BY JORDI BOU
The Spanish government plans to turn a monument to fascist dictator Francisco Franco into a cemetery for people who died on both sides of the Spanish Civil War. The initiative is part of a draft bill to confront
the legacy of the Franco era.
The initiative is part of a draft bill proposed by the left-wing coalition government, and dubbed “Democratic Memory Law”, which would be submitted to parliament in a few months.
General Franco ruled Spain with an iron fist from the end of the 1936-39 civil war until his death in 1975, when he was buried inside a basilica drilled into a granite mountain 50km north of Madrid.
Built between 1941 and 1959 to commemorate all victims of civil war, the Valley of the Fallen is the resting place of more than 30,000 soldiers from both sides of the conflict.
But it is loathed by many as monument to triumph of fascism – Republican prisoners were forced to help build it.
Franco was buried in the Valley of the Fallen. His remains were moved to a low-key grave last in 2019, 44 years after his elaborate funeral.
The Democratic Memory Law, proposed by Socialist Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez, will also prevent publicly funded groups from glorifying Franco.
It will seek to overturn sentences from political trials under Franco and will set up national DNA bank to help identify 140,000 people who “disappeared”
and excavate around 2,500 mass graves.
The draft could still be amended over the coming months and the law requires parliamentary approval.
The Franco era still haunts Spain. In an effort to ease the transition to democracy in 1977 after the dictator’s death.
Spain has the world’s second largest number of mass graves after Cambodia.