Oct 9th, 2019, 03:10 PM

Exhuming Fascism

By Muriel DeAragon
Valley of the Fallen
Valley of the Fallen Mausoleum Image Credit: Bimserd-Fotolia
The Legacy of Francisco Franco and the Unearthed Controversy Behind his Burial

The government and civilians of Spain are currently waiting on the supreme court to decide if Francisco Franco's remains will be exhumed and re-located. The late dictator is currently buried at Valley of the Fallen, a grandiose mausoleum located just 40 kilometers North-West of Madrid. If the Supreme Court rules in favor of Franco's exhumation, Prime Minister Pedro Sánchez claims that Franco's remains will be moved to a public cemetery in Northern Madrid.

Even though Spain's congress has already approved the exhumation, there is still disagreement among civilians. The unearthing of Franco's remains would reopen old wounds that families of victims of the Civil War haven't forgotten. 

Francisco Franco militarily overthrew Spain's parliamentary democratic government in 1936. His dictatorship lasted until his death in 1975. The civil war that was sparked by far-right political parties in 1936 lasted for three years. The war ended with the installment of Franco's right-wing nationalist dictatorship and roughly 500,000 casualties. Thousands of political opponents went missing under his regime. 

Right-wing Opponents of Franco's Exhumation Giving Fascist Salutes 

Image Credit: Reuters

There are still some 30,000 victims of the Civil War that are buried at Valley of the Fallen. Franco's grandchildren believe that they should decide the location of his final resting place. Prime minister Sánchez (leader of the center-left Socialist party) could be using Franco's exhumation as a talking point to accrue left-leaning voters. It could be a play on the deep emotions that Spaniards still feel from his regime.

Spain's political system is gridlocked with a wide spectrum of political parties that challenge the functionality and efficiency of Spain's multi-party system. Although it is a multi-party system, Sánchez's Spanish Socialist Workers Party (PSOE) and the conservative People's Party (PP) have been dominant since the 90's. 

Since the brutality and aftermath of Franco's dictatorship have since been declared as crimes against humanity, most Spaniards agree with his removal from the great mausoleum. However, with the global rise of neo-nationalism, there has been resistance from Spanish right-wing parties like Vox and Partido Popular (the People's Party). 

Given the polarization of this topic, many see the exhumation as the means of a political agenda and would prefer to leave Spain's history of fascism un-exhumed.