Spain to exhume fascist movement founder’s body from Madrid mausoleum
MADRID — Spain on Monday will dig up the body of Jose Antonio Primo de Rivera, founder of the fascist Falange movement that supported the Francoist regime, and remove it from a mausoleum carved into a mountainside near Madrid.
Primo de Rivera’s exhumation, which follows the 2019 removal of the remains of dictator Francisco Franco, is part of a plan to convert the so-called Valley of the Fallen complex built by Franco into a memorial to the 500,000 people killed during Spain’s 1936-39 civil war.
Last year, the Valley of the Fallen was renamed Valley of Cuelgamuros – the original name of the site – under Spain’s new Democratic Memory law.
“It’s another step in the resignification of the valley,” Presidency Minister Felix Bolanos told reporters in Barcelona on Friday. “No person or ideology that evokes the dictatorship should be honored or extolled there.”
The son of dictator Miguel Primo de Rivera, who governed Spain from 1923-1930, Jose Antonio was shot by firing squad in November 1936 by left-wing Republican forces in Alicante.
It will be the fifth time his body has been exhumed.
In 1939, after having lain in two different mass graves in Alicante, his coffin was paraded 500 kilometers (311 miles) from the eastern coastal city to San Lorenzo de El Escorial, a town near Madrid where Spain’s royals are buried.
His remains were moved again on the completion of Valley of the Fallen monument 20 years later and buried under the altar of the basilica, where Franco would join him on his death in 1975.
Franco, a conservative general, and Primo de Rivera, a flamboyant playboy, had little love for each other, according to Francos’s biographer Paul Preston.
Franco in fact sabotaged several efforts to organize a rescue or a prisoner swap that would have saved Primo de Rivera’s life, Preston wrote in his biography.
His death allowed Franco to eliminate a rival and take control of the Falangists, subsuming them to a broader far-right movement that supported his dictatorship.
The government is currently carrying out works in the mausoleum to permit access to the crypts where 34,000 people’s remains, many of them victims of Franco’s regime, are buried anonymously, allowing families to identify their relatives.