A Falling Out of Friends

By:  Daniel Nardini

  Lawndale News Chicago's Bilingual Newspaper - CommentaryApparently the British-Spanish antagonism over the British territory of Gibraltar is far from dead. When the Gibraltar government decided to hurtle concrete blocks into the area around the colony in an effort to protect its barrier reefs, the Spanish government complained that this was an attempt to prevent Spanish fishermen from earning a living. The Spanish government then imposed special border checks between Spain and Gibraltar—causing several hours long lines and threatening to charge all those going across the border U.S. $60 dollars. In retaliation, the British government is pursuing “legal” action against Spain while Spain is threatening to take the whole case before the United Nations, the Court in the Hague, and to Argentina where Spain is calling for a united front with Argentina over “sovereignty” on Gibraltar and the Falkland Islands.

  The whole thing seems to be spinning out of control, and there is no question that Great Britain and the British people as well as many Spanish people do not understand why the Spanish government does not try to come to some understanding on the fishing issue. When one looks at the two countries, you have to wonder why the Spanish government is going to such extremes. Both Britain and Spain are constitutional monarchies, both have democratic institutions, and both have a lot to lose on the issue of Gibraltar. Britain has owned Gibraltar since 1713, and from time to time there have been disputes between Britain and Spain over sovereignty of Gibraltar. In 2002, Gibraltar residents were given the chance to vote either to remain under British rule or opt for Spanish rule, By a margin of 99 percent, the people of Gibraltar chose to remain a part of Great Britain.

And this arrangement has worked for both Great Britain and Spain. Many of the people who are residents of Gibraltar have homes in Spain because it is cheaper. Many Spanish go to work in Gibraltar because the wages are better and there are more opportunities for employment. Add to this the massive tourism Gibraltar brings in, and it helps both the residents of Gibraltar and those Spanish citizens living on the other side of the border. In pure economic terms it is a win-win situation. It is inexplicable why the current Spanish Prime Minister, Mariano Rajoy, wants to take Spain on a possible no-win fight with Great Britain on something that can and should be worked out between not only two trading partners, but also between two friends and allies who have much more in common than differences.

Comments are closed.