montañas y valles

When colonialism wins:

marcel burkhard
Mount Rushmore, located in the Black Hills of Occupied Sioux Territory, which was renamed ‘South Dakota’ by white settlers. Photo by Marcel Burkhard.


When fascism wins:

Valle de los Caídos (Valley of the Fallen) outside of Madrid, Spain. Photo by Godot13.

For all the complaints around the brutality of American colonialism, at least Mount Rushmore wasn’t built using the slave labor of those on the ‘losing’ side.

Francisco Franco‘s monument to Fascism, on the other hand, was built using the labor of Spanish Republican prisoners who were captured both during and after the Spanish Civil War. The structure is a tomb that contains the remains of over 40,ooo dead who fought on both sides of the civil war, as well as the bodies of Franco and Falangist founder José Antonio Primo de Rivera.

Currently, there are two main political parties in Spain. The Spanish Socialist Worker’s Party is social-democratic, not much different from most socialist political parties in Europe. The People’s Party is not only right-wing, but contains strong strains of monarchism and Carlism, and many of its politicians and followers were directly involved with the Franco regime. And the fates of structures like the Valle de los Caídos, as well as the fate of over a hundred thousand bodies lying in mass graves, are very much dependent on which party is in control at any given time.

To this day, a yearly mass is held in honor of Franco at the Valle de los Caídos, which attracts Falangist sympathizers from throughout Spain. The Socialist government had put an end to this gathering in 2007, having banned such celebrations under the Historical Memory Law and having closed the Valle de los Caídos to the public under the same law, but when the People’s Party regained power in 2011, the monument was once again reopened and the yearly mass now continues.

One of the most common symbols displayed at the Mass, other than the Falangist flag, is a flag bearing the Cross of St. James, who aside from his many roles of apostle, saint, and Moor-slayer, was also adopted by the Falangists for the purposes of furthering the Francoist regime. Nearly two-thousand years after he was beheaded by Agrippa in Judea, and nearly a thousand years after he was reimagined as Santiago Matamoros, the ordinary fisherman turned patron saint of Spain was twisted into a brutal symbol of oppression.

After forty years of democracy and a half-million dead, many who still lie in unmarked mass graves, Fascism is still alive and well in Spain.



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