Barcelona topples the final reminder of Franco's regime
Almost 72 years to the day after Nationalist troops swept into Barcelona during the Spanish Civil War, the city's last monument to General Francisco Franco and his dictatorship has finally been taken down.
The removal of the four-metre-high bronze "Victory" statue – situated in the central Avenida Diagonal, the boulevard down which Franco's forces advanced on 26 January, 1939 – was watched by a small crowd of about 200.
Thanks to the law of Historic Memory passed in 2007 by Spain's socialist government, monuments of all kinds to the general who ruled Spain for nearly 40 years, from statues to street names, are gradually being removed.
In fiercely nationalist Catalonia, where Franco outlawed the region's language and abolished local government, the town halls have been singularly thorough at weeding them out. And in a city like Barcelona, famous for its hard-headed entrepreneurs, only the risk of traffic jams for shoppers rushing to January sales provided a last-minute delay on the statue's removal.
"Franco's triumph represented a great defeat for Catalan culture and values," said Barcelona's Mayor, Jordi Hereu, as "Victory", erected in 1940, came down. "It was nothing to be proud of at all." But he added: "We've been one of the cities that's been fastest to apply the  law."
There was scattered applause from the mostly elderly spectators, as the monument, swathed in building harnesses, was shifted from its plinth to a waiting truck – its destination a local museum. While some shed tears, there were also calls for the monument to the defeated Republic, which had stood there previously, to be returned.
The removal of the final trace of Franco's era in Barcelona had more than usual symbolic value, given that the city was a Republican stronghold during the Civil War.
Barcelona's relative speed at eliminating past reminders of Franco's regime also contrasts sharply with Madrid's dilemma over the general's mausoleum at the Valley of the Fallen, just outside the capital – democratic Europe's last national monument to a dictator.
Towering above Franco's crypt is a giant granite cross which can be seen for miles. Also buried there are thousands of Republican prisoners, many of them killed during its construction.
The Valley of the Fallen has re-opened after repairs, and remains a meeting point for local fascist groups and those nostalgic for Franco's regime.
"Getting rid of the Valley of the Fallen should be a top priority," Juan Luis Castro, a spokesman for the Foro por la Memoria pressure group, told The Independent. "These relics of the Franco dictatorship are an insult to those who died for democracy."
- 1 Germanwings crash: Police make 'significant discovery' at home of co-pilot Andreas Lubitz
- 3 Zayn Malik already working on solo material, just days after quitting One Direction
- 4 The West has it totally wrong on Lee Kuan Yew
- 5 #FreeTheNipple: Women in Iceland bare breasts in solidarity with trolled student
Nigel Farage brands LGBT activists 'filth' and 'scum' and accuses them of scaring away his children after they invade his local pub
Ukip supporters are 55 or older, white and socially conservative, finds British Social Attitudes Report
JK Rowling responds to fan tweeting she 'can't see' Dumbledore being gay
Russia threatens Denmark with nuclear weapons if it tries to join Nato defence shield
Jeremy Clarkson sacked live: Alan Yentob 'wouldn't rule out' ex Top Gear host's BBC return
Germanwings plane crash live: Andreas Guenter Lubitz intentionally crashed flight 9525 into the Alps in act of mass murder and suicide – latest
£32000 - £38000 per annum: Ashdown Group: A successful accountancy practice in...
£18000 - £23000 per annum + Uncapped commission: SThree: Does earning a 6 figu...
£18000 - £25000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is an exciting opportunity...
£35000 - £40000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A challenging opportunity for a...