Spain

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Franco’s grave. Should it be removed or let be?

Because of questions over Catalan and judicial impartiality The Dweller’s Guide To The Planet classes Spain’s regime as not quite bad enough to disqualify it but as not quite good enough to count as entirely free and fair. Now the new Socialist government plans to exhume and move Franco’s remains from his current tomb. On the face of it, you might think there’s nothing much wrong with that. After all, Hitler and Mussolini have disappeared from public view, haven’t they? Well, not quite. Mussolini’s crypt still attracts 80-100,000 visitors a year. The question here is not whether Franco was a good man, but whether trying to remove him from history is a good idea. It’s worth recalling that his reign lasted until 1975, whereas Mussolini died in 1945. If you want a sense of the difference, when Mussolini died, Doris Day was top of the UK charts. When Franco died it was Space Oddity by David Bowie.

Spain’s Prime Minister, Pedro Sanchez says that Spain ‘can’t allow symbols that divide’ but thousands visit Franco’s tomb each year and yesterday a number of them held a protest against the government. At a time when the right and very right wings of politics are on the rise across Europe, it might be wiser to ask if drawing attention to those symbols by trying to erase them from such very recent memories, might be more divisive than ‘letting sleeping dogs’ lie.