The Future of the Valley of the Fallen

November 30, 2011

Several months ago, President Zapatero appointed a committee of experts to put together a report with recommendations on the future of the Valle de los Caídos, the pharaonic monument and burial place of José Antonio Primo de Rivera (founder of Spain’s fascist party, Falange) and the Generalísimo himself, Francisco Franco.  The committee issued its report yesterday (pdf in Spanish here); the main points are summed up in English in this article in today’s Independent.  The committee recommends that the last standing monument to a dictator in democratic Europe be transformed into a site of remembrance of all victims of the Spanish Civil War.  With that logic, it recommends that the remains of José Antonio Primo de Rivera, who was assassinated on November 20, 1936, stay on the premises (though in a much less prominent place), and that those of Franco be exhumed and returned to his family for burial in a place of their choice. Three members of the committee of experts appended a dissenting opinion, outlining their disagreement with the recommendation to remove Franco’s remains, on the grounds that such an act would be divisive. The committee’s recommendations are non-binding; indeed, as a preamble to its concrete proposals, the committee suggests that a broad social and political consensus be achieved before implementing any of the measures outlined in the document.

Though the article in the Independent was published before any response from the Partido Popular (which on 20 November 2011 was voted into power with an absolute majority in Parliament), the papers in Spain today are quoting PP spokesperson, González Pons as saying that the new government would “put the report aside” since the main problem Spain faces today “is unemployment, not Franco.”