MADRID, Sept. 13 (Xinhua) — The Spanish Congress on Thursday passed a motion to exhume the body of General Franco, who ruled Spain from 1939 to his death in November 1975, from its resting place in the “Valle de los Caidos” (Valley of the Fallen).
Congress voted in favor of removing Franco’s body with 172 votes in favor, 164 abstentions and two votes against.
Nearly all of the parties in Congress voted in favor of the motion, although members of Foro Asturias, Union del Pueblo Navarra, along with those of the right wing People’s Party (PP) and Ciudadanos (C’s) all abstained.
PP deputies Jesus Posada and Jose Ignacio Llorens voted against the motion, but insisted they did so “by mistake”.
Franco came to power in 1939 at the end of the Spanish Civil War, which he provoked in July 1936 by leading a military uprising against the democratically elected Republican government.
It has been estimated Franco’s forces deliberately executed around 200,000 people behind the lines as part of a policy of spreading terror among their opponents (in contrast to around 50,000 killed by Republican forces).
The writer Paul Preston in his book “The Spanish Holocaust” calculates a further 20,000 Republican supporters were shot after the end of the war, while thousands later died in prisons and labor camps.
Meanwhile the Platform for the Disappeared Victims of Francoism calculated that the bodies of 140,000 of Franco’s victims still remain unidentified and in unmarked graves.
Spanish Deputy Prime Minister Carmen Calvo said the decision had to be taken for “ethical reasons which stem from democratic values”, adding that it was “an anomaly” to have a “dictator in a state mausoleum, where he can be exhausted”.
“It is time to take the country out of this shame… there can be no respect, no honor and no harmony while Franco’s remains are in the same place as those of his victims,” said Calvo.
The Valley of the Fallen was built using the slave labor of Republican prisoners after the Civil War and although over 30,000 Civil War dead were buried there, only Franco and Jose Antonio Primo de Rivera, the founder of Spain’s extreme right wing Falange party, were in marked graves.