‘Franquista’ generals Mola, Sanjurjo to be exhumed

Pamplona's 'Monumento a los Caídos' during a recent cultural exhibition. Photo: Luis Azunza / Atlas via El País
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• Pamplona to remove remains of 1936 military coup plotters from monument
• Move by city government gets backing from regional parliament in Navarre

The regional parliament in Spain’s northern region of Navarre on Monday announced its formal support for a decision by the municipal government of the region’s capital, Pamplona, to exhume the remains of two Civil War generals involved the 1936 military uprising against Spain’s Republican government from the so-called Monumento a los Caídos (‘Monument to the Fallen’), a Franco-era mausoleum glorifying the generals and soldiers who died in the fight against the Republic.

Pamplona mayor Joseba Asirón of the Basque pro-independence party EH Bildu (Euskal Herria Bildu, or ‘Basque Country Unite’) announced earlier this month that in keeping with Spain’s 2007 Law of Historical Memory, which prohibits monuments and other public displays glorifying the military uprising and heroes of the victorious ‘Nationalist’ side in the 1936-39 Civil War, the remains of Gen. Emilio Mola and Gen. José Sanjurjo would be disinterred from the monument in November along with those of six other soldiers who died fighting the Republic. All the remains are to be handed over to family members for reburial.

Mola, the military commander in Navarre who plotted closely with the conspirators staging the 1936 military uprising, was subsequently responsible for the disappearances and executions of hundreds of civilians during a brutal wave of repression against Republican sympathizers in Navarre. Sanjurjo, a native of Navarre, was destined to be the leader of the rebel military government after the coup, but died two days after the uprising was launched in an airplane accident while flying back to Spain from Portugal, where he had been in exile for having led a failed coup attempt four years earlier.

The Monumento a los Caídos, built in 1942 in the Plaza del Conde de Rodezno, named after local pro-Franco politician and Count of Rodezno Tomás Domínguez Arévalo, was property of the Catholic church until 1997, when it was donated to the city of Pamplona with the stipulation that none of its architectural features — including Franquista symbols and slogans — be altered.

The plaza has since been renamed Plaza de la Libertad (‘Liberty Plaza’) and the monument is currently used as a cultural space and exhibition hall by the city, with most pro-Franco slogans are covered over with paneling after the regional assembly passed a law in 2013 mandating removal of Franquista symbols, slogans and plaques from public places. In addition to the remains of the Franquista generals and soldiers, however, the monument’s central crypt still bears the slogan Navarra a Mola (‘Navarre with Mola’) along with a cross of San Fernando, bestowed upon Navarre by dictator Francisco Franco himself.

► Read More in Spanish at El Mundo and El País …

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