The long shadow of General Franco´s Valley of The Fallen shows no sign of abetting some 3 years after his exhumation from the mausoleum that had held his remains since his death in 1975.
The Spanish Army has announced the dismissal of a captain who led his military unit to steps of the mausoleum on the outskirts of Madrid, where they took part in a religious blessing at the memorial built by the Spanish dictator.
Video footage of the soldiers, from the ‘Uad-Ras II’ Light Armoured Battalion, part of the ‘Guadarrama XII’ Infantry Brigade, located at the nearby military base of El Goloso, kneeling, caused an immediate furore when it was published by the Público news outlet.
In the video, the soldiers were assembled on the front of the steps of the Basilica, presented arms to the priest and received his blessing. “May the Lord bless and always keep those who serve the country under this banner. May the Lord look benevolently on Spain and grant it peace with all the peoples of the world.”
The presiding priest, Abbot Cantera, was reportedly one of those that spoke out against the exhumation of Franco´s remains in 2019.
It has also been revealed that Cantera was also a candidate in the Spanish elections of 1993 and the European elections of 1994 for the far-right Falange Española Party.
— Radio Madrid (@RadioMadrid) June 1, 2022
The remains of the late dictator were removed by the Socialist coalition government of Pedro Sanchez, after a long battle with Cantera, whose Catholic Order runs the Monastery and Mausoleum.
The battle between government and Cantera, culminated with the Vatican secretary of state Pietro Parolin, sending a letter to Spain’s then-deputy PM Carmen Calvo, guaranteeing that the Catholic Church would force the abbot to allow the exhumation of General Franco if he did not comply with the order.
The exhumation eventually took place in October 2019 and his remains taken by helicopter to the private family burial plot in El Pardo.
The exhumation order did not include that of José Antonio Primo de Rivera, the founder of the Fascist Falange Española Party.
Some 32,000 remains of fallen soldiers from the Spanish Civil War ( 1936 -1939) are interred in the Valley of the Fallen – few of whose names are known and most of whom are Republicans.
The Spanish government have proposed that the entire site be remodelled to become a centre for peace and reconciliation, including a museum about the war and DNA database to help identify the remains.