Spanish lawmakers vote to dig up ex-dictator Franco

Spain's parliament on Thursday voted in favor of removing the remains of fascist dictator Francisco Franco from a mausoleum near Madrid where tens of thousands of victims of the civil war that ended in his victory are also laid to rest.

With 176 votes for, 165 abstentions and only two against, the motion was carried by the ruling socialists, leftist Podemos and a number of smaller regional parties.

The longstanding debate over Franco's remains has deeply divided Spain. A senior Podemos leader has described the tomb, which is overseen by a Benedictine monastery, as the "the last standing monument to fascist dictatorship in Europe."

However, Franco's descendants have begged the monks not to let the remains be moved, saying those who wanted to disturb the resting place were motivated by "vengefulness."

Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez's government has put its support behind the move to exhume Franco, hoping it will settle lingering grievances.

Lingering resentment

Some 500,000 combatants and civlians perished in Spain's brutal civil war, which lasted from 1936-1939. After Franco's takeover, he killed or imprisoned tens of thousands of his opponents. But after Spain's transition to democracy in the 1970s, many people in the fascist regime were pardoned for their crimes in the name of national reconciliation.

But these pardons have fostered resentment throughout the country, and the Valley of the Fallen mausoleum, where Franco and many of the war dead are buried, is the most visible symbol of that resentment. Many hope that once Franco's remains are exhumed, they will be allowed to retrieve their loved ones and give them a proper burial.

es/rt (AFP, Reuters)

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