Tuesday, August 12, 2008

Nice Palace, Where Did You Get It?

A wedding took place last Friday at the Pazo de Meirás in Galicia. What made the event newsworthy was that the bride was the great granddaughter of Franco, and the Pazo forms part of the dead dictator’s family fortune. The palace was a gift to Franco as a result of the local authorities organising a “voluntary” popular subscription to buy it, and it became the summer residence of the Franco family. The grounds were found to be a bit small for such a grand dictator, so it then became necessary to expropriate additional land surrounding the palace. It seems that those who were unwilling to surrender their land were threatened with being sent to Asturias! I can think of much worse alternatives to having to live next door to a fascist dictator, but I suspect the exile probably wouldn’t have included a lifetime’s supply of cider and fabada.

More recently the Xunta, Galicia’s regional government, have been trying to inspect the property with the intention of declaring it to be a Bien de Interés Cultural; a historic monument. This move has met with open opposition from the Franco family as it would compel them to open the property to the public for a certain number of days every month. Eventually, the Xunta’s inspectors were able to gain access to the property but the holding of last week’s wedding has been widely seen as the Franco family asserting their control over the property. It’s a curious situation, if the King of Spain is given a present then that passes to the state, but the family of a dictator is allowed to hold on forever to a property which in theory was presented to Franco as (illegitimate) head of state. It more or less confirms what we could probably call the Pinochet Principle whereby self appointed “saviours of the nation” always seem to find time to assure that being a saviour brings with it substantial economic benefits which are not always available to more conventional rulers. The spoils of war.

1 comment:

Tom said...

Hmmm.... surely, as Franco was 'regent', the palace should have passed to his announced heir, the 'king'?