Close the Cervantes Institute until frontier is normalised!
|by LEO OLIVERO
There is a quote that goes “those with a one-track mind are easily predictable” - it was simple to relate that line to our Spanish friends and the resurgence again of heavy traffic queues at the frontier.
It was amazing how easy it was to predict Spain’s next move when analysing their shallow minds regarding Gibraltar. Most were able to forecast the squeeze at the frontier and the resulting chaos and congestion it created throughout Gibraltar.
In fact not many people have been surprised with the new spanish frontier antics, annoyed yes, but not surprised at all. Not even taking into account today’s vibrant world democracy enjoyed by most people the European Union or any other modern day internationally socially accepted norms and respected advancement’ would have made any difference… Because causing mayhem at the frontier is the Spanish Governments Favourite Gibraltar Calling Card!
But if you think about it has ‘frontier traffic ever really been what you would consider normal’ even taking into account the Cordoba Agreement, the Tripartite Forum all the Handshakes and Back Slapping we all witnessed over the last 7 or 8 year. No matter which Spanish Political Party warm their bums on the plush seats in La Moncloa Palace one thing is true and clear…Nothing Ever Changes Much!
You would have to be a very ‘Naive Gibraltarian’ or someone with little knowledge of the Gibraltar/Spanish historical situation to believe that the Popular Party in Madrid, would embark on anything else but attempt to increase the-anti where Gibraltar is concerned, and at the same time do their best to tro to destabilise and upset our daily lives on the Rock!
Spain and their Age-Old Trusted Frontier Policy!
But no sooner had the British Government re-affirmed its position to the Spanish Government regarding Gibraltar, which they did in various European fronts and official forums, than the master-minds at the Spanish foreign office went about implementing once again their trusted frontier policy document. A situation which is true-to-life and epitomises the very fragile relationship (if you can call it that) Gibraltar has with Spain.
This is precisely why Spain is so predictable when it comes to Gibraltar, and why we can never trust them or believe whatever they say, never mind ‘God Forbid’ ever contemplate ourselves becoming part of the Spanish Mainland!
The Guardia Civil, who are robotically controlled from Madrid, may want to call their latest initiative at the frontier as a crack down on tobacco smuggling. Although this is a lame excuse or justification for what is going on. It is old hog-wash and not believable, how can it be, when we were all expecting the frontier card to be in imminent use. This time it is the turn of motor-cycles who have been targeted. Has the Spanish Authorities suddenly realised what has been going on everyday with tobacco that they have to introduce across the board blanket controls that are un-European, un-democratic and violate and abuse people’s rights at a frontier. This without taking into consideration that not everyone crosses into Spain in possession of tobacco or cigarettes!
You could possibly point a finger also at the previous GSD administration for allowing the tobacco situation to get out of control. Even worse than it has ever been in Gibraltar. But again this has not been sudden and has been getting progressively worse over recent years!
Local Drivers Targeted by Guardia Civil Over the Weekend!
However more concerning were reports over the weekend that a number of local drivers in locally registered vehicles were being targeted by the Guardia Civil and were reported for traffic offences from speeding to other (some say dubious) traffic infringements. Some reports suggest that Spanish officers even failed to inform local motorist who were reported for speeding at what speed they had allegedly committed the so-called traffic offence, all this creating heated moments between parties!
And over the weekend there were little signs of any let-up by the Spanish Authorities who continued to provoke long queues of not only motor-cycles but also cars, from early morning stretching back along the runway and beyond.
Keep the Traffic Flowing Diversion Implemented!
The authorities on this side in an attempt to counter the latest bout of ‘Spanish Frontier Tantrums’ have implemented a ‘Keep the Traffic Flowing Diversion’. Yet there is no doubt that the pressure applied at the frontier by the Spanish authorities has a tremendous effect on our roads, as traffic slowly starts to build up back throughout the local road network. All this creating frustration and in some cases maximum tension with many people, who see themselves having to wait for hours after a long hard day at work and many with children in-tow!
Scenes at the frontier itself have also been tense particularly where Spanish workers and the authorities over the border are concerned.
Locally a strong sense of indignation!
What can be done?
There is already a strong strength of feeling and indignation gathering momentum in Gibraltar, created by these constant long delays at the frontier, resentment that is growing by the day!
The question that most people would like answered is “What can be done? Can Spain be Stopped Curtailing that all Important EU Concept of Free Movement Across its Borders? A Question that is a Debatable Theory at the Moment!"
Frankly I believe Spain can curtail whatever it wants! Because after so many years of Spanish frontier antics with possible more to come, their use of immature political democracy appears to have no bounds. You would have thought that someone, would have come up with or highlighted a clause, a section, part of treaty or convention, looked at an accord or cited a simple line from any ruling or directive that demonstrated to the world that ‘Spain is Violating Something Somewhere and Has to Stop.’
Gibraltar has been to the EU in the past on this same issue…AND WHAT! We will probably have the Governor at the Convent monitoring the situation at the frontier and reporting back to London. Convent Place will also be making all sorts of representations again to London and call on our Gibraltar friends in Parliament to raise the issue…it’s the same old song again!
We can also expect little from those other two political power-houses in Brussels and New York. The EU has never really been enthusiastic or much interested when Gibraltar has presented similar complaints in the past. And as far as the UN Committee of 24, 34 or 156 is concerned, forget it; don’t hold your breath for long because you’ll die, for sure!
Gibraltar Action Contemplated!
Many locals over the weekend, in social networks on the internet and elsewhere, have been suggesting different views and ideas that could be implemented by way of registering our annoyance and disgust and also exposing and internationally shaming the Spanish Government.
A total ban on purchasing anything from or in Spain and attempting to persuade people not to go over to do their shopping appears to be a popular measure. Although such a call to ban the purchase of Spanish goods as part of a Gibraltar led protest would have a lot more kick-to-it and receive maximum publicity if it was led by the Gibraltar Government, who could also ban purchasing whatever government procures over in Spain!
But many people over the last few days strongly believe that Gibraltar should act and try to at least highlight and inform the world about the Spanish Government’s latest political moves to further their claim over Gibraltar. These are some of the ideas people have come up with:
• Closing Down the Cervantes Institute, until Normal Relations are Restored
• Webcam at the Frontier as was the case before - Transmitting events
• A Peaceful Demonstration at the Frontier
• Organising a Petition to Brussels and London
Locally we can either do nothing or take everything thrown at us full on the face…or politically and diplomatically we can talk ‘till the cows come home’ and in the mean time continue at the whim of Rajoy and Co!
Close the Cervantes Until Matters Normalise!
I must admit my favoured action at the moment that would send out a strong message over to Madrid is the ‘Temporary Closure of the Cervantes Institute in Gibraltar’. The Cervantes was welcomed in Gibraltar with open arms by the previous administration under a so called different political policy by the Spanish Government regarding Gibraltar. That policy as good or as bad as it was, has now been ripped apart by the new PP Party, not only that, but the Spanish Government have returned to the old ways that are reminiscent of the Franco days!
Why should Gibraltar continue to make the Cervantes Institute (Cultural Centre or Not) welcomed on the Rock? When after all, the Institute is no more than a branch of the Spanish Foreign Ministry in Madrid! As far as I am concerned the institute is sitting pretty right in the middle of our city… Whilst Gibraltarians and others get harassed and have their rights abused daily in their own homeland!
My opinion is a Temporary Closure of the Cervantes Institute until matters are normalised to our satisfaction!
The alternative is to Do Nothing or turn the other cheek, which in my view has mostly been the case over the years!
Frankly we owe it to ourselves to at least signal to the world that this is the 21 century. Gibraltar should do its upmost to expose the Spanish Government for what they are regarding the Gibraltar question.
And precisely we should also communicate this is why Gibraltarians Want to remain firmly attached to their British Roots!