A curious testimony of one of the doctors in charge of embalming the body of Francisco Franco has long been circulating among forensic science professionals. According to this doctor, rigor mortis would have already caused such stiffness to the dictator's right arm that, when he was going to put on the uniform of the captain general with which he was buried, he had to give some stitches with thread to the cuff to sew it to the warrior in order that the limb of the body would not rise with the effect that the reader can imagine before the tens of thousands of Spaniards who paraded before his burning chapel.
What is true about this story of unquestionable macabre flavor I cannot assert, but I transcribe it as I heard it from a forensic friend. But the stitch with thread leads me to the main issue raised by the decision taken yesterday by the Supreme Court, unanimously endorsing the decision of the Government of Pedro Sánchez to exhume Franco , democratically approved by the majority of the Congress of Deputies, headquarters of the national sovereignty: if the resort to the mummy of Franco by the socialist leader, as if he were a puppeteer who drives a cardboard puppet with threads, will distract us from the disturbing lack of political project for the Spanish society of one of the fundamental parties of our democratic system.
It is recurring to affirm that Sánchez and his Áulico advisor Iván Redondo do not give stitch without thread, but it would have to be asked if this time they will not have given it on the remains of the PSOE itself to prevent public opinion from discovering its rigor mortis in terms of future vision on the solution to the real problems facing the Spaniards.
That Franco has been an electoral claim, and that it will continue to be in view of the next appointment with the polls, it is unquestionable, even if its effect is unknown. Especially when his transfer to the cemetery of Mingorrubio, in El Pardo, far from accelerating the road to the oblivion of the tenant of the valley of Cuelgamuros will enhance its relevance.
The change of grave means nothing less than to house Franco almost in the shadow of the palace where he maintained , from his transfer there in 1940 as the victor of the war, his dictatorial power until his death in 1975. If this would help the reparation of the victims of the dictatorship, he would be the first to celebrate it, like so many other Spaniards, but I am very afraid that, as with so many other empty and merely propagandistic provisions of the so-called historical memory , it will contribute little to doing justice with the victims' memory. dictator rehoused in his historic fief. It is as if to settle accounts with King Ferdinand VII his exhumation of the Pantheon of Kings of the Monastery of El Escorial and his new burial in the Palace of Aranjuez, scene of some of his famous felonies were arranged.
This absurd journey of Franco's bones, conceived more as a political carnival show than as a real incentive for our democratic strength, contradicts the true influence that the dictatorship that he established and personified today has among the Spaniards. Somewhat less than half of the current Spanish population (20.7 million people) has lived under the dictatorship, although half of them (9.6 million) were minors when Franco died. Despite this, a CIS survey indicated in 2008 that, for 61% of the respondents, the most important historical event for Spain had been the Transition and the current democracy , while only 8.8% responded that the Franco regime .
Presumably, ten years later, the percentage of those who consider the dictatorship as our most important historical event has continued to decline, unless the political use of history has had the inverse and perverse effect of increasing in generations born with democracy the opinion that Francoism is the most relevant thing that has happened to them in their lives. Something that Pedro Sánchez himself, who was three years old at the death of Franco , and other politicians who seem willing to pull the dictator's right arm to hang it like a votive at the door of the Cortes, hoping for a miracle at the polls.
Spain will not be more democratic for having Franco in one place instead of another, but because we are able to respect all opinions on the matter, in favor or against keeping Franco in Cuelgamuros , without undermining the dignity or the legitimacy of positions different from ours. And, of course, what would have made Spain a stronger democracy would have been to reach the maximum political and social consensus regarding the eviction of the dictator's remains. The majority support of the Congress is unquestionable , but no one can deny that it was achieved, like almost everything in this field of historical review, with the previous environmental media blackmail that forces PP and Cs to be almost always inhibited in these matters far from real interest of the Spaniards so as not to be labeled as Franco.
If the electoralist overreaction of the left adds to this inhibition, it is clear that there was little gap for consensus on this issue. What is very regrettable because it has absurdly turned Franco's exhumation into a confrontation factor between democratic forces, deepening the climate of disagreement and division that has already weighed our coexistence for some five years. If instead, the question had been addressed from the beginning with a conciliatory spirit, even towards the Franco family itself , we would be talking, indeed, of an exercise of democratic maturity and not of a whim of upstart, which is what Sanchez I should have avoided.
Here I must break a spear by the rigor with which he faced the present and future of the Valley of the Fallen, including the burial of Franco, the commission of experts appointed by the socialist Government of José Luis Rodríguez Zapatero in 2011 , chaired by Virgilio Zapatero and by Pedro González-Trevijano , with personalities such as Miguel Herrero , Amelia Valcárcel or Feliciano Barrios . Nothing in his 31-page report, which I have in front of me as I write, encouraged discord over a matter as natural as the place that a democracy should reassign to a dictator who is already history.
To make Franco's bones part of the electoral grinding, together with Torra outbursts, the sudoku of regional financing , the economic breakdown or illegal immigration, it seems like an improper political horror of an advanced democracy that has been exemplary precisely to when closing some of the painful accounts of the fratricidal past.
Still, I give up arguing with anyone about where Franco's spoils are best. I do not care, although I reiterate my inclination to take them somewhere in the abbey of Cuelgamuros of restricted access. As far as I am concerned, I am much more concerned about the unconsciousness with which sorcerer's apprentices can unleash, even with the most trivial excuses, the most uncontrollable forces of our vertiginous national abysses . But, just like when Rodríguez Zapatero removed the statue of Franco de los Nuevos Ministerios at dawn in 2005, when they are going to dig up his remains from the Valley of the Fallen that also do not wake me up.
Pedro Corral is a journalist and writer.
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