The Spanish city of Melilla had the country’s last statue of former fascist-aligned dictator Francisco Franco removed on Tuesday. The statue had stood since 1978, three years after Franco’s death. It was removed after the local assembly conducted a vote which resulted in the statue’s removal.
The Statue’s Removal
The statue of Franco had been erected to honour his role in Spain’s military. Before becoming the country’s dictator, Franco had been the commander of the Spanish Legion. He served in the role during the Rif War. That war took place from 1920 to 1927. It was fought by Spain and France against the Berber tribes of Morocco.
Elena Fernández Treviño, a member of the Spanish Socialist Workers’ Party (PSOE) who oversees education and culture in Melilla, said, “This is a historic day for Melilla.” She also remarked that prior to its removal, the statue had been “the only statue dedicated to a dictator still in the public sphere in Europe.”
Most of Spain’s political parties were in favour of the statue’s removal. The only major party to support the retaining of the statue was far-right party Vox. Vox claimed that the statue was intended to commemorate Franco’s role in the military, not his acts as the country’s dictator. For that reason, the party claimed that the Historical Memory Law of 2007 should not apply. When the Historical Memory Law was passed, it ordered the removal of all objects and symbols which were in praise of Franco’s regime.
The most notable invocation of the Historical Memory Law to date took place last September. During this incident, the Spanish government seized Pazo de Meirás, a manor house located in the town of Sada, from Franco’s heirs. The house served as the dictator’s vacation home. After Franco died, his family used it for the same purpose.
Spain Under Franco
Franco was the Prime Minister of Spain from 1938 to 1973. He took over after a military coup which triggered the Spanish Civil War. Although he never explicitly claimed to be a fascist, he was assisted by Adolf Hitler’s Nazi Germany and Benito Mussolini’s Fascist Italy during the war. With the assistance of these two fascist nations, his Nationalist forces defeated those of the democratically-elected Second Spanish Republic.
Franco would go on to turn Spain into a totalitarian regime. He persecuted political opponents, imposed extreme levels of media censorship, and repressed Catalan and Basque culture and language. His regime was responsible for a slew of human rights abuses against the people of Spain. Although the exact figure remains unclear, the estimated number of deaths for which Franco was responsible totaled between 200,000 and 400,000. Most of these deaths took place in concentration camps and came in the form of unjust executions.
24th February 2021 16:01
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