Guadalajara fire victims ask EU for indemnizations

Guadalajara fire victims ask EU for indemnizations

21 March 2006

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Spain — The representative of the families of the victims of last summer’s forest fires in Guadalajara, Felipe Solano, yesterday called for an EU law on natural disasters that would oblige governments to take political responsibility for cases of negligence, to indemnify the victims, and to investigate to discover the truth about each incident. The group expressed its happiness that “at last” the European Parliament was listening to it, after the Spanish Congress of Deputies and the Castile-La Mancha regional parliament refused to receive it.
Solano stated that these were some of the “reparations” that the proposed EU natural disasters law should consider, at the European Parliament hearing on how the union could help in cases of forest fire, drought, and flood. Solano was accompanied by seven other representatives of the victims of the Guadalajara fire that killed eleven members of a brigade of firefighters. 

Solano thanked the Europarliament for allowing him to express his viewpoints, as “since the fire we relatives of the victims have not been able to express them in any public institution on a national level.” 

He added that part of the struggle against forest fires should include “preventative and reparatory measures, including the administration’s obligation to immediately reforest the devastated areas,” and criticized the Zapatero administration for having allowed “reforestation to proceed in a natural manner instead of taking any measures” after the forest fires suffered by Castile-La Mancha in recent years. He asked for “investigatory commissions in the several Parliaments to assign political responsibilities, to investigate, and to search for the truth.”

Meanwhile, Castile-La Mancha’s regional environmental director, Jose Ignacio Nicolas, said that any EU legislation should take into account the fact that “the struggle against forest fires demands a joint effort from all political groups, institutions, and society, not political confrontation and continual reproach.” He added that “the enemy is fire,” and that forest fires “cannot continue as a source of confrontation between political parties, and much less a political weapon.” 


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