Hundreds of thousands of Spaniards converged on central Madrid at the weekend to mark the first anniversary of the death of General Franco.
Hundreds of thousands of Spaniards converged on central Madrid at the weekend to mark the first anniversary of the death of General Franco. The capital reverberated with calls by right wingers to restore the authoritarian state of France who ruled Spain for 40 years.
SYNOPSIS: The rally was held in competition with an official memorial mass presided over by King Juan Carlos and Prime Minister Adolfo Suarez. The mass was held in the basilica in the Valley of the Fallen, 50 kilometres (30 miles) outside of Madrid where general Franco is buried. The entire Spanish government and the dictator's widow, Dona Carmen Polo, also attended the service.
The King and Queen Sophia joined hundreds of Falangists at the mass. During the night the Falangists, the only party allowed by General Franco, trekked to the Valley from Madrid carrying two wreaths. One was for the tomb of Franco and the other for Jose Antonio Primo de Rivera, founder of the Falange movement.
But it was the rally in Madrid's Plaza de Oriente which drew the attention of most Spaniards. The Plaza, where General Franco used to address mass rallies in support of his regime, was turned into a sea of white handkerchiefs.
The crowds, estimated at 60,000 to 100,000, attended an emotional prayer service in memory of Frnaco. The General made his last public appearance here in October last year before falling fatally ill. The demonstrators shouted "franco Yes, Traitors No" as they marched to the Spanish parliament, the Cortes. The demonstration was called by the 600,000 strong Confederation of Nationalist Civil War Veterans.
A column of several hundred marchers went to police headquarters to show their support for the police.
Outside the Cortes the demonstrators charged members of parliament with being traitors. They were protesting against the passage of a bill two days earlier establishing a freely-elected parliament and dismantling General Franco's Authoritarian regime. They said "Franco gave us bread and peace, we do not need reforms".