Friday, July 24, 2009


I seem to have blogged extensively on Gibraltar in recent days. The row over the age of consent for homosexuals and heterosexuals, Caruana versus Feetham and of course the historic visit by Spain’s Foreign Minister, Miguel Angel Moratinos – the first such visit by a Spanish Government Minister in an official capacity since the Rock became a British colony.

I decided to see what my esteemed colleague Francisco Rubiales had to say on the subject on his excellent blog – Voto en Blanco – required reading for those who want to know what is on the minds of thinking Spaniards. You don’t have to agree with their views but you should engage with them.

I reproduce Francisco’s words below but the gist of the blog was that Moratinos was forced to go to Gibraltar by the Spanish Prime Minister, José Luis Rodríguez Zapatero – who leads the worst Spanish government since Fernando VII – the criminal king.

There is also the feeling that Zapatero does not listen to the views of his people, the visit was an indignity for Spain and in some way implied Spain’s recognition of Gibraltar’s sovereignty. I am not sure I agree with that entire thesis but it is none the less valid for that.

What is a fact is that Gibraltar is physically part of the Iberian Peninsula.

Another fact is that all the major Spanish political parties share the view that Gibraltar is part of Spain and that one day the nation’s sovereignty will be restored. A view Moratinos was keen to publicly state this week in both Spain and Gibraltar.

The people of Gibraltar voted over 99 per cent against Spanish sovereignty in the referenda in 1967 and again in 2002 – so no change in views there.

As for Britain it has given its word, enshrined in the Gibraltar Constitution, that it would not return the Rock to Spain without the clear consent of the Gibraltarian people. However I don’t think there is any doubt that the Foreign & Commonwealth Office would hand over the Rock to Madrid tomorrow if it thought it could get away with it.

Hence Gibraltar is fundamentally a problem for Spain and the people of the Rock. However the two mind sets are poles apart and it will take a lot of jaw-jaw to sort out this political and sovereign war-war.

“El jefe de la Diplomacia española, Miguel Ángel Moratinos, siguiendo órdenes expresas del presidente del gobierno, José Luis Rodríguez Zapatero, llevará a cabo este martes la primera visita de un ministro español a Gibraltar desde que los ingleses ocuparon el territorio en 1704. Es el fin de una línea de dignidad y firmeza que España ha mantenido durante más de tres siglos, ininterrumpidamente, compartida por todos los gobiernos.

“El entreguismo, la cobardía y la indignidad en el asunto de Gibraltar es otra herida que abre a España Zapatero, el peor gobernante de la Historia de este país desde los tiempos de Fernando VII, el rey felón.

“La visita de Moratinos ha levantado una tormenta política de rechazo en España, ante la cual, como es su costumbre, Zapatero permanece insensible, manteniendo su tesis de que el gobernante debe gobernar incluso en contra de la opinión mayoritaria de los ciudadanos, una concepción del poder más totalitaria que democrática.

“Desde que se supo que Moratinos se desplazaría al Peñón para participar en el III encuentro ministerial del Foro de Diálogo creado en 2004 por los Gobiernos de España, Reino Unido y Gibraltar con el objetivo de avanzar en la cooperación local, el PP ha convertido la visita en otro caballo de batalla contra el Gobierno de Zapatero. Sus principales dirigentes piden la suspensión de una reunión que consideran "un insulto a la dignidad de España, como país soberano". Estas son palabras del secretario general del Partido Popular andaluz, Antonio Sanz, que argumenta que "lo más grave de la visita es el rango de quien la realiza, lo cual supone un reconocimiento a Gibraltar como país soberano".”


Lenox said...

Clearly I don't agree with Spain's position on Gibraltar - or Moratinos piping 'Gibraltar Español' while on Gib territory, but I will accept Rubiales' take that Zapatero is the worst presidente since they invented presidentes.
Spain - it seems to me - went from a dictatorship to democracy to a police state in just thirty years.

Anonymous said...

I wish we were all more accurate in the use of language. "Gibraltar is clearly part of the Iberian peninsula" is totally correct, as is "Spain is clearly part of the Iberian peninsula". These are geographical facts.
But "Gibraltar is part of Spain" is clearly not a political fact. It is the reason for the argument that it is not so. To express a political opinion as held by Spain one would say "Gibraltar should be part of Spain". I wonder whether there is a usage or convention in Castellano which I am not aware of by which "Gibraltar es Espanol" means the same as "Gibraltar debiera ser Espanol". Can a linguist here help?

Lenox said...

By the time Gibralter does become part of Spain (no doubt stabbed in the back by some British minister), there will probably not be much left of Spain for Gibraltar to be part of. Let's see... Madrid, Valencia (very pro-Spanish, the Valencians), Murcia maybe (if they'll have them), Ceuta and Melilla.

Prospero said...

When was the last time we saw a grammatically correct slogan? Even Obama's Yes We Can is missing a comma. The whole point of a slogan, as no doubt my good friend and erstwhile advertising man Sancho will agree, is to leave room for individual interpretation. Read into it, in other words, what you will. Alas, language is probably the clumsiest form of communication but it's the only one we have for general usage. 'Is' can never be 'should be', nor should it be even if it is.

As to 'facts' regarding Gibraltar, these, too, are subject to interpretation. The Treaty of Utrecht might provide some good examples. And interpreting them is what this whole thing is all about, isn't it? Politicians will interpret according to their parties' 'values' (another misused word) so what can the rest of us expect? No doubt the fact that Gibraltar is part of the Iberian Peninsula allows for a certain arrogance on the part of Spain, which thinks it is the Iberian Peninsula -ask Portugal. On the other hand, Gibraltar also thinks it owns its peninsula and, let's remember, an isthmus is not part of a peninsula. It is an isthmus, separate from both mainland and peninsula even while providing a bridge between the two. Gibraltar doesn't own anything: it is owned by Britain, it is a colony no matter what euphemism you choose to use. One that Britain would love to be rid of by all accounts.

On a non-linguistic matter, if Spain has been so proud, as Francisco Rubiales asserts, as to never have had a minister set foot on the Rock for 300 years and that hasn't obtained any results, is it really so undignified, as he also says, to try a different tack? Zapatero's may or may not be one of history's worst Spanish governments, but at least he has the guts to do something different about the thorn in Spain's side. One of the definitions of insanity, by the way, is to keep doing the same thing over and over again, expecting a different result.

As I've said many times here and elsewhere, I truly believe that the answer will eventually be, with politicians on all sides out of the way, to open the frontier wide and let Nature take care of itself. Some of this is clearly proven in the language as used by 'llanitos' and 'piojosos': it is sometimes difficult to tell which side it comes from, until you get told that the speaker is Juan Pérez or John Perez.