The last public statue in Spain of former dictator Francisco Franco has been removed from Melilla’s city gates, a Spanish enclave and autonomous city on the northwestern African coast.
Without much fanfare, a group of workers took the statue down Tuesday using a mechanical excavator and heavy drills to cut away at the brick platform on which the statue stood before being lifted by a chain around its neck and hauling it away in bubblewrap on a pickup truck.
The statue, erected in 1
“This is a historic day for Melilla,” said Elena Fernandez Trevino, who is in charge of education and culture in the enclave on Monday, after the local assembly voted to take the statue down, pointing out that it was “the only statue dedicated to a dictator still.” in public space in Europe ”.
Only the far-right Vox party voted against the move, arguing that the statue celebrated Franco’s military role and not his dictatorship, so Historical Memory Law, a 2007 statute calling for the removal of all symbols associated with Franco’s regime, should not apply. .
The Spanish government has made several high-profile removals at the back of this law, including taking over the former dictator’s summer palace from its heirs.
The statue in Melilla was removed when Spain marked 40 years ago a failed military coup by Guardia Civil Officers loyal to Franco, who stormed parliament and fired shots at the leaders of MPs preparing to vote in a new government.
At a ceremony in parliament where the marks from bullets fired exactly four decades ago are still visible, King Felipe VI paid tribute to those involved in stopping the putsch, which ultimately resulted in the “victory of democracy”.
“Forty years ago today, Spain experienced an extraordinarily serious attack on its democratic system,” the king told parliament, paying tribute to his father’s involvement in a crisis that arose when he was just 13 years old.
The former king, Juan Carlos, who abdicated in 2014, was not at the ceremony despite his central role in halting the coup. He went into self-imposed exile last year after having growing questions about the origin of his fortune.
But the coup went wrong after the decisive response from Juan Carlos, who gave a televised speech in uniform as commander-in-chief, urging the armed forces not to support the uprising.
In an editorial case, El Mundo said Juan Carlos’ absence “due to his own reprehensible mistakes, should not tarnish the brilliant role he played”.
“He stopped the coup and democracy was strengthened to the point that it is one of the best in the West,” it added.