Spain getting rid of streets named after fascist leaders, dedicating them to women instead

The country is still struggling with the legacy of its fascist regime 

Will Worley
Sunday 04 December 2016 21:16
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The wounds caused by the Spanish Civil War are still sensitive in the country. This  Picture dated July 1936 shows Republicans of leftist parties demonstrating in the streets of Barcelona against Franco's attempt to overthrow the Republic
The wounds caused by the Spanish Civil War are still sensitive in the country. This Picture dated July 1936 shows Republicans of leftist parties demonstrating in the streets of Barcelona against Franco's attempt to overthrow the Republic

Cities in Spain have been changing street names from fascist leaders and dedicating them to women instead.

Many streets in the country are still linked to the era of Hitler-backed General Franco, who died in 1975, while very few are named after female figures.

But now, the Madrid street named after senior fascist General Andrés Saliquet is to be named Calle de Soledad Cazorla, according to City Lab. Ms Cazorla was the first Spanish prosecutor to specialise in work against gender violence.

In León, citizens voted in November for a number of renowned women to name streets after, including Rosa Parks, Frida Kahlo, Jane Austen and local inventor Ángela Ruiz Robles.

The municipalities of Valencia, Oviedo and Cadiz also recently approved the changes.

In the years since his death, Spain has largely turned a blind eye to the legacy of Franco, to the extent that mass graves from the Franco era still lie mostly unexamined.

The 2007 Historical Memory Law formally condemned the fascist regime and aimed to eliminate links to it.

But it was mostly unenforced – largely out of fear of disturbing the unhealed wounds in the Spanish collective memory.

However, the massive gains of the leftist alliance Podemos in local government in 2015 installed numerous municipal figures who were keen to act on the law and erase links to the Franco dictatorship.

With this, there was an increasing awareness of the fact that only ten per cent of streets in Spain were named after women.

Those that are tend to be nuns or saints, resulting in an unrepresentative image of women in modern Spain.

“It’s almost as if the situation is the practical confirmation of the popular saying—that a woman’s place is not in the street, but in the house,” said street expert Professor Patricia Arias Chachero in El Diario.

The name changes aim to restore the gender balance in urban planning.

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