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Post Ceuta, Melilla and Morocco
Created by John Eipper on 04/09/14 4:23 AM

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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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