“Españoles: Franco ha muerto!” – Franco Has Died

November 20, 1975: The day the dictator of Spain, General Francisco Franco, died. This day is an important day in the history of Spain.

I’m sort-of watching the weekly 1-hour TVE1 Spanish television drama series “Cuéntame Cómo Pasó“, a popular series which takes place during Spain’s transition from dictatorship to democracy in the mid 1970s. It’s loved in Spain by mainly older generations – or at least by people older than 45 years old, those which remember how it was before and how Spain became shortly after Franco’s death. Most people enjoy the nostalgia of the show. But these weeks, approaching the 32nd anniversary of the dictator’s passing, the show is focusing on his failing health and eventual passing into…another life. (bet it’s hot down there!)

Believe it or not – okay, you believe it because this is the internet and almost anything goes here – there’s a website dedicated to Generalisimo Franco’s memory @ http://www.generalisimofranco.com/ . I hesitate even mentioning such a website but the fact is that its internet presence is astounding but, as said before, not surprising. Here on the internet you’ll even find entire communities centered around the most absorbent diapers – not a bad comparison is you ask me.

This coming weekend there’ll be a march from Madrid’s city center by General Franco’s followers, supporters, and (probably) skin heads to the Valle de los Caídos – the self-designed tomb by and for Franco. The march will go all night and likely arrive at the tomb by sunrise, all the while marching in military step – the way Franco would have wanted it. Soon, as I understand it, the tomb will be converted from a testament to Franco and the fascist regime to a monument to ALL of Spain’s victims during the Spanish Civil War and the long, hard, destructive aftermath.

Every year it’s the same on this day. You get a mix of fascists, skinheads, and the rival communists, anti-fascists, and love-thy-neighbor groups butting heads, surely reaching a boiling point resulting in riot police, molotov cocktails, fights, and on-metro stabbings among rival gangs.

A word to the wise, if you were thinking of going to downtown Madrid during the demonstrations this coming weekend – DON’T. You’ll be glad you didn’t.

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