Topless feminists today raged against former Spanish dictator General Franco’s fascist supporters as they marked the 44th anniversary of his death.
Police in Madrid restrained members of the feminist movement Femen who had slogans like, ‘To fascism neither honour nor glory,’ painted on their bare chests.
The women could be seen shrieking in fury as officers grappled with them on the streets of the Spanish capital while Franco’s fans draped themselves in the country’s flag.
The clashes come just weeks after Franco’s remains were exhumed from the controversial Valley of the Fallen mausoleum where supporters were seeing throwing Nazi salutes as his coffin was carried out.
‘To fascism neither honour nor glory’: A topless woman from the feminist action group Femen stands before a police officer in Madrid today as she demonstrates against the supporters of General Francisco Franco
Supporters of former Spanish dictator Francisco Franco are pictured during a demonstration against his exhumation at the annual gathering held on the week of the 44th anniversary of the dictator’s death, in Madrid
A man waves a Spanish fags sporting the eagle of Saint John’s coat of arms, during a far right demonstration marking the anniversary of the death of Spanish late dictator Francisco Franco
On October 24, his body was removed from the grand mausoleum he had built as his final resting place so it could be moved to a discreet family crypt.
The women could be seen shrieking in fury as officers grappled with them on the streets of the Spanish capital while Franco’s fans draped themselves in the country’s flag
Descendants of the late strongman leader – who had bitterly opposed the exhumation – gathered at the Basilica of the Valley of the Fallen in in San Lorenzo del Escorial, near Madrid, around 11am as his remains were exhumed.
They then helped to carry his coffin, covered in brown silk and draped with a flag bearing the standard of Francisco Franco, to a waiting hearse.
From there it was transported to a helicopter, which then flew the body to Mingorrubio where it was be reburied in a family plot alongside his wife.
Around 500 Franco supporters gathered in Mingorrubio, throwing one-armed fascist salutes, chanting ‘Viva Franco’, and waving Francoist national flags while some wore military regalia.
They shouted insults against interim Socialist Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez, who made relocating the remains a priority when he took government, as the helicopter carrying Franco arrived.
Franco, who died in 1975, ruled Spain with an iron fist after his Nationalists won the bloody civil war of 1936-39 which he started.
His authoritarian rule left Spain largely isolated from Europe and many saw the monument as an affront to the hundreds of thousands of people who died during the war.
Current Socialist PM Pedro Sanchez made the exhumation a priority since coming to power in June 2018, saying Spain should not continue to ‘glorify’ the former dictator.
‘It is a great victory for dignity, memory, justice and reparation – and thus for Spanish democracy,’ Sanchez said of the historic moment.
He said in a televised address that the exhumation was a step towards reconciliation, adding: ‘Modern Spain is the product of forgiveness, but it can’t be the product of forgetfulness.’
An activist from Femen poses in front of a hedge as she is surrounded by police officers today
Earlier this month Spanish authorities said they would attempt to exhume thousands of people who had been buried at the mausoleum.
Spain’s National Patrimony Authority said Wednesday that it had told 31 families who had requested the exhumation of their loved ones that it would proceed to open the crypts where they are believed to be held to examine their condition.
The bodies are among the 34,000 victims of the 1936-39 Spanish Civil War which were buried on the site of the Valley of the Fallen mausoleum.
Around 500,000 people were killed in the civil war between Franco’s nationalist rebels and left-wing Republicans. Many more were killed in the ensuing four decades of dictatorship resulting from Franco’s victory.
Women are torn away from the scene today as they protested against far-right supporters of Franco
A women stands with her breasts exposed on the streets of Madrid today as she protests supporters of Franco
A woman is dragged away by police today as feminists clashed with far-right supporters of Franco
The antagonism between the two sides remained during the transition to democracy in the 1970s, resulting in deep divisions between right and left.
‘A public tribute to a dictator was more than an anachronism it was an affront to our democracy,’ Sanchez said.
‘Ending it was an obligation for the generations that did not grow up with the trauma of the Civil War and dictatorship.’
His critics have accused him of electioneering, with the closed-door operation beginning today just over a fortnight before Spain goes to the polls.
Who was Francisco Franco? Spain’s former dictator known as ‘El Caudillo’ who ruled with an iron fist
Former Spanish dictator General Francisco Franco (L) speaks from the balcony of Madrid’s Royal Palace next to the then Prince Juan Carlos of Spain
- Franco ruled Spain between 1939 and 1975, after he and other officers led a military insurrection against the Spanish democratic government in 1936, a move that started a three-year civil war.
- A staunch Catholic, he viewed the war and ensuing dictatorship as something of a religious crusade against anarchist, leftist and secular tendencies in Spain.
- His authoritarian rule, along with a profoundly conservative Catholic Church, ensured that Spain remained virtually isolated from political, industrial and cultural developments in Europe for nearly four decades.
- The country returned to democracy three years after his death but his legacy and his place in Spanish political history still sparks rancor and passion.
- For many years, thousands of people commemorated the anniversary of his Nov. 20, 1975 death in Madrid’s central Plaza de Oriente esplanade and at the Valley of the Fallen mausoleum.
- Although the dictator’s popularity has waned immensely, the exhumation has been criticized by Franco’s relatives, Spain’s three main right-wing parties and some members of the Catholic Church for opening old political wounds.
Franco, who died in 1975, ruled Spain with an iron fist after his Nationalists won the bloody civil war of 1936-39