Consell de Formentera

Formentera updates PTI to equip Es Ca Marí urban enclave with sanitation

FOTO 2022iii ple"Yes" votes from the Gent per Formentera (GxF) and PSOE cabinet meant amendment six of the Island Territorial Plan (Pla Territorial Insular, PTI) overcame abstention from Sa Unió opposition representatives to win preliminary approval. This amendment aims to secure public land for a sewage pump facility to provide the Es Ca Marí area with a sewerage network. Rafael González, Councillor of Territory, said the modification carried the "imperative of public interest", adding that "this land, which is close to the sea, can also fit with other uses, like new facilities or services that the island institution may opt to implement in consensus with the Neighbourhood Association of Es Ca Marí.

ACAF-Ràdio Illa

The day's session brought cross-party backing for the terms of a concerted action agreement between the Consell and the Cultural Audio-visual Association of Formentera (ACAF). This year's newly enhanced €60,000 grant will go to ACAF, which runs local public broadcaster Ràdio Illa. The grant supports content creation and means Ràdio Illa can offer the island a public audio-visual communication service. Susana Labrador, Councillor of Education and Culture, praised ACAF and the professional staff of Ràdio Illa for "turning our local station into a crucial tool for independent, public and social communication" and producing "quality, interesting content".

Cab fares

Cross-party support was also handed to a proposal to update taxi fares in 2022. Rafael González, Councillor of Mobility, traced the rate hike –the first since 2019– to a request from the Formentera Association of Chauffeurs. Local decision-makers agreed to raise current rates 6.5%, a proposed increase that will now be sent to the Balearic government, which has authority on such matters, for approval. Councillor González pointed out that the study justifying this request was carried out in January, before the current fuel crisis, "so it does not take into account the situation around the current crisis".

Regulating access to Es Cap de Barbaria

Another agenda item that saw the GxF-PSOE cabinet overcoming Sa Unió abstention was the proposed agreement to regulate access to Sa Tanca d'Allà Dins in 2022. For the sixth season, individuals attempting to access this area by care will face certain restrictions. Rules will be enforced the same dates as in 2019, before the pandemic: 15 May to 15 October 2022.

The Councillor of Mobility insisted that the "effectiveness and simplicity" of the measure made it special: "It promotes the sustainable mobility that the Consell champions, while protecting the territory". Proof of that fact, according to Councillor González, is the increase in visits from 2019 to 2021. "Pedestrians and cyclists increased 62% with no problems of saturation, crowding or harm to the natural environment", stressed González. North of the barrier there is a car park with capacity for sixty cars and one hundred motor scooters. People with reduced mobility are authorised to enter the protected area by vehicle.

Other proposals

Unanimous backing was also secured for the preliminary phase of a proposal to dissolve the Centre Balears Europa consortium with a view to creating a new public foundation controlled by the Balearic government. Bartomeu Escandell, Councillor of Economy and Finance, signalled that the legal form to be adopted by Centre Balears Europa would allow for "more agile management of European funds" as well as "greater impact as regional players within the European Union".

Representatives once again came together behind a Sa Unió proposal modified in the Informative Commission to urge the Consell de Formentera to automatically renew exemptions to the pay-to-park scheme if original exemptions remain unchanged. The plenary agreed to adopt this change starting in 2023.

Support for social dialogue measures around war in Ukraine

The GxF-PSOE cabinet overcame Sa Unió representatives' 'no' votes to pass a compromise proposal to support social dialogue measures in the Balearic Reactivation Compact to take on economic and social fallout from the war in Ukraine. The proposal urges relevant government agencies to implement the seventy approved measures and to put them into action "as quickly as possible". Rafael Ramírez, Councillor of Social Welfare, asserted that, in terms of the economic impact of rising energy bills on Formentera, "the situation may be even more serious due to triple insularity and the need to source all raw materials by sea". Ramírez therefore advocated implementing all necessary contingency measures "until we stop seeing the effects of this crisis that Putin's war is creating".

Finally, uniting in support of an opposition proposal that was modified in the Informative Commission, representatives urged the Consell de Formentera to study restructuring Marià Villangómez Library to open on Friday afternoons and Saturday mornings as soon as possible and, thus, respond to popular demand.

Department report from Raquel Guasch

Today Raquel Guasch, Councillor of Heritage, Language Policy and Training reviewed her departmental work over the last year. First, Guasch offered thanks and acknowledgement for the "efforts, commitment and dedication of the technical and administrative staff" in her departments. Guasch stressed that the task of "preserving and elevating our tangible and intangible heritage offers us a glimpse of our future as a people, a people striving to remain true to its core while at the same time, with sustainability and equilibrium, working to evolve".

Councillor Guasch detailed progress and momentum in promoting and publicising underwater, maritime and inland heritage as well as in research, protections and upkeep for documentary heritage and historical memory.

The councillor insisted that the Office of Language Policy, for its part, had been "sized and staffed with the necessary personnel to take decisive steps toward normalising the Catalan language, an enormous leap forward because, today, we have a more even playing field between education and the rest".

Declaration of support for the Ukrainian people

Representatives in the Consell de Formentera plenary came together to "fiercely condemn Russia's aggression against Ukraine, firmly reject the invasion of Russian military forces and demand their immediate withdrawal".

25 March 2022
Communications Office
Consell de Formentera

Formentera proposes a coordinated response and aid for maritime transport to mitigate effects of the energy crisis

foto 2022 crisi energeticaToday Ana Juan, President of the Consell de Formentera, Ana Juan, at a coordination meeting with the Govern balear and Balearic island councils, highlighted the possibility of "a coordinated response" among competent administrations and "aid for maritime transport to offer solutions to rising prices tied to the war in Ukraine".

"The Consell de Formentera is prepared to adopt specific and cross-cutting measures like social services assistance to vulnerable groups as well as aid for the road transport and primary sectors. But we must bear in mind that the main response to the energy crisis and spiking fuel costs must come from Europe", said President Juan.

For this reason, the President signalled that "once we have assessed the impact of the measures announced by Madrid, such as the reduction of fuel, electricity and gas prices, the Consell will adopt specific measures and will ask the Govern balear to take up those that fall within its powers".

President Juan noted at the meeting that the burgeoning costs of maritime transport "is aggravated here on Formentera by the costs of triple insularity" and called for "specific measures" in this regard.

Finally, the president insisted on the need to strengthen green policies at every tier of government and that the Consell "will continue working towards decarbonisation and policies that promote renewable energies".

18 March 2022
Communications Office
Consell de Formentera

This Sunday, emergency responders and rock-climbers head to La Mola for a mock rescue an injured person at Cova des Fum

The Formentera Office of Interior reports that this Sunday 20 March, a rescue drill will take place at Cova des Fum, a cave on a cliffside in La Mola. Members of the Balearic Federation of Speleology's Cave Rescue Group and Penjats de Formentera, which is also part of the federation, will join members of Formentera Civil Protection, the Formentera Fire Brigade and the Mountain Rescue Group of the Eivissa Fire Brigade, in performing a drill to evacuate a person on a stretcher using the abseiling technique. Drill participants will have to overcome a drop of 60 metres.

Josep Marí, Councillor of Interior, pointed out that "actions like this prepare emergency workers to improve coordination and response in rock-climbing rescues that may occur, especially if we take into account the geological features of the islands". On that note, he applauded the Balearic Federation of Speleology (FBE) for performing this drill on Formentera, and praised Penjats de Formentera, Formentera Civil Protection and Formentera and Eivissa firefighters for their collaboration.

This action is part of a collaboration agreement between FBE and the Regional Ministry of Public Administration and Modernisation to assure aid and rescue services in caves. The drill will take place, weather permitting, between 8.00am and 4.00pm.

18 March 2021
Communications Office
Consell de Formentera

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