Thursday, 11 May 2017

Spanish Parliament calls for removal of Franco’s remains from ‘Valle los Caídos’ while PP’s abstains


Barcelona (ACN).- The Spanish Parliament approved a bill this Thursday presented by the Spanish Socialist Party aimed at removing the mortal remains of the two dictators Francisco Franco and José Antonio Primo de Rivera’s from the Valle de los Caídos basilica. The text calls for this monumental complex to “stop being a Francoist and national-catholic landmark” and to instead be turned into “a space for reconciliation and collective and democratic memory, aimed at dignifying and recognizing the victims of the Spanish Civil War and of the dictatorship”. Although it was a non-binding proposal, the governing Spanish Conservative, People’s Party (PP), abstained from voting. Catalan left-wing pro-independence ERC also abstained, but because they considered the proposal to be insufficient.

Spanish Socialist Party (PSOE), Alternative left ‘Podemos’, the Catalan European Democratic Party PDeCAT , Spanish Unionist ‘Ciutadans’, and the Basque Nationalist Party (PNB) supported the proposal, with a total of 198 MPs. PP and ERC abstained from voting, although for opposite reasons. There was one vote against the preposition registered from the PP’s benches, which was claimed to be a mistake.

The bill urges “urgently and with determination” that the recommendations made by a group of experts in 2011 regarding the Valle de los Caídos’ future be undertaken. In addition to the exhumation and removal of the dictator’s mortal remains, the proposal also calls on the Spanish Government to stop funding any organization whatsoever which “defends or exalts Franco’s figure or Francoism, Nazism, xenophobia or any other example of discrimination or vexation towards the victims”.

The document also asks for the creation of a Truth Commission, “in accordance with UN recommendations” in order “to analyze” the annulment of sentences made by Francoists’ penal courts. It also foresees establishing the European Day of Fascism Victims on November 11th and the promotion of content related to historical memory at schools and educational centers.

ERC claims the bill is “insufficient”

Catalan left wing pro-independence ERC explained the reasons for their abstention. First, they believe that the bill “is ignominious”. “If they want to launch it we invite them to do so, but this is not our law,” they said in a communiqué. ERC emphasized that they support the exhumation and removal of Franco’s mortal remains from El Valle de los Caídos and the idea of depriving any pro-fascist organization from public funding.

They noted that they had already opposed the Law for Historic Memory in 2007 because “it didn’t offer reparations to the victims of Francoism and because it rejected the annulment of the summary judgments which led to the execution by firing squad of former Catalan President Lluís Companys and that of thousands of victims, whose bodies are still lying in ditches and mass graves and who are still regarded as criminals by the Spanish justice system”.

ERC remembered that they presented their own bill aimed at promoting “true historical memory which urges the Spanish State to offer reparations to all of the victims of Francoism”.

A controversial monument

The Valle de los Caídos (‘Valley of the Fallen’) is a Catholic basilica and a monumental memorial located in the municipality of San Lorenzo de El Escorial, near Madrid. It was conceived by Spanish fascist dictator Francisco Franco to honor and bury those who fell fighting for his “Glorious Crusade” during the Spanish Civil War (1936-1939).

Franco claimed that the monument was meant to be a “national act of atonement” and reconciliation. However, since it was partly built by Spanish Republican political prisoners, whose remains were also buried there, many against their families’ will, the complex remains deeply controversial.

  • Valle_Caidos

  • Valle de los Caídos ('Valley of the Fallen') monument, viewed from the esplanade.