Archive for Gibraltar

A Gibralter Experience – Not To Be Repeated.

Posted in Britain, England, Europe, Government, Insanity, Modern World, News, Relationships, Spain, UK with tags , , , on 06/09/2013 by floroy1942

A trip to Gibraltar yesterday was an exhausting experience to say the least. My first since the trouble with Spain brewed up, and I witnessed first hand what so many people of late had have had to endure when they visit The Rock, and as the Yanks say, “It ain’t purty”.

The Rock

The Rock

Like many Brits living on the Costa I go there regularly to buy the usual UK things you cannot buy in the Spanish shops, like good old English tea, and of course cigarettes which are much cheaper in Gibraltar than in Spain where they are taxed heavily.

I have to admit that going in was not a problem, for although there is almost always a queue and it takes anything from 30 minutes to an hour to get in, I was lucky today and did it in about 40 minutes. I had heard on the news that people had been queuing for three or four hours just to get in, but thankfully today was a good day.

The Square -  Roy's Fish and Chips The Best Place

The Square – Roy’s Fish and Chips The Best Place

I had parked the car in Morrison’s car park at exactly 13.45 and had three hours before the dreaded clamp men came around. After walking into town I had a wonderful English style fish and chips which went down very well, and then proceeded to do my shopping. When that was finished I made to leave, after filling up the car with fuel (that’s much cheaper there too) and had no trouble until I got to Churchill Avenue which runs past the old airport building. From there it’s not more than about four hundred metres to the frontier so I thought I was doing well and looked forward to a normal exit of perhaps 30-40 minutes. The time was 16.45 and that’s when it all went pear-shaped!

Timeframe Of Leaving Gibraltar

Timeframe Of Leaving Gibraltar

I was soon to find out that the Spanish Customs Authority were up to their nasty tricks again. We waited there until 17.20 when we were allowed into the ‘oval’ leading to the exit into Spain. The oval is maybe 200 metres long and all the vehicles travel down one side, turn 180 degrees at the bottom and then go back up the other side to the gate. It is five lanes wide and the lanes are controlled by police who allow so many cars from each lane at a time in a rotation. This means each lane moves forward so much in turn. Now that is a lot of cars in a relatively small space, but the system does work even when the Spanish are not cooperating.

Packed In Like Sardines In A Can

Packed In Like Sardines In A Can

So, I was in lane 4 and fed into the end of the queue like a good soldier. After about 15 minutes I could see no movement at all from any of them and that was odd. It became apparent in no time that the Spanish were on a ‘go slow’ again. It took a very long time before any of the lanes could move forward. Suffice it to say, it took me until 18.25 for my lane to move forward 100 metres and I still had at least another 300 to go.

It was interesting to note that during the period there was a cameraman and his sidekick going around talking to a few drivers, and it was funny that they always seemed to head straight for any car with Gibraltar plates and an attractive female behind the wheel.

It was somewhat amusing many times when Spanish drivers showed their annoyance by blowing their car horns for the benefit of the Customs on the other side. First one would start, and then another until there was a cacophony of sound for a minute or two. This happened on a regular basis throughout the entire session.

Exhibition To Pass The Time

Exhibition To Pass The Time

At one point I saw people getting out of their cars and staring across the oval at something. Curiosity getting the better of me I joined in, and in the distance I saw a pretty young blonde girl without any top posing on the roof of a car for a  man with a camera on the ground. He took several pictures, but sadly I was too far away to see very much even though I took some with my phone. Damn! It was without doubt a frustrating moment. After she got down I saw a couple of Gibraltar ‘bobbies’ (policemen for the uninitiated) wander over and begin talking to the two. I hope they weren’t arrested, but our police can often turn a blind eye to such things in the interests of common sense.

'Nearly' There

‘Nearly’ There

As the sun disappeared from view after more interminable waiting I finally got to within about 25 yards of the head of my lane near the gate, fully expecting to be there for another 30 to 45 minutes at least, when suddenly cars started streaming through the Customs shed and away. It would seem that the Customs men had made their point and finally given up. Thank goodness!

I finally left Gibraltar at 20.50 after an exhausting four hours waiting in the hot sun along with hundreds of others, including young children, babies and pets, and for what? The interesting thing is that the most people hurt by this exhibition of obstinacy were the Spanish, for nine out of every ten cars there had Spanish number plates. Mind you, there may well have been a few English Spain residents like myself there.

Every shop you go to in Gibraltar employs Spaniards and there are literally thousands who cross the border every day to go to work. You walk the streets in the town and all you hear spoken is Spanish. Many from the local area go there to do their shopping, and especially to buy cigarettes.

Spanish Customs Shed

Spanish Customs Shed

Every time we have been before there has always been a constant stream of motorbikes and scooters with Spanish plates heading for the border. Every one of them always carries a knapsack on their backs, but today, I only saw one person with a bag. Just one! The Spanish government has given as its excuse for this action their wish to stamp out the smuggling of cigarettes into Spain from Gibraltar, and there is a lot of it I agree. But today’s evidence shows that those who do most of the smuggling are the Spanish themselves for it is a good little earner for them. With the crackdown all the bikers have left their cigarette bags at home.

It is clear that the Spanish Governments action is causing tremendous upset for anyone visiting Gibraltar at this time, and to me the reason for it is also obvious. This action, and the current renewed demands of Spain for the return of Gibraltar to their country is nothing more than a blind, for it has totally taken over from the top press stories of a month ago of the state of the economy, the joblessness, and Rajoy’s suspected corruption. These are no longer the topics of conversation in the press, it’s all about Gibraltar. Most of the Spanish people themselves don’t seem to care one way or another about the current spat with the UK.

It will be some time before I go back that is for sure, but once Rajoy has successfully silenced the criticism against him perhaps things will return to normal. The moral of the story is: Never trust a Spanish politician.

Roy.

The Treaty Of Utrecht And Gibraltar

Posted in Britain, England, Europe, Justice, News, Politics, Spain, UK with tags , , , , on 12/08/2013 by floroy1942

The news is full of the spat with Spain over ownership of Gibraltar, Well, here is the original text of the Treaty of Utrecht, concerning the agreements over Gibraltar signed in 1713 by Spain’s king, Phillip V. It clearly states that the territory known as Gibraltar is handed over ‘in Perpetuam’ to Britain.  The following is the text of the treaty relative to Gibraltar:

The Original Document I'm Sure The Spanish Government Can Read It If They Wish.

The Original Document
I’m Sure The Spanish Government Can Read It If They Wish.

ARTICLE X OF THE TREATY OF UTRECHT

13 JULY 1713

The Catholic King does hereby, for himself, his heirs and successors, yield to the Crown of Great Britain the full and entire propriety of the town and castle of Gibraltar, together with the port, fortifications, and forts thereunto belonging; and he gives up the said propriety to be held and enjoyed absolutely with all manner of right for ever, without any exception or impediment whatsoever.

But that abuses and frauds may be avoided by importing any kind of goods, the Catholic King wills, and takes it to be understood, that the above-named propriety be yielded to Great Britain without any territorial jurisdiction and without any open communication by land with the country round about.

Yet whereas the communication by sea with the coast of Spain may not at all times be safe or open, and thereby it may happen that the garrison and other inhabitants of Gibraltar may be brought to great straits; and as it is the intention of the Catholic King, only that fraudulent importations of goods should, as is above said, be hindered by an inland communications. it is therefore provided that in such cases it may be lawful to purchase, for ready money, in the neighbouring territories of Spain, provisions and other things necessary for the use of the garrison, the inhabitants, and the ships which lie in the harbour. 

But if any goods be found imported by Gibraltar, either by way of barter for purchasing provisions, or under any other pretence, the same shall be confiscated, and complaint being made thereof, those persons who have acted contrary to the faith of this treaty, shall be severely punished.

And Her Britannic Majesty, at the request of the Catholic King, does consent and agree, that no leave shall be given under any pretence whatsoever, either to Jews or Moors, to reside or have their dwellings in the said town of Gibraltar; and that no refuge or shelter shall be allowed to any Moorish ships of war in the harbour of the said town, whereby the communication between Spain and Ceuta may be obstructed, or the coasts of Spain be infested by the excursions of the Moors.

But whereas treaties of friendship and a liberty and intercourse of commerce are between the British and certain territories situated on the coast of Africa, it is always to be understood, that the British subjects cannot refuse the Moors and their ships entry into the port of Gibraltar purely upon the account of merchandising. Her Majesty the Queen of Great Britain does further promise, that the free exercise of their religion shall be indulged to the Roman Catholic inhabitants of the aforesaid town.

And in case it shall hereafter seem meet to the Crown of Great Britain to grant, sell or by any means to alienate therefrom the propriety of the said town of Gibraltar, it is hereby agreed and concluded that the preference of having the sale shall always be given to the Crown of Spain before any others.

Arch Duke Charles Of Austria

Arch Duke Charles Of Austria

As you can see, part of the text covers the importation of ‘fraudulent goods’ but allows trade with Spanish territory for normal goods (i.e. food, and everyday items), but also gives Spain preferential treatment should Britain wish to leave the peninsular at any time. Apart from that there are no restrictions on ownership and it is forever.

King Philip V of Spain - The Catholic King

King Philip V of Spain – The Catholic King

This treaty was signed willingly by the Spanish king as a final act to end the War of Succession that had raged from 1701 to 1714 which concerned who had the right to succeed  the last of the Habsburg kings of Spain, Charles II who had no legal heir. It must be remembered that the royal families of Europe intermarried like crazy to maintain the bloodline, which meant that both France and Austria had claim to Spain when Charles died.  It is all far too complicated to mention here, but suffice it to say, war became inevitable when the royal houses of both France and Austria laid claim to the territory of Spain, especially taking into account the many overseas countries it controlled.

Louis XIV Of France

Louis XIV Of France

In any event, this led to the Succession Wars and in a bid to end the conflict the Treaty of Utrecht was signed. It laid down the borders of modern Europe with concessions being made to the victors. Part of those concessions included Gibraltar.

Gibraltar - Constantly On Guard

Gibraltar – Constantly On Guard

The wording of the Treaty shown above is quite clear in that the Spanish gave up all right to ownership and influence in the territory forever. It is therefore unreasonable for the Spanish government to now claim this document never existed, or was signed under duress. The cold fact of the matter is that Spain has no rights to Gibraltar unless Britain no longer wants it, and the people of the peninsular will have a lot to say about that.

Roy.

The Gibraltar Controversy

Posted in Britain, Conservative Party, David Cameron, England, Europe, Human Rights, Modern World, Spain, UK, World War 2 with tags , , , , on 10/08/2013 by floroy1942
Gibraltar At Night

Gibraltar At Night

I was happy to hear this last week that David Cameron has once again told the Spanish that Britain will not give up Gibraltar. I find it totally ridiculous that countries like Spain and Argentina consistently make ridiculous claims for ‘return’ of territory they have not had control of for many hundreds of years.

The peninsular first became part of Spain following the collapse of the Roman Empire but was overrun by the Muslim Moors in 700 A.D. It was annexed by the Christian Kingdom of Castile in 1309 but was once again lost to the Moors in 1333 who ruled until 1462 when it was again recaptured by the Spanish who remained in control until 1704 when it was captured during the War of Spanish Succession by an Anlgo-Dutch fleet in the name of  Charles VI of Austria who was  the Habsburg pretender to the Spanish throne. When the war ended the territory was ceded  “in perpetuity” to Britain under the terms of the Treaty of Utrecht in 1713. It has been a British possession ever since then.

Guarding the Rock - WW2

Guarding the Rock – WW2

Thereafter, Gibraltar was besieged and heavily bombarded during three attempts by the Spanish to regain it but all were repulsed effectively. In fact, Gibraltar has faced fourteen sieges within the last five hundred years. Although attacked by German, Italian and Vichy French forces during the Second World War all were withstood. The last major attempt at subduing the people of Gibraltar was during the Franco era when he cut off all communications and sealed the border between 1969 and 1985. This also failed.

Cueta and Melilla - Spanish Territory In Morocco

Ceuta and Melilla – Spanish Territory In Morocco

So you see, this tiny peninsular of land has had more than its fair share of problems, but despite them all the people have never been defeated. During the last war it became a major Navy base for British fleets operating in the Mediterranean Sea, but today it has little strategic importance. However, it is as British as the UK with its red double-decker buses, red phone boxes and British traditions. For this reason I applaud the stance of our Prime Minister in telling the Spanish that so long as the people of Gibraltar want to stay British they shall have that right. I think it also behoves him to remind Spain’s Prime Minister, Rajoy, that Spain also has two enclaves in Morocco called Ceuta and Melilla that belong to Spain which they steadfastly refuse to hand back. They too are similar to Gibraltar in that they are on the coast near the narrows.

Gibraltar

Gibraltar From The Air

The reason this whole saga has hit the headlines is because the government of Gibraltar placed large blocks of concrete in the bay in Gibraltar’s territorial waters to deter Spanish fishermen  who regularly fish in them. The methods they use are particularly bad for the ecosystem because they trawl the seabed with nets that destroy the habitat of many species of sea creatures. The Spanish have been known for years for their ‘rape of the sea’, they even fish in North Sea waters and don’t give a fig for legal boundaries. Quotas mean little to them and they have put the fishing fleets of many countries out of business. I remember when the port of Grimsby in the UK had one of the largest fleets in the country, but now there are but a few boats left.

Qeues Waiting To Leave Deliberately Caused By Spanish Customs

Queues Waiting To Leave Deliberately Caused By Spanish Customs

But apart from all that there is the question of the sovereignty of Gibraltar. It has been in British hands for more than three hundred years as a result of a treaty the Spanish signed themselves, so what gives them the right to demand it back. Just supposing they did get it back, what then? In my view it would deteriorate into a useless hunk of rock at the southern end of the country. Living in Spain for many years has given me an insight into the way these people think, and I can say with utmost certainty that if it became Spanish, the Gibraltar tourist trade would dry up within a couple of years and given a few more years would look just like the other side of the border.

Inside' The Rock' Caves

Inside’ The Rock’ Caves

My wife and I go to Gibraltar regularly from Marbella and pass through La Linia which is the Spanish town on the border with Gibraltar, and I have seldom seen a more run-down place in all my life. Just driving through it is depressing. Much of the population in this small town work in Gibraltar and if wasn’t for this they would all be in big trouble. Practically every shop you go to in Gibraltar has Spanish staff, and as you walk the streets you hear Spanish spoken ten times more than English.

The "Britishness" Of Gibraltar

The “Britishness” Of Gibraltar

Gibraltar does have a certain charm with its quaint single shopping street, where incidentally most of the businesses are run by Indians or Pakistani’s, but it’s also the very ‘Britishness’ of the place, in many ways its like the UK used to be. The peninsular has an area of just 6.5sq.kms with a population of slightly under 30,000, and much of the land on the western side was reclaimed from the sea where now stand large blocks of apartments.

What visitors to Gibraltar have to endure:

The Apes Of Gibraltar - The Best Thieves On The Peninsular

The Apes Of Gibraltar – The Best Thieves On The Peninsular

It is a bustling place with many attractive tourist sites like the limestone caves and the Barbary apes that inhabit the summit. It has very nice beaches and is in many ways a nice place to visit. On top of all that it is a tax-free haven which the tourists, and I might add most of the Spanish locals, like very much. Everything considered, I am glad that successive UK governments have steadfastly refused to accede to Spanish demands that it be handed back, for it is as British as fish and chips and must remain so.

Roy.

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