The exhumation of Spain's former dictator Francisco Franco was a step towards reconciliation, acting Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez said yesterday, after the general's remains were removed from the state mausoleum where he was buried in 1975.
"Modern Spain is the product of forgiveness, but it can't be the product of forgetfulness," he said in a televised address.
Around 500,000 people were killed in the 1936-1939 Civil War between Franco's nationalist rebels and left-wing Republicans. Many more were killed in the ensuing four decades of dictatorship resulting from Franco's victory.
The antagonism between the two sides remained during the transition to democracy in the 1970s, resulting in deep divisions between right and left.
"A public tribute to a dictator was more than an anachronism it was an affront to our democracy," Sanchez said. "Ending it was an obligation for the generations that did not grow up with the trauma of the Civil War and dictatorship."