The district of Villafranco del Guadalhorce in Alhaurín el Grande is at the centre of national controversy once again for being one of the few places that maintain a direct reference to the dictator Francisco Franco. The district, which has just 700 residents, is back in the news following the introduction of the Democratic Memory Law, which establishes that municipalities must eliminate all traces of Francoism.
The decree comes into force next week and is supported by Eduardo Ranz, a lawyer for victims of Francoism, who has requested a change of name of eight places.
In addition to Villafranco, the lawyer has sent the petition to Alberche del Caudillo (Toledo), Guadiana del Caudillo and Villafranco del Guadiana (Badajoz), Llanos del Caudillo (Ciudad Real), Quintanilla de Onesimo (Valladolid), Alcocero de Mola (Burgos) and San Leonardo de Yagüe (Soria), with the aim of eliminating “all kinds of symbols of exaltation of those who committed crimes against humanity in Spain”.
Ranz claims that a breach of the law will result in a fine of between 2,001 and 10,000 euros.
In a statement to SUR, the mayor of Alhaurín el Grande, Toñi Ledesma, said that the request was received last Tuesday and that it is currently being studied “to find out how it affects us, or what legal steps we have to take".
Ledesma added that many of the residents of the district have the surname of Franco “and have never understood that this name should be changed". However, she stressed that there have been no neighbourhood movements or individual protests.
“We have had this name for 54 years and both the residents and the council consider that there are many more important problems, since this change would imply a great bureaucratic cost,” the mayor explained
This is not the first request made by the lawyer: several years ago, he called for the name to be changed, although his request was unsuccessful. In 2018, the town hall created a commission to study some of the issues of the law, but considered that there was no exaltation of Francoist values and that there have never been political links with respect to the name of the district.
“We have always defended the name because it is what its inhabitants have asked us to do,” Ledesma said.