Sevilla wants Quiepo remains removed from basilica

Protesters call for removal of Gen. Quiepo de Llano's remains from Sevilla's La Macarena basilica. Photo: IU / Europa Press
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• City’s mayor asks church, families to remove remains of ‘Franquista’ general
• Quiepo responsible for slaughter of thousands of civilians in Sevilla, Andalucia

Sevilla’s Socialist party mayor Juan Espadas has confirmed reports that his administration has made contact with local Catholic church authorities to request that the remains of Gen. Gonzalo Quiepo de Llano, who presided over the slaughter in Sevilla of thousands of civilian supporters of the democratically elected Republican government during Spain’s bloody 1936-39 Civil War, be removed from the city’s Basilica of La Macarena and buried elsewhere.

Espadas confirmed Tuesday that discreet contact was made in June with both the office of the Archbishop of Sevilla and the Macarena fraternal order, which oversees the statue and all ceremonies and events surrounding the much revered figure of the Virgin de La Macarena. He said his office had requested that Quiepo de Llano’s remains be removed in keeping with both the Andalucian region’s recently passed Law of Historic Memory and a resolution passed by the Sevilla municipal council in July 2016 that said their presence at the religious shrine “constitute a clear offense for the relatives of the victims of Franco and for (all) Democrats”.

The mayor’s revelation came the same day as protesters convened by the Coordinadora Andaluza de Organizaciones Republicanas (“Andalucian Coordinating Council of Republican Organisations”) staged a vigil and demonstration Tuesday calling for the removal of Quiepo de Llano’s remains under a banner that read “Out of the Macarena with the genocidal Quiepo de Llano”. The organisation said it has sent letters to both Pope Francis in Rome and Archbishop José Asenjo of Sevilla asking for their intervention to ensure the removal of Quiepo’s remains from the basilica.

In the July 1936 military uprising against the Republican government, Quiepo de Llano was given charge of taking Sevilla and Andalucia from pro-Republican forces. After the fall of Sevilla to Quiepo’s Nationalist forces, troops and paramilitary forces under his command proceeded to round up and execute left-wing lawmakers, unionists, Socialist activists, Republican supporters and their families in the thousands. In Sevilla alone, more than 3,000 were believed to have been summarily executed and British historian Paul Preston has estimated the total number of victims of the Nationalist repression in Andalucia at 55,000.

In frequent radio addresses that went out across Spain from his headquarters in Seville, Quiepo de Llano advocated a brutal scorched earth policy and the virtual genocidal eradication of any man, woman or child linked in any way to the Republican cause. In one July 1936 radio address, he told his supporters that “We must create an atmosphere of terror… by eliminating all those who don’t think like us without any misgivings or hesitation”.

Because the Sevilla government does not own the Basilica, mayor Espadas said the removal of the general’s remains must be negotiated with both the Archdiocese and the Macarena fraternity. In recent months, a negotiated settlement in Pamplona with the families of Nationalist generals Emilio Mola and José Sanjurjo resulted in the removal of their remains from the so-called Monumento a los Caídos (‘Monument to the Fallen’), a mausoleum built after the war during the Franco dictatorship glorifying the generals and soldiers who died in the fight to overthrow the Republican government.

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