Last Friday the Spanish Foreign Minister, Miguel Ángel Moratinos, travelled to Morocco to meet with his counterpart Taib Fasi Fihri. The visit came two months after the incidents at the border between Melilla and Morocco which heightened tensions between the two countries.
Moratinos and Fasi Fihri held a working dinner to discuss the events of August in Melilla. A spokesperson said that following this encounter they had been able to smooth over their differences.
At the time Morocco accused the National Police on border duty of racist attitudes and violence against its nationals, a claim that Madrid strongly denied. The troubled waters were not smoothed when the former PP premier, José María Aznar, broke off from his Marbella holiday to go to the frontier in support of the National Police and Guardia Civil.
Last month Moratinos saw Fasi Fihri at the UN in New York when they discussed a bilateral conference to be held in Morocco early next year. This was days after the Spanish premier, José Luis Rodríguez Zapatero, had also been at the UN and met with Morocco’s King Mohamed VI in another effort to restore relations.
Fine! Morocco lays claim to the Spanish enclaves of Ceuta and Melilla so tensions will always be present. In addition Spain seems to pussy foot around Morocco over the rights of the people of the Western Sahara having abandoned the territory in the dying days of Franco. But what about Jorge and Juan?
The two men from Los Barrios have been detained in Morocco since June 5 when a Moroccan patrol came to their aid after they drifted close to its shoreline in bad weather. They were first held for having entered the country without the required paperwork then found themselves on trial for drug trafficking and sentenced to three years in jail plus a hefty fine.
The Spanish consul in Tangier agrees there is no evidence to link the two to the drugs. The Spanish coast guard knew the identity of the owner of the Jet Ski that was found near the hashish but refused to hand over the information to the Moroccan court – because it would break the disclosure of information laws. The Andalucía ombudsman described the rejection of their appeal as an “outrage” and the politicians and people of the municipality – Los Barrios – are united in believing in their innocence and demanding their release. Perhaps crucially the ombudsman, José Chamizo, suspects the arrest and jailing of Jorge and Juan is politically motivated!
So I ask again the question – did Señor Moratinos raise the issue of Jorge and Juan with Taib Fasi Fihri?
The indications are he didn’t – which is a crime in itself!