March 15 (UPI) — The Spanish government led by Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez approved Friday the exhumation of former leader Francisco Franco at a controversial burial site that’s viewed by many as too regal for a dictator who ruled through decades of violent repression.
The exhumation of Franco, who died in 1975, will take place June 10 when his remains will be transferred from the Valle de los Caidos (Valley of the Fallen) memorial complex near Madrid to a regular cemetery near his wife’s tomb, ABC and El Diario reported.
“What we must do as government is to comply with a law enacted in Congress and make the modification of the Law of HIstoric Memory a reality,” Spanish Deputy Prime Minister Carmen Calvo said.
The transfer was approved on grounds the Valle de los Caidos, an area housing the remains of nearly 40,000 who died in the Spanish civil war, includes a monument designed to magnify and extol Franco, whose regime repressed, killed and sent opponents to forced labor camps.
The valley houses a complex of large monuments, including the tallest cross in the world, and is filled with decorative artwork extolling Franco regime virtues. Franco signed the order to build it in 1940, saying it would honor those who left “a better Spain” for generations.
Descendants of Franco who want him to remain or be moved to a Cathedral oppose the relocation. If their challenge is successful, it could delay or change the government’s plans. A clergy member at the monument has also opposed the move. The plan could also be stopped if a new government is elected next month.
Sanchez, secretary general of Spain’s Socialist Worker Party, dissolved Congress last month and called for snap elections April 28 after his 2019 budget proposal was rejected.
Franco, who ruled Spain from 1936 until his death in 1975, was promoted to general at age 33 during the dictatorship of Miguel Primo de Rivera. A coalition of right-wing groups narrowly lost the 1936 election to the leftist Popular Front. With the help of dictatorships in Europe, Franco won the Spanish Civil War three years later.