Spain re­buries re­mains of for­mer dic­ta­tor Franco

The Korea Times - - PEOPLE -

EL PARDO (AFP) — Spain ex­humed the body of Fran­cisco Franco from a grandiose state mau­soleum on Thurs­day, re­bury­ing it in more dis­creet grave in a coun­try still con­flicted over the dic­ta­tor’s decades-long regime.

The care­fully-chore­ographed op­er­a­tion which be­gan in­side an im­pos­ing basil­ica in the Val­ley of the Fallen and ended some four hours later at a state ceme­tery out­side of Madrid, was hailed by the gov­ern­ment as end­ing “an in­sult to Span­ish democ­racy.”

“This de­ci­sion puts an end to the moral out­rage of the glo­ri­fi­ca­tion of a dic­ta­tor in a pub­lic space,” said Prime Min­is­ter Pe­dro Sanchez.

“It takes us one step closer to rec­on­cil­i­a­tion… and gives pres­tige to our democ­racy, not only in our own eyes but in the eyes of the world.”

The del­i­cate pro­ce­dure drew a line un­der a som­bre drama which had threat­ened to open barely-healed wounds in a na­tion still di­vided over Franco’s legacy 44 years af­ter his death.

The diminu­tive dic­ta­tor ruled Spain with an iron fist fol­low­ing the end of the 1936-39 civil war and when he died in 1975, his body was laid in a tomb in­side the vast basil­ica at Val­ley of the Fallen, some 50 kilo­me­ters (30 miles) north­west of Madrid.

It was there that 22 of his rel­a­tives went on Thurs­day morn­ing to wit­ness the open­ing of the grave which has drawn both tourists and right-wing sym­pa­thiz­ers.

Af­ter re­mov­ing the heavy flag­stone, which re­port­edly weighed 1,500 kilo­grams (1.5 tons), the di­lap­i­dated cas­ket was se­cured be­fore be­ing ex­tracted and car­ried out into the light by eight fam­ily mem­bers.

It was then trans­ferred to a mil­i­tary he­li­copter for the brief flight to El Pardo where Franco was re­buried along­side his wife in Min­gor­ru­bio state ceme­tery.

Also buried there is Rafael Tru­jillo, the dic­ta­tor who ruled the Do­mini­can Repub­lic un­til his as­sas­si­na­tion in 1961.

Gath­ered out­side the ceme­tery, around 200 sup­port­ers, some draped in older Franco-era Span­ish flags, oth­ers hold­ing Falange ban­ners, shouted “Long live Franco!”

“Franco will never die. For me, to­day is about loy­alty. I had to come to thank him for ev­ery­thing he has done for us,” said Miguel Maria Mar­tinez, a pen­sioner from the Basque Coun­try.

“We are liv­ing in dif­fi­cult times but if he had been with us, the Cata­lan is­sue sim­ply wouldn’t have ex­isted,” said Jose Ra­mon Gimenez, a 39-year-old de­liv­ery man re­fer­ring to the sep­a­ratist cri­sis in north­east­ern Spain.

Un­der Franco, Cata­lan lan­guage and cul­ture was se­verely re­pressed.


Fam­ily mem­bers, in­clud­ing Prince Louis Alphonse of Bour­bon, Duke of An­jou, fourth from right, carry the cof­fin of Span­ish dic­ta­tor Fran­cisco Franco out of the basil­ica of the Valle de los Cai­dos (Val­ley of the Fallen) mau­soleum in San Lorenzo del Es­co­rial, Thurs­day.

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