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Spain’s socialist government seeks to outlaw pro-Franco groups

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Spain’s socialist government seeks to outlaw pro-Franco groups

The Valley of the Fallen mausoleum holding the remains of civil war dead
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REUTERS/Juan Medina
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The Spanish government has put forward plans to outlaw groups that honour former dictator Francisco Franco, as well as increasing help for his victims.

Justice Minister Dolores Delgado presented to parliament a series of reforms to Spain’s 2007 law that condemned for the first time his fascist regime.

It reopens the controversy over the country’s past and Franco’s legacy. The political left generally favours picking over his four decades in power, whereas the right wants to let it lie to avoid aggravating old wounds.

State funds will be provided to exhume the remains of his regime’s victims from mass graves. The government estimates that around 1,200 mass graves, dating from the 1936-39 Spanish Civil War, have yet to be opened.

The last government under conservative Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy cut off state funding for exhumations.

Delgado also said Spain’s government was seeking to make organisations that defend Franco’s legacy illegal. One foundation created in 1976, the year after his death, continues to honour him and minimises the extent of his violent repression.

Spain’s socialist government also wants to remove the dictator’s remains and tributes from a controversial memorial near Madrid.

Unlike Hitler and Mussolini whose support he enjoyed, Franco continued to rule for decades throughout the mid-20th Century.

Political opponents were killed, the media controlled and democracy openly opposed. However, in his later years he enjoyed considerable popular support as living standards rose.

Franco-era crimes were pardoned in the late 1970s as Spain began building its new democracy. Since then, pro-Franco groups have only attracted marginal support.