ALICANTE, Spain – A legal battle over the removal of a monument paying homage to Spanish soldiers who fought for dictator Francisco Franco was on Wednesday a continued point of controversy in a small town in the southeast of Spain.
The withdrawal of Francoist symbols, street names and monuments that can be found across the nation can still prove a source of contention some 43 years after the death of the military dictator, which sparked the beginning of the end to his ultra-nationalist Falangist regime that had ruled the country since the end of the Spanish Civil War (1936-39).
In the town of Callosa de Segura, some 50 kilometers (31 miles) west of Alicante, a Valencia court order to remove a cross erected in the church square dedicated to those who died fighting for Franco’s nationalist rebels during the civil war was halted following an appeal lodged by the Spanish Association of Christian Lawyers, a civil pressure group.
The Cross of the Fallen, as the monument is known, has already been uprooted by authorities who acted in accordance with the Historical Memory Law which was passed in Spain to formally condemn Franco’s regime and amplify the rights of victims and descendants of victims of the civil war and the dictatorship.
While the court is expected to make a final decision on the matter later on Wednesday, the Spanish Association of Christian Lawyers has launched a petition calling for the town’s socialist mayor, Fran Macia, to be sacked over his support for the legal action.
Monuments such as this were once common across most Spanish towns and cities although they have slowly been removed since the country’s transition into democracy in around 1978.
Several vestiges of the dictatorship endure, however, including the Valle de los Caidos (Valley of the Fallen) just north of Madrid, where the remains of Franco are entombed under the tallest free-standing cross on Earth, measuring some 150 meters (500 feet).
The complex, ostensibly dedicated to all victims of the civil war, was built by thousands of Republican prisoners, many of whom were later executed.
Spain’s Civil War began in 1936 when right-wing nationalist troops led by Franco rebelled against the democratically-elected government of the Second Republic.