Spanish mayor blocks move to rid city of Gen Franco’s memory
By Fiona Govan in Madrid
Published: 6:30AM BST 07 Sep 2009
Residents in the provincial capital 37 miles northeast of Madrid have said they will fight a request to change the names of streets honouring those associated with the dictator Gen Francisco Franco.
Under the Law of Historical Memory, introduced two years ago by Prime Minister Jose Luis Rodriquez Zapatero’s socialist government, all public symbols and names associated with Franco’s fascist regime are to be removed.
The law, which attempts to honour the victims of the 1936-39 Spanish Civil War and ensuing four decade dictatorship, has proved controversial, with those on the right-wing accusing the government of “reopening old wounds” and rewriting history.
While towns across the rest of Spain have complied with law and removed statues honouring Franco and his henchmen and renamed streets named after them, the conservative run council in Guadalajara said it will block the move.
The city’s mayor Antonio Roman, of the right-wing Popular Party (PP), said residents in four streets named after heroes of the Falange movement – the Spanish fascist party – had overwhelming opposed any name change.
“We have canvassed opinion and 96 per cent of those living on those streets are happy with the current names,” he said adding that his role was to listen to the wishes of people.
Of the 480 residents on the four streets, named; Travesa de Hermanos Ros Emperador, Calle Hermanos Ros Emperador, Calle de Gutiérrez Orejon and Plaza Capitan Boixareu Rivera, only 12 expressed support for renaming.
In a move that could have repercussions across Spain the mayor challenged Madrid to force the issue in the courts.
“Laws are open to interpretation,” Mr Roman said. “If keeping the names goes against it (the constitution) then let a judge say so.”