A historical row has blown up in Spain after it emerged that the heirs of the country’s former dictator, General Francisco Franco, have slapped an €8 million (£7m) price tag on a palace controversially given to the general by business leaders during Spain’s civil war.
It emerged on Friday that just weeks after the death of Carmen Franco Polo, the Spanish dictator’s only daughter, who died at Christmas, Francisco Franco’s grandchildren have decided to put the Pazo de Meirás mock castle on sale, despite the fact that the legitimacy of their ownership of the listed building is disputed.
Historians have explained that some of the funds gathered for the 1938 “donation” of the palace in the northwestern region of Galicia came from local workers forced to hand over a portion of their income to buy the magnificent gift.
Outraged political leaders in Galicia are now demanding that the regional government prevent the sale of the palace and strip the Francos of the “plundered” property.
“The Meirás palace should return to the people and the family not paid a euro”, said Luis Villares from En Marea, the Left-wing coalition that leads opposition to the conservative ruling Popular Party in Galicia.
“The Franco family have enjoyed the property for plenty of time and for free. They have no right to make money from the sale of something that was not theirs,” said Mr Villares on Saturday, one day after the real estate company Mikeli announced the sale of the “extraordinary” 16-acre property in Sada, near A Coruña.
“It’s an insult to this country that the Franco family wants to do business with plunder,” said Ana Pontón from the Galician Nationalist Bloc.
The opposition parties argue that the region’s government is obliged to block the sale as the Franco family have broken rules saying that local authorities must be informed when properties listed as being of “special cultural interest” are put on sale.
The local council in Sada had managed to force the Franco family to open the palace for visits owing to the building’s heritage status. But these were suspended last summer when it emerged that the Francisco Franco Foundation was using the visits as an opportunity to praise the dictator’s political legacy.
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