If the title of this article doesn’t make any sense to you, you probably never watched Saturday Night Live in the seventies. When Chevy Chase used to be the “anchor” for their Weekend Update segment, he would frequently invoke the breaking news that Spanish dictator Generalissimo Francisco Franco was “still dead.” Today, Spain is scheduled to confirm this news when the brutal dictator’s remains are removed from the mausoleum at the Valley of the Fallen in San Lorenzo de El Escorial, Spain. Descendants of Franco will transfer the coffin to a private cemetery. (Associated Press)
The body of dictator Gen. Francisco Franco is being exhumed Thursday from the grandiose mausoleum at the Valley of the Fallen before being transferred to a more discreet, private resting place.
The much-criticized operation fulfills a decades-old desire of many in Spain who considered Franco’s mausoleum an affront to his victims and to Spain’s standing as a modern democratic state.
The exhumation and reburial will not put an end to Franco’s legacy on the contemporary Spanish political scene, particularly as it comes just weeks ahead of a Nov. 10 general election that is certain to see Spain’s main parties of the left and right battling it out once again.
The AP link above offers a fairly detailed explanation of who Franco was and why this exhumation is happening. Franco’s tomb has been the subject of a legal battle that’s been making its way through the courts since 2007.
Franco was a brutal dictator who started a civil war to overthrow the democratically elected government of Spain in 1939. He continued to rule until his death in November of 1975. Over the course of the civil war and the decades of oppression that followed, an estimated 100,000 people were killed, many of whom are buried in unmarked graves on the grounds of the Valle de los Caídos where his mausoleum is located.
This has been considered by many as an insult to the memory of all of the fallen who died under Franco’s rule. Following a Supreme Court ruling in September, the order was finally given to remove him from the Valley of the Fallen over the objections of his family.
Surprisingly, Franco retains his fair share of supporters in the country, including the members of some of the more right-leaning political parties. They objected to the exhumation along with his surviving family members. The debate continues to this day. So in some ways, Franco’s civil war never really ended. I suspect that moving his coffin to a less publicly visible location won’t do anything to put the matter to rest.