Madrid Is Swapping its Francoist Figures for Famous Female Icons

Francisco Franco in 1949
Francisco Franco in 1949 | © Indalecio Ojanguren / WikiCommons
Photo of Jessica Jones
9 July 2018

The Spanish capital is ridding itself of its fascist street names in favour of paying homage to both homegrown and international female icons.

A Madrid neighbourhood has approved a plan to change several of its street names dedicated to those close to Spanish dictator Francisco Franco to pay homage to a range of successful Spanish and international women.

Last week, the district of Latina, in the southwest of Madrid, approved plans to swap the street names linked to famous Franco supporters with those of women who ‘transmit positive values for the citizens of Latina and of Madrid’. The move was backed by the PSOE, the Spanish Socialist Workers’ Party, and Ahora Madrid, a left-wing coalition.

Spanish women went on strike on International Women's Day, 2018 | © Kippelboy / WikiCommons

The aim is to make the district’s streets ‘more feminist’ by paying homage to both significant people and dates – one street will be renamed Ocho de Marzo (Eighth of March) after International Women’s Day, which this year saw a women’s strike across Spain, during which Spanish women went on strike at work and at home to call for equality.

A new square will be named after American civil rights activist Rosa Parks, who famously refused to give up her seat on a bus for a white passenger. Her subsequent arrest inspired the Montgomery Bus Boycott.

Rosa Parks | © USIA / WikiCommons

Another American will be recognised on Calle de Marie Tharp (Marie Tharp Street). Tharp (1920–2006) was a geologist and oceanographer who created the first scientific map of the Atlantic Ocean floor, identifying the Mid-Atlantic Ridge and paving the way for new theories on plate tectonics.

Spanish feminist heroes will also be well-represented, with streets dedicated to novelist Ana María Matute (1925–2014), journalist and broadcaster Concha García Campoy (1958–2013), and historian Mercedes Gaibrois (1891–1960).

Francoist street names

Some of the street names to be removed include Calle Federico Mayo, dedicated to a captain under Franco during the Spanish Civil War, and Calle Severino Aznar Embid, named after a Spanish journalist who was a strong supporter of Franco.

Franco's remains could soon be removed from the Valley of the Fallen | © Contando Estrelas / Flickr

The news comes as Spain’s new Prime Minister, Pedro Sánchez, is set to remove the remains of Franco from the Valley of the Fallen, his macabre monument to those killed during the Spanish Civil War.

The dictator could be exhumed in July. The aim is for the site to be a place of reflection and reconciliation, rather than somewhere that, for many, glorifies the dictatorship.

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