HISTORICAL MEMORY

Femen activists interrupt pro-Franco rally in Madrid

March to observe anniversary of dictator’s death was broken up by three half-naked women

A Franco supporter hits a Femen activist during a protest in Madrid (Spanish captions). Álvaro García / ATLAS

Feminist activists on Sunday interrupted a Madrid rally held to commemorate the anniversary of Franco’s death. Three members of the international collective Femen ran through the crowd half-naked, with the slogan “legal fascism, national shame” written across their breasts.

On their backs, the women had written “Stop 20N,” a reference to November 20, the date when Franco nostalgics gather annually to observe the late Spanish dictator’s death in 1975.

The police quickly moved in to pull the activists away from the angry demonstrators, some of whom had begun to push them around to cries of “whores.” One of these individuals was Manuel Andrino, the head of the far-right party Falange.

The march took place between Callao and Plaza de Oriente, a symbolic spot that was once the site of pro-government demonstrations during the Franco regime. Demonstrators stood or sat on folding chairs across from the Teatro Real, bearing signs with the slogans “Movement for Spain” and “Sánchez stop squatting and leave Franco in peace.”

The rally had been organized by the Association to Revoke the Historical Memory Law, a piece of legislation introduced in 2007 to recognize victims of the Civil War and condemn the Franco regime.

This law is now being invoked by Prime Minister Pedro Sánchez, of the Socialist Party (PSOE), to try to take Franco’s body out of its current resting place in the Valley of the Fallen, a controversial monument northwest of Madrid. The decision has triggered a dispute with the dictator’s family, who is threatening to take the remains to La Almudena cathedral, which is also located next to Plaza de Oriente.

English version by Susana Urra.

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