30 Apr, 2023 @ 14:30
2 mins read

Falangists give fascist salutes as they pay homage to Primo de Rivera in Madrid

Judge pauses exhumations of Franco victims from controversial mausoleum in Spain
Cordon Press image

WITH THEIR arms raised in fascist salutes, around 200 people paid homage on Saturday to the founder of Spain’s Falange party, Jose Antonio Primo de Rivera, in his new burial site in the San Isidro cemetery in Madrid. 

Primo de Rivera’s remains were moved last week from the Valley of the Fallen monument, where they had previously lay alongside those of former Spanish dictator Francisco Franco. 

The coffin of Franco, however, was removed from the site in 2019 by the Spanish government. The family of Primo de Rivera moved the remains of their relative before the government did so under a new historical memory law. 

The homage by the group of fascist sympathisers took place on Saturday without incident, although there was a heavy police presence at the site. 

Most of the attendees were wearing blue shirts with red arrows on their chest, in reference to Franco-era symbols. 

As well as making fascist salutes, the group sang Cara al sol, the hymn of the Spanish Falange. 

There were clashes and arrests on Monday between police and fascist sympathisers during the exhumation of Primo de Rivera, who was buried for the fourth time when taken to San Isidro. 

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.

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.

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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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