Aritz Parra, Associated Press
Updated 3:15 pm, Monday, June 18, 2018
Photo: Francisco Seco, AP
MADRID (AP) — Spanish Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez said Monday he wants to remove the remains of the late dictator Gen. Francisco Franco from a controversial mausoleum and turn the site into a monument for reconciliation.
Sanchez told national broadcaster TVE that Spain “cannot afford symbols that separate Spaniards” and that he wants to turn the Valley of the Fallen into “a memorial about the fight against fascism.”
More than 33,000 dead from both sides of Spain’s 1936-1939 civil war are buried alongside Franco’s remains at the neoclassical mausoleum northwest of Madrid.
The socialist leader revealed the idea during his first media interview since taking office earlier this month, following a parliamentary vote that ousted the previous conservative administration of Mariano Rajoy.
The Spanish government will take control of Catalonia if regional leader Carles Puigdemont replies ambiguously to Madrid’s question about whether he has declared independence from Spain. “The answer must be without any ambiguity. He must say ‘yes’ or ‘no’,” Spanish Interior Minister Juan Ignacio Zoido said in an interview. “If he answers ambiguously, it means he does not want dialogue and thus the Spanish government will have to take action,” he added. Why has he said this? Because Puigdemont made a symbolic declaration of independence on Tuesday, only to suspend it seconds later and call for negotiations with Madrid on the region’s future. Spanish Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy has given him until Monday to clarify his position, threatening to suspend Catalonia’s autonomy if he chooses independence. Catalonia’s Carles Puigdemont accepts the “mandate from the people” but seeks dialogue with Spain https://t.co/sEyfCb4j7c pic.twitter.com/cWXbJiKfvw— Al Jazeera English (@AJEnglish) 10 octobre 2017 Puigdemont’s tough dilemma Puigdemont faces a tough dilemma. If he says he did proclaim independence, the central government will step in. If he says he did not declare it, then the far-left Catalan party CUP would probably withdraw its support for his minority government. CUP on Friday called on Puigdemont to make an unequivocal declaration of independence in defiance of the Madrid government’s deadlines. Puigdemont speech on Tues delayed after CUP party informed there’d be no declaration of independence, deputy says https://t.co/8VbiiGdpq3— El País in English (@elpaisinenglish) 11 octobre 2017 Such a hardline position has also been backed by influential pro-independence civic group Asamblea Nacional Catalana (Catalan National Assembly). They were joined on Saturday by another key member of Puigdemont’s coalition, Esquerra Republicana de Catalunya, whose leader Oriol Junqueras said they should press ahead with splitting from Spain following an independence vote. The details The Catalan government said 90% of Catalans had voted for a breakaway in a referendum on October 1 that central authorities in Madrid had declared illegal. Turnout was around 43 percent. “We have an unequivocal and absolute commitment to fulful the democratic mandate from October 1”, Junqueras said. Under Article 155 of the Spanish constitution, the central government in Madrid can suspend the political autonomy of a region if it breaks the law. This article, which enables Rajoy to sack the Catalan government and call a regional election, has never been activated since the constitution was adopted in 1974 after the death of Francisco Franco.
Rajoy’s Popular Party condemned Francoism but had blocked previous attempts to exhume the dictator’s bones.
The conservatives have also said that those campaigning for digging up the anonymous mass graves in the Valley of the Fallen or elsewhere across the country were reopening a painful chapter in history.
“It’s not about opening wounds, it’s about closing them,” Sanchez said in Monday’s interview.
He said his government would work to fulfil a parliamentary resolution from last year that called to exhume Franco’s remains, hand them over to the dictator’s relatives and turn the valley into a memorial for the Spanish Civil War.
The then ruling Popular Party abstained, allowing the non-binding resolution to pass in the country’s lower house, but didn’t move to carry out the proposals.
With its 150-meter (500-foot) -tall cross that can be seen from miles away, Franco presented the grandiose Valley of the Fallen complex as a symbol for national reconciliation.
But victims’ relatives and activists have campaigned against it because forced labor was used in its construction and because it keeps in a prominent location, near the basilica’s altar, the tomb of the dictator who ruled Spain until his death in 1975.
Some relatives have filed lawsuits seeking to open the niches of those buried without their families’ knowledge or consent.
But the decrepit state of the 33,847 bodies has become an obstacle, especially after an independent investigation found that water leaks and dampness in chapels and crypts had turned some of the niches into “piles of bones.”
The Francisco Franco Foundation, which receives state funding despite some calls to end it, has pledged to legally fight any moves to exhume Franco’s bones.
A petition against Sanchez’s plans posted online Sunday by the foundation called “not to desecrate” the Valley of the Fallen and “to respect the death.” It received more than 24,000 signatures of support by Monday night.
- Spain's new government vows to exhume Franco
- Spanish PM faces defeat in no-confidence motion
- Spanish PM Rajoy faces ouster in no-confidence motion over corruption
- Spain’s PM calls for removal of Franco’s remains from mausoleum
- Spain PM Rajoy ousted: What happens next?
- Spanish Socialist leader Sanchez sworn in as new PM
- Controversial NC charter bill approved. Now, these four towns could open schools.
- Tanzania: PM Keen On Saving Environment
- Egypt: PM Directs Officials to Develop Tax Mechanism, Settling Tax Conflicts
- Spain committed to European migration solution, says PM Pedro Sanchez
Spanish PM vows to exhume Franco from controversial site have 1090 words, post on www.sfgate.com at June 18, 2018. This is cached page on U.S News. If you want remove this page, please contact us.