Spain prepares to move Franco’s corpse
Spanish dictator Francisco Franco’s body is due to be dug up this week and relocated to his family tomb on Madrid’s outskirts.
Spain’s Socialist government has announced its plans to exhume the general’s body from the grandiose mausoleum at the Valley of the Fallen (pictured) near Madrid where it has been interred since 1975.
The minority government is pushing ahead with the Franco exhumation before a general election on November 10, in which acting Prime Minister Pedro Sánchez hopes to secure a working majority.
Sánchez has argued that moving Franco’s corpse would help heal the wounds of the Spanish civil war and transform the memorial into a site that commemorates victims instead of glorifying Franco’s fascist dictatorship.
Thousands used to commemorate the anniversary of Franco’s November 20, 1975, death in Madrid. His popularity has fallen considerably but the exhumation has been criticised by the dictator’s relatives, the three main right-wing parties and elements of the Catholic church for reopening political wounds.
The outgoing minority Socialist government said Franco’s remains would be taken from the memorial to a small grave by helicopter on Thursday.
The priest son of Antonio Tejero, a Spanish Civil Guard general who attempted a coup d’etat in 1981, had been chosen by the dictator’s family for the mass, the authorities said.
Last month the Supreme Court granted the government the right to move the body, despite objections by Franco’s family.
The judges rejected Franco’s relatives’ appeal against the removal of the body to the family tomb at the Mingorrubio El Pardo, where he will be buried alongside his wife, Carmen Polo, was buried there in 1988.
A total of 22 of the dictator’s relatives, including his seven grandchildren, are due to attend the removal of his remains from the basilica on Thursday morning.
The exhumation follows the 2007 Historical Memory Law, passed under a previous Socialist administration, that aimed to seek redress for around 100,000 victims of Franco who were buried in unmarked graves, including thousands at the Valley of the Fallen.
The site was built by political prisoner and is officially supposed to commemorate the civil war dead, which should exclude Franco.
Franco led his far-right military dictatorship from 1939 until his death in 1975.
The law prohibited keeping Franco’s remains in a place that praised him as a political figure.
Valle de los Caídos. Picture credit: Wikimedia