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Historic Mausoleum

Spanish Dictator Francisco Franco’s Body To Be Removed From Historic Mausoleum

MADRID – General Francisco Franco’s body is set to be exhumed from the Catholic basilica, “the Valley of the Fallen”, just outside Madrid. Spain’s Supreme Court made the final verdict this past Tuesday after decade long debates that have divided the nation. Franco was known for being extremely right-wing and nationalist, which makes sense considering he was a dictator. He entered into the famous mausoleum after his death in 1975 and after his political prisoners were done building his “final” resting place, or so he thought. The mausoleum also is the mass grave site of victims from the Spanish Civil War, which occurred during Franco’s reign. 

“We are very proud of removing the remains of the dictator from the mausoleum 40 years later, complying with what was approved by the UN and the Spanish congress,” Spanish Deputy Prime Minister, Carmen Calvo, said Tuesday to CNN

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Spanish military dictator General Francisco Franco (1892 – 1975)

The grave site has become a massive tourist attraction within the past decade and has also been the sight of celebrations from far-right sympathizers who tend to gather at the mausoleum every November 20th, also the anniversary of Franco’s death. The Spanish government has been attempting to remove his body from the historic grave site for years, and are ready to do it as soon as possible. Government officials want the site to be remembered more for the victims, not the individual who caused their deaths in the first place, additionally, the far-right crowd that it draws isn’t ideal, to say the least. 

The Franco family requested that the body of the dictator now be moved to the Cathedral of La Almudena in central Madrid, however, the request was denied. Instead, the remains will be taken to the Mingorrubio cemetery just north of Madrid, where his wife was also buried. The next step the Spanish government must take is getting approval from the Church in order to enter the basilica. “The Valley of the Fallen” was closed off to the public back in 2009 due to preservation issues, but was reopened in 2012 for an increased entry fee. Different areas of the mausoleum are still closed off to the public for protective purposes, so exhuming a whole body is going to be quite the process to get approved. 

It’s currently unclear if they government will be able to get approval by the next election on November 10th, but they are working as quickly as possible, as they’re all eager to remove Franco’s body, even the more conservative members. Franco ruled in Spain from the late 1930’s until his death in 1975. Under his rule, about 61,000 individuals were executed during his extremely nationalist regime, this time period was known as the “Red Terror” in Spain, due to the large amounts of blood that stained the city streets during this regime. He was excluded from the United Nations after World War II, when they declared that he was one of the last dictators still alive and running a government post-Hitler. He was redeemed partially for his extremely anti-communist policies during the Cold War, but overall, no one would ever be able to get passed the sociopath dictator rulings. 

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El Valle de los Caídos (The Valley of the Fallen)

The exhumation of his body has been a debate for decades, and a legal issue since 2011. Spanish commissioners who were backed by the United Nations called for his bodies removal back in 2011, however, in November of that year the Conservative Popular Party was elected into power, and they ignored the request. Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez made the key policy change to exhume the body and made it a royal decree in August of 2018. Unfortunately the upcoming election taking place on November 10th is due to the fact that Sanchez failed to receive enough support from parliament, making unclear as to when the actual removal of the body will take place, however, it will still be taking place. 

According to CNN, “in 2007, the Spanish government passed the Law of Historical Memory, which formally condemns the Franco regime and bans political events at the Valley of the Fallen. It also recognizes the victims of the civil war under the Franco Regime and pledges aid to those victims and their descendants.”

It was this law that continued to inspire Spain’s citizens and government to work hard to remove the last remaining stain that attaches Spain to such a dark time period. This is viewed by the Spanish Supreme Court as a win for everybody.