Today I record the sad passing of Francis Cantos who was the Gibraltar Government’s Press Secretary and Media Director. He had been taking a well earned holiday in Sotogrande within sight of his beloved Rock when he suffered a fatal heart attack late on Wednesday night.
Francis Cantos, who was in his mid-50s, became the Gibraltar Chronicle’s first Gibraltarian editor in 1984. Previously he had been the newspapers chief reporter and had worked as a journalist both in the UK and on the Rock. After Chief Minister Peter Caruana’s GSD was elected to government in Gibraltar Francis Cantos joined his office in September 1996.
Gibraltar Chronicle editor Dominique Searle said: “The news has come as a great shock to all at the Chronicle, newspaper and printing works, who worked with him for many years. He was totally dedicated to his journalistic work and to playing a role in taking the project of Gibraltar forward. Our condolences go out to his family, wife Pamela and his two daughters.”
Gibraltar’s journalistic community is a small and tight one so there were also warm words from Joe Garcia editor of the rival daily Panorama. He stated: “I remember meeting Francis by chance at Gatwick airport when he was 18. He had got a job in a Kensington paper. He was on his way to Gibraltar, where he wanted to make journalism his career. I was the editor of the Gibraltar Post at the time and I approached Maurice Featherstone, who was the publisher, and Francis got his break locally. From there he went on to become editor of our contemporary the Gibraltar Chronicle, becoming Media Director for the Government in September 1996. He was a hard-worker who loved his profession. His death seems so unreal.”
I last met Francis Cantos outside the Rock Hotel in Gibraltar when he was coordinating events for the historic and controversial Tripartite meeting during which Spain’s Foreign Minister, Miguel Ángel Moratinos, made the first visit by a Spanish Government minister to Gibraltar in an official capacity. He was as usual courteous and helpful in a job that I suspect had more than its fair share of stress. I pondered this morning why there had not been any official statement from the Gibraltar Government on his passing – then I realized that he hadn’t been there to organize it.
May he rest in peace.
(Francis Cantos, left, consults with senior police officers as the Foreign Ministers of Britain and Spain arrive at the Rock Hotel on July 21).