After the exhumation of Franco from the Valley of the Fallen, it will be the turn of José Antonio Primo de Rivera. The approval of the draft of the Law of Democratic Memory by the Council of Ministers on Tuesday puts closer and closer the transfer of his remains, an intention that had already expressed the Government to approve the decree that allowed the dictator out of Cuelgamuros, but that the rule, which still has a long way to go in the Cortes, clearly establishes. According to the text, the resignification of the mausoleum that is foreseen will involve “the relocation” of any mortal remains that occupy a “preeminent” place in the enclosure, as is the case of the founder of the Spanish Falange, buried at the foot of the main altar of the basilica.
This is the largest mass grave in Spain: more than 33,000 human remains in eight chapels of the Valley of the Fallen.
This was confirmed by the newly appointed Minister of the Presidency, Relations with the Courts and Democratic Memory, Félix Bolaños, at the press conference following the meeting at La Moncloa. “We will have to proceed with the exhumation,” he said. The idea of the Executive is to talk and agree the process with the relatives of Primo de Rivera with the aim of carrying it out “in an agreed and simple way to comply with the law” and avoid as much as possible a battle similar to the one that happened with the Franco family, who opposed it until the end. According to government sources explain, and with the exhumation of the dictator held talks with the family of the Falangist leader, who moved to the Executive his willingness to do so, but his transfer did not enter the same legal package. Now, with the law in hand, they will offer his relatives the possibility of burying him in the crypts, where lie the skeletal remains of thousands of reprisals and victims of the Civil War, or take it to another place they want.
Unlike the dictator, the rule states that Primo de Rivera (Madrid, April 24, 1903) can be in the Valley of the Fallen because he was executed during the conflict. In fact, the text stipulates that the burials will have the character of “civil cemetery” and only the mortal remains of people who died because of the Civil War “as a place of recognition, commemoration, remembrance and tribute to the victims buried there”. This is the case of the founder of Falange, who after the coup d’état against the Government of the Second Republic was accused of conspiracy and military rebellion and was executed on November 20, 1936 in Alicante.
Buried first in a mass grave, he was pHe was later transferred to the Escorial Monastery and 20 years later, shortly before its inauguration, Franco’s dictatorship buried him in the Valley of the Fallen to give him a place of honour and exaltation. In 1975 the same thing was done with Franco’s corpse. Both removing the dictator and reburying the Falangist leader were two of the recommendations of the report that the Committee of Experts for the Future of the Valley of the Fallen prepared during the mandate of José Luis Rodríguez Zapatero. However, it is still unknown when it could be carried out, as the first step is the final approval of the Law of Democratic Memory, which must still go through the processing in Congress and the Senate, where it will be subject to possible modifications.
What awaits the Valley of the Fallen
The Valley of the Fallen is the largest mass grave in Spain. It is estimated that in the basilica lie the remains of 33,833 corpses from both sides, just over 12,000 unidentified and a good part of the Republicans, moved there without authorization or even knowledge of their families. Many have spent decades looking for them and claim their exhumations, a process that has been delayed in time but that from the Government ensure that it is “imminent” once the City Council of San Lorenzo del Escorial, where the fascist mausoleum is, has approved the building permit that will allow 62 of these exhumations, which are those requested for the moment by the relatives.
In addition to the recovery of these remains, which will face the complexity of the works in which a commission of forensic experts will advise, it is expected that the Valley of the Fallen will go through a process of resignification that has yet to be specified. It will be, however, a place of democratic memory that will be destined “to make known, through plans and mechanisms of research and dissemination, the circumstances of its construction, the historical period in which it is inserted and its meaning, in order to strengthen constitutional and democratic values,” stipulates the project recently approved by the Council of Ministers.
According to government sources, one of the intentions will be to make visible the names of the Republican victims who remain there finally, to try to give them the recognition that they had at the time the deceased of the national side, honored by the dictatorship. The norm will also extinguish the Foundation of the Holy Cross of the Valley of the Fallen and foresees the expulsion of the Benedictine friars through a Royal Decree that will be processed in parallel and that will most likely meet with the opposition of the monks. The fate of the basilica, which the Government has no intention of deconsecrating, is already being negotiated between the Executive and the Church.