Just days after the Spanish Senate passed the Democratic Memory Law, to finally “settle Spanish democracy’s debt to its past”, the family of José Antonio Primo de Rivera, the founder of the fascist Falange party, has issued a statement saying that they will exhume his remains from the Valley of the Fallen.
His removal comes as the new law designed to honour the victims of the civil war and the Franco dictatorship comes into place and the remodelling and “redefining” of the Valley of the Fallen.
The Primo de Rivera’s family announced that his remains would be reburied, as he had requested, “in holy ground and in accordance with Catholic rites.”
In the family statement, they point out that, after the exhumation, “José Antonio will continue to maintain the preeminent place that corresponds to him in the memory of many Spaniards” and that “he will not be able to be the object of further humiliation.”
José Antonio Primo de Rivera was the leader of the Spanish Falange party and supported the military rising of July 1936 which led to the three year long Civil War.
He was executed for his role in the rising in November 1936 in Alicante by the Republican government.
He remained a potent figure for the Nationalists during the war who considered him a martyr.
At the end of the war in 1939, his mortal remains were carried on the shoulders of Falangist relay teams from Alicante to Madrid (a 350-kilometre journey) and provisionally interred in the pantheon of Spanish monarchs in El Escorial.
In 1959 Franco honoured him with a state funeral and burial at the Valley of the Fallen.
When Franco himself died in 1975 he was laid to rest beside him.
Both occupied prominent resting places at the altar.
Franco was exhumed to a family plot in October 2019 after a lengthy stand-off with the Monastic Order than oversees the basilica.
There are believed to be some 33,000 bodies of soldiers – mostly whose identities are unknown – at the site.
The removal of Primo De Rivera will bring to end the association with the Franco regime and a final stripping of any state recognition of the man.
Indeed the present day Gran Via in Madrid had been originally Avenida de José Antonio Primo de Rivera until 1981.
The Fascist Falange party was dissolved in 1977.
The new legislation will also create a census and a national DNA bank to help locate and identify the remains of the victims of the regime as well as ban groups that glorify it.
It also abolishes the 33 titles of nobility that were created by the Franco regime, including that given to Jose Antonio, who was posthumously given the hereditary title of Duke of Primo de Rivera.
The name of the “Valle de los Caídos” is now to be renamed Valle de Cuelgamuros.
El Senado aprueba definitivamente la Ley de Memoria Democrática.
Los socialistas siempre hemos apostado por afianzar nuestra democracia y hoy damos un paso más por la justicia, la reparación y la dignidad para todas las víctimas.#MemoriaEsDemocracia pic.twitter.com/UG0YwVmoMA
— Pedro Sánchez (@sanchezcastejon) October 5, 2022
The Socialist government hopes that the new law will help “encourage a shared discussion based on the defence of peace, on pluralism and on broadening human rights and constitutional freedoms”.
Last week the Senate passed the Democratic Memory law, with 128 votes in favour, 113 against, and 18 abstentions.
In a tweet the Spanish Prime Minister, Pedro Sanchez, said “We socialists have always worked to strengthen our democracy and today we have taken another step towards justice, reparation and dignity for all the victims.”