Franco's remains aren’t in Mingorrubio cemetery. They’re on TV. The countless hours of TV dedicated to the Franco family and various hangers-on is unjustifiable in purely journalistic terms. The exhumation of the body has led to a grotesque procession of Franco supporters, fascists, far-right demonstrations and unconstitutional flags on every channel. Something like that would constitute a criminal offence in other countries. What we witnessed yesterday, with dozens of cameras, in exquisite detail, was Franco’s second funeral, but this time in colour. A high definition tribute to the dictator. And not only thanks to the ceremony designed by the government but thanks to the collusion of the Spanish TV channels in broadcasting the event.
To start with, we had an assortment of Franco’s relatives, Falangists, embalmers, priests and fans who were given an open microphone. On TVE, the permanent image of the giant cross towering over the Valle de los Caídos [Valley of the Fallen] provided a splendid backdrop to the whole occasion. On the daytime magazine programme Espejo Público, Susanna Griso tenderly and sorrowfully interviewed the daughter of the founder of the Spanish Legion. Meanwhile, Nieves Herrero fondly recalled family anecdotes involving the dictator, while Pilar Eyre described Franco’s penis and testicles (1). Ana Rosa invited Jimmy Jiménez Arnau, the ex-husband of a member of the Franco family, to comment on the day’s events. Private TV network LaSexta made an effort to remember the victims of the Franco regime, but every few minutes they got caught up in their fascination for the solemn occasion. In fact, they simultaneously showed black and white images of the first funeral, with the tearful family, as if to imply it was of equal importance. García Ferreras was proud of the way in which the democratic state had treated the dictator and his family’s suffering with dignity. As ever, García Ferreras’ words were easily misunderstood. He referred to the state’s role with respect to the Franco family’s suffering as "sober" and "respectful", when in reality it was a religious ceremony paying homage to the dictator, with Minister Delgado playing a sorry part which will go down in history. He referred to fascists, neo-Nazis, and Franco's supporters as "nostalgists", an inappropriate euphemism loaded with romanticism. Antena3 even dedicated part of its screen to a box reserved exclusively to the protagonist of the 1981 coup, Antonio Tejero.
Every TV channel broadcast live the tribute to the military dictator. The image of the day was the helicopter taking off next to the enormous cross. A symbolic outrage writ large. In the audio-visual language of war, few things are as impressive as a helicopter taking-off. It gave the impression of the dictator rising symbolically into the sky. Glorifying his image. The Spanish government and TV channels have irresponsibly and unwittingly broadcast the veneration and respect which is still shown to the dictator and his family. All these hours of TV do have one positive side, however. They are a graphic document which will be seen all over the world, which shows, in a highly explicit, unedited manner, what is left of the dictatorship and the low quality of Spain’s democracy.
(1) Franco allegedly had one testicle only.