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In the Moncloa-Aravaca district, at one of the main entrances to the capital, Madrid’s Victory Arch has rested since the 1950s. It was ordered to be built by the dictator Francisco Franco and commemorates the victory of the rebel side against the Republic in the battle of Ciudad Universitaria during the Civil War.
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It is one of the most important monuments commemorating the triumph of the army led by Franco. The arch, a Roman semicircular point and 30 meters high, is crowned by the quadriga of the Roman goddess of war, Minerva. And despite its current poor condition, its inscription can be read in Latin: ARMIS HIC VICTRICIBVS / MENS IVGITER VICTVRA / MONVMENTVM HOC / DDD Which means: “The mind that always has to win gives, donates and dedicates this monument to the here victorious weapons”. You can also glimpse: HISPANORUM DUCE, the ‘leader of the Spanish’. The monument also has two plaques alluding to the first and last letters of the Greek alphabet -alpha and omega-, on which are placed, in Roman numerals, the year the war began and ended.
The Francoist monument belongs to the Complutense University of Madrid (UCM), although at the end of last year its management and maintenance passed to the City Council for a period of 25 years. The fact that it is still standing has sparked much controversy in recent years because it violates the Historical Memory Law.
This month, the Association for the Recovery of Historical Memory (ARMH) has filed a complaint with the State Attorney General’s Office against the Rectorate of the UCM for maintaining a monument that “celebrates the victory of European fascism and exalts the leaders of the three armies that paraded in Madrid on May 19, 1939: Franco, Hitler and Mussolini”. The complaint responds to “the lack of response and passivity” from the university, since the association presented a withdrawal request to the Rectorate in November last year.
Emilio Silva, president of the association that oversees historical memory, has denounced that the Victory Arch is a monument that “celebrates the murder and disappearance of more than one hundred thousand republican civilians who still lie in ditches without their families being able to give them a decent burial.” He also added that it “commemorates the forced exile of half a million people” who died “far from their homes and were never able to reunite with their loved ones” as well as “a long period of kidnapping of Democracy.”
Law 52/2007, of the Historical Memory, in its Article 15 establishes that the public Administrations must take measures for the withdrawal of elements that exalt the military uprising, the Civil War and the repression of the Dictatorship. However, from the ARMH they denounce that “15 years after its approval, numerous streets, monuments and spaces that exalt Francoism still persist in Spain, which indicates that many institutions and public authorities have failed to comply with this legislation.”
In addition, Article 35 of Law 20/2022, on Democratic Memory, considers buildings, constructions, shields, insignia and plaques that make commemorative mentions in exaltation of the military uprising, the Dictatorship, its leaders as elements contrary to democratic memory. , participants in the repressive system or the organizations that supported the regime.
In this context, ARMH urges the State Attorney General’s Office to “take the necessary measures to guarantee compliance with the laws and prosecute those who, such as the rectorate of the Complutense University of Madrid, could be prevaricating by not properly applying these laws.” ”.
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