«Operation Philistines»: kill Franco on the day of the inauguration of the Valley of the Fallen

Apart from the desire of the extreme left to blow up the Cross and the Basilica of the Valley of the Fallen – Podemos had a plan that included carpeting its main esplanade and surrounding areas with the resulting debris – the historic complex has suffered three failed attacks.

The first attempt was in 1962, by some French anarchists who only managed to splinter some pews in the church. The second attempt took place in 1999, by the terrorist group GRAPO, which placed a device with three kilos of explosive in one of the confessionals. The third attempt occurred in 2005, when a homemade device detonated in the gardens. The architect of the plan made a call to the Abertzale newspaper “Gara” to link it to ETA, but the Police did not give him credibility.

Antonio Ruibérriz (Seville, 1952), Navy Captain in the reserve, now writes about another fruitless assault in “Operación Filisteos” (Almuzara).

You are a soldier, how did your vocation for writing arise and how did you manage to publish your first work?

Being a Navy officer has not always prevented me from writing: short stories and articles in the General Navy Magazine filled my desires as a writer. However, a colleague and friend, a writer from the Almuzara publishing house, Luis Mollá, published a novel that also won him an award, and that gave me a certain healthy envy. I thought I knew how to write but I didn't know if I was capable of telling dialogues consistent with the plot, so as an exercise, I took a news story from a newspaper and, based on it, I imagined a story, some characters who spoke. Suddenly I realized that I had written too many pages and that this exercise had become a novel that had no beginning. I went back, started it and a few months later I had “The Man from Nador.” They recommended the publishing house De Librum Tremens to me, I sent it and they published it.

After your other books, why did you choose this theme?

I have been writing about the topics that arose in me and while the first was a novel of intrigue and spies, the second was a bullfighting novel. I wrote it while stationed at the embassy in Oslo, perhaps because I longed for the light and warmth of a pasture in those cold, dark winters. The truth is that on my computer I save what catches my attention and could be used to write about it or use it in a novel to be written. While in Oslo they sent me an article about the grave in Fresno el Viejo (Valladolid) of a Norwegian not claimed by his country's embassy. As he was a sailor, according to the papers he was carrying when the Civil Guard killed him, I asked the Norwegian Navy if they knew about him and they did not give me any information about that individual. Years before, my friend Txema Prada, who made excellent covers for the novels that Luis Mollá and I wrote, gave me an article about Quico Sabaté, one of the last maquis who died after a spectacular escape, so that I could write about him. I filed it away, like the Norwegian thing. Years later I saw the inauguration of the Valley of the Fallen and the Norwegian and the maquis came to mind. Three real stories merged into one fictional one.

What do you know about the history of attacks in the Valley?

I know what was published or what an internet search picks up today. I read about the different attacks and they seemed excessively mild to what I had imagined. In mine it would have been an end to Francoism, to the Movement and to the leadership of the armies and the Church, in addition to the entire diplomatic corps: it would have been a mess with unforeseeable consequences.

How have these events influenced you writing the book?

They have not really influenced the plot of my novel, I have imagined different events in which real characters mix with other imaginary ones. It is not even a uchronia, since I am not describing a real story based on hypothetical data and nor a historical novel, since the Valley was inaugurated without any surprise, like what I narrate in the novel. What I describe is part of my imagination.

«Politicians should not distort History according to their ideological pretensions»

Why is it said that it is “based on real events”?

These are times when gastronomy, music or culture merge to improve them. I have merged three true stories into something else that makes the historical fact of the inauguration of the Valley of the Fallen much more attractive. The expression on the cover is not mine.

What is your opinion of the attacks from the extreme left against the Valley of the Fallen?

The Islamic Taliban regime blew up the Buddhas of Bamiyan. The extreme left tried to do the same with the cross, I don't know if because of what the cross means or because Franco had ordered it to be built over the burials of soldiers from both sides. It seems bad to me that politicians distort the History of Spain according to their ideological pretensions. They should let historians write and teach it.

Isn't poor maintenance – leaks, deterioration of the stone, Ávalos sculptures falling apart… – another way of destroying the site?

Well yes, without maintenance the buildings end up not being visitable and, not being visited due to the danger it entails, it is absurd to maintain the mausoleum. This policy regarding the Valley is like a tide, it rises and rises until it makes it inevitable to have to close or even demolish it.

Cover of the book by Antonio RuibérrizLUNCHL.R.

Have you been to the Valley of the Fallen?

I have only been once, when I was 17 years old when I went with the school to visit. I found it impressive, cold and gray. The size of the Ávalos statues, the height of the cross, the basilica, Franco lived then. All of this impressed me. Now I would see his deterioration and be equally impressed by the ideological stupidity of the radical left.

What do you think of the request for its declaration as an Asset of Cultural Interest? (The Community of Madrid says that it is the responsibility of the State, but its supporters defend that Isabel Díaz Ayuso has the power to do so)

I do not believe that with this current Government the Cuelgamuros Valley will be declared BIC, nor that Ayuso will get into that ideological garden. I do not know the legislation on assets of Cultural Interest and who can promote it. What the Community of Madrid should do is give a subsidy to the Santa Cruz del Valle de los Caídos Foundation for its maintenance.

Do you think the resignification that the Government foresees and the expulsion of the Benedictine community is appropriate?

I don't think it's the right time. When again in Spanish politics two sides confront dialectically in a climate of aggressiveness never seen before in our democracy, resignifying the site and converting the basilica into a center for interpretation of the Civil War from the point of view of the left would be inopportune. add more fuel to the matter. The previous step is the expulsion of the community through a siege. When the monks do not have electricity or water, they will have to leave: they will not be expelled, they will leave in despair.