Franco supporters mark anniversary of his death | Europe| News and current affairs from around the continent | DW | 21.11.2010
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Franco supporters mark anniversary of his death

There was tension on the 35th anniversary of the death of the former Spanish dictator Francisco Franco, as supporters gathered to mark the occasion at the same time as anti-fascist protesters held a demonstration.

Anti Franco supporters gather outside the Valley of the Fallen) in San Lorenzo de el Escorial, Spai.

Anti-Franco supporters gathered outside his tomb

Supporters of the late Spanish dictator Francisco Franco marked the 35th anniversary of his death on Saturday by praying outside the basilica that houses his tomb. They were barred from attending mass inside the building due to repair works.

Meanwhile about 100 anti-Franco demonstrators gathered outside the Valley of the Fallen near Madrid, a vast underground mausoleum, built on Franco's orders between 1940 and 1958.

Historians estimate the site contains the remains of between 40,000 and 60,000 victims of Spain's 1936-1939 Civil War.

Protestors called for the site's 150-meter-tall granite cross to be torn down, and for the general's remains to be moved elsewhere. The demonstrators chanted "We will not forget" in reference to crimes committed by the Franco regime.

Fascists vs. anti-fascists

Francisco Franco

The Franco regime was known for its brutality

Since April, access to the sprawling Valley of the Fallen has been blocked, apparently because of health and safety concerns over building repairs.

Despite this, members of the Benedictine community were permitted to celebrate mass inside to mark Franco's death on November 20, 1975.

Other Franco supporters stood outside the gates, chanting "Long live Spain"and "Long live Franco." Some also raised their hands in right-wing salutes.

The supporters were separated from the anti-fascist protesters by dozens of police, and there were no incidents.

For many Spaniards, the Valley of the Fallen - carved into the side of a mountain in part by political prisoners under forced labor - is their country's most divisive and potent reminder of the Franco era.

The site drew gatherings of the pro-Franco far-right movement, until the socialist government passed a law in 2007 outlawing political rallies there.

Author: Joanna Impey (AFP, dpa)
Editor: Martin Kuebler

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