Spain’s Supreme Court approves Franco remains removal
It allows the Socialist government to move Franco’s remains from the basilica, the Valley of the Fallen, near Madrid.
The dispute also provides a rallying point for Spain’s far-right, demonstrating how the country has failed to heal the war’s wounds.
Santiago Abascal, the leader of the far-right Vox, tweeted: “This is how the Socialist campaign begins, profaning tombs, digging up hatreds, questioning the legitimacy of the monarchy. Vox alone has the courage to defend freedom and common sense in the face of totalitarianism.”
The fascist dictator was interred in the mausoleum which was partially built by political prisoners on the site of a mass grave of Spanish Civil War victims after his death in 1975. It was supposedly built for the war dead, of which Franco was not one.
The Socialists argue the basilica and its 150-metre cross are a monument to the dictatorship and glorify the civil war’s victors rather than respecting its victims.
Spain’s Socialist government wants to turn the Valley of the Fallen into a memorial to the estimated 500,000 victims of the civil war.
Almost 34,000 civil war dead are buried there, including many from the defeated republican side whose bodies were moved to the complex during Franco’s dictatorship without their relatives’ permission.
The extreme-right marks the anniversary of Franco’s death on November 20 at the site.
“We are very proud of removing the remains of the dictator from the mausoleum 44 years later, complying with what was approved by the UN and the Spanish congress,” said Spanish Deputy Prime Minister Carmen Calvo.
The court rejected the request from the Franco family for the remains to be buried in the Cathedral of La Almudena in central Madrid.
Franco’s corpse will instead be taken to the cemetery of Mingorrubio in El Pardo to the north of Madrid where his wife is buried.
The government said it was ready to perform the exhumation after seeking authorisation from the church.
An early general election is being held on November 10 with Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez keen to complete the ceremony beforehand.
A Spanish commission, backed by the United Nations, previously called for Franco’s exhumation in 2011.
Franco’s regime was partly rehabilitated during the Cold War because of his headline anti-communism.
In 2007, the Law of Historical Memory condemned the Franco regime and banned political events at the basilica. It recognised the civil war dead and those killed under Franco’s state and pledged to provide aid to the descendants.
El Valle de Los Caidos, Spain. A wedding at the tombstone of Francisco Franco. Picture credit: Wikimedia