The news surprised the entire municipal administration of the Madrid City Council, which attended the municipal plenary session every month. Responsible for the announcement was Luis Cueto, one of the three councilors of the mixed group. The capital’s tribunal No. 30 has ordered José Luis Martínez-Almeida to once again replace the plaque of Francisco Largo Caballero, socialist President of the Council of Ministers during the Second Republic. The sentence also states that the plaques must be answered with the name of the street Largo Caballero and also that of Indalecio Prieto, a socialist politician of the Second Republic. Communal sources consulted by this newspaper prefer to remain silent for now. The judgment is appealable. The installation of the plate was unanimously approved by the city council 40 years ago.
It all started on October 15, 2020. That day, without prior notice, PP, Ciudadanos and Vox agreed to remove the plaque commemorating Largo Caballero from the Plaza de Chamberí, where he lived. The far-right formation called for immediate withdrawal that morning, which also coincided with the 151st anniversary of his birth. His spokesman, Javier Ortega-Smith, celebrated the deregistration in memory of the politician, whom he dubbed the “Spanish Lenin”, on his Twitter account with a video of two workers appearing with a hammer blow. Minutes later, they released another message from the party’s official profile: “Next target: the statue. Would you like to avoid it? Repeal of the Historical Memory Act”. Days later, the sculpture was destroyed.
The opposition described the withdrawal as “illegal” and announced that it would go to court. The UGT union did the same. “The Madrid City Council not only attacks the historical and cultural heritage of the city, but also instigates the actions of far-right vandals to paint and destroy the sculptures of both leaders,” read a collected statement. Now, as in the ruling on which EL PAÍS had insight, the judge orders the replacement of the license plate and sentences the city council to bear the costs of the court proceedings: “Although the withdrawal was not without administrative procedures, it was not an obligatory statement from the institutional authorities Commission for the Protection of Historical, Artistic and National Heritage processed”.
The removed panel, with a sculpture by Pepe Noja (also the author of the statue in Nuevos Ministerios), contained the following caption: “For Francisco Largo Caballero, living testimony of the honesty and devotion to the service of all workers.” At its inauguration, EL PAÍS collected the words in which the then mayor, Enrique Tierno Galván, highlighted the unanimity in the consistory to pay this tribute: “Militancy in a party does not matter when the slogan of equal rights for men is championed, and today is a happy day because all parties come together to recognize the extraordinary tutelage of Francisco Largo Caballero”.
A month later, in November 2020, PSOE councilor Ramón Silva visited the Coslada warehouse where the plaque was said to be kept. It was smashed and stuffed into construction sacks.
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