Franco memorials fall as Madrid Mayor fulfils promise

The lasting legacy of the former Spanish dictator, Francisco Franco has been threatened by Madrid City Hall’s decision to tear down monuments associated with his era. 

Sparking a row between the city’s leftist municipal council and conservative regional government officials, the removal of several plaques and other monuments has resulted in legal threats and resignation calls. 

Municipal elections in May 2015, saw an Ahora Madrid coalition, which includes the socialist party (PSOE) and Podemos, take the capital from the conservative Popular Party and replace Ana Botella, Madrid’s first female mayor and PP member, with Manuela Carmena, who, rather tellingly gained her unimpeachable reputation by defending workers and detainees during Franco’s dictatorship. 

On their successful election to City Council, Ahora Madrid pledged to eradicate “Francoist vestiges” from Madrid, enforcing the Historical Memory Law passed by congress in 2007, which condemns the fascist leader’s actions between 1936 and 1939.  

That promise, it would seem, has already been put into action, with city workers accused of pulling down an obelisk monument to army officials from the “Alferez Provisional” regiment, a plaque for eight executed friars and also one for a right-wing unionist.  

The move has invited criticism of Mayor Carmena’s handling of the situation, as concerned opposition groups queue up to question the recent activities, which contradict a previous agreement made during a plenary session in December 2015, when all parties agreed that a plan for the Francoist vestiges would be drawn up over a period of four months.

PP councillors are demanding that Culture Commissioner Celia Mayer resign, accusing her of acting before warning other parties of her plans and alleging that Ms Mayer and Mayor Carmena pursued their aims with “stealth and secretiveness”.  

The Socialist Party spokesperson for cultural affairs, Mar Espinar, also expressed her dismay at the monuments’ removal, saying “You can’t just take down monuments like this, regardless of whether you like them or not.”

It is believed that the City Council’s attempts to eliminate all traces of Franco could result in a formal complaint to the public prosecutor. 

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