Friday, April 14, 2017

Thoughts from Galicia: 14.4.17

Spanish life is not always likeable but it is compellingly loveable.
- Christopher Howse: A Pilgrim in Spain.Renfe probs

NOTE: For those readers who've used Facebook to access this blog, you can now go to my FB page Dross Bin for this.

It looks as if, not before time, Spaniards are beginning to get a little fed up with the country's institutionalised corruption. See El Mundo here, in Spanish.

I've mentioned loss of government transfers to Galicia. Here's what austerity means to Andalucia.

Life in Spain: I wonder if anyone else has as many problems with the RENFE web page as I do. Last night, I couldn't get it to accept my Origin and Destination cities. Which problem was compounded by the response being: Please enter Origin and Destination names. Ten times.

Spaniards living near Gibraltar are reported to be angry with Madrid's stupid initiatives around The Rock, essentially because their livelihoods are at stake if Spain takes it over. The latest nonsense guaranteed to further alienate everyone down there - British and Spanish - is the stock tactic of imposing lengthy border checks. At the end of this post there's a British commentator's 6 reasons why Gibraltar will never be Spanish. Mostly plausible. And just to upset Spanish readers further, here's an article on why Madrid should give Oliven├ža back to Portugal.

More on Italy's banking crisis from Don Quijoneshere and here. Of course, the problems are really those of the EU, not just Italy. Here's how DQ sums up the current situation: We've finally reached the juncture of Italy’s banking crisis where desperation meets insanity. For good measure, here's DQ on the ECB bank and its lack of independence.

Nutters' Corner: This is dedicated to the doyen of US Christian pastors, and a prominent supporter of Donald Trump - Kevin Swanson. Here's a few things he's recently said:-
  • I won’t buy Girl Scout Cookies because I don't want to support lesbianism.
  • Parents who let their daughters join the Girl Scouts should be executed because the Bible calls for it.
  • If my son turned out to be gay, I'd sit in cow manure and I’d spread it all over my body.
  • The victims of the Pulse nightclub massacre were killed because God had given up on them.
  • Pastors who have gay children should resign.
Obviously not Mr Nice Guy, then. But a committed Christian nonetheless. Let's hope he burns in Hell, should it really exist.

I've never drunk much tea, so I'm not devastated by the news that the best way to brew it is in the microwave. Click here for details, whether you believe the claim or not.

You couldn't make it up . . . Government food inspectors have found as series of deficiencies in the restaurant at Donald Trump's exclusive private club in Florida, Mar-a-Lago. Where officials and business folk are now expected to stay. At prices that have been doubled. That's capitalism for you!

Finally . . . In a fit of pique because Ukraine won't allow their Eurovision entry to be included, Moscow has said they won't allow the program to be aired in Russia. Lucky bloody Russians!  

Today's cartoon:-

Unfortunately, the drugs he's been on just now have only ever been tested on mice.


Six Reasons Why Gibraltar Will Never be Spanish

Every once in a while, usually during a domestic Spanish scandal, Spain decides to kick up a fuss about British rule of Gibraltar. Eventually it all comes to nothing. Nevertheless, it's worth going through the main reasons why Gibraltar is not Spanish, and won't be anytime soon.

1. It is British "in perpetuity" 

Lets be clear from the outset. Spain's legal claim to Gibraltar is weak. It does not dispute the Treaty of Utrecht of 1713, the document which formally ceded the Rock to the British "in perpetuity".
Instead it bases its argument on territorial integrity, calling Gibraltar a colonial relic (hypocrisy you may cry, but don't worry, we'll get on to that point).

Knowing that its legal case is weak, the Spanish government also refuses to acknowledge Gibraltar's territorial water, or its airport which is built partly on reclaimed land and on the isthmus, which was not explicitly covered by the treaty.

2. Respect the will of the people

The people of Gibraltar don't want to be under Spanish sovereignty, or even Spanish co-sovereignty. They have twice in referendums rejected Spain. Most recently in 2002, and both times by 99 per cent to 1 per cent. According to Spain, Gibraltar's inhabitants are illegal occupiers – after the 1967 referendum they were referred to as "pseudo-Gibraltarians" – and so their opinion is apparently invalid. Apart from being callous, this is a childish argument.

There are lots of places in the world that owe their existence to European conquest, many of them former Spanish colonies, and subsequent waves of immigration. Australia was not settled by Europeans until 74 years after the signing Treaty of Utrecht. No one denies Australia's right to self-determination.

3. Gibraltar has its own culture

Gibraltar is a unique place with a culture drawn together from across the Mediterranean. It has its own dialect, Llanito, which some call Spanglish, but is also full of Ligurian words and some Arabic ones too. The Ligurian words, and much of Gibraltar's unique architecture, comes from the large number of Geonese who settled in Gibraltar throughout the 18th and 19th centuries. Gibraltar also has the oldest Jewish community in the Iberian Peninsula. Jews were expelled from Spain and Portugal in the 1490s, but hundreds of years later they returned, moving to Gibraltar when it fell to the British.

And of course, Gibraltar is full of Britishnesh, something the people are hugely proud of. This unique culture alone is good reason not to want to be subsumed into Spain.

4. The Spanish can't forget Ceuta

The most well known case of Spanish hypocrisy over Gibraltar is in Ceuta and Melilla, two exclaves on the coast of Morocco. They are formally part of the Spanish metropole, unlike Gibraltar, but Morocco wants them back.  The two were conquered by Portugal and Spain respectively, as part of the mission to spread Catholicism around the globe. Spain, oddly enough, does not recognise Morocco's claim. 

But, it's also worth noting the Canary Islands, 800 miles from the Spanish mainland and just 80 miles from Morocco. Castille, and then Spain committed what today would be called a genocide during its century long conquest of the islands in the 15th century.

The inhabitants of Ceuta, Melilla, and the Canary Islands are all, by the standards Spain applies to Gibraltar, illegal occupants with no right to self-determination.

5. Spanish Gibraltar still exists

After Britain took over Gibraltar, many inhabitants fled to nearby San Roque. As a reward for their loyalty the King of Spain recognised San Roque as “Gibraltar in exile” and had Spanish Gibraltar’s city council, records, and banners all moved there. The city’s motto translates as “Very Noble and Very Loyal city of San Roque, where those of Gibraltar reside”. That the Spanish community lives on elsewhere is surely another reason not to destroy what Gibraltar has become for so-called Spanish territorial integrity.

6. Gibraltar would sink under Spanish rule

Beyond all the legal and historical disputes, there is one simple truth. As I've written before for this newspaper, if Spain took control of Gibraltar it would destroy both the Rock and likely itself. Gibraltar thrives because its economy thrives. Its economy thrives because the unique status of the peninsula allows it to be a low tax low regulation domicile. In doing so, it props up the economy of the area around it.

Unemployment is close to 40 per cent in Andalucia, but only 1 per cent in Gibraltar. Up to 12,000 workers a day cross over from Spain to earn a living on the Rock.  Thus to maintain some semblance of the status quo, Gibraltar would need a level of autonomy never before seen in Spain. Madrid would soon face calls to grant the same level of autonomy to Catalonia and the Basque country. Catalonia, with an economy the size of South Africa's, accounts for 18 per cent of Spain's economy. Granting it Gibraltarian levels of autonomy would be economically insane as well as politically impossible.

If instead it did not grant Gibraltar this level of autonomy, it would crash the Gibraltarian economy and remove the only economic brightspot in a perennially depressed region.This is why the Spanish government pursues co-sovereignty and not full sovereignty, because the latter would at best ravage the local economy, and at worst pull Spain itself apart.

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