A COURT has delayed an attempt to remove a monument inaugurated by General Francisco Franco to celebrate a victory during the Spanish Civil War after a campaign by locals to save the structure.

The Monument to the Battle of Ebro celebrates a decisive defeat of the Republican army in 1938 by the Nationalist forces led by Franco.

The 45-metre high monument, which was inaugurated by Franco in 1966, is the latest symbol in an ongoing battle between Spain’s left-wing government which seeks to remove road names honouring Franco-era figures and other relics of the late dictator, and those who oppose reviving memories of the past. 

Campaigners in Tortosa, a town of 33,000 inhabitants which is 150 km south of Barcelona, launched a legal battle to oppose attempts by the pro-independence Catalan regional authorities to remove the monument.

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The bronze monument in Tortosa. Photo by calafellvalo/ Flickr

The Friends of the Monument in Tortosa argue that authorities should respect the result of a 2016 referendum in which 68 per cent of local people voted to save the statue.

“They are overriding the interests of local people to suit the political interests of Barcelona. We are not in favour of Franco or against,” said Alejandro Hernandez, the lawyer for the Friends of the Monument organisation, told the Olive Press.

Hernandez said the monument bears no trace of Franco regime.

Lourdes Ciuro, the Catalan justice minister, said she was confident the monument would be removed later this month. 

“It is a fascist monument which honours one side who won the war,” she added.

In 2019, Spain’s left-wing government ordered Franco’s remains to be removed from the Valley of the Fallen, a huge mausoleum outside Madrid where they had lain since his death in 1975, despite efforts to oppose the move by Franco’s family.

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