Remains of Primo de Rivera will be excavated from the Valley of the Fallen

by Lorraine Williamson
Primo de Rivera

MADRID – The remains of Primo de Rivera will soon be exhumed and transferred from the altar of the Valle de Cuelgamuros, formerly the Valley of the Fallen, to another place in the basilica. Until three and a half years ago, his remains lay there next to Franco’s. 

On October 24, 2019, Franco’s remains were removed from the Basilica. From that date, Primo de Rivera’s remains were the only ones left at the altar. However, a permit has now been granted for the excavation. According to Efe, the city council of San Lorenzo de El Escorial has granted planning permission to remove the tombstone of José Antonio Primo de Rivera in order to exhume the body of the founder of the nationalist Spanish political party Falange. This played an important role during the civil war and in the following years during the Franco regime. 

Related post: Remains of Francoist general removed from the basilica in Seville 

On January 20, the Santa Cruz del Valle de los Caídos Foundation applied for the relevant licenses from the Council. These were then granted on February 23 and so, the marble stones can now be removed. Moreover, the cost of this will amount to €8,630. 

Once the excavation work has been carried out by the authorised funeral home, the floor should be replaced with black Marquina marble tiles. These must therefore, have the same characteristics as those in the surrounding floor. 

The procedure communicated to the City Council also includes a guideline on what to do if a nearby stone is damaged in this intervention: “Replacement, where appropriate, of the adjacent slabs affected by the removal of the granite slab.” At the request of the family, the government is conducting the process as discreetly as possible. Therefore, there will be as little publicity as possible. 

Family fulfils uncle’s will 

In a statement, the relatives said that with this action they are fulfilling their uncle’s will to be buried in a holy cemetery, in accordance with the Catholic rite. The law of Democratic Memory stipulates that “the crypts adjacent to the basilica and those buried there have the character of a civil cemetery”. So is the family’s will to transfer the remains to another place “that the family has decided” and which they did not specify. 

Related post: Franco shot about 40,000 people in peace-time 

Cogesa Expats

As evidenced by the local government council minutes that Efe had access to, works must begin within a one-year period and be completed within three years. Both counting from the notification of the administrative act granting the permit. 

Primo de Rivera 

José Antonio Primo de Rivera (1903-1936) was a Spanish lawyer, politician and founder of the Falange party. Born in Madrid, he was the son of General Miguel Primo de Rivera. The General also served as Prime Minister of Spain from 1923 to 1930. 

After graduating from law school, José Antonio Primo de Rivera briefly practised law before entering politics. In 1933 he founded the Falange Party. This became one of the most influential political movements in Spain in the 1930s. 

Primo de Rivera was a charismatic leader and speaker who attracted many young Spaniards to the Falange party. He believed that Spain needed a strong, authoritarian government to overcome all social and economic problems and restore its position as a world power. 

Primo de Rivera’s political ideology was heavily influenced by fascist and nationalist ideas. Moreover, his own personal experiences growing up in a military family also had a hugh impact. 

In 1936, Primo de Rivera was arrested by the Republican government and charged with conspiracy against the state. He was imprisoned in Alicante and later transferred to a prison in Madrid. There he was executed by firing squad in November 1936. 

Primo de Rivera remains a controversial figure in Spanish history. Some see him as a heroic defender of traditional Spanish values. But others see him as a dangerous extremist who promoted authoritarianism and repression. After being buried in the Almudena Cemetery in Madrid, he was transferred to his current grave in the Basilica of the Valle de los Caídos in 1959. 

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