The Spanish Socialistic government has fulfilled its pre-election promise and exhumed the body of Francisco Franco, BBC reported on Thursday. The former dictator’s remains have been moved from the mausoleum where it has been since 1975, to a more discrete Madrid cemetery.
The operation of exhumation has raised controversy in Spain that is still coming to terms with its history. The ceremony has started at 10:30 AM, it cost to the government about 70 000 euros, the local media said.
“The exhumation process at the tomb of Francisco Franco has begun,” a spokesperson confirmed Thursday morning.
Ahead of the operation, 22 Franco’s descendants gathered in the basilica in the Valley of the Fallen, along with Justice Minister Dolores Delgado, a forensics expert and a priest.
Once the exhumation is completed, Franco’s body was flown by helicopter to be reburied alongside his wife in a state cemetery in the northern outskirts of Madrid. The new low-key grave is more suitable for Franco, believe 43% of Spaniards, according to an El Mundo poll this month (32.5% against and the rest undecided).
The place where Franco was buried, the Valley of the Fallen, is not suitable for that politician, believes many of Spaniards. It is one of Europe’s largest mass graves, with the remains of over 30,000 dead from both sides in the civil war.
Since Franco’s death, his tomb there has drawn both tourists and right-wing sympathisers. The Socialistic government never agreed with that status of things and promised to rebury the former dictator’s remains after getting the Cabinet.
Pedro Sanchez’s government fulfils its promises
Franco’s remains exhumation was initially intended to take place in June 2018, when Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez first came to power. He made moving the remains a priority, saying that Spain should not continue to glorify a man who ruled with an iron fist.
The procedure, which was delayed by a string of legal challenges filed by Franco’s descendants, comes ahead of a general election on 10 November, and PM Sanchez has been accused of using the exhumation for election purposes by Franco’s grandson, Francisco Franco y Martinez-Bordiu.