Plans by the socialist mayor of Vélez-Málaga to rename two schools in the town came under fire during December.  Antonio Moreno Ferrer’s announcement that the infant and primary schools Augusto Bellido Santiago and Jose Luis Villar Palasí would be given new names brought howls of protest.

The mayor claimed that the schools, known locally as Reñidero and Zona Norte respectively, should be renamed to comply with the Law of Historical Memory.  The 2007 legislation recognizes the victims on both sides of Spain’s Civil War, gives rights to its victims and their descendants, and formally condemns the Franco regime.

Former mayor Francisco Delgado Bonilla of the Partido Popular said the move had been prompted by those who had “presumed” the schools’ names honoured supporters of Franco.  He told a press conference last month that this was not the case.

Augusto Bellido Santiago, he claimed, was a 16-year-old boy who did not take up arms, but stood next to his father, a member of the rebels, when he was shot by Franco’s forces.  He also explained that Jose Luis Villar Palasí was, “the father of public education in Spain,” serving as Education Minister between 1968 and 1974.  “He was a teacher,” said Sr Delgado.

The Commission of Historical Memory is also understood to be reviewing the name of another school, the municipal football stadium and a number of streets in Vélez and Torre del Mar.