The provisional administrator of Radio Televisión Madrid –Telemadrid and Onda Madrid–, José Antonio Sánchez, handpicked by Isabel Díaz Ayuso after the 4-M elections, assured this Tuesday in the commission on the public entity in the Madrid Assembly that The Valley of the Fallen “is not a common grave” but “a cemetery” with the “names and surnames of those who are there.”
Sánchez was responding to a criticism from the deputy of Más Madrid Hugo Martínez Abarca for reporting on the web that the Valley of the Fallen has the Guinness of the largest cross, without specifying anything else about the place where until 2019 it was buried with all the honors the dictator Francisco Franco, now exhumed after being agreed by the first government of Pedro Sánchez, and which is one of the largest mass graves in the country.
In the Valley there is a church –the Basilica of the Valley of the Fallen– where 33,833 corpses are buried in different crypts and floors, of which 12,410 are of unknown persons, which makes it the largest mass grave in Spain. The last transfer of a body occurred in 1983. The dead were taken from mass graves and from cemeteries throughout Spain, except Ourense, A Coruña, Las Palmas and Santa Cruz de Tenerife.
“It is a consecrated Basilica”, the Telemadrid administrator has begun to refer to the Valley of the Fallen. “I want to remind you that it is a cemetery, it is not a mass grave, there are the names and surnames, it is a cemetery”, added Sánchez. In Martínez Abarca’s turn to reply, the deputy from Más Madrid recalled that “in the Valley of the Fallen there is only one name, and no surnames, that of José Antonio.” “It is the only cemetery in Spain where relatives want to get them out and cannot”, insisted the parliamentarian. “It is not a Guinness record for its size but for its cruelty.”
Until October 2019, the dictator Francisco Franco (along with José Antonio Primo de Rivera) was buried with full honors with a tombstone in front of the main altar of this basilica, which the families of the victims had always considered a grievance. The first government of Pedro Sánchez ordered his exhumation and he was buried in the Pantheon of the Mingorrubio Cemetery. Primo de Rivera is still on the site of him buried with full honors. The families have not yet been able to exhume the bodies of their loved ones.
Sánchez: a controversial administrator
The former president of RTVE José Antonio Sánchez was appointed in July 2021 provisional administrator of Telemadrid by the Government Council chaired by Isabel Díaz Ayuso, after the plenary session of the regional Assembly approved the law to control the public entity with the votes of PP and the abstention of Vox.
Sánchez was already an old acquaintance of the public chain. At the head of Telemadrid he was in charge of carrying out the ERE that fired 74% of the workforce. The employment regulation file affected 860 people out of a total workforce of 1,169. His name appeared on Bárcenas’ papers, certifying that he had received from the PP as an “advisor” when he was a parliamentary correspondent for ABC during the Luis María Ansón stage. It is no secret that his career has always been linked to the PP.