El Pardo, Spain (CNN)The remains of Spain’s former dictator General Francisco Franco have been exhumed in a controversial move that has divided opinion in Spain for decades.

The Spanish government announced this week that it was to move Franco’s remains from the grand mausoleum where he was buried in 1975 to the nearby Mingorrubio state cemetery in El Pardo, 12 miles north of Madrid, where his wife is buried. Despite the government’s refusal to authorize two demonstrations, about 200 Franco supporters were protesting at a police blockade near the Mingorrubio cemetery. People of all ages held Spanish flags and signs that read “Franco, thank you!” and “National Unity.” Spain will exhume and move former dictator's remains this weekSpain will exhume and move former dictator's remains this weekSpain will exhume and move former dictator's remains this weekFranco’s exhumation follows a year-long legal battle between the caretaker Socialist government of Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez and relatives of Franco. The exhumation was one of Sanchez’s key policy pledges when he came into power last year and was made a royal decree in August 2018 by the incumbent Socialist Party. Franco’s family and his far-right supporters have opposed the plan and the family unsuccessfully appealed the decision in the courts. Read MoreRepresentatives of the media were not allowed in the basilica in the Valley of the Fallen, but among those witnessing the exhumation were Spain’s justice minister, a forensics expert, a priest and 22 of Franco’s descendants. TRelatives of General Franco gather outside the basilica where he was buried.Relatives of General Franco gather outside the basilica where he was buried.Relatives of General Franco gather outside the basilica where he was buried.The Valley of the Fallen was partially built by political prisoners of Franco’s regime and is the site of a mass grave of Spanish Civil War victims. It has become a draw for tourists and far-right sympathizers who conduct annual rallies on the anniversary of Franco’s death on November 20.The former dictator was buried under a 1,500kg gravestone that covered the coffin and was also enclosed in a zinc structure. Though there was damage to the coffin, the family chose to keep the remains inside the original casket. No flags or symbols were allowed at the Valley of the Fallen during the exhumation, but six members of the family carried the coffin to a hearse that transported the casket to a helicopter taking the remains to El Pardo.A government spokeswoman told CNN that a Mass will take place inside the family vault in El Pardo. A Prior of the basilica of The Valley of the Fallen will officiate.Franco's remains will be moved from this mausoleum, where he was buried in 1975.Franco's remains will be moved from this mausoleum, where he was buried in 1975.Franco’s remains will be moved from this mausoleum, where he was buried in 1975.General Francisco Franco was made leader of Spain's new fascist regime on October 1, 1936.General Francisco Franco was made leader of Spain's new fascist regime on October 1, 1936.General Francisco Franco was made leader of Spain’s new fascist regime on October 1, 1936.Franco ruled Spain from the late 1930s until his death. Thousands of executions were carried out by his nationalist regime during the Spanish Civil War and in the following years.After World War II, he was seen by many as the last surviving fascist dictator and was ostracized by the United Nations. His regime was partly rehabilitated during the Cold War because of Franco’s staunch anti-communist ideology.In 2007, the Spanish government passed the Law of Historical Memory, which formally condemns the Franco regime and bans political events at the Valley of the Fallen. It also recognizes the victims of the civil war and the Francoist state and pledges aid to those victims and their descendants.

Source Link:
https://www.cnn.com/2019/10/24/europe/franco-exhumation-spain-intl/index.html

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