The Spanish Supreme Court rejected on Tuesday the appeal of the descendants of Franco and authorized the exhumation of the dictator of his mausoleum, near Madrid. A “victory of democracy”, said Socialist Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez.
Surmounted by a huge cross that sees itself for miles around, the monumental mausoleum of Franco deeply divides Spain, more than forty years after the death of the dictator.
The Spanish Supreme Court, the country’s highest court, on Tuesday (September 24th) rejected Franco’s descendants’ appeal and gave the green light to the exhumation of the dictator of the mausoleum wanted by the socialist government of Pedro Sanchez.
After a little over an hour in closed session, the six magistrates in charge of this politically sensitive issue “decided unanimously to reject in their entirety the appeal presented by the family of Francisco Franco,” said the Court in a succinct communiqué.
This judgment of the country’s highest court validates the government’s decision to exhume Franco from the “Valle de Los Caidos” and reintroduce him into the more discreet cemetery of El Pardo, north of Madrid, where his wife is buried.
“We are living today a great victory of the Spanish democracy,” Pedro Sanchez said on Twitter, pointing out that his government’s action had been “always guided” by its desire to “repair the suffering of the victims of the Franco regime”.
- “We will exhaust all recourse within our reach”
The government wants to transfer the remains as quickly as possible, but the decision of the Supreme Court, which comes one and a half months from the next parliamentary elections, does not mean that the exhumation will take place immediately.
The same judges still have to consider three other appeals but, according to a spokeswoman for the Court, their answer should be “in the same line”.
These remedies were presented by the Francisco Foundation, which fiercely defends the “legacy” and “memory” of the dictator who died in 1975, by the Benedictine community managing the mausoleum and by the Defense Association of “Valle de los Caidos” .
And the family does not intend to throw in the towel. “We will exhaust all remedies within our reach (…) before the Constitutional Court or the European Court of Human Rights”, assured his lawyer, Felipe Utrera Molina, on public television.
Pretended national reconciliation
Since taking office in June 2018, Pedro Sanchez has made the exhumation of the dictator of his monumental mausoleum one of his priorities. And so that the “Valle de Los Caidos” is no longer a place of apology for Francoism in a country where the issue of memory work on the dictatorship of “Caudillo” still deeply divides.
Winner of the Civil War (1936-1939) at the head of the military who had risen against the Republic, Franco led Spain until his death in 1975.
He had himself made the decision to build the “Valle de Los Caidos”, basilica dug on the mountainside and surmounted by a cross 150 meters high, San Lorenzo de El Escorial. Republican prisoners had to participate in its construction from 1941.
In the name of an alleged national “reconciliation”, Franco had transferred to this site the remains of more than 30,000 Spaniards dead during the Civil War: nationalists from his camp but also Republicans, out of cemeteries and mass graves without that their families have been informed.
A few days after his death on November 20, 1975, Franco’s embalmed corpse had been buried, in great pomp and in the presence of his successor at the head of the Spanish state, King Juan Carlos. Since then, his tomb remains flowery, at the foot of the altar of the basilica, near that of the founder of the fascist party La Phalange, Jose Antonio Primo de Rivera.