ANTI-FRANCO ACTION: Two groups rally in Spain to protest former dictator

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DEMONSTRATIONS: Feminists disrupted a pro-Franco event in Madrid CREDIT: FEMEN

TWO separate groups of protesters gathered at the Valley of the Fallen near Madrid and in the Spanish capital to rally against Spain’s former dictator Francisco Franco last Sunday.

Demonstrators gathered outside the former dictator’s burial site at the controversial mausoleum demanding that his remains be exhumed and moved elsewhere.

Feminist activists also disrupted a Madrid event organised by Franco sympathisers to mark Franco’s death.

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Protesters rallied outside the Valley of the Fallen from Sunday morning to call for plans from the ruling left-leaning Partido Socialista (PSOE) to exhume Franco’s remains to go ahead.

About 100 people turned out for the rally, according to the Madrid Region Forum for Memory who organised the event.

The demonstration took place after around 50 people had gathered at the mausoleum for a religious service in support of the ‘family unit’.

Miguel Muga, the head of the Madrid Region Forum for Memory, said the protesters were calling for an exhumation that was now a day to day concern for Spanish society.

“We want to demand that the government of Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez is no longer blackmailed by certain sections of the church and fascists disguised as democrats in the implementation of the exhumation plans,” Muga said.

The Benedictine monks who run the Valley of the Fallen said their mass took place there every Sunday.

Their protest comes as the leftist Podemos party called for the cross at the Valley of the Fallen to be removed.

The Francisco Franco Foundation, a group which promotes the former dictator’s legacy, said plans to exhume his remains were unlawful and amounted to “desecration”.

Separately in Madrid, activists with the FEMEN feminist group stormed an event organised by falangists (Franco supporters and fascists) to mark the anniversary of Franco’s death. The Falangists had met at the plaza near Madrid’s Carrer Carlos III.

Topless protesters with slogans including: “Legal Fascism, national shame” and “It’s not patriotism, its fascism” written on their chests rallied while the falangists held their commemoration.

Police kept to the two groups separate and some FEMEN members were escorted away.

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