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PostSpanish Authorities to Relocate Franco's Remains (Bàrbara Molas, Canada, 09/25/19 3:42 am)
Spain's Socialist government announced yesterday that the remains of dictator Francisco Franco will be moved from the state mausoleum Valley of the Fallen (El Valle de los Caídos), in which he was buried, to a municipal cemetery. The caretaker prime minister Pedro Sánchez said the move is necessary to heal the wounds of the war.
This is obviously a strategic political move, given the looming elections (10 November). Not surprisingly, the new Spanish radical right was among the outraged. The leader of far-right VOX party, Santiago Abascal, tweeted this: "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."
In spite of this, the media has not mentioned that a large part of the bodies buried in Valley of the Fallen pertained in fact to nationalist supporters (plus the bodies of the Republicans buried there were taken without the permission of their families). This means that regardless of Franco being moved away from it or not, the mausoleum will continue to be a monument primarily dedicated to Franco's fallen. Does this move then constitute the historical turning point the PSOE wants it to be?
JE comments: The debate on Franco's corpse has been raging since...1975? That's longer than the Caudillo was in power. I agree with Barbara Molas about the timing: it's a political stunt on the eve of elections. There's irony in Vox decrying the totalitarianism of a government that wants to de-honor a totalitarian.
Yet the Sánchez announcement may be a stroke of genius. The upcoming elections are no longer a referendum on mundane issues like the economy; they're about Franco.
Spain's Valley of the Fallen and the Franco Exhumation
(Eugenio Battaglia, Italy
09/26/19 8:31 AM)
Barbara Molas (25 September) wrote on the relocation of Francisco Franco's corpse.
Frankly, I was expecting this to happen ever since the "Revenge Law of the New Victors" (sorry, I mean La ley de la Memoria Histórica) of 26 December 2007.
Quite often the so-called democratic politicians act worse than the real dictators.
Let me stress that personally I do not like Franco, as I consider him a military dictator and absolutely not a fascist.
It seems to me that the "democrats" are very weak if they cannot face what by now is only history. They are afraid of an harmless corpse underground in a Basilica officially dedicated to the combatants of both fronts in the Spanish Civil War.
By the way, it was the king Juan Carlos, who following the recommendation of the government in charge at the time, asked for permission to bury the corpse of Franco inside the Basilica de la Valle de los Caídos.
The Valle de los Caídos is a magnificent example of reconciliation, no matter what may said by its detractors. Some 33,872 combatants of both sides were reunited. The tale of the Republican combatants placed there without family permission now sounds like a very weak excuse used by the new victors only to denigrate a great monument that no other country has.
Alberto Barcena Pérez in his book Los Presos del Valle de los Caídos states that no one was compelled to work on the project, but many prisoners, both political and common criminals, volunteered for it in order to receive pay and the reduction of their sentences of up to "seis días por jornada de trabajo" (six days for one day of work). The deaths by accident during the whole construction numbered 14 (probably up to 18), which is very low. However, the workers who died in the hospital after injury or because of silicosis are not counted in this number.
The political prisoners used in the work were those sentenced for various crimes committed during the war or for terrorist activities following it (15,000 guerrilleros conducting 8275 actions, killing more than 500 soldiers/Guardia Civil).
Furthermore remember that beside destroying or transforming churches into warehouses, stables, etc. in the areas dominated by the Rojos, except the profoundly Catholic Basque Countries, 4184 priests/seminarians, 2365 monks, 283 nuns, and thousands of devout Catholics (wearing a crucifix could be enough to prove it), were killed especially in the first year of war. To be honest, such actions were carried out by the "comités revolucionarios" whose members were anarchists, communists and revolutionary socialists. Since 1987 various Popes have recognized these martyrs and more than a dozen have been sainted or beatified.
The above killings and destruction may justify the speech of Pope Pius XII in April 1939 of congratulations for the victory of the "Cruzada" and the support given to Franco.
JE comments: Pius the 12th isn't exactly remembered as a Pope with clean hands.
Eugenio Battaglia has once again give us lots to react to, but I'd like to focus on the monument itself. It's a massive stretch to call the Valle de los Caídos a symbol of "reconciliation," but is there any way it could be (or could have been)? For example, instead of digging up Franco, wouldn't it have been more productive to build an accompanying museum or visitor center to teach visitors about the horrors of the war and the repression of the Franco era? Perhaps such a place already exists; somehow I've never had the chance to visit the Valley of the Fallen.
To clarify, Barbara Molas was not necessarily endorsing the Franco exhumation. She described it rather as a political distraction by the PSOE government.