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The story goes that Franco on his deathbed in 1975 hears the noise of a crowd outside and asks what it is. And is told:

"The people of Spain have come to say goodbye"

Franco replies:

"Why? Are they going somewhere?"

According to various sources the other speaker is an aide1, his daughter2, his wife3 one of his ministers4, and his doctor5. Such carelessness in the details is often a sign that a story is apocryphal. Is it too good to be true?

3 Christie File. Part 3, 1967-1975
4 Spanish Hours by Simon Courtauld and Elisabeth Luard (18 Jul 1996)
5 The Bulletin, Volume 97 J. Haynes and J.F. Archibald, 1975

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@bhau: Your link is broken. –  Pieter Geerkens Jul 25 '13 at 22:40
@Pieter Geerkens: –  fortytwo Jul 25 '13 at 23:41
Comical, but trivial. –  Tyler Durden Dec 9 '14 at 18:54
@TylerDurden - I've heard the joke before attributed to Franco. He wasn't exactly noted for his great sense of humor, so personally I think its worth knowing if he really said it or not. –  T.E.D. Sep 11 at 15:32

2 Answers 2

Seems unlikely as in the last phase of his life he went from operation to operation and was in a coma for the last three weeks. His family decided to take him off life support and he died. So he wasn't able to speak at all. Tyler Durden is right, this is a trivia question with no real historical relevance nor importance.

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The only contemporaneous statements I can find about Franco's deathbed statements are that he asked forgiveness from his enemies. Given that, I'm inclined to believe it is probably made up.

I have heard the joke before. My best guess is that it (in addition to the obvious) was a joke playing on how long he lingered before death. He'd had health problems bad enough that his heir had to take over leadership a year earlier, and then a year later it happened again. Eventually he fell into a coma, and was in that state for over a month before the machines were disconnected.

The relevant bit here is that this lingering condition caused him to be a prominent item in the news (at least in the US) for what seemed to many an inordinate length of time. A similar running joke on Saturday Night Live after this point was Chevy Chase as a news anchor saying, "This just in... General Francisco Franco is still dead."

Franco lingered near death for weeks before dying. On slow news days, United States network television newscasters sometimes noted that Franco was still alive, or not yet dead. The imminent death of Franco was a headline story on the NBC news for a number of weeks prior to his death on November 20, 1975.

So my guess would be that this was most likely a joke thought up by somebody in the US.

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