AP Interview: Franco grandson blasts Spain over exhumation

International

Spanish dictator General Francisco Franco’s grandson, Francisco Franco Martinez-Bordiu holds up a pre-constitutional Spanish flag he wants draped over the coffin General Franco during his reburial Thursday after an interview with The Associated Press in Madrid, Spain, Wednesday, Oct. 23, 2019. Weather permitting, the Spanish dictator’s preserved body will be flown Thursday by helicopter to the Franco family’s private chapel in the Mingorrubio cemetery. It’s a discrete site compared to the Valley of the Fallen, a vainglorious mausoleum and basilica that Franco built and where he was buried in 1975. The complex, which is topped by a 152-meter (500-foot) granite cross that can be seen for miles, still remains a National Heritage site. (AP Photo/Paul White)

MADRID (AP) — The grandson of late dictator Gen. Francisco Franco said that Thursday’s planned exhumation of his grandfather’s body is a “profanation” and that Spain’s interim government wants to turn it into a rally before a Nov. 10 general election.

Francisco Franco Martínez-Bordiú spoke to The Associated Press hours before Franco’s remains were due to be moved from a grandiose mausoleum to a more discreet cemetery.

“It’s an all-out desecration,” said Franco Martínez-Bordiú, accusing Supreme Court judges who ruled in favor of the government — the Catholic Church and center-right Spanish parties who didn’t impede the reburial — of being accomplices of prime minister Pedro Sánchez’s Socialists’ plan.

The government, he said, “had to hop over several obstacles with the complicity of those people to arrive on time and be able to use the exhumation as part of the electoral campaign.”

Spain, he said, “is under the dictatorship of political correctness.”

Associations of relatives of those who died in the 1936-39 Civil War and the ensuing dictatorship regard Franco’s presence at the gargantuan Valley of the Fallen as an insult.

The government says that it’s also against Spain’s standing as a modern democratic state and that no dictator should be enshrined in a state mausoleum. Sánchez had initially promised to get the exhumation done by the end of 2018, but he faced a long legal battle with Franco’s seven grandchildren and political opposition.

Franco Martínez-Bordiú, 64, and 21 other relatives will be attending Thursday’s exhumation behind closed doors and a private Mass at the reburial graveyard in the outskirts of Madrid. Authorities have banned protests in the area and cameras will only be allowed outside of both sites.

“What they want is to humiliate as much as possible,” said Franco Martínez-Bordiú, who criticized that the government has not allowed state honors in tomorrow’s ceremonies despite Franco having been Spain’s head of state and government for decades.

But the family has plans to use a Spanish flag with a black eagle, symbols associated with the Franco regime, over their grandfather’s coffin on Thursday, when the hearse heads from a helicopter to the Mingorrubio cemetery. The flag is the same used for the original burial on Nov. 23, 1975.

The Supreme Court last month granted the government the right to rebury the dictator’s remains in the Mingorrubio cemetery, where Franco’s late wife Carmen Polo has been resting since 1988, over the relatives’ choice of Madrid’s Almudena Cathedral, where they own a grave slot. Authorities feared the cathedral could become another pilgrimage site for nostalgic fascists.

Franco Martínez-Bordiú said the family planned to take their case to the European Court of Human Rights hoping to be granted permission to move Franco’s remains to the cathedral.

He also dismissed as a “lie” that relatives of victims buried alongside the dictator at the Valley of the Fallen had been asking for Franco’s removal from the site for decades.

“Nobody, or almost nobody, gives a damn where my grandfather is buried,” he said. “I’m not going to say that there isn’t somebody around, but both winners and losers (in the war) are all dead. Their grandchildren are being influenced by the media and the associations who represent their grandparents.”

Franco’s exhumation stems from amendments of a 2007 Historical Memory Law that aimed to seek redress for the estimated 100,000 Franco victims who are buried in unmarked graves across Spain, including thousands at the Valley of the Fallen.

Copyright 2019 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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