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Spain's Foreign Minister to appeal against court order to rehang portrait of Franco ally

The Spanish Minister of Foreign Affairs Jose Manuel Albares is to appeal against a judge’s order to rehang a portrait of Franco era politician General Francisco Gómez-Jordana y Sousa in his ministry.

The court’s decision is a challenge to the controversial 2022 Democratic Memory law, championed by Prime Minister Pedro Sánchez, that provides the legal backing for a raft of anti-Franco initiatives, including the removal of Francoist symbols.

The objection to the portrait’s removal was led by the general’s grandson lawyer Íñigo Gómez-Jordana. Finding in his favour, the court determined that proper procedure hadn’t been followed prior to the artwork being taken down from the diplomatic school Sousa founded.

The judgment stated that the ministry had “not initiated a minimum procedure to verify the data, nor having given the interested party any opportunity to submit evidence”, adding that it was “a substantial defect that infringes the basic rules of administrative procedure”. 

On taking office in July 2021 Albares committed to remove all vestiges of Francisco Franco from his ministry and diplomatic missions. He has overseen the mothballing of more than a thousand items, including coats of arms, portraits, crockery and a mural.

Defending the decision to remove the artwork, the ministry said that the portrait failed to comply with the new law, which states that “portraits … of military personnel and ministers associated with the military uprising or the repressive system of the dictatorship shall not be visible”, and therefore “may not be displayed in representative places and, in particular, in offices or other rooms of high-ranking officials, common areas of use, or areas of public access”. 

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