Tuesday, 6 August 2013

Getting Worked Up Over Gibraltar

Spain periodically gets upset about Gibraltar, which is a sort of British naval base and minor tourist resort with 'apes'. The usual position on this in the British press is 'Sod off, Pancho' or variations on that theme. But a more nuanced response might be to point out that Spain is hypocritical and perhaps a wee bit racist over the issue.

Gibraltar is undeniably a bit of Spain that was grabbed by Britain (or England, or whatever) in days of yore. The fact that historic treaties confirm UK sovereignty and that the people of Gibraltar seem fairly happy with the current arrangements aren't seen - by Spanish politicians - as significant compared the geographical claim i.e. you've nicked a bit of our land.

Fair enough. But why, if it's all about geographical integrity, doesn't Spain hand back its two enclaves in North Africa? Ceuta and Melilla have majority Spanish populations who don't want to be handed over to the government of Morocco. Instead they are happy to remain as 'autonomous cities' within the kingdom of Spain.

If Spain doesn't accept that Morocco has a claim on two bits of what would appear to be its land why all this fuss over Gibraltar? Might it be because Moroccans are brown folks, and therefore their right to national integrity etc can't be taken seriously? I wonder. There are legal distinctions to be made between Ceuta and Gibraltar, but they are just that - legalistic niceties. The basic fact that a foreign flag is flying 'inside' someone else's country is at the heart of both disputes.