Spain: the government launches the process of exhumation of Franco

The socialist Spanish government will approve Friday the order allowing the exhumation of the former dictator Franco of his mausoleum, a decision that divides in Spain, where the work of memory always causes a divide policy. Came to power on June 1, after overthrowing the conservative, Mariano Rajoy, by the Parliament, the government leader, Pedro Sanchez, had announced his intentions a few days later.

“Spain cannot afford, as a consolidated democracy and european, symbols that divide the Spaniards”, he pleaded, pointing out that the existence of a mausoleum housing the mortal remains of a former dictator would be “unimaginable in Germany or Italy”. The purpose of government is to put an end to an anomaly of democracy”, a “mausoleum of worship of a dictator,” insisted Friday Ander Gil, chairman of the socialist group in the Senate, “it is time to do away with things of this kind”.

Monumental mausoleum

Franco, winner of the terrible Spanish civil war (1936-1939) after a coup d’état against the Second republic, and who ruled the country with an iron hand until his death in 1975, is buried at the Valle de los Caidos (the valley of the fallen) alongside of José Antonio Primo de Rivera, founder of the party fascisant of the Phalanx.

Monumental complex located in the mountains 50 kilometres from Madrid, and topped by a cross of 150 meters high, this tomb also contains the body of some 27.000 combatants franco and about 10,000 opponents of the republicans, the reason for which the dictator presented as a place of “reconciliation”.

But its detractors see it as a symbol of division and contempt for the republicans that the body, extracted from mass graves and cemeteries, have been transferred without their families being notified. In addition to the 20,000 political prisoners were involved in its construction between 1940 and 1959. According to figures of the national Heritage, a public body managing the shrine, the visits have jumped since the announcement of Sanchez: 38.269 visits in July against 23.135 in June.

Opposition of the right and of the family

For more than two months, the government, which was based on a resolution in support of the exhumation passed by the Parliament in 2017, has been working in stealth to find the legal formula to be adequate. His decree that should be adopted Friday by the council of ministers will then have to be voted by the Parliament, where the socialists will be able to count on the votes of the left-radical Podemos, the pro-independence Catalan and basque nationalists to reach the majority. The solution is the most plausible would be to transfer the remains of Franco in the family vault in the cemetery of el Pardo, near Madrid. But the family of the former dictator is fiercely opposed to this as he leaves his mausoleum.

A sign of the political divisiveness in the country on the memory of the civil war and the franco regime, the government faces a barrage of the Popular Party (PP, right), the first party in Parliament, which has already announced that he would file an appeal before the constitutional Court.

“It’s more important (Pedro Sanchez) to resurrect the ghosts of the past that try to attract people with the future. He is more interested in re-open the wounds already healed of our worst past, rather than focusing on our best present”, has denounced the new number one of the PP, Pablo Casado. Beyond the exhumation of the former dictator, the government had announced in July its intention to create a “truth commission” about the dictatorship of Franco, to identify the victims of the civil war and the francoist regime and to cancel the decisions of “courts of exception” of franco.

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