Spain's justice ministry said Wednesday it had ordered more than 600 municipalities across the country to remove symbols honoring the dictatorship of Francisco Franco which are still on display in public spaces. A so-called "Historical Memory" law approved in 2007 requires the removal of all remaining Franco symbols such as street names bearing the name of Franco generals and statues from public spaces. Some exceptions are allowed for works of particular religious or artistic significance. But according national statistics institute INE there are still 1,171 streets and squares across Spain named after Franco-era government figures, the justice ministry said in a statement.
Since he came to power in June, Socialist Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez has made rehabilitating the memory of the hundreds of thousands of Republican victims of Spain's 1936-39 civil war and the four decades of dictatorship that followed under Franco, who died in 1975.
The centerpiece of this effort is his government's plans to exhume Franco's remains from a vast mausoleum drilled into the side of a mountain at the Valley of the Fallen near Madrid to a more discreet spot. Franco, whose Nationalist forces defeated the Republicans in the war, dedicated the site to "all the fallen" of the conflict in an attempt at reconciliation. But only two graves are marked, those of Franco and Jose Antonio Primo de Rivera, the founder of the far-right Falangist party which supported Franco.