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Spain: Franco to be exhumed from mausoleum

June 19, 2018

Francisco Franco is buried at the Valley of the Fallen along with more than 30,000 other Spaniards who fought in the 1936-39 civil war. Spain's newly installed prime minister wants to change that.

Valle de los Caidos (Valley of the Fallen) a controversial neoclassical mausoleum northwest of Madrid where thousands of victims in the 1936-1939 war were buried along Franco's remains
Image: picture-alliance/AP Photo/F. Seco

Spain's new prime minister has said he wants to move forward with plans to remove the remains of the former nationalist dictator Francisco Franco from a state-funded mausoleum.

The country "cannot afford symbols that separate Spaniards," Pedro Sanchez said in an interview with national broadcaster TVE, adding that the Valley of the Fallen should be converted into "a mausoleum for victims of fascism."

The mausoleum northwest of Madrid was opened in 1959 to house the remains of more than 30,000 Spaniards who fought on both sides of Spain's 1936-39 civil war.

Franco, who led a nationalist-Catholic army against Republican forces during the war, ordered the site to be built as an act of reconciliation and was himself laid to rest there after his death in 1975. The remains of many Republican soldiers were reburied there without their families' permission.

Read more: Francisco Franco exhumation debated in Spanish parliament

Franco's terrible legacy

Controversial decision

Deputy Prime Minister Carmen Calvo told reporters the government was following a parliamentary resolution passed in December that had called for the removal of Franco and Jose Antonio Primo de Rivera, a fascist leader who supported Franco during the civil war, from the mausoleum.

The bill also ordered the creation of a truth commission and the cancellation of politically motivated court rulings during Franco's reign.

The ruling conservative Popular Party under Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy ignored the resolution amid concerns the move would open historical wounds. The Popular Party itself emerged from an earlier party formed by former Franco government officials.

Sanchez's Socialist Party formed a minority government at the beginning of June after ousting Rajoy in a confidence vote. Sanchez is aiming to cement the party's grip on power ahead of a general election due before mid-2020.

amp/kl (AP, AFP)

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