Madrid renames streets honouring Franco heroes

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Madrid on Thursday changed the name of two streets that paid tribute to generals serving late dictator Francisco Franco, starting a process that will eventually see at least 49 roads in the Spanish capital renamed.

In so doing, Madrid — run by a leftwing coalition — is enforcing a nationwide “historical memory” law passed under the national Socialist government in 2007 that calls for the gradual replacement of symbols linked to Franco’s brutal 1939-75 rule.

On Thursday, workers took down the signs for “General Millan Astray Street” — referring to the man who founded the Spanish Legion and who was a good friend of Franco’s — and “General Garcia de la Herranz Street.”

The latter died in the early days of the 1936-9 civil war that pitted Franco’s nationalists against republicans.

The workers then replaced them with “Teacher Justa Freire Street”, named after a famous educator, and “Cooperation Street.”

The “historical memory” law had been resisted by previous conservative city administrations as Spain struggles to come to terms with the civil war and Franco’s subsequent dictatorship — particularly dark chapters of its recent history.

Several associations including the National Francisco Franco Foundation, which aims to keep memory of the dictator alive, filed appeals last year against the May 2017 decision by Madrid’s city council to change the street names.

The move forced the Spanish capital to suspend the changes.

But a Madrid court then ruled against the foundation’s appeal, allowing the city to go ahead.