Spain exhumes the fascist founder as sympathizers salute and sing

MADRID (Reuters) – Spain on Monday found the body of Jose Antonio Primo de Rivera, founder of the Fascist Falange movement that supported Franco’s regime, and removed it from a mausoleum carved into a mountainside near Madrid where fascism sympathizers had conferred. regards.

A handful of supporters gathered outside the gates of the compound formerly known as the Valley of the Martyrs, gesturing and holding up signs saying “Jose Antonio is here” or shouting “Long live Spain” as his body passed by.

Police struggled to hold back a larger crowd of about 150 Falange supporters gathered outside the San Isidro cemetery in southern Madrid, where his reburial was to take place. They gave the fascist salute and sang the battalion hymn “Facing the Sun”.

His exhumation, which came after the removal of the remains of dictator Francisco Franco in 2019, is part of a plan to transform the complex built by Franco, which was renamed last year Quilgameros Valley, into a memorial to the 500,000 people killed during Spain’s 1936-39 civil war. .

Presidential Secretary Felix Bolanos on Friday hailed the exhumation as another step to give the valley a new symbolism.

He said at the time: “No person or ideology that stirs up dictatorship there should be honored or glorified.”

José Antonio, son of dictator Miguel Primo de Rivera, who ruled Spain from 1923 to 1930, was shot and killed in November 1936 by leftist Republican forces in Alicante.

This is the fifth time his body has been buried and the fourth time it has been exhumed.

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In 1939, after lying in two different mass graves in Alicante, his coffin was shown 500 km (300 mi) from the eastern port city to San Lorenzo de Escorial, a town near Madrid where members of Spain’s royal family were buried.

His remains were moved again upon the completion of the Valley of the Fallen monument 20 years later and buried under the cathedral’s altar, where Franco would join him upon his death in 1975.

Franco, a conservative general, and Primo de Rivera, a brilliant boy, had little love for each other, according to Franco biographer Paul Preston.

In his autobiography, Preston wrote that Franco sabotaged many efforts to organize a rescue or prisoner exchange that would have saved Primo de Rivera’s life.

His death allowed Franco to eliminate a rival and take control of the Falangists, and grouped them into a broader far-right movement that supported his dictatorship.

The government is carrying out work on the mausoleum to allow anonymous access to the crypts where the remains of 34,000 people, many of them victims of the Franco regime, are buried, allowing families to identify their relatives.

Additional reporting by Charlie Devereux and Emma Pinedo; Editing by David Latona

Our standards: Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.

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