Spain cancels 33 titles awarded by dictator Franco to his family and aides

MADRID – Spain on Friday abolished 33 aristocratic titles awarded by dictator Francisco Franco and his successor to loyal lieutenants and family as a new ‘democratic memory’ law came into effect.

The measure affects two of Franco’s grandchildren, as well as the descendants of several of his top generals, ministers and other senior officials.

Franco ruled Spain from 1939 to 1975 after leading a military coup against the left-wing elected government of the Popular Front of the Second Republic, which resulted in a three-year civil war that claimed the lives of 500,000 people.

The law, which recently lifted its last parliamentary obstacle in the upper house, equates “the glorification of the perpetrators of crimes against humanity” with the humiliation of the victims of the Franco regime and removes titles that exalt civil war and dictatorship military.

While most of the titles were granted by Franco himself as a reward for their loyalty, five people affected by the law were ennobled by his successor as head of state, the former king Juan Carlos I, in the first months of his reign after the death of Franco.

Francisco Franco Martinez-Bordiu, the eldest grandson of the autocrat who inherited the lordship of Meiras from Franco’s widow, Carmen Polo, described the abolition of the title as “nonsense without any practical effect” in a July interview with the newspaper El Independiente.

“I will continue to be lord of Meiras even if the government does not recognize it,” he said.

His sister, Carmen Martinez-Bordiu, will be stripped of the Duchy of Franco, granted by Juan Carlos I to Franco’s only daughter shortly after the strongman’s death at the end of 1975.

Others affected by the bill include relatives of the founder of the fascist Falange party, Jose Antonio Primo de Rivera, and descendants of Generals Gonzalo Queipo de Llano and Juan Yagüe, who ordered massacres of civilians in the towns of Seville and Badajoz, respectively.

Fourteen years after Spain passed its first ‘historical memory’ law, new legislation imposed by the centre-left government aims to close loopholes and cover a wider range of Franco-related victims and crimes .

It also promotes the search and exhumation of victims buried in more than 3,000 documented mass graves. At least 114,000 civilians were victims of enforced disappearances during the war and subsequent crackdown, according to a 2008 court ruling.

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