Spare a thought for Franco, says France's royal pretender
Louis de Bourbon, the pretender to the French throne, has come to the rescue of Spain's late military dictator General Francisco Franco, in an interview published Saturday.
More than two centuries after France guillotined his own ancestors, the man who would be king protested that the Spanish government was busy wiping out all trace of the heritage of Franco -- his great-grandfather.
"They are toppling statues, they are renaming streets. It's unforgivable," de Bourbon, who is descended from both French and Spanish royal bloodlines, he told Hoy Corazon magazine.
"Franco created the Spanish middle class, built dams and roads, prevented communism from taking hold," he argued. "Obviously, there was a civil war, but he didn't want that."
Franco was one of the prime movers of the military coup that set off the 1936-1939 Spanish Civil War, which ended in victory for the right-wing nationalists and a military dictatorship until Franco's death in 1975.
In 2007, Spain's socialist government passed a law requiring all symbols of the Franco era to be removed from public spaces.
De Bourbon, 36, is the grandson of Carmen Franco, General Franco's daughter. He holds both French and Spanish nationality.
He has argued for a constitutional monarchy to be installed in France, defending the legacy of his ancestors the French kings, whose achievements he says are not adequately covered in today's schoolbooks.
Modern-day Spain is still coming to terms with the legacy of the civil war and the Franco era, with a fierce debate over the extent to which past atrocities should be investigated.
© 2010 AFP