Spain to tweak law, prevent Franco’s family from stalling exhumation

A woman wrapped up in a Spanish flag contemplate the 'Valley of the Fallen' where fascist Spanish dictator Francisco Franco is buried. [EFE/EPA]

Spain’s socialist government announced on Tuesday (21 August) it will amend the law to prevent relatives from legally disputing the exhumation of fascist dictator Francisco Franco from the vast mausoleum in Madrid where he is buried. EURACTIV’s partner EFE-EPA reports.

The government announced on its Twitter page that it was set to approve a decree during Friday’s weekly cabinet meeting to modify the Historical Memory Law.

The amendment aims to avoid the possibility that Franco’s descendants could stall the process by suing against the removal of his remains from the ‘Valley of the Fallen’.

This decree will require parliamentary approval when lawmakers sit down again in September following the summer recess.

What to actually do with the ‘Valley of the Fallen’, which is a massive reminder of the Civil War and the brutal dictatorship that followed, has been a constant concern for governments since Spain’s return to democracy after Franco‘s death in 1975.

The controversial mausoleum was built over two decades with slave labour. Thousands of Republican prisoners took part in its construction.

Franco personally supervised the location and construction of the monument, which includes a huge ossuary that contains the remains of nearly 40,000 combatants, both Republican and Francoist, who were killed along the war.

Spain’s Law of Historical Memory was originally introduced by the government of former Socialist Prime Minister José Luis Rodríguez Zapatero, who held office from 2004-2011.

The United Nations have repeatedly reprimanded Spain for not complying with its human rights obligations when it comes to restoring justice to Republican victims of the Civil War and failing to end impunity for officers who committed crimes against humanity.

Under Franco’s dictatorship, between 200,000 and 400,000 members of the opposition were executed, according to estimates by various historians.

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