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Spain’s former fascist leader remains exhumed amid controversy

The remains of the founder of the fascist Falange Espa?ola movement, Jos? Antonio Primo de Rivera, were exhumed on Monday amid political controversy and clashes between former dictator Francisco Franco’s supporters and the Spanish police.

Primo de Rivera was shot in 1936, the year the Spanish Civil War began after he was convicted by a popular court of conspiracy and military rebellion against the government of the Second Republic.

His death, at 33, made him a legendary figure among the fascist rebels against the Socialist Republic and later among former dictator Francisco Franco’s supporters.

His tomb was in the basilica at the previously named Valle de los Ca?dos, a hero’s mausoleum erected after Franco’s victory in the 1936-39 Spanish Civil War.

The site, which became a symbol of Spanish fascism, has since been renamed Cuelgamuros Valley, as it was originally known, and can now only hold the remains of those who died due to the Civil War.

Primo de Rivera’s remains had been there since the mausoleum was opened 64 years ago. Franco would later be buried next to him.

The dictator’s remains were earmarked for exhumation in 2019 after the Spanish socialist government passed the Historical Memory Law, which addresses the legacy of the dictatorship that lasted from the end of the civil war until Franco died in 1975.

One of the law’s aims is to restore “justice, reparation and dignity” to the victims of the Spanish civil war and the fascist regime by removing symbols and monuments that honour fascist leaders such as Franco and Primo de Rivera.

Primo de Rivera’s exhumation began behind closed doors early on Monday morning, which marked the 120th anniversary of his birth.

The coffin was taken to the cemetery in a hearse, escorted by the Civil Guard and by a long retinue of his relatives.

Around 100 people, including many onlookers, came to the gates of the cemetery of San Isidro to wait for the remains, several wearing T-shirts and armbands with Spain’s national flag, as well as Falange flags and symbols.

The remains of the founder of the Falange will be reburied in the Madrid cemetery of San Isidro, the oldest in the capital, where other relatives are buried, such as his siblings Miguel and Pilar.

(Fernando Heller EuroEFE.EURACTIV.es)

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