Francoisme: Franco’s summer palace handed over to the Spanish state amid legal battle | Spain
After 82 years in the hands of the Franco family, a country estate known as Pazo de Meirás was handed over to the Spanish state on Thursday following a court ruling declaring it public property. The dictator’s descendants appealed the decision.
The keys to the property, located in Sada, in the northwestern region of Galicia, Spain, were officially handed over in a noon ceremony after experts from the Spanish National Heritage Agency verified the state of the property and its contents, sources from the High Regional Court said. from Galicia.
The move comes after the center-left coalition government of the Socialist Party (PSOE) and Unidas Podemos started a legal battle to reclaim the property in July 2019. In a separate legal victory, in October last year, the government moved Franco’s remains from the Valley of the Dead mausoleum outside Madrid following another protracted legal dispute with the family of Francisco Franco, who ruled a dictatorship from 1939 until his death in 1975.
Deputy Prime Minister Carmen Calvo said that the transfer of ownership “is worthy of Spanish democracy and memory”. She added that “thousands and thousands of men and women have called for this place to become part of Spain’s public heritage” and that when the site reopens, the public will be confronted with “the history and truth of what happened: with the presence of Franco, but from the point of view of democratic memory and democratic discourse.
In September, a court in La Coruña ruled that the Spanish state was the rightful owner of the summer residence. Franco’s descendants have been urged to relinquish the Pazo de Meirás without any compensation for the maintenance costs they claim to have had over eight decades. The dispute brought local, provincial, regional and national authorities against six of Franco’s grandchildren and their company Prístina, SL.
In her ruling, Judge Marta Canales overturned a 1938 transaction in which a group of Franco’s supporters donated the Pazo de Meirás to her in the midst of the Spanish Civil War (1936-1939) after buying it through a subscription public that residents were forced to contribute to.
During the donation ceremony, Franco, who was himself born in Galicia, said: “I accept with pleasure, exclusively because it is a gift from my fellow Galicians”. Franco then pledged public works projects for the four provinces that make up the northwest region. Judge Canales also ruled that Franco had “faked” the purchase of the estate on May 24, 1941, in order to obtain registration of the property in his name at the local registrar’s office in Betanzos.
The property will reopen its doors to visitors “in five to six weeks,” according to Spanish Deputy Prime Minister Carmen Calvo.
Calvo has met with representatives of various government agencies to clarify the use that will be made of the property. Galician Prime Minister Alberto Nuñez Feijóo, of the Popular Party (PP), confirmed on Wednesday that he had asked Prime Minister Pedro Sánchez to transfer ownership to the Galician government.
“We requested the transfer because it was owned by a Galician family and was purchased with contributions from Galicians. And also because we know what we want to do, ”said the regional manager. His plan is to bring back the spirit of the original owner, the writer and Countess Emilia Pardo Bazán, whose family built it in a style reminiscent of a medieval castle, with towers, and filled it with literary symbols. . The property was damaged by fire in 1978.
Lawyers representing the Spanish state said two items, the Casa de las Conchas building and the adjoining attic, would remain in the possession of the Franco family.
“The content of the Pazo de Meirás will remain as it is until a final decision is made. There are items that are clearly of a personal nature and they will be returned within the next 20 days, ”said Consuelo Castro Rey, head of the Solicitor General’s office, at a press conference where she underlined the“ meaning of historical justice ”in the surrender. . “This is the return of an asset reaching hands it should never have left, those of the state,” she said.
The Casa de las Conchas was confiscated in 1962 under Franco’s rule from a local emigrant, but the Spanish state left it out of trial as it is located outside the property’s perimeter wall. .
english version by Susana Urra.