Spanish refuse to recognize Gibraltarís
philatelic identity!

by Leo Olivero
Would you believe it, the Spanish are at it again! This time they refuse to recognize Gibraltar Philatelic identity - postage stamps, that is - and in the process they forced the local philatelic society to pull out of a recent prearranged exhibition hosted in Estepona!

Gibraltar stamps have been issued since 1886. Local stamps, amongst the philatelic fraternity, are highly valued and extremely collectible. The Rock's reputation is right up there with the philatelic elite, particularly the many worldwide philatelic organisations.

In fact, 1886 is significant, it was when the Colonial Government of Gibraltar took control of Postal Services. That's how long Gibraltarians have been involved with the world of stamps, around that date in fact the first stamps were issued which specifically marked 'Gibraltar'.

For over 125 years, the Rock has had its own 'unique philatelic identity' completely separate from the United Kingdom. Our philatelic bureau is also an established world entity in its own right.

Now ,it seems, after 125 years of local philately the world over, the Spanish 'in petty political pathetic mode' have decided it does not recognize Gibraltar's philatelic individuality, neither does it like to see any mention of Gibraltar, particularly in exhibitions in Spain!

Recently the Gibraltar Philatelic Society (an arm of the History Society Gibraltar) pulled out of a proposed philatelic exhibition in Estepona. This happened when the PP Government controlled Mayor of the town got involved in the organisation of this event.

The story behind this incident is straightforward, although it also highlights the manipulation by the central government of PP controlled town halls across Spain, as in this case, particularly on another issue concerning the Rock.
Earlier in the year the Gibraltar Philatelic Society was invited to attend an exhibition jointly with a philatelic section from Portugal and the host in Estepona.

Speaking to Panorama the History Society Gibraltar Chairman David Eveson said that the invitation came at the back of last year's successful celebrations commemorating 125 Years of Postage Stamps on the Rock when an exhibition was also held in Gibraltar and where the same Estepona philatelic society was invited to the Rock to participate in the said celebrations.
During the course of the year contact was made between the local society and the one in Spain about the promotional/advertising material to be used for the Estepona exhibition.

According to Mr. Eveson, agreement was reached regarding proposed posters, which were exchanged between associations during the approval stages. However, at one point, posters were sent back to the local society for approval. It was noticed that on the returned poster, the word Gibraltar had been omitted as being one of the exhibiting nations and the word Britannica (Britain) had put in its place.
It was at this stage that the local society became aware that the PP Estepona Mayor was dabbling in the usual Spanish political trickery by insisting that Gibraltar name, as a nation, should be removed from the poster. With some reluctance, the local society grudgingly decided to go ahead 'mainly because at the bottom of the poster in question, a Gibraltar two-and-half pence stamp still formed part of the main body of the poster'.

The Estepona mayor Jose Maria Garcia Urbano it seems instructed the Spanish organizers of the 'sociedad philatelic eurosft of Estepona' to remove all mention of Gibraltar in all promotional material regarding the exhibition i.e. posters, flyers and exhibition booklet and instead of Gibraltar, the mayor only wanted the word Britannica (Britain) in its place. As if Great Britain were actually exhibiting instead of the Gibraltar Philatelic Society!

When the final poster was sent back to the Rock, the Gibraltar stamp had also been removed from the poster and replaced by the world famous UK penny black stamp which has nothing at all to do with Gibraltar. Of course the local society did not accept this and informed the Estepona organizers they would not be attending the exhibition, as it was obvious that politics had involved itself in a totally non-political event.

Mr. Eveson recently said in the Society's newsletter "the planned inclusion in the Estepona Philatelic Exhibition was abandoned due to the intransigence of the Mayor who withdrew all reference to 'Gibraltar' from agreed advertising replacing any reference to the Rock with Britannica. Although we remain a non political organisation, we felt this was unacceptable so we withdrew" adding that 'politics infiltrate such mundane things as postage stamps.' He should have added Spanish Politics!

One wonders what next from Spain. How petty can political minds get?
This obsession with Gibraltar is worrying. If Spain was seen at in the context of it being a human being, you would seriously think it needed urgent medical attention to cure its Gibraltar obsession, probably a trip to the KGV Hospital!