Today was a big day to close a loop in Spain, and of course what I write here is a perspective on the events. The Valley of the Fallen was a burial place for Francisco Franco (driving force in the Civil War (1936-39), dictator until his death in 1975), José Antonio Primo de Rivera (founder of the Fanlange party, shot in Alicante, 1936) and 33,000 combatants from the war – from both sides… but many of them were also left in unmarked graves. (Spain is said to be second behind Cambodia for mass unmarked graves.)
In the Civil war there were terrible atrocities committed by both sides, so a one-side reading cannot do justice to what went on. However, the inappropriateness of Franco being buried in a place of honour along the dishonouring of those crushed has been an offence to many Spanish. And of course for Gayle and I this has been a focus for us for many years. It has taken us to the (now previous) actual grave of Franco, his birth home – the day after which parliament passed that he was to be exhumed. We have also been to the grave of Franco’s daughter which is in the main cathedral of Madrid, and was the place the family had wanted Franco to be buried if the exhumation went ahead. Gayle placed a blade of grass on it, declaring that all of us are as a blade of grass. Transient, and the effects of Franco’s domination was over. There followed many court cases fight both the exhumation and seeking to ensure that following any exhumation that the remains would be placed in the Almudena Cathedral in Madrid. Nice to get a result – though we are sure that whatever difference the above made, any shift that takes place is almost always due to the many unknown acts of people who have stood for the future.
So 80 years after the end of the Civil War, 44 years after Franco’s death and 41 years after the (supposed) end of the Transition to democracy, a HUGE event has taken place. We are so pleased that his remains were not moved into the main Madrid Cathedral. We have been praying and declaring – with some huge setbacks – that ‘Madrid will be the tomb of fascism’. Had his remains been moved into the Cathedral it would have become an easily accessible shrine to fascism.
The prime minister with great perception said a few days ago that this will bring the Transition cycle to a close. Those words sparked faith in our spirits as we had been praying into the completion of what was in its time, a good move forward, but increasingly was being shown as lacking completeness.
This day marks something enormous!! And we love days such as this. Now there are some real possibilities… and also perhaps even greater challenges. For the past 3 weeks I have had 2 nights of unbroken sleep – last night being one – so it seems to signify that there is a peace that had come…. that peace marks the closure of an era. ‘Tomorrow’, whenever that is, we will move forward from a place of rejoicing to put our shoulder back into things. As one wise politician said today (with a play on words), the remains of Franco have not been moved, his corpse has. The remains of Franco are in and through all the institutions… now is the time to move the remains of Franco.
A significant peg that was holding things in place has been removed. A brindis (toast) is in order, and tomorrow we will be calling for tomorrow. If the past cycle has been closed, now the only immediate question is what shapes what is to come.
Below is a provocative photo. The flag is a republican flag. Bottom line we do not give our allegiance. I was tempted to photoshop Gayle on the photo as this was something she might have crazily done!!