The remains of Francisco Franco, Spain’s former right-wing dictator, are due to be exhumed on Thursday, after a legal and political battle that raised divisive questions over his legacy.
The plan is to move Franco’s body, via helicopter, from a massive mausoleum in the so-called ‘Valley of the Fallen’, north-west of Madrid, to the Mingorrubio cemetery to the north of the city.
“The exhumation of Franco’s remains should help us reflect on what this means for the image of our country and for democracy,’’ the Deputy Premier, Carmen Calvo, wrote on Twitter.
Franco ruled Spain from 1939, when his forces won the Spanish Civil War, until his death in 1975.
The dictator built the Valley of the Fallen as a memorial for those who died on his side of the Spanish Civil War.
It is now mainly a pilgrimage site for Franco followers and right-wing extremists.
The Spanish government decided to remove Franco’s body from the site as part of a bid to transform the memorial into a place of national reconciliation.
Some 22 Franco relatives came to attend Thursday’s proceedings, due to start at 10.30 a.m. (0830 GMT), the Europa Press news agency said.
Justice Minister, Dolores Delgado, was also due to be present.
The exhumation has been criticised by right-wing politicians and is taking place at a time of heightened political tension, with general elections on Nov. 10.
Franco’s family lost a legal battle to keep the dictator’s remains in the Valley of the Fallen or have them taken to a family burial site in the Almudena Cathedral in Central Madrid. (dpa/NAN)