The Government refuses to declare the Valley of the Fallen a Site of Cultural Interest: "It is not relevant enough"
What was the monumental tomb of Francisco Franco will not be included in the list of more than 30,000 Assets of Cultural Interest in Spain. In a letter that the Ministry of Culture has sent this Thursday to the Foundation for the Defense of the Valley of the Fallen, the director of Cultural Heritage and Fine Arts informs that they have decided not to initiate the BIC declaration file for the architectural complex located in San Lorenzo del Escorial (Madrid).
The buried lives of the workers who made the Valley of the Fallen
The association, which was established in 2010 and has been the protagonist of many of the numerous legal disputes around the Valley since then, had requested the declaration of BIC in July 2014. Eight years later, the Superior Court of Justice of Madrid has forced the Ministry, through a ruling issued on June 16, to rule on this request .
The answer is convincing: there are no elements that justify the beginning of a process of declaration of Asset of Cultural Interest. And he bases his rejection on three arguments.
“Lack of interest”
First, it points out that the construction has carried out "a notable alteration of the natural environment without having foreseen the consequences that the intervention could cause in the environmental conditions." To this he attributes that "the landscape and environmental values of the Cuelgamuros valley" have been lost.
Regarding its importance from the architectural point of view, the Ministry understands that "the external architectural contributions, beyond their symbolic and political nature, do not have sufficient relevance in the context of the production of the time". And he abounds in this idea: "It is not an architectural monument of singular importance neither for its floor plan, nor for the figure of the architect, nor for the construction technique, nor for the materials used".
To finish, he highlights that "there is a perceived absence of compositional interest in any room or space away from public view in the construction (...)".
For all these reasons, it rules out that the monumental complex could be included among those that are specially protected. The association has opposed all the interventions that have been planned in the Valley of the Fallen, and has raised its voice against the departure of dictator Francisco Franco and also against the exhumations of victims who are buried in Cuelgamuros.
Already with the Law of Historical Memory of the Government of José Luis Rodríguez Zapatero, talk began of a resignification of the Valley of the Fallen, which since its inauguration has functioned as a symbol of Franco's power. The new Democratic Memory Law, which is expected to be approved in the coming days, speaks specifically of transforming the space and its meaning, extinguishes the foundation that has managed the place thanks to a Francoist decree and points out the need to transfer the remains of José Antonio Primo de Rivera from the tomb in which he rests, in a "preeminent place" of the Basilica del Valle.
The sentence that demands the answer
The ruling of the TSJM has pushed the decision of the Government, since it estimates "partially the contentious-administrative appeal" of the association and condemns the Administration to "decide on the initiation of the procedure in question and notify its decision to the association recurrent".
However, it does not consider how that response should be or the arguments provided by the association to request the BIC. In fact, he admits that many times the requests "overestimate" what "a simple observation" would lead the specialists to "discard its historical-artistic interest". But the text does recognize that "the Spanish Historical Heritage Law requires, in its article 10, that those who urged the declaration be issued and notified."
“The plaintiff entity is not the holder of a subjective right to initiate the procedure. On the other hand, you do have a right to receive an express and reasoned response to your request, correlative to the duty of the Administration to decide whether or not to initiate the procedure in question, as we have seen”.
The association can appeal against the Ministry's refusal. And it will be one more chapter in judicial resources outstanding on this topic. Especially since Franco's exhumation and after the decision – also with judicial backing – to recover the remains of the people who have been buried alongside the dictator and Primo de Rivera against his will. On June 21, the Superior Court of Madrid upheld the appeal of the Directorate of Patrimony and lifted the precautionary measures that weighed on the works necessary to exhume the remains of dozens of victims of the dictatorship buried in the Valley, that had been provisionally paralyzed. This tug of war has already reached the Supreme Court.