Largest Francoist monument in Catalonia won’t be dismantled until next year at earliest

Justice minister does not foresee courts resolving open appeals in time to remove structure this summer

The Francoist monument in Tortosa (by Mar Rovira)
The Francoist monument in Tortosa (by Mar Rovira) / ACN

ACN | Barcelona

July 8, 2022 04:22 PM

The largest Francoist monument in Catalonia will not be dismantled until next summer, at the earliest. 

The monument, standing in the middle of the river in the southern Catalan town of Tortosa, was supposed to be removed last summer, but a late court order halted proceedings

Catalonia’s justice minister does not believe that those open appeals will be resolved soon, which is why removing the monument this summer seems highly unlikely.

The monument commemorates those who died in the Battle of the Ebre, one of the biggest and most significant battles of the Spanish civil war, which ended in a victory for Franco’s nationalist forces, and was erected in 1966 during the fascist dictatorship.

The dismantling of the structure was set to get underway last July when the conditions of the river, with a low flow of water, made it easier to install the necessary machinery. 

Whether the court rules in favor of removing the monument, or whether it will be necessary to wait for the new law of democratic memory to protect it, which is likely to be ready in September, its dismantling will be delayed for at least another year. 

Justice minister Lourdes Ciuró described the delay as "unjustifiable." However, the department is ready to begin work on removing the structure as soon as it can continue the procedure. 

Delay to dismantlement

Following an appeal in the summer of 2021 brought forth by the Collective for the Reinterpretation of the Monument of the Battle of Ebre (Corembe), a local residents’ organization, the scheduled dismantlement of the Francoist Tortosa monument was halted.

“It is a victory for common sense and for doing things the right way,” the group’s spokesperson, Joan Otero, said following the ruling last year.

The dismantling was set to start on July 18, 2021, and be completely removed by early August. Yet, authorities had been surveying the area since June 2 in order to begin works. 

Works could have even possibly started earlier than expected, as the justice minister had suggested prior to the planned start date. Because Corembe was concerned about the presence of construction machinery and Ciuró’s words, it filed a petition for the operation to be stopped, which was accepted by Tarragona courts.

Pere Aragonès, Catalonia’s president, and Ester Capella, the former justice minister, stated last year following the court ruling that Francoism should not be normalized, and that taking down the monument would dignify the victims of the Battle of the Ebre. 

Significance of Francoist monument 

The monolith was inaugurated in 1966 by Spain’s fascist dictator, Francisco Franco, to pay homage to the fallen of the Battle of the Ebre. Tens of thousands of people died in what became a major Republican defeat in the Spanish Civil War. 

Because of this, many wish to take down the Franco-era monument, although others wish to “reinterpret” the structure as it is part of Tortosa’s history and also because they believe “it can be associated with other concepts everyone can get behind.”