The last statue of the dictator Francisco Franco still visible in Spain was unbolted in the enclave of Melilla, on the north coast of Morocco.
“Historic day: the last statue of Franco on the public road in Spain, which was in our city, has been removed,” the local government of this Spanish enclave announced on Twitter.
The bronze statue of Franco was removed on Tuesday by local government employees. It had been erected in 1978 in front of a city gate to commemorate the general’s role as commander of the Spanish Legion during the Rif War against the Berber tribes in the 1920s.
A Spanish law passed in 2007 under the government of the José Luis Rodríguez Zapatero obliges town halls to remove symbols praising the dictatorship or the Franco camp during the Civil War from the public space.
Many right-wing local governments often refuse to implement this, however, believing that it reopens the wounds of the past.
It is to respect this law, 14 years after its adoption, that the local parliament of Melilla voted on Monday to unbolt the statue. Only the far-right Vox party voted against the decision, while the People’s Party (PP, right) abstained.
Vox justified its opposition to the decision by the fact that the statue did not pay tribute to Franco as a dictator, but to his role during the Rif War.
Spanish Prime Minister Pedro Sánchez, who came to power in 2018, had made the exhumation of Franco from the monumental mausoleum where he rested near Madrid a priority for his government. Franco was reburied in October 2019 with his wife in a cemetery on the outskirts of Madrid.