Spanish – Democracy or Fascism?

By Alfred Luis Ballester

For over 300 years Spain has claimed Gibraltar back from the British Government. At every opportunity and at all costs, the Spanish Government has tried their luck in getting their hands on the Rock of Gibraltar. In previous referendums Gibraltarians have unequivocally said ‘NO’ to Gibraltar being handed over to Spain and ‘YES’ to remaining British. The UK Government has respected the wishes of the people of Gibraltar and supported them all along.

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Recently we have experienced events on both sides of the frontier which have raised concerns and increased tension amongst the neighbouring countries.

In early 2012 the Government of Gibraltar abolished the 1999 fishing agreement. Despite this, Spanish fishermen have been fishing illegally in British Gibraltar Territorial Waters (BGTW). Warnings have been issued by the Royal Gibraltar Police however these have been ignored. Spanish fishing boats are now being escorted by the Guardia Civil who ignore warnings from both the Royal Gibraltar Police and Royal Navy. These illegal incursions by both the fishermen and Guardia Civil should not be tolerated by the UK Government especially as it disrespects the Royal Navy and the jurisdiction over BGTW. Constant representations to the Spanish Foreign Ministry by the UK authorities also seem to be clearly ignored.

In order to stop the illegal fishing activities and protect the maritime surroundings of Gibraltar the Gibraltar Government has created an artificial reef around the area where fishing occurred. As a result of this artificial reef in BGTW, the Spanish Government is taking repercussion against Gibraltar by at times causing up to 7 hour queues at its frontier under the guise of an anti-smuggling campaign. These queues not only affect the local people wanting to cross into Spain and tourists that visit Gibraltar, but primarily approximately 10,000 Spanish workers who come to Gibraltar daily to work.

What Spain needs to realize is that in British Gibraltar Territorial Waters the Gibraltar Government have full right to create such reefs in the same way Spain have created their own reefs in Andalucía. Between 1989 & 2011 Andalucía has installed 25 Artificial Reefs which were 75% funded by the European Fisheries Fund and no one seems to complain. Gibraltar now creates one self-funded reef, in its own waters, and Spain goes ballistic. Something doesn’t really add up, does it? Democracy at its best perhaps?

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In order to better relations between both sides the Gibraltar Government has always advocated trilateral talks between Gibraltar, the UK and Spain. There are many issues to be discussed between Gibraltar and Spain which would clearly benefit both sides, however the current PP Government in Spain clearly opposes such dialogue, and have categorically stated that they will only discuss Gibraltar issues bilaterally with the UK Government, with the added condition that Sovereignty forms part of the agenda.

For Gibraltarians the latest Spanish proposal of imposing a 50€ charge to persons commuting to and from Gibraltar doesn’t really come as a shock. The Spanish Government has been using these bullying tactics ever since the days of General Franco. A classic example of such acts was when Franco ordered that the Oxygen cylinders for the Gibraltar hospitals which were imported via the land frontier were not allowed into Gibraltar. Today the Spanish Government stops concrete blocks, cement and other materials from coming into Gibraltar, they threaten the re-introduction of restrictions on Air Space, the cancellation of some of our telephone lines, is this not Fascism at its best?

I ask myself, who is this really affecting? As previously stated there are approx. 10,000 Spaniards working in Gibraltar, innocent people who because of the lack of infrastructure in their own country have had to turn to Gibraltar for a livelihood, some probably don’t even earn as much as 50€ per day, they would therefore be forced to leave their jobs in Gibraltar and join the millions who are currently un-employed in Spain. Furthermore, I feel certain Gibraltarians would be completely reluctant to pay anything at all for the privilege of crossing the border and spending money in restaurants, supermarkets, hotels, etc.

Recently the Gibraltar B2B magazine published an article on La Linea and the millions of pounds that La Linea has lost in revenue due to the drop in tourists from Gibraltar.

All these threats from the Spanish Government are all tactics to divert attention from their own internal problems. Spain’s economy is in shambles, un-employment figures are at a record high, not to mention the daily news on corruption. The Spanish Government need to realize that all these bullying tactics towards Gibraltar will just worsen cross boarder relationship and have a negative impact on Gibraltar’s neighbouring towns such as La Linea, San Roque & Algeciras to name a few.

Gibraltarians want to enjoy good neighbourly relations with Spain. They want to continue to travel to Spain without the hustle at the frontier and without the fear of what could happen to them once they have crossed the frontier. On the same token Gibraltarians want to welcome Spanish people to Gibraltar as they have done so for over 300 years. Welcome them to work here, shop and enjoy our amenities. Gibraltar may be a small dot on the map, but through our determination and good governance we have become the gem of the Mediterranean.

It is inconceivable in this day and age that two neighbouring E. U. countries should not be cooperating with each other for the good and prosperity of the region.

We therefore urge the Spanish Government to stop all bullying tactics, Fascist tactics were tried once and failed miserably, it caused a lot of harm and hardship to the then 6,000 Spanish men and women who worked in Gibraltar who were forced to leave their jobs and immigrate to faraway places to find a livelihood because again at the time their own country were unable to offer them a living.

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