Spain exhumes the body of the founder of the fascist movement from the Madrid mausoleum

MADRID (Reuters) – Spain will on Monday exhume the body of Jose Antonio Primo de Rivera, founder of the fascist Falange movement that supported Franco’s regime, from a tomb carved into a mountainside near Madrid.

The exhumation of Primo de Rivera, which followed the removal of the remains of dictator Francisco Franco in 2019, is part of a plan to turn Franco’s so-called Valley of the Fallen complex into a memorial to the 500,000 people killed during Spain’s 1936-1939 war. Civil war.

Last year, Valley of the Fallen was renamed Valley of Cuelgamuros – the site’s original name – under Spain’s new Democratic Memory Law.

“It is another step in the resignation of the Valley,” Presidential Secretary Felix Bolanos told reporters in Barcelona on Friday. “No person or ideology that incites 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 will be the fifth time his body has been buried and the fourth time his remains have been exhumed.

In 1939, after lying in two different mass graves in Alicante, his coffin was shown 500 km (311 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 altar of the cathedral, where Franco would join him upon his death in 1975.

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

In his autobiography, Preston wrote that Franco had in fact 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 currently 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.

(This story has been corrected to limit the number of times Primo de Rivera’s body was exhumed to four, not five, in paragraph 6)

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

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