The last public statue in Spain of ex-dictator Francisco Franco has been removed from the gates of the city of Melilla, a Spanish enclave and autonomous city on the northwest coast of Africa.
Without much fanfare, a group of workers knocked over the statue on Tuesday, using a mechanical excavator and heavy drills to dig the brick platform the statue was on, before lifting it by a chain around its neck and carrying it around. bubble in a pickup truck.
The statue, erected in 1978, three years after Franco’s death, commemorated his role as commander of the Spanish Legion in the Rif war, a conflict waged in the 1920s by Spain and France against the Berber tribes of the Rif mountain region of the Morocco.
“This is a historic day for Melilla,” said Elena Fernandez Trevino, responsible for education and culture in the enclave, on Monday after the local assembly voted to topple the statue, pointing out that it was “the only statue dedicated to a dictator yet in the public sphere in Europe ”.
Only the extreme right party Vox voted against the measure, arguing that the statue celebrated Franco’s military role and not his dictatorship, then the Historical Memory Act, a 2007 statute that calls for the removal of all symbols linked to the regime of Franco, it should not be applied.
The Spanish government has made several prominent removals behind this law, including taking the summer palace of the former dictator from his heirs.
The statue in Melilla was removed when Spain turned 40 since a failed military coup by Franco-loyal Guardia Civil officers who invaded parliament and fired on the heads of parliamentarians who were preparing to vote for a new government.
In a parliamentary ceremony where the marks of bullets fired exactly four decades ago are still visible, King Felipe VI saluted those involved in suspending the coup that ended up resulting in the “triumph of democracy”.
“Forty years ago, Spain experienced an extraordinarily serious attack on its democratic system,” the king told parliament, welcoming his father’s intervention in a crisis that occurred when he was only 13 years old.
Former king Juan Carlos, who abdicated in 2014, did not attend the ceremony, despite his central role in stopping the coup. He went into self-imposed exile last year, having faced growing questions about the source of his wealth.
But the coup went awry after Juan Carlos’ decisive response, who made a televised speech in uniform as commander-in-chief, asking the Armed Forces not to support the insurrection.
In an editorial, El Mundo said that the absence of Juan Carlos “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 of being one of the best in the West,” he added.