Galician artist Enrique Tenreiro daubed the tomb of former Spanish dictator Francisco Franco with paint on Wednesday morning, in the Valley of the Fallen monument, located northwest of Madrid. At 11am, and in the presence of a few dozen visitors to the Francoist mausoleum Tenreiro approached the gravestone and drew a dove and the phrase “for freedom” using bright red paint.
“I decided to carry out an artistic action consisting of drawing a dove of peace on Franco’s tomb,” Terneiro told journalist Pedro Armestre, who caught the incident on video. “I am not trying to harm the family nor his followers, what I want is a space of freedom,” he added.
“Today I recorded the artist Enrique Terneiro painting a dove of peace in a protest action on the tomb of #Franco”
When the artist was detained by security guards, he shouted: “For freedom and the reconciliation of Spaniards, so that there is no defeated side.”
The Civil Guard arrested Tenreiro, having identified him as well as collecting information about the facts of the incident, according to Patrimonio Nacional, the heritage department in charge of the Valley of the Fallen monument.
The man had smuggled the paint into the basilica where Franco’s tomb is located in a plastic container, thus avoiding detection by the current security measures.
The incident comes in the midst of ongoing controversy over the exhumation of Franco, which is being planned by the Socialist Party (PSOE) government of Prime Minister Pedro Sánchez. The plan has run into problems, however, given that the Franco family want to see the remains of their grandfather transferred to a family crypt they own in La Almudena cathedral, which is in central Madrid and is a tourist attraction. The current resting place of Franco, the Valley of the Fallen, is located 55 kilometers northwest of the city center.
English version by Simon Hunter.