Hundreds in Spain mark Franco's death
Supporters of Spanish dictator Francisco Franco marked the 36th anniversary of his death Sunday at the vast mausoleum where he is buried near Madrid.
Several hundred people attended a memorial mass in Franco's memory at the underground mausoleum at the Valle de los Caidos, or "Valley of the Fallen", which was built on his orders between 1940 and 1958.
Dozens of members of the Falange, the party that provided the ideological basis for Franco's regime, also deposited a wreath of flowers at the entrance to the site and did a fascist salute, raising their right arm in the air.
The mass also marked the anniversary of the execution in 1936 of Jose Antonio Primo de Rivera, the founder in 1933 of the Falange, who is also buried in the mausoleum.
Franco, also known as the Generalissimo, ruled Spain with an authoritarian hand between 1939 and his death on November 20, 1975 at the age of 82.
Since his death, dwindling numbers of nostalgic supporters commemorate his passing at the mausoleum on the anniversary of his death.
Historians estimate that the remains of between 40,000 and 60,000 Franco supporters and Republicans who opposed them in Spain's 1936-39 Civil War, which led to Franco's rise to power, are buried at the mausoleum.
Some 15,000 Republican prisoners were forced to work on the construction of the mausoleum, which is topped by a 100-metre-high (328-foot-high) cross.
On Friday some 200 far-left anti-Franco demonstrators marched in Madrid to mark the anniversary of his death with a pro-democracy protest.
Spain was voting Sunday in a general election expected to hand a landslide win to the right. Outgoing Prime Minister Jose Rodriguez Zapatero said there was no significance in the choice of date.
© 2011 AFP