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Post More on Randy Black's Encounter with the Guardia Civil
Created by John Eipper on 03/27/14 9:17 AM

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More on Randy Black's Encounter with the Guardia Civil (Randy Black, USA, 03/27/14 9:17 am)

Several among us, John Eipper included, are jumping to incorrect conclusions at it pertains to my beating at the hands of Spanish police last week. (See my post of 26 March.) Such a misunderstanding may be due to my lack of a complete "picture" in my effort to keep my little tale of woe short in order to save electricity. What follows is a more complete edition.

For John to compare my beating at the hands of Guardia Civil agents (paramilitary border guards) on a public thoroughfare in Spain to the customs area inside the depths of John F. Kennedy Airport is an incorrect effort to somehow make it okay for Spanish police to beat tourists.

In fact, even the Royal border guards told me the next morning that the area where I was beaten was a public street and certainly not in a "limbo" zone. I brought the question up when the British cop was taking my report.

The Royal policeman pointed out exactly where the zone began and ended and said, "There is no law against taking pictures of police doing their duty on a public street in Spain and you were within your rights. But then, it's Spain, not America or the UK."

Moreover, to counter Henry Levin's defense of the Spanish thugs, the British told me that I was the fourth person to complain to them during the first three weeks of March at that one crossing.

"We have no way of knowing how many others simply take their beating silently and move on," the Royal Border Guard/officer said. "The Spaniards don't communicate with us much if at all."

To set the scene: One walks along a public sidewalk past a soccer field and a gas station from the British side to the Spanish side. You then walk or drive directly across the only runway of the Gibraltar airport. No restrictions or security fences other than a traffic arm on both sides of the runway that stops cars, buses and pedestrians from crossing the runway when a commercial jet is landing or taking off. It's very casual.

I even stopped in the middle of the runway to take photos of the full moon coming up over the Rock. See attached. You can see another pedestrian in the runway area. One walks out of the British-controlled border passage area by walking along a public sidewalk and past a British fellow sitting in a small glass-encased kiosk. He can open or close a window to ask questions of pedestrians passing by. The British fellow did not even look up from his newspaper as I offered my US passport and kept walking.

A few yards further brought me to the Spanish equivalent. Same result; not even a glance at me. However, the auto and truck traffic was routed in a convoluted path of traffic cones that snake around the airport tarmac, thus cramming hundreds of cars, trucks and mopeds into an area that if simply set in a straight line would track back miles.

At the point on the paved street where the cars are squeezed down from two to one lane, the Spanish police have a police SUV blocking part of even the one remaining lane of the two-lane main road out of the British area. It was in that one lane that I noted the beatings of the moped riders. Fully realizing that it was likely a "limbo" zone, I walked another 50-75 feet or so to an unrestricted area where taxis were waiting to offer pedestrians rides. I turned and began to raise my camera. There are no signs anywhere even indicating which country you are or what may or may not be allowed or forbidden.

I could not have been in a "no-man's" zone.

Yet the thug began to shout at me and chased me down (I did not run, just turned to walk away.) He hit me with his weight as he grabbed my neck and the collar of my shirt and then the rest of my scenario continued.

Now you may have a clearer picture of my ordeal. At no time did the officer ask my name, look at my passport, nor even ask to see my media ID. He simply started slugging me in the head and continued to hit me in the back of my head as he "bum rushed" me to the privacy of his official building nearby.

Finally, I told the story to a couple of Brits a day or two later in Granada where I was touring the Alhambra. A total of three Brits and one American I was visiting told me that my experience was not unusual. Each said that such matters are in fact happening weekly at the Gibraltar border crossing. I was also cautioned about exceeding the speed limit in the known speed traps around Baza, Málaga, and the other cities and villages I would be passing through. My TomTom GPS navigation aid often beeped as I approached reported speed traps numerous times in my 1000 km trip over the nine-day journey. The GPS device even has a button that the user can push when one sees a speed trap. The information is then passed on to other cars in the area with similar devices.

I was told that the Spanish traffic Civil Guards (police) take great delight especially in holding up Brits and other foreigners for "gifts of appreciation" in order to avoid having one's car literally taken apart during a traffic ticket stop.

And now, with apologies to Paul Harvey, you have the rest of the story.

JE comments: Photos below.  The British Airways jet and the sign "to Spain" are priceless!  One could compose a whole Cultural Studies monograph on this pic.

I have always read and heard (and taught my students) that you do not attempt to bribe police in Spain.  A question for WAISers in the know:  has this professional probity become a victim of Spain's current economic woes?

Moon over Gibraltar, March 2014.  Photo Randy Black

"To Spain":  Gibraltar Airport.  Photo Randy Black

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  • Guardia Civil in History; Himmler Visits Spain 1940 (Anthony J Candil, USA 04/03/14 3:26 AM)
    Returning to the problem my fellow Texan Randy Black encountered at the Gibraltar border crossing (27 March), enclosed you'll find two interesting pictures from Himmler's visit to Spain in 1940.

    The Guardia Civil is certainly a peculiar paramilitary force that can be compared either to the French Gendarmerie or the Italian Carabinieri. It has never been part of the Army, yet its officers until the end of the Civil War came from the army, mostly from infantry but some from cavalry too. Franco, nevertheless, always appointed army generals as commandants-in-chief of the Guardia Civil. If I'm not wrong the first civilian director of the Guardia Civil was appointed by Prime Minister Felipe González, in 1982, and he--Luis Roldán--turned out to be a crook who fled from Spain with large amounts of money belonging to the Guardia Civil orphans' association. Under Prime Minister José Luis Zapatero, an Air Force general--for the very first time--was appointed director of the Guardia Civil, a decision that wasn't welcomed within the force.

    Anyway, I met once a colonel of the Spanish Army who showed me many pictures of Heinrich Himmler with his father, who was then a Guardia Civil general--Brigadier General Rodrigo--and director of State Security. Apparently Himmler came to Spain in October 1940, to oversee the Guardia Civil as Franco, or someone close to him--perhaps Serrano Suñer--was recommending that the Guardia Civil should be trained along the standards of the SS. I cannot even imagine such a foolish thing.

    My Spanish friend told me that according to his father, Himmler was disappointed when he learned that the Guardia Civil was very respectful of the Catholic Church and even had as a patron the Holy Virgin Mary ("la Virgen del Pilar"). Himmler said that with such "soldiers" there wasn't much he could do!

    Amazing story, isn't it? and what a friend Franco had!

    Both pictures belong to the German Bundesarchiv. Behind Franco there is a general, a Spaniard, with reading glasses. He is general José Moscardo, the defender of the Alcázar de Toledo, who after the civil war was in charge of Franco's personal security detail.

    So maybe this can explain a bit the behavior of the "Guardia Civil" agents at the Gibraltar crossing. However if they had been true SS soldiers, Randy's story could have ended very different. Perhaps the green color of their uniforms is something that remains from this absurd attempt to make them look like the SS. In Spain they are called "los verdes" (the Green).

    On the issue of Gibraltar:  As I already said some months ago, Spain has not only been unable to recapture the Rock militarily--in 300 years--but it has also failed at winning hearts and minds, to make the alternative of perhaps joining Spain one day more palatable to the Gibraltarians. Gibraltar is not certainly Hong Kong, but nor is Spain China, especially from a military point of view. So, what's in it for the Gibraltarians if they were to join Spain? Joining the enormous list of unemployed people in Andalusia (it is said that in Andalusia today, unemployment is over 35%)?

    Gibraltar no longer has the strategic importance it had through the end of World War II, but today it is a fact that even the United States is much more comfortable having the UK on the Rock than an unreliable ally, which after Franco's death even dared even to hold a referendum on NATO at a moment when the missile crisis in Europe was on the rise, setting perhaps a path for other not too reliable allies at the time. (Keep in mind that even if Spain joined NATO in 1982, premier Felipe González blocked the integration of the country into the military structure, and Spain didn't fully join NATO until 1996, when the alliance perhaps wasn't needed anymore and it was almost pointless to join it.)

    Anyway, and all that said, I sympathize with Randy on his ungrateful encounter.

    JE comments: Photos below.  I may have seen the first one already, or a very similar image, in WAISer David W. Pike's excellent book, Franco and the Axis Stigma (2008).

    I for one am glad the Guardia Civil is not the SS--otherwise, we might never again have heard from Randy Black!

    Himmler and Franco, 1940


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    • Does Spain Really Want Gibraltar? (John Heelan, UK 04/03/14 1:24 PM)
      Anthony Candil (3 April) wrote on Gibraltar that Spain "has also failed at winning hearts and minds, to make the alternative of perhaps joining Spain one day more palatable to the Gibraltarians."

      Quite right! However some suspect that neither does Spain really want to reclaim El Peñón other than for nationalist and chauvinist reasons. The last thing that Spain needs is a disaffected population used to state benefits and with its own level of unemployment to be added to the dire economy of Andalucia. The true value of the Gibraltar/El Peñón problem for both the UK and (especially) Spain is that it is a useful topic to be dragged out of the nationalist propaganda cupboard as necessary to divert public attention from more trenchant problems in both their economies and politics.

      JE comments:  I'm inclined to agree with this interpretation.  Isn't Spain better served with Gibraltar as an escape valve for its frustrations, rather than as 30,000 new citizens to provide with services and unemployment benefits?

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      • Does Spain Really Want Gibraltar? (Anthony J Candil, USA 04/04/14 5:19 AM)
        I agree entirely with all that John Heelan says (3 April). In my view Spain is quite happy having the UK in Gibraltar.

        And so too are the main banks in Spain (e.g. Santander, BBVA, and so forth), which have all branches in the Rock where Spaniards can deposit their money tax-free and out of reach of the Spanish Treasury department.

        JE comments: Money trumps all. Isn't banking the primary reason Germany left Switzerland alone during WWII?

        Someone might be able to answer this question: I understand that British control of Gibraltar financially benefits Spain (or at least some Spaniards), and certainly Gibraltar itself, but isn't it a net drain on the UK? What possible economic benefit can it derive from The Rock?

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        • Gibraltar as Finance Center; from Ric Mauricio (John Eipper, USA 04/05/14 3:47 AM)
          Ric Mauricio sends this comment:

          To follow up on Anthony Candil's post of 4 April, Gibraltar's function in the world is as a conduit for venture capital not only to Spain and Portugal, but to the Mediterranean area including North Africa. It is similar to Hong Kong and Taiwan's function when American and European money wants to fund Chinese investment.

          Gibraltar, like the Cayman Islands and the Isle of Man, is self-funding, though it does not like to show this to the world. It is not a drain on the UK. Economic benefit to the UK? I believe someone commented a few posts back that London is one of the most expensive cities in the world to live in (Singapore is the most expensive on the latest list; and yes, it too functions as a conduit). The VC community in London is doing quite well while funding their investments through Gibraltar, and they are quite cozy with their Parliamentary friends as well as the Gibraltar elite.

          JE comments: Follow the money. If we take Ric Mauricio's points at face value, the financial elite is served splendidly by Gibraltar. Spanish blustering about sovereignty is little more than that, with no one genuinely interested in changing the status quo.  At the same time, wouldn't Spain's Treasury like to get its manos on some of that banking action?  Think a "special arrangement" on the Hong Kong model.

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          • Gibraltar as Finance Center (Eugenio Battaglia, Italy 04/06/14 8:13 AM)
            Following up on the post from Ric Mauricio (5 April), I want just to ask how can it be possible to have a United Europe when the UK with what it is left of its old empire is making financial plays damaging the rest of Europe?

            I am not sure that nobody is really interested in the return of Gibraltar to Spain, most probably the majority of the Spaniards resent the theft of the Rock. Of course any referendum among the present inhabitants (29,000), since they are mostly immigrants from the UK taking advantage of the special financial situation, will vote to keep the union with the UK.

            It is the same thing with the Malvinas; the inhabitants (2840) are from a British immigration and want to remain united with the UK.

            However it is clear that the British conquered these colonies with force. If the UK wants to become part of Europe and not remain the arrogant nation of the past (but only with the leftovers of empire), it should stop playing with finance and return Gibraltar to Spain and the Malvinas (at this time 32 years ago, the Argentinians gallantly tried to recover the islands) to Argentina.

            JE comments: Gallantly, or as many Argentines might say, cynically: the invasion of the islands was a ploy by a moribund military regime to rally some patriotism.  And they did this by throwing 18 year-old conscripts against Her Majesty's professionals.  That is not to pronounce judgment on who should have sovereignty over the islands. I tend to agree with the political slogan: Las Malvinas son Argentinas--or should be.

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            • Gibraltar, Malvinas, Ceuta and Melilla (John Heelan, UK 04/06/14 2:46 PM)
              Presumably Eugenio Battaglia (and JE; 6 April) would also demand that Spain leave the Moroccan cities of Ceuta and Melilla and the Commune of Antarctica to Chile?

              JE comments: I have long said that Spain speaks with forked tongue by demanding Gibraltar and refusing to give up Ceuta and Melilla.  (Here's me in 2007:  http://waisworld.org/go.jsp?id=02a&objectType=post&o=17125&objectTypeId=11375&topicId=1 )

              As for Chile...in my high school classes at Liceo Dario Salas, Santiago, we learned that Chile already owns a big chunk of Antarctica.
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              • Gibraltar, Corsica, Konigsberg (Anthony J Candil, USA 04/07/14 4:38 AM)
                In response to John Heelan (7 April), I'd like to add that even if Spain recovers Gibraltar, France should return Corsica to Italy.

                Regarding Spain, I think Mr Rajoy rather than thinking of asking the UK for Gibraltar, should ask Portugal to rejoin Spain. After all it was integrated once within the kingdom of Spain.

                Or Cuba, which after all was Spanish until 1898.

                Or Germany asking Putin for Königsberg (now Kaliningrad). That would be an interesting one to see.

                What is done is done. We have to look to the future with hope and optimism. Let bygones be bygones.

                JE comments: A powerful appeal for an end to irredentist claims.  However, I'll repeat my point that enclaves are a unique case.  Note that we've just seen the creation of a new one:  Crimea.

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              • Post-Colonial States: Are They Better Off? (Randy Black, USA 04/09/14 4:34 AM)
                In reviewing the various colonial matters and outcomes put forth by John Heelan and Eugenio Battaglia (April 5-6), I think of the former European colonies in Africa.

                As have many among WAIS, I grew up in the 1940s-'60s, when those colonies were on the map, generally were organized and were for the most part peaceful.

                Perhaps we can discuss the outcomes of the various present-day nations as they were "released" from colonial status to a "free nation" status.

                Are any, a few or a lot among the former European colonies across Africa today successful, vibrant independent nations?

                Some that come to mind include the Belgian Congo, Rwanda, Sudan, Botswana, Kenya, Somalia, Ghana, Gambia, Niger, Malawi, Zambia, Rhodesia, Swaziland, Tanganyika, Uganda, Gabon, Togoland, Senegal, Italian East Africa, Libya and Somaliland, Tunisia, Angola, Mauritania, Eritrea, Zanzibar, Morocco, and about 30 other former colonies.

                Are any of these nations able to defend themselves, take care of their people with food and water, and or in any way lead the way in education, conservation, medicine, governance, research or finance?

                In short, was independence from their European overlords the answer or a curse?

                What would the Falklands or Gibraltar look like in 30 years if the UK were to turn them over to Argentina and Spain? My hunch is that they'd look like Somalia or Rwanda or worse.

                JE comments: This argument has a decidedly 19th-century ring to it, a re-articulation of Kipling's White Man's Burden.  The preponderance of international thinking since WWII has been that colonialism is an evil in and of itself.  The colonized peoples of, say, the Belgian Congo may have enjoyed better railroads than they do now, but their daily existence was one of near-slavery.  (For that matter, the United States had better railroads in the 1950s than now.)

                In any case, I don't see any danger of the Falklands/Malvinas or Gibraltar turning into failed states like Somalia.  How many warlords can a population of 30,000 (Gibraltar) or 3000 (Malvinas) actually support?

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                • Post-Colonial States (Benn Bongang, USA 04/09/14 7:00 PM)

                  In response to Randy Black (9 April), European colonialists were not particularly interested in democratization or encouraging self-determination for the people of the colonialized territories; their primary interest was in the resources they could reap from Africa. That is why railroads and the few good roads were from the hinterlands to the seaports. However, missionaries from Europe, the faith component of the colonial enterprise, introduced European forms of beliefs along with education. The first generation of educated Africans of the various colonial states would become the bureaucrats and the leaders of the emerging post-colonial states. If the criteria for judging the post-colonial state in Africa is the absence of conflicts such as are current in Africa, then the territories were relatively peaceful; the colonial state was very efficient in policing trouble-makers in the territories. Indeed, the post-colonial African leaders adopted the very repressive strategies to suppress challenges they faced from groups within the new states.

                  Accords signed at independence between the new African leaders and the Europeans guaranteed European Interests in exchange for protection for the new leaders. The Cold War global context fueled divisions among the new leaders as they were pulled by both the East and the West. The cycle of coups-d'etat of the 1960s and 1970s illustrates how political and military leaders in the new states played out the proxy Cold War conflicts in the fragile new states, and in the process rekindled some deep-rooted ethnic divisions.

                  The current generation of leaders in Africa still has ties and affiliations to the early post-colonial leaders; many are the children or the direct relatives and collaborators of the first generation of leaders. In addition, the centralized structures to control power and populations remain in place, but the generational changes have also emboldened real challenges to these leaders from the post-independent younger people yearning for change. In my native Cameroon for instance, President Biya has been in office since 1982. He continued and has perfected the leadership style of his predecessor Amadou Ahidjo, who was hand-picked by the French in 1960 as a docile leader they could manipulate to guarantee French interests from Cameroonian nationalists leaders who were dubbed communists and promptly locked away at independence. This style or balancing act involves selecting and providing resources to potential rivals and groups.

                  Biya remains in power today at 81 years old with no apparent intention of leaving; he changed the constitution to erase term limits for presidents, and was promptly re-elected by an electoral system managed by his hand-picked bureaucrats. He had reluctantly accepted term limits as a concession to calm the brewing political forces of the 1990s which, in part, explain the departure for exile of many people like me.

                  This is a rather long way of saying post-colonial Africa is not better off; nor was it better under the colonial system.

                  Unfortunately, with leaders like Paul Biya and Robert Mugabe of Zimbabwe hanging on to power and creating repressive state institutions, conflicts such as in Liberia, Sierra Leone, Somalia, DRC, and Rwanda, to name just a few, may still erupt in now relatively peaceful states. The departure of these leaders will trigger conflicts, as the sycophants and enablers who will be threatened by their departure will fight to maintain their power and privileges.

                  The seeds of repression as a strategy to maintain order and deny the self-expression of citizens were planted in colonial Africa by Europeans and perpetuated by current African leaders, who mimic to terrifying consequences their former masters.

                  JE comments:  We haven't heard from Benn Bongang (Savannah State U), in a very long time.  Thank you for this excellent note, Benn!  WAIS does not discuss Africa nearly enough. 

                  For newer WAISers, here is the bio we published when Benn joined us in 2007.  When you have the chance, Benn, I'd love to post a professional/personal update from you:


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                • Post-Colonial States (Eugenio Battaglia, Italy 04/10/14 5:07 AM)
                  Randy Black (9 March) made some good points about post-colonialism.

                  First of all, I want to believe that this question from Randy: "What would the Falklands or Gibraltar look like in 30 years if the UK were to turn them over to Argentina and Spain? My hunch is that they'd look like Somalia or Rwanda or worse," is just a forced joke.  Otherwise it would be extremely insulting toward Spain and Argentina.

                  For sure, colonialism has many faults that have caused the utter confusion presently existing in the newly free nations. But the biggest faults are these two:

                  The first is that the borders of the colonies were drawn out of complete ignorance of and contempt for the geographical, historical, ethnic, religious and cultural local conditions.

                  The second one was that colonialism ended too early, before the real building of a nation.

                  But the European powers could not do differently, as on the one hand the USA wanted to kick the European colonial powers out, in order to replace them with their new political and economic imperialism. On the other hand, the Soviets also wanted to kick out out the old rulers to replace them with a new Communist system. But the common citizen all over the world was convinced that to give freedom as soon as possible to all the colonies was the right thing to do.

                  A personal note. In 1960 I was at sea in the Atlantic, and I often listened to short-wave radio, so I could receive the Voice of America, especially the programming in "special English," the different transmissions directed to Europe and Africa. WAISers will not believe this, but the programming directed to Europe was rather favourable to the Europeans and Ciombè (Moise Tshombe), while the programming for Africa was rather favourable to Lumumba. This ambiguity made a bad impression on me.

                  We have already spoken of the different ways of ruling colonies among the Europeans. I hope that I am not repeating myself on how much Italy was loved by the Eritreans, or about the Italian citizenship extended to the Libyans, or about all the roads, new towns with hospitals, churches/mosques/synagogues, schools, cinema (open to both Italians and locals) that were built under Italian rule.

                  JE comments:  This is turning into a very interesting conversation.  Eugenio Battaglia speaks of Italy's benign colonialism in Eritrea and Libya.  It has also been said that the English were less severe in Africa than, say, the French or the Belgians.  The Germans in Namibia, as our colleague José Manuel de Prada taught us, were especially cruel.  All this begs the question:  can there ever be a "benevolent" or even "beneficial" colonialism?  My mind is once again drawn to Kipling and the "White Man's Burden."

                  Next up with a response to Randy Black:  José Ignacio Soler.

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                • Post-Colonial States (José Ignacio Soler, Venezuela 04/10/14 5:50 AM)
                  I just want to add a comment on the latest post on Malvinas and Gibraltar by Randy Black (9 April). Randy asked, "What would the Falklands or Gibraltar look like in 30 years if the UK were to turn them over to Argentina and Spain? My hunch is that they'd look like Somalia or Rwanda or worse."

                  To have such a hunch is perhaps a good way to illustrate what I meant by the "superior civilization" mentality of the colonialist conqueror that justified, and it seems still does, the conquest and colonial rule over many territories. To despise foreign cultures, to look down on different people based on our own "foreign standards," to believe in the superiority of our culture and civilization--these were justifications for overpowering other nations.

                  It is worthy to wonder if the nations colonized by the British, the Spanish, the French, etc., which are now considered underdeveloped or "worse," are in that condition because colonization was not precisely aimed at making them prosper but to exploit them, to sack or pillage their natural resources or their people.

                  To believe that the Malvinas and Gibraltar would be worse than Somalia or Rwanda, if these territories were ever given back to Argentina and Spain, is not only a lack of respect to people of those African countries, victims of their own fate, but also to look at Argentinean and Spanish culture contemptuously. With all respect, maybe it is necessary to be more sensitive when such strong judgments are posted.

                  One last comment regarding the cities of Ceuta and Melilla: the influence of Spain on these cities goes a long way back, from 1200, under the dominance of the Califato de Murcia, and later the influence of the Kingdom of Castile, up to the beginning of the 15th century, when they were finally recaptured by Spanish forces. All this was prior to the creation of the modern Morocco state, when in 1666 the Alaui dynasty unified the divided country. So it is interesting to consider the question of the so-called historical rights of influence versus the geographical, or natural, rights of dominance.

                  JE comments:  I was at first hesitant to post Randy's comment of 9 April, as it smacked of an apology for colonialism.  But WAIS doesn't practice censorship, so I placed my professional commitment above personal beliefs.  In any case, Randy's post has resulted in a very productive discussion.  I hope our colleagues will agree.

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                • Post-Colonial States: USA (John Heelan, UK 04/10/14 10:18 AM)
                  Randy Black asked on 9 April: "In short, was independence from [the colonies'] European overlords the answer or a curse?" As Randy himself said, most European decolonisation of Africa is less than 50 years old, much of it cursed with civil war and wars with neighbours, genocide and corruption in national governments.

                  However, is this not a common feature of the process as the newly independent country learns to govern itself? If we examine the timeline of the US from 1783, do we not see the Indian Wars and eventual genocide of American Indians 55 years later, as well as the Texas War of Independence, the North/South Civil War 78 years later, corruption in national and state government then and still occurring today? Are these not the growing pains of nations? It has taken the US 230 years to get to its present state of civilisation; perhaps the new African states will be similarly successful by 2190? To adapt Randy's question: "In short, was (US) independence from (its) European overlord the answer or a curse?"

                  JE comments: Many years ago, a professor of mine said when discussion post-colonialism, that the United States is by far the most interesting post-colonial state. At first I was incredulous, as (perhaps subliminally) I equated post-colonialism with underdevelopment and dysfunction.  Now I am more inclined to accept this claim.

                  (I post John Heelan's comment from the Guanajuato bus station. Much to my surprise, it has wi-fi!  We board the camión in ten minutes.)

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            • Gibraltar Again (Randy Black, USA 04/07/14 4:21 AM)

              In his post of April 6, Eugenio Battaglia made the case that the UK should give back control of the British Crown Colony Gibraltar to Spain. He said, "it is clear that the British conquered these colonies with force. If the UK wants to become part of Europe... it should stop playing with finance and return Gibraltar to Spain."

              I can see a pretty good case that the UK does not want to be part of the EU, but that's off topic as this post relates to Gibraltar and Spain's diversionary tactics.

              A poll conducted April 2-3 indicates that only 35 percent of UK voters would stay in the EU.

              Regarding Spain, while wars have been fought over Gibraltar several times, the fact is that the Treaty of Utrecht is the legal document that resulted in the UK gaining Gibraltar. The treaty was of course the result of the 13-year War of Spanish Succession (1701-1714), which was the war following the death of Charles II of Spain. Known as "The Bewitched," Charles II is the king born with severe mental and physical disabilities and who died without an heir. And the UK did not win Gibraltar by itself but with aid from its Dutch allies.

              But to the modern era, there have been referenda in 1967 and 2002 when Gibraltarians voted nearly unanimously to maintain British sovereignty.

              There is a possibility that Eugenio is falling for the Spanish diversionary effort to take attention away from Spain's party-funding scandals that threaten to bring down Spanish prime minister Mariano Rajoy, the 55 percent unemployment among the under-25s, crimes involving its monarch Juan Carlos and even the tax fraud and money laundering case against Princess Christina (King Juan Carlo's youngest daughter). Her husband, Duke Iñaki Urdangarín, has been implicated in an $8 million embezzling case and some of the issues seem to connect Princess Christina to the crimes of her husband.

              Final question, courtesy of The Economist: "If Britain were to hand over Gibraltar, the Catalans, who lost their autonomy to Spain in the aftermath of the Treaty of Ultrecht, might consider it an interesting precedent."

              Sources include: The Economist, 7 August 2013.

              JE comments:  I believe the issue at stake here is the notion that enclaves smack of colonialism, which the world has supposedly cast aside.  No matter how well managed and prosperous an enclave might be, it's inevitably going to be an irritant for the "host" nation.

              Next on this topic:  Anthony Candil.

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              • Spain, Gibraltar, Ceuta, Melilla (José Ignacio Soler, Venezuela 04/08/14 4:58 AM)
                I have been following with interest the latest WAIS posts about Spain, beginning with Randy Black's unfortunate encounter with the Guardia Civil at Gibraltar, and later discussions about Gibraltar, Ceuta and Melilla.

                It seems to me that the discussions raised the issue of colonialism, past and present, and the status of many regions, cities or communities still ruled by "foreign" or colonialist regimes. If we admit the fact that probably any region, past and modern country or state, suffered armed invasions sometimes in the past, or had been conquered with force by other stronger "colonial" or expansionist states, then any of these regions could claim legitimately to be a colony and therefore proclaim its independence or adhesion to former state. It looks like the "rights" to maintain a colonial territory reside either in military strength, the efficiency of the colonialist force to influence the population, or maybe the full occupation of colonialist immigrants, the so-called "force of superior civilization" of the conqueror.

                Please forgive my generalization, but the point is in fact that history is full of these cases, and it seem pointless now to argue in favor or against what is a colony or what is not, or what region should be returned to a former state. Gibraltar, Ceuta, Melilla, Malvinas, Bermuda, Virgin Islands and many other territories are in this situation.

                So the issue is perhaps to ask for a modern, legal and general worldwide concept which could be applied to solve the question of whether there is a "right" to legally claim a former territory or not.

                The answer is yes, this concept is the United Nations' "non-autonomous territory" or non self-governing territory. Since 1946, in its Resolution 1514, and ratified in 1960, the UN considers that a territory with such status must be subject to "decolonization."

                The list of potential colonies that still maintain "non-autonomies" according to the UN are:

                1) United Kingdom: Anguilla, Bermuda, Gibraltar, Caiman Islands, Malvinas Islands, Turks and Caicos, Virgin Island, Monserrat, Pitcairn, Santa Helena.

                2) United States of America: Guam, Virgin Islands, Samoa.

                3) France: New Caledonia and French Polynesia.

                The cities of Ceuta and Melilla are considered autonomous, and they are not even claimed by Morocco as part of its territory. This is not the case for Gibraltar.

                One final comment about Randy Black's recent mention of the The Economist: "If Britain were to hand over Gibraltar, the Catalans, who lost their autonomy to Spain in the aftermath of the Treaty of Ultrecht, might consider it an interesting precedent." The fact is that Catalonia never had such autonomy to lose; they always were part of the ancient kingdom of Aragon. In fact they never had more autonomy than they do in modern times.

                JE comments:  This sounds like the last word on non-autonomous territories, but maps are irresistible to the WAIS mindset.  I believe we'll always want to discuss how they can be re-drawn and tinkered with to make the world fairer.

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                • Ceuta, Melilla and Morocco (John Heelan, UK 04/09/14 4:23 AM)
                  José Ignacio Soler wrote on 8 April: "The cities of Ceuta and Melilla are considered autonomous, and they are not even claimed by Morocco as part of its territory. This is not the case for Gibraltar."

                  Might I suggest that he and other WAISers read a Moroccan view?


                  JE comments:  Author Samir Bennis stresses Spain's double standard of claiming Gibraltar while clinging to its enclaves in Morocco.  However, he adds that Morocco committed a diplomatic error in the 1960s and '70s, by not registering Ceuta and Melilla with the UN as "non-self-governing territories," which would make their de-colonization a matter of international law.
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                  • Ceuta, Melilla and Morocco (Anthony J Candil, USA 04/10/14 11:02 AM)
                    I agree entirely with John Heelan's post of 9 April.

                    As a matter of fact, both Ceuta and Melilla, plus some other very little islands close to them, have been claimed repeatedly by Morocco. However it is true that perhaps pressed by other issues, Moroccans are not making a hard case of it. So far.

                    But probably they will do so in the very short term, especially taking into account the weakness of the present Spanish situation. There are incidents every day at the borders of both enclaves, and there isn't much Spanish authorities can do.

                    Spain has failed miserably year after year to create some kind of economic spaces in those places along any kind of Hong Kong model, and now the situation will have only one possible outcome: the enclaves will become part of Morocco once and for all. Spaniards know this, and the attitude of all governing parties so far has been one of pretending not to know. That won't last for much longer.

                    Both cities have become garrison cities of no value whatsoever. In reality they cost a lot of money to the already depleted Spanish finances. It is pointless.

                    So far it is been said that there is some kind of secret pact between the King of Morocco and his counterpart King Juan Carlos of Spain, both equally corrupt, not to make an issue of the problem, probably under auspices of the Saudi King acting as some kind of broker.

                    In the meanwhile, both cities look to me like "shantytowns" full of prostitutes and drugs, filled with drunken soldiers of the Spanish Foreign Legion. I recognize however that the last time I visited them was in 1981, and I have not been there since.

                    I heard that Spain was trying to sell the US the idea of using at least Ceuta for the so-called Africom or African Command, but so far to no avail.

                    JE comments: Who in WAISworld has been to Ceuta and/or Melilla recently? Is Anthony Candil's "shantytown" description still applicable?

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                    • Ceuta, Melilla and "Captain's Paradise"; from Patrick Mears (John Eipper, USA 04/12/14 6:19 AM)
                      Greetings from Mexico City on our final day!  We leave for the airport in three hours.  I received this comment from our friend Patrick E. Mears (Grand Rapids, Michigan):

                      I hope that Mexico City is treating you well. One of my favorite books about Mexico is Life in Mexico by Frances Calderón de la Barca. It makes that period of history in Mexico come alive.

                      But I am writing you about the fascinating WAIS discussion that is going on about the two Spanish enclaves of Ceuta and Melilla. I send as an attachment a short article that I found in which the names of those two cities and that of our old friend, Domingo Faustino Sarmiento, are joined. Even though Sarmiento visited Spain and North Africa in the fall of 1846, I can find no record of him visiting either Ceuta or Melilla. The closest Sarmiento came to those two cities was Oran in French Algeria, where he spent just a few days before boarding a ship to Marseilles.

                      I also should mention the 1953 film, The Captain's Paradise, which was an English comedy starring Alec Guinness as a captain of a ferry between Gibraltar and "Kalik" (or "Kalique") in Spanish Morocco; this captain had a "traditional" English wife at home in Gibraltar and a less-than-traditional wife in Kalik, a fictional city but which could very well be Ceuta or Melilla. In fact, there appear to be shots of a harbor in North Africa in the film, although the bulk of the movie was made in Gibraltar and at London Film's studios in Shepperton.

                      So much for Sarmiento and movie trivia.

                      JE comments:  I'm not sure if the Captain's arrangement would be paradise or more akin to purgatory, but the film sounds like a funny one--extremely "nautycal"!  Here's the original trailer on YouTube:


                      Note that the Captain's Kalikian wife is played by the inimitable Yvonne de Carlo, best known for her role ten years later as Lily Munster.

                      Click here for the Sarmiento article, in which the Argentine statesman writes of his visit to "Europe and Spain."  Enough said--although I must end with a note of gratitude to Frances Calderón de la Barca, the Scottish-born American wife of a Spanish diplomat, who spent two years (1839-'41) in this city accompanying her husband.  I should thank "Fanny Calderón" for my present job as WAIS editor, since her writings got me interested in those of her friend William H. Prescott, about whom I published an article in the journal Hispania.  The essay came to the attention of Prof. Hilton, who invited me to join WAIS.

                      Pat Mears and I plan to meet for lunch in the next few weeks.  I look forward to it.

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                      • Ceuta Beaches, 1960 (Miles Seeley, USA 04/13/14 6:02 AM)
                        Only one thing to add to Patrick Mears's post of 12 April: there was a beach in a secluded cove near Ceuta that was a favorite of the "in" crowd in Tangier. The ladies would often go topless. That was most daring in 1960, but I must say the bodies of these daring women were most often pretty unattractive.

                        Oh well, the beach was beautiful and the swimming just great.

                        JE comments: I cannot remember ever discussing topless and/or nude bathing on WAIS, but it is a relevant topic for the study of comparative cultures. One would never expect such practices to exist in Muslim countries, but Miles Seeley indicates otherwise. I'm not sure if this beach was within the confines of Ceuta proper or in Morocco nearby. And then there is the United States, where puritanical tradition requires full beach attire with very few exceptions:

                        We could add a lot to this discussion.  Why is toplessness taboo in the US and the norm in Europe?

                        I am now back at WAIS HQ, by the way.  Our direct flight from México, DF was quick (4 hours) and absolutely painless.  We had a late brunch in the capital, and an almost on-time dinner in Royal Oak.  A most civilized way to travel!  It took Frances Calderón de la Barca (see Pat Mears from yesterday) nearly three weeks just to go from Veracruz to Mexico City--but that was 160 years ago.

                        And somehow during our week's absence, spring has come to Michigan.

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                        • Ceuta and Tangier Beaches (Anthony J Candil, USA 04/14/14 4:04 AM)
                          In response to Miles Seeley and JE's questions (13 April), Morocco was never a radical Muslim country. Probably today things are much different, but in the late 1950s and even almost until the 70s the local authorities were very permissive. They needed money and didn't want to antagonize European tourists.

                          I do remember going with my family to Tangier in the early-mid 60s and it was very pleasant. The beach in Tangier was wonderful and culture was totally western style, mainly French.

                          My father and I used to have kind of brunch at the Boulevard Haussmann--like in Paris--and afterwards I used to get my father to buy me some diecast cars and aircraft at the British department store Kent nearby.

                          Time was on our side then, not like today I guess.

                          But I don't recall seeing or hearing about any nudism over there.

                          Later on the Spanish island of Ibiza became the main pole of attraction for nudists in southern Europe, I think. At least for a while.

                          Glad you're back home, John.

                          JE comments: It's good to be home again, although my dromomania has already returned. I'll stay put for the rest of April, but I have a couple of jaunts scheduled for May (Chicago and Boston).

                          Anthony: I hope you still have those die-cast cars. Some early Matchbox toys now command very high prices. I'm holding on to my '60s-vintage Matchboxes as a kind of retirement portfolio.

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                  • Ceuta, Melilla and Morocco (Miles Seeley, USA 04/10/14 2:35 PM)
                    In response to John Heelan on Ceuta and Melilla (9 April), I lived In Morocco from 1959 to 1963, first in Marrakesh and then in Tangier.  I needed to have some boots and other tack made, and a friend touted me on to Ceuta, where there were excellent Spanish leather-workers who turned out first-rate goods a very low prices.

                    It was true. Getting there was a chore, with very narrow mountain roads, but Ceuta itself was a very nice, picturesque village. They didn't see many Americans in those days and treated me royally. One of my "friends" was my guide, and I had a great time. About the politics of it all, I was ignorant, and politics never entered into our conversations.

                    It was nice getting that flash of memory of a place I had largely forgotten.

                    JE comments:  For a dissenting opinion on Ceuta, stay tuned for Anthony Candil.  And greetings, by the way, from the Gran Hotel de la Ciudad de México.  It's a stately art-deco building from 1895, with a few more stars than what I'm used to, but they were running a pre-Holy Week "promoción."  Taking advantage of good value is a WAISly virtue!
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                    • Ceuta and Melilla Again (Anthony J Candil, USA 04/12/14 6:05 AM)
                      I've heard similar comments on the Spanish enclaves from the 1950s and '60s. (See Miles Seeley, 11 April.)

                      Keep in mind that in 1961 Morocco was a brand new nation (its independence from both France and Spain dates only from 1956), and there were almost no borders then. To cross from one side to the other it was just a single barrier and merely one or two Moroccan Gendarmerie officers on one side and two Guardia Civil agents on the other. There were no queues at all.

                      Now the situation is a very different one with high walls (Arizona-Mexico style, or like the former Berlin Wall) with soldiers on patrol, watch towers, barbed wire and all kinds of surveillance artifacts.

                      Anyway, for those WAISers interested in the topic, today's Spanish news is saying that Morocco is preparing a full diplomatic offensive to claim the enclaves and the several little islands in the vicinity.

                      In my view the best Spanish government could do, rather than entering into an unending conflict of dubious outcome, would be to negotiate a devolution agreement with Morocco right now, perhaps linked to some trade aspects of mutual benefit and/or fishing rights or something of the kind.

                      Otherwise, the writing is on the wall.

                      JE comments:  Anthony Candil's plan is the only sensible solution, but wouldn't such a move make an already bloodied Rajoy appear even weaker?
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