Spain dismisses military by blessing in monument to Franco

MADRID ( Associated Press) — The Spanish Armed Forces have fired an Army captain after the publication of a video that showed 30 soldiers from his unit kneeling in front of the Valle de los Caídos mausoleum, the most prominent symbol of the dictatorship of the late General Francisco Frank.

The Defense Ministry said Thursday that the captain was removed from his post hours after the video appeared on social media and said the investigation into the incident would be completed within 48 hours.

The recording, made public by a pro-democracy group in the Army, showed the soldiers kneeling, with their rifles in their hands, on the steps of the esplanade of the mausoleum while a priest blessed them.

Many considered that the video tarnishes Spain’s claim to be a secular state, and several political parties have demanded an explanation from Defense Minister Margarita Robles.

The grandiose mausoleum, located on the outskirts of Madrid and featuring an imposing cross that can be seen from several kilometers (miles) away, was the place where Franco was buried and has always been a revered shrine for followers of Franco. the far right. The previous socialist government ordered the exhumation of the dictator’s remains in 2019 under a law that prohibited his exaltation in the place.

This decision fulfilled a long-standing wish on the part of the Spanish population, who considered the temple an affront to Franco’s victims and to Spain’s position as a modern democratic state. Thousands of political prisoners who worked on the construction of the Valley of the Fallen are buried there without identification.

Franco ruled Spain between 1939 and 1975 after leading, along with other high-ranking military officers, an insurrection against the democratic government in 1936, which led to a three-year civil war. The Army and the Catholic Church were the backbone of the Franco regime until the dictator’s death in 1975.

In recent years, there have been isolated incidents in which retired officers have criticized the government and expressed nostalgia for the Franco regime.

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