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Madrid (EFE) neighbors do not consider it a priority.
“What worries them (the residents) is that it doesn’t rain, not the name of the town,” the mayor of Llanos del Caudillo (Ciudad Real), Andrés Antonio Arroyo (PP) told EFE.
This town, with about 700 inhabitants, is one of the seven that maintains the Francoist name along with Alberche del Caudillo (Toledo), Villafranco del Guadiana (Badajoz), Villafranco del Guadalhorce (Málaga), Alcocero de Mola (Burgos), Quintanilla de Onésimo (Valladolid) and San Leonardo de Yagüe (Soria).
The mayor of Llanos del Caudillo relies on a 2018 ruling issued by a Contentious-Administrative Court of Ciudad Real, which rejected the request made by a lawyer for the municipality to change its official name in application of the Law of Memory Historical, although the current Democratic Memory Law is clearer with the obligations related to toponymy.
In addition, this mayor makes it ugly that interest in his town is awakened only by its name and not by the things that are done in the municipality, which he assures that “his last name” does not bother him because it is part of the history, of “that history that must be learned so as not to fall into the same mistakes again ”, he adds.
a taboo subject
In some of these towns, such as Quintanilla de Onésimo -about 1,000 inhabitants- and San Leonardo de Yagüe -about 2,000 inhabitants-, the issue of name change has practically become a taboo subject for politicians and also for some residents.
“After the elections we talked,” the mayor of Quintanilla de Onésimo, Carlos del Barrio (PSOE) told EFE, who, when asked directly if the name change is in his plans, answers that they maintain “the Ribera del Duero denomination of origin ”, since the town is nestled in this wine-producing environment.
Neighbors against name change
Villafranco del Guadiana does not intend to change its name for the moment either, since “this issue is simply not in the day-to-day life” of the residents, as its mayor, Daniel Sánchez (PP), has expressed to EFE.
However, he has assured that “the laws will be complied with and the will of the population will be accepted”, which, however, and as he recalled, is “opposed” to the change of the name.
In fact, the majority of the inhabitants of this district of the municipality of Badajoz do not want to change the name of the town -800 of its 1,500 residents signed in 2016 to maintain the name- and “it is not a day-to-day issue”, according to their alderman.
“The neighbors do not get up every day thinking if we are Villafranco or Villapedro,” says Sánchez, who assures that his objective is “to govern and carry out projects for the neighbors, not to get entangled in trouble.”
The residents of Villafranco del Guadalhorce, a nucleus of Alhaurín el Grande (Málaga) of around 700 inhabitants, have no interest in the name change either, since they consider it a rather political matter and believe that the town has other priorities.
Curiously, more than thirty residents of this district have the last name Franco, but some of them consulted by EFE assure that “it has nothing to do with the caudillo.”
Only one town has initiated the procedures to change the name
The only town of the seven that has started the procedures to change its name is Alberche del Caudillo, which depends on the Calera y Chozas City Council, although the mayor, Gabriel López-Colina (PP), tells EFE that at the moment the procedure is stalled.
The reason is that the local administration requested a legal report in which said stoppage is recommended until an official catalog of the municipalities, streets and other spaces that must change their name in application of the Democratic Memory Law is not prepared.
“We want to comply with the law, as soon as the catalog is available we will carry out the procedures again,” the councilor assured.
A legal obligation
This reluctance and paralysis collide with the obligations of the new Democratic Memory Law, which came into force last October and considers references made in place names to leaders and participants of the Franco dictatorship to be elements contrary to democratic memory, going as far as contemplating fines of up to 10,000 euros for non-compliance.
“The apology of Francoism in Spain continues to be released for free despite democratic laws,” the lawyer Eduardo Ranz laments to EFE, who has formally requested the change of place names in these seven towns by presenting requests in the town halls.
Sources from the Ministry of the Presidency, Relations with the Courts and Democratic Memory explained to EFE that they are currently preparing the catalog of elements contrary to democratic memory, which will foreseeably include the names of these towns.
And they point out that although some public administrations have already adopted the appropriate measures to withdraw or modify said elements, others are waiting “at the end of the preparation of the catalogue” to do so.