Protesters March Against Burying Franco in Madrid Catholic Cathedral

Hundreds outside the main Catholic church in Madrid Thursday protested against the possibility that Spanish dictator Francisco Franco may be laid to rest there.

Demonstrators carried signs denouncing Franco as a criminal and waved photos of him standing next to his ally, Nazi dictator Adolf Hitler.

One protester said he would rather see Franco’s remains tossed into a ditch than placed in the crypt inside the Almudena Roman Catholic Cathedral.

Spain’s government wants to exhume Franco’s body from a mausoleum that glorifies the dictator’s memory. Many dead from the Spanish Civil War, including those who fought against Franco’s forces, are also buried there, many in unmarked graves. Spanish officials have not said where they want to place Franco’s remains.

His family wants to re-inter the body in the Franco family crypt in the cathedral, a proposition many of descendants and victims of the Spanish Civil War find unacceptable.

Franco-led military forces, backed by Hitler’s Nazis and Mussolini’s Fascists, defeated leftist Republicans in the Spanish civil war, from 1936 to 1939.

Franco spent the next 36 years ruling Spain as a military dictatorship, stifling free speech and brutally suppressing the opposition until his death in 1975.

Historians say hundreds of thousands were killed by the regime. Franco’s supporters credit him with saving the country from communism and an alliance with the Soviet Union.

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