Tuesday, October 11, 2005

The Moroccan government continues to earn brickbats for its treatment of the illegal immigrants who launched themselves – unsuccessfully – at the Spanish fences around Melilla and Ceuta in North Africa. Having dumped more than a thousand of them in the middle of the desert near Algeria, they've now responded to the storm of protests by driving them in a convoy to the other end of the country, near the Western Sahara.

Talking of enclaves – sorry, ‘anachronistic colony’ in this case – I read today the following comment from a British MP about Gibraltar. “For many in this government, jettisoning Gibraltar is an end in itself. If Madrid happens to put something on the table in return, fine. But one feels Labour would still seek to withdraw from the Rock, even if they had to pay Madrid to take it.” Only local resolve and the British tabloids stand in the way, it seems. These, of course, grow in direct response to noises from any Spanish government which courts domestic favour by playing the Gib card.

The President – Mr Zapatero – could probably do with some domestic favour right now. For recent surveys suggest the Spanish public is increasingly critical of him for perceived weakness in the face of illegal immigrants, an unfriendly Moroccan government and the Catalans who are trying to weaken their relationship with the state. Calls are naturally being made for a change in the law so as to allow illegal immigrants to be sent straight back. Given that the Spanish government is almost certainly barred from taking unilateral action, it may not be long now before the Spanish find there’s more to being in the EU than an endless flow of grants and subsidies from north to south.

You might think it bad enough for Wayne Rooney to indulge in fights with opposing players during competitive football matches. But today’s papers carried pictures of fisticuffs between two members of the Spanish squad training for tomorrow’s World Cup game. Mind you, one of them was a Catalan. Probably got into an argument about constitutional reform.

For new readers – If you’ve arrived here because of an interest in Galicia or Pontevedra, you might find my non-commercial guides interesting – at colindavies.net


Portorosa said...

Colin, do you know any British who thinks that someone from Gibraltar is so British as him/her?

Apart from being Spanish since XV century (Gibraltar is yours from 18th), Ceuta and Melilla are considered Spain, and their population Spanish. Have you ever been there? There are many people from Morocco, but most part of the people are completely equal to the rest of Spanish (compare that with people from Gibraltar...). Moreover, they are legally a part of EU, unlike Gibraltar (or Hong Kong, when it was British).
Moreover, before being Spanish, Ceuta was Portuguese... in fact, of course, Morocco didn't exist at all at 15th century (Spain did at 1713).

I don't care at all about Gibraltar, believe me; and I'm not mad about 'Spain unity', but Ceuta and Melilla were a part of Spain much before other peninsular regions (for instance, some parts of Andalucía), and people from there (not inmigrants, obviously, but born there, as my own uncle) are considered completely 'normal' Spanish, as if they had been born in Toledo or Coruña.

Please, don't get me wrong, don't consider this a 'patriotic claim'.


Anonymous said...

Geez, even when a Spaniard makes arguements in defence of Spain they feel as though they must declare a lack of "patriotism". There's always a danger that people might think that you love your country over "international" or "EU" values.

I don't want to make any accusations portorosa, but I think that you have a Spanish flag carefully hidden in your closet!

Just kidding, no modern Spaniard would do such a thing.


Portorosa said...

Maybe you're right. I just tried to be (and seem) objective. Because I think there're objective differences.

Anyway, I do know History can be told in many different ways. And it is, in deed. That's why it isn't any good arguing about it.

Sorry, Colin.