Madrid: More than 80,000 descendants of Spaniards who fled into exile from the Franco regime have obtained Spanish nationality under a law that took effect one year ago, the government has said.
The government granted 81,715 of the 161,463 requests for citizenship, the vast majority filed in Spanish consulates in Latin America, the Foreign Ministry said.
The citizenships were granted under the 2007 Law of Historical Memory, aimed at recognising the victims of the 1936-39 civil war and General Francisco Franco`s subsequent dictatorship, which lasted until his death in 1975.
The law, passed by the Socialist government of Prime Minister Jose Luis Rodriguez Zapatero, whose grandfather was shot by Franco`s supporters, also mandates the removal of symbols of Franco from public places.
The regulation covering citizenship went into effect at the end of 2008 and those eligible have until December 27, 2010 to apply for citizenship.
Historians have estimated that half a million people were killed during the civil war sparked by Franco`s insurgency against the democratically elected left-wing Republican government.
A brutal wave of repression followed the Nationalists` victory as Franco sought to consolidate power.
Many others fled, and today most of their descendants live in Latin America.