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Remains Of Former Spanish Dictator Francisco Franco Exhumed And Reburied

AILSA CHANG, HOST:

The remains of Spain's former dictator, Francisco Franco, were exhumed today 44 years after his death. He had been buried in a national monument that was built in the 1950s by thousands of his political prisoners. The monument was supposed to pay tribute to all the victims of the Spanish Civil War, but as Lucia Benavides reports, many Spaniards see it as a fascist memorial to only the victors of that war.

LUCIA BENAVIDES, BYLINE: Around 300 supporters of Franco stood outside a cemetery in the outskirts of Madrid, where the late dictator's remains were reburied. They sang Franco his songs and gave the fascist salute as they chanted Franco's name. Members of the dictator's family joined the funeral procession as a hearse carried him to his new resting spot.

(SOUNDBITE OF PRESS CONFERENCE)

PRIME MINISTER PEDRO SANCHEZ: (Foreign language spoken).

BENAVIDES: Interim Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez said in a press conference that today's move puts an end to the moral dishonor of having a dictator in a public space. Sanchez promised to move Franco's remains when he came to power last year, and Parliament soon passed legislation that allowed for the exhumation. But the government's move was bitterly opposed by the Catholic Church and Franco's family. The late dictator's grandson, Francis Franco, spoke to Spanish media this morning.

(SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED RECORDING)

FRANCIS FRANCO: (Foreign language spoken).

BENAVIDES: "The Spanish government is trying to make it look like my grandfather is alone," he said in response to restrictions on media and public access to the ceremony. The value of the fallen monument still holds the remains of over 30,000 people from both sides of the Spanish Civil War. Many Spaniards hope that the government will start a program that will identify those victims and help families with missing relatives find some closure.

For NPR News, I'm Lucia Benavides in Barcelona. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.

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