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Catering firm shuns planned Franco homage in Madrid

United left group wants event banned as an "attack on Spanish democracy"

The Francisco Franco Foundation is to take legal action over the cancelation of a homage to the late dictator planned in a publicly funded building in Madrid.

The ceremony was due to be held in the restaurant of the Palacio de Congresos, which is managed by the Spanish Tourism Institute Turespaña, a branch of the Industry Ministry. The private company that was to provide catering, Husa, withdrew its contract due to the "alarm caused" by the nature of the planned act.

The foundation accused the government of "cowardice" for denying knowledge of the event and said it had hidden behind the private firm to achieve the placation of the "sectarian extreme left."

The ministry confirmed that Husa, not Tuespaña, holds the management rights to the Palacio's restaurant.

The Francisco Franco Foundation convened the event to mark the 120th anniversary of the late dictator's birth. The act is being advertised on the foundation's website, although its secretary said that it has not yet been confirmed. The foundation received public subsidies from the conservative government of José María Aznar, funds that were later withdrawn by the Socialists.

The United Left (IU) has asked that the Popular Party (PP) government move to prohibit the event, which it called "an attack on Spanish democracy."

The PP is to withdraw subsidies to associations working in the field of historical memory in 2013.

"It seems that this government has no budgetary allowance for human rights," IU party leader Cayo Lara said.