Spanish MPs approve exhumation of dictator Franco

Former Spanish dictator General Francisco Franco salutes the crowd watched by the former Spanish king, Juan Carlos I. (Reuters)
Updated 13 September 2018
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Spanish MPs approve exhumation of dictator Franco

  • Franco was buried in 1975 in the Valley of the Fallen, a shrine he ordered built 50 kilometers northwest of Madrid
  • The sensitive decision to move Franco’s remains from his vast mausoleum near Madrid was approved by parliament

MADRID: Spanish lawmakers on Thursday approved a decree by the Socialist government authorizing the exhumation of late dictator Francisco Franco.
The sensitive decision to move Franco’s remains from his vast mausoleum near Madrid was approved by a vote of 172 in favor, two against and 164 abstentions.
Franco was buried in 1975 in the Valley of the Fallen, a shrine he ordered built 50 kilometers (30 miles) northwest of Madrid and topped with a 150-meter cross.
In August, Spain’s new center-left administration of Pedro Sanchez approved legal amendments to a 2007 law to allow the exhumation.

Built by Franco’s regime between 1940 and 1959 — in part by the forced labor of political prisoners — the monument holds the remains of around 37,000 dead from both sides of the civil war, which was triggered by Franco’s rebellion against an elected Republican government.
Franco, whose Nationalist forces defeated the Republicans in the war, dedicated the site to “all the fallen” of the conflict in an attempt at reconciliation, but only two graves are marked — those of Franco and Jose Antonio Primo de Rivera, the founder of the far-right Falangist party which supported Franco.
But victims’ relatives and activists have campaigned against it because forced labor was used in its construction and because it keeps Franco’s tomb in a prominent location, near the basilica’s altar.
The site was long used as a place to pay tribute to Franco on the anniversary of his death, but that was stopped by a 2007 law.
Many on the left are repulsed by its existence, comparing it to a monument glorifying Hitler. Others, often on the right, insist the Valley of the Fallen is just a piece of history whose critics have twisted its true meaning.
In parliament on Thursday, Deputy Prime Minister Carmen Calvo called for the end of the “extraordinary anomaly” of having a former dictator “exalted” in a state mausoleum.
“There will be no respect, no honor, no harmony as long as Franco’s remains are in the same place as his victims,” Calvo said.
She recalled that parliament had already approved last year a non-binding motion calling for Franco’s remains to be removed from the mausoleum but the motion was ignored by the former conservative government of Mariano Rajoy.
Rajoy’s government condemned Francoism but had blocked previous attempts to exhume the dictator’s bones.
The Socialist government has indicated the body would be exhumed by the end of the year.
Franco’s family has fiercely opposed the decision, which has divided Spain and opened old wounds.
The family has said it would if necessary “take care” of Franco´s remains which was taken to mean they will take them to a family vault in Madrid.
According to deputy PM Calvo, if the family refuses to transfer his remains there, the government will pick a spot to rebury him.
The Francisco Franco Foundation, which receives state funding despite some calls to end it, has pledged to legally fight any moves to exhume Franco’s remains.


El Salvador court frees woman jailed for delivering stillborn

Evelyn Hernandez (C) is surrounded by activists after being released from the women's Readaptation Center, in Ilopango, El Salvador, on February 9, 2019, where she was serving a 30-year-sentence for aggravated homicide after her baby died at birth. (AFP)
Updated 16 February 2019
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El Salvador court frees woman jailed for delivering stillborn

  • Even women who abort due to birth defects or health complications risk jail sentences of up to 40 years in El Salvador

SAN SALVADOR: A Salvadoran court on Friday freed Evelyn Hernandez, who was sentenced to 30 years in prison after she gave birth to a stillborn baby at home.
After serving 33 months for aggravated homicide, 20-year-old Hernandez smiled as she was reunited with her parents and a brother in the capital San Salvador.
The court in Cojutepeque, east of the capital, ruled that she will be retried but while living at home. A hearing has been set for April 4, with a new judge, her lawyer Angelica Rivas said.
El Salvador has an extremely strict abortion ban. Hernandez gave birth in the makeshift bathroom of her home in the central Cuscatlan region. She was 18 years old and eight months pregnant.
She said her son was stillborn but was convicted of murdering him, abortion rights group ACDATEE said.
ACDATEE cited a pathologist’s report which it said indicated the baby had choked to death while still in the womb.
Prosecutors argued Hernandez was culpable for not having sought prenatal care, ACDATEE said.
The group said Hernandez had not known she was pregnant and gave birth on the toilet after feeling abdominal pains. She got pregnant as the result of a rape, which she did not report out of fear because her family had been threatened.
Even women who abort due to birth defects or health complications risk jail sentences of up to 40 years in El Salvador. Campaigners say some have been jailed after suffering miscarriages.
The country’s abortion law made international headlines in 2013 when a sick woman was forbidden from aborting a fetus which developed without a brain.
Under a ruling by the Inter-American Court of Human Rights, the Salvadoran state eventually authorized her to undergo a cesarean section. The baby died shortly after the procedure.