Several thousand Spaniards headed to the country's controversial war memorial Valle de los Caídos (Valley of the Fallen), near Madrid, to protest against the intention of Pedro Sánchez's new Spanish government to exhume the remains of the country's former fascist dictator Francisco Franco, an action that was approved in May in a vote in the Spanish congress. The event, which took place this Sunday, turned into a mass rally of the extreme right.
The association Movement for Spain had called for a "national pilgrimage" against the decision to move the dictator's remains from the enormous mausoleum. The group called on supporters to take part in masses held at the monument's basilica and thus let people know that "Francoism is not residual" and that "half of Spain does not want Franco to be exhumed or the Valley of the Fallen to be desecrated and pillaged".
From early Sunday morning, bridges on the A-6 motorway leading to the Valle de los Caídos were adorned with banners featuring portraits of Franco and the slogan "No-one touches the Valley". Later, roads became congested as hundreds of cars arrived at the entry to the monument.
Translation: Impressive queues to get into the Valle de los Caídos. Spain says that #NoOneTouchesTheValley.
At the entrance to the church, hundreds of people queued carrying pro-Franco flags and Spanish emblems. The chant of "Long live Franco and José Antonio" - referring to Spain's two 20th century right-wing dictators, Francisco Franco and José Antonio Primo de Rivera - was heard frequently from those attending. Nazi salutes were also on full view.
Translation: The gates of the basilica in the Valle de los Caídos have just been opened.
Versions of the fascist anthem Cara al Sol, along with insults directed against current Spanish prime minister Sánchez, were also part of the soundtrack as the right-wingers lined up to get into the first mass. Many were unable to get in due to the huge attendance.
España, 2018: miles de fascistas se concentran en el Valle de los Caídos para protestar contra la exhumación del genocida corrupto y asesino F. Franco.— Sergi Pinkman (@sergipinkman) 15 of July 2018
Esto en cualquier democracia sería ilegal y completamente intolerable.#LlibertatPresosPolíticspic.twitter.com/ji69LDkdmv
Spain, 2018: thousands of fascists gather at the Valle de los Caídos to protest against the exhumation of the corrupt and murderous genocidist F. Franco. In any democracy this would be illegal and completely intolerable.#FreedomPoliticalPrisoners - Sergi Pinkman
The organizing group calls the decision to exhume the dictator an "infamy" and said that "over many decades people have not been performed as they should" in the defence of Franco.
The event continued at the monument throughout the day on Sunday, until the last mass in the basilica at 5:30pm.
The enormous Valle de los Caídos monument was conceived by Francisco Franco himself as a place to honour and bury those who died in Spain's bloody Civil War, which brought Franco to power for almost four decades during which he ruled Spain as its dictator. Convict labour was used to construct the complex and an unknown number of workers died in the process.