Reporters outnumbered the Franco Faithful by about 10 to one; which gave each Francoist a platform to air their views on the injustice of exhuming the dictator’s body from the basilica beneath the 150-metre cross that dominates the Valley of the Fallen in the Cuelgamuros Valley.
Parking by necessity some distance from the action, I coincided with a Spanish American and her Barcelona-born mother who told me I was in North Korea.
“This is North Korea!” they cried in unison, which was bemusing, not least because we were clearly in Spain.
The Spanish-American, Estefania Aguirre, was a journalist who believed the exhumation was, above all, an attack on her religious freedom.
She was also intent on making a case for the dictator.
In fact, his rule could hardly have been called a dictatorship, she said.
“He did the country a lot of good. Did you know the economy thrived more than it ever has under his rule?”
Her mother, meanwhile, had unfurled a banner that read ‘Dictator State’, inferring that it had been undemocratic of Sanchez to push the exhumation to its conclusion.
On the other side of me was Spain’s most famous Francoist, Pilar Gutierrez spouting her beliefs to a huddle of reporters.
“Eighty thousand Catholics were killed for being Catholic and that is what this Government wants to bring back,” she railed.
“You can only expect the worst from the Socialists.”
A psychologist by trade, Gutierrez kept her fellow Francoists on their toes by barking sporadically at them to keep their protest banners straight.
Understandably, a certain weariness had set in after four hours waiting in the cold, but the Faithful rallied when cars began to emerge from the premises carrying Government officials. “You have not seen the end of this!” they cried, berating what they called an ‘evil’ act.
A short while after, the helicopter carrying Franco could be seen rising overhead and a cry went up of ‘Franco lives!’
Another parallel reality designed to throw the unsuspecting off course.
I am always amazed by the lock-step hatred by the English of Franco. First of all, the Spanish Civil War actually had two sides. Which is usually required in a Civil War. Each with their own benefactors. On one side you had Franco who supported traditional Spanish values, like family, nation, God and was adamantly opposed to Communist expansion in Europe. Consequently, mostly for the anti-Communist stance, he had the support of Hitler. Who by the way at that time had significant support around the world (including the UK & the US), before he revealed himself as the true monster he was. So that leaves the other side in the Civil War. Who, for whatever current political reason are now portrayed as the peace-loving, pacifists, who had a noble cause and were second only to Gandhi and Mother Teresa in their approach. However, with the heart of their movement based in Barcelona (aka as today), they were ardent supporters of communism, anti- God (murdering priests and raping nuns by the hundreds), anti-family and wanted a total revolution to destroy traditional Spanish values and replace them with communal socialism. In opposition to anti-communist Hitler, they had the direct support of the Soviet Union and Josef Stalin. Who as history recorded, managed to murder more people than even Hitler did. And my last point, for all you Franco hating Brits; in the end, Franco betrayed Hitler and refused to enter WWII. Imagine how many tens of thousands of English, American, Australian, etc., soldiers and civilians would have suffered and been killed? How many of you who now hate Franco, because it’s fashionable, would have lost fathers, grandfather, brothers, cousins or uncles while fighting in Spain?? And imagine Spain, if the Communists had won the Civil War and taken over Spain. It wasn’t until decades after WWII that Eastern Europe was finally liberated from the Soviet Union. Spain would have suffered the same. So never mind the disgusting act of removing a dead man’s body against the wishes of his family and millions of Spanish citizens, real-politic and actual history itself is dramatically different than the hysterics imposed by a self-serving socialist party and their obedient lapdog media. Was Franco a saint? No. And neither were the Communists. But, decades later, both side’s dead, deserve to rest in peace.