The remains of Gonzalo Queipo de Llano, a general who served under Spanish dictator Francisco Franco, will be moved from a chapel inside the Basilica de La Macarena in Seville to a common columbarium within the same church. The transfer, set to take place before Christmas, comes after years of pleas to remove the tomb from the sight of churchgoers and tourists.
General de Llano was responsible for the execution of more than 50,000 people in Seville
General De Llano was responsible for the execution of more than 50,000 people in Seville during the fascist uprising in 1936, and the presence of his remains at the basilica has been a source of constant debate.
But after years of clashes, José Antonio Fernández, senior brother of the Brotherhood of La Macarena, has confirmed that the remains will be moved to comply with Andalusia’s Historical and Democratic Memory Law, which bans “elements that are contrary to democratic memory” in private buildings “with public visibility.” The basilica is a private space but is used by the public as both a museum and a place of pilgrimage.
“I cannot take the remains without giving them a dignified resting place. It wouldn’t be Christian of me. The law has spoken and the Brotherhood will act,” said Fernández. The decision must still be confirmed by senior members of the Brotherhood and by the general’s family.
After the law was passed a year ago, the Brotherhood consulted three law firms, which listed the legal options in the event that the basilica owners should refuse to move the remains and go to court instead. If the family opposes the transfer, it will be up to a judge to make the final decision on the fate of the body of the general, who founded the basilica and was buried there in 1951. A republican association has already warned that it will turn to the courts if the law is not complied with.
The debate over De Llano’s remains comes as the Spanish government pushes to exhume Franco’s body from the Valley of the Fallen monument north of Madrid. But Fernández does not see the parallels, arguing that unlike the Valley of the Fallen, the basilica is a private space that receives no public funding.
“A born sadist”
Queipo de Llano is considered one of the bloodiest military generals of the Spanish Civil War. British writer Gerald Brenan described him as a “born sadist.” He used the radio station Unión Radio Sevilla as a vehicle for propaganda and as a tool to spread sexist and homophobic messages.
In one episode, collected by historian Fernando Romero, a man named Fernando Zamacola, who was a member of Spain’s fascist-inspired Falange party, recalls: “Arriving at the beach, I found the division of General Queipo de Llano, who had seen a group of prisoners. He asked who they were and when we told him they were Carabineros [a law enforcement group loyal to the established government], he ordered us to execute them, which we did immediately.”
English version by Melissa Kitson.