Last remaining statue of Franco to be removed

by Deborah Cater
Statue of Franco Melilla
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The regional government of the Spanish enclave of Melilla decides to remove the last statue of dictator Franco. All parties support the decision, with the exception of PP and Vox.

The Partido Popular did not vote on the issue. The far-right party Vox voted against the removal of the Franco statue in the port of Melilla because they consider it to be: “important cultural and historical heritage of the autonomous city of Melilla”. According to Vox, the Law on Historical Remembrance would not relate to this statue.  It pays homage to Franco who, as commander of the Spanish army, kept Melilla out of the hands of the Riffian leader Abdelkrim in 1921.

General or Hero of the Rif War?

The statue, erected three years after the death of the former dictator Francisco Franco, stands in Cuesta de la Florentina . The statue has been moved a number of times, but will now disappear from the streets for good. Regional Minister of Culture, Elena Fernández, rejected Vox’s counter-argument. The 1975 approval for the placement of the statue, she said, was a tribute to “General Franco”. Not until three years later, did the reasoning change and the honour go to “Commander of the Spanish Army in 1921”.

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Historic day

Fernández calls February 22, 2021 a historic day for Melilla for the decision to “remove the only remaining statue of a dictator in a public space in Europe.” In February last year, the Melilla regional president announced he wanted to remove the statue of Franco “as soon as possible”.

Like Vox, the former PP president Juan José Imbroda indicated the statue was a tribute to Franco for his role as an army commander in the 1921 Rif War. The Spanish Asociación Memorialista Ranz Orosas (AMRO) demanded the Melilla regional government take down the statue of the dictator, last December.

On January 28, the Commission of Education, Culture, Festivities and Equality finally approved the proposal to remove the statue from a public space. In the full vote on February 2, Vox was the only party to vote wholeheartedly against the removal of the Franco monument. Their argument was, without Franco Melilla would not now be a Spanish enclave.

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