Spain will be removing the remains of fascist dictator Francisco Franco from the Valley of the Fallen mausoleum, on June 10th, and take his body to be reburied, the Socialist government announced on Friday March 15th.
The crucifix-topped mausoleum was built by forced labour during Franco’s 1939-1975 year rule. It draws tourists and demonstrations from right-wing sympathisers with Franco’s regime.
The government will rebury Franco in the Mingorrubio- El Pardo state pantheon near Madrid, where Franco’s wife is already buried, and which is the burial place of various political figures, in a quiet ceremony without media coverage, deputy prime minister, Carmen Calvo said, during a briefing after a cabinet meeting. The proposal is considered as one of the government’s latest moves before a snap election due on April 28th.
"The cabinet has concluded the procedure to exhume the dictator's remains and rebury them," Calvo said. "The dictator's family and those around them have made use of every available legal instrument ... forcing delays in the process."
Opposed and delayed several times, the plan to move Franco’s remains divides Spanish society and political parties. More than 40 years after he died, the Franco era remains a sensitive and contested subject in Spain. His family opposes the exhumation and has taken the issue to court, but the Supreme Court has been silent so far.
Spain’s prime minister, Pedro Sanchez had promised to remove Franco’s remains before the end of his term, one of several measures intended to appeal to left wing voters.
The Socialists had sought to make the Valley of the Fallen, west of Madrid, into a memorial to victims of the Spanish civil war, in which 500,000 combatants and civilians were killed.