4 Apr, 2024 @ 13:53
1 min read

Spain’s Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez makes surprise visit to exhumation site at infamous Civil War monument in Madrid

Valley Of The Fallen Flickr

SPAIN’S Socialist Party Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez made a surprise visit today to the Valley of Cuelgamuros monument, where he saw first hand exhumation work that is currently taking place to remove the remains of 160 Civil War victims who were buried there. 

The remains have been reclaimed by the families of the victims, and are being exhumed under legislation that has been passed by the Socialist-led government in recent years. 

The so-called Democratic Memory Law is the latest in a series of bills to be passed by the Socialists, in a bid to provide redress to the victims of the Spanish Civil War (1936-39) and subsequent dictatorship of General Francisco Franco. 

After visiting the basilica at the Valley of Cuelgamuros – whose name was recently changed from the Valley of the Fallen by the government – Sanchez was also shown the forensic laboratory at the site, as well as the crypts where the remains lie, Europa Press news agency reported. 

A team of 20 researchers and six forensic doctors are taking part in the work. 

Valley Of The Fallen Flickr
The Vally of Cuelgamuros, formerly known as the Valley of the Fallen.

The Valley of the Fallen, which is located in the Sierra de Guadarrama mountains near Madrid, was ordered to be constructed by Franco in 1940, and opened in 1959. 

While it was intended as a ‘national act of atonement’ and reconciliation, it became the burial site of Franco himself, and was reviled by the Republicans who lost the Civil War to the Nationalists.

Many Republicans were buried there without the consent or knowledge of their relatives, who have faced numerous legal battles and obstacles to recover the remains of their loved ones from the site. 

Franco was eventually exhumed from the site on October 24, 2019, after leftist parties in Congress voted in favour of the measure. 

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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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