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The removal of the monument to Spain’s former dictator, described as the “only statue dedicated to a dictator still in the public sphere in Europe”, follows a 2007 law calling for the removal of all symbols connected to Franco's regime.
Only the far-right Vox Party opposed its removal, claiming the statue celebrated Franco's military role and not his dictatorship.
On Tuesday, a day after the local assembly voted to take the statue down, workers used a mechanical digger and heavy drills to chip away at its brick platform before putting a chain around its neck and carrying it away in bubble wrap.
The controversial monument, installed in Melilla in 1978, three years after the dictator's death, was moved from its former home elsewhere in Melilla in 2005 due to building works.
Vox said earlier this month that it was “strongly opposed” to the removal of the statue, arguing it celebrated the fascist leader's earlier role as commander of the Spanish Legion in the Rif war of the 1920s, when Spain managed to keep control of Melilla after Moroccan tribes almost captured the town.
Elena Fernandez Trevino, in charge of culture in Spanish autonomous city, which sits on the Mediterranean and shares a border with Morocco, called it a “historic day”.
Spain’s 2007 Historical Memory law has been used to erase Franco’s legacy, including taking over the former dictator's summer palace from his heirs last September.
In 2019, Franco’s remains were moved from a vast mausoleum to a low-key grave – ending what was effectively the last monument to a dictator in western Europe.