20 Apr, 2023 @ 17:15
1 min read

Founder of Spain’s fascist Falange party, Primo de Rivera, to be exhumed from monument on Monday

Valley Of The Fallen Flickr

THE REMAINS of the founder of Spain’s fascist Falange party, Jose Antonio Primo de Rivera, are to be exhumed by his family from the Valley of the Fallen monument on Monday. That’s according to government sources, who confirmed the news to Spanish media outlets today. 

The move comes in the wake of the approval by the government of a new historical memory law, which is aimed at providing further redress for the victims of the Spanish Civil War (1936-39) and their families, as well as those of the subsequent dictatorship of General Francisco Franco.

The family of Primo de Rivera announced in October of last year that it would move his remains from their current burial site before the Spanish government did. The relatives have not yet announced where they will be transferred to.

In late 2019, the government removed Franco’s coffin from the Valley of the Fallen, despite the opposition of his family. He was laid to rest in the Mingorrubio cemetery in El Pardo, Madrid. 

Primo de Rivera was the eldest son of Spanish dictator General Miguel Primo de Rivera, and supported the coup against the Spanish republic that sparked the Civil War. 

He was imprisoned before the conflict began and was executed during its first few months. He was laid to rest in the basilica at the Valley of the Fallen in 1959.

The monument, which is located in the Guadarrama mountains near Madrid, was framed by Franco as a place for “national atonement” and reconciliation. 

But it has always been a controversial site, not only for harbouring the remains of Franco and Primo de Rivera, but also because victims from the losing Republican side of the conflict were buried there without consent or knowledge of their families.

Open wounds

Over recent decades, Socialist Party-led governments in Spain have introduced legislation in a bid to address the open wounds left by the Civil War and dictatorship. 

The Democratic Memory Law is the latest of these, and was definitively approved by the Senate in November. 

It builds on the Historical Memory Law passed in 2007 by another Socialist Party administration, and which recognised the victims of the conflict and dictatorship.

Among the measures it contained is a change in the name of the Valley of the Fallen to the  Valley of Cuelgamuros, in reference to the local area. No figures related to either Franco’s military coup, the Civil War or the dictatorship can be honoured there any longer.

The law also quashed any sentences passed down by Franco-era courts, as well as cancelling titles, medals or pensions conceded by the regime.

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Simon Hunter

Simon Hunter has been living in Madrid since the year 2000 and has worked as a journalist and translator practically since he arrived. For 16 years he was at the English Edition of Spanish daily EL PAÍS, editing the site from 2014 to 2022, and is currently one of the Spain reporters at The Times. He is also a voice actor, and can be heard telling passengers to "mind the gap" on Spain's AVLO high-speed trains.

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