Gibraltar tensions

April 6, 2017

An Anglo-Dutch force captured Gibraltar in 1704 during the War of Spanish Succession and  Spain ceded it to Great Britain in the Treaty of Utrecht in 1713.

It’s still a British Overseas Territory on Spain’s south coast dominated by the Rock of Gibraltar, a 426m-high limestone ridge.

That rock can be seen easily from a good distance away an ever-present reminder to Spain of  Britain’s possession of the territory.

Gibraltar is only 6.7 km2   in area but is strategically placed. In World War II it provided a base from which the Royal Navy controlled exit and entry to the Mediterranean Sea and half the world’s seaborne trade passes through the strait today.

Tensions over Gibraltar have risen again now the European Union offered Spain a right of veto over the future relationship between Gibraltar and the EU after Brexit.

A significant majority of the 32,000 people who live in the territory have repeatedly voted overwhelmingly both for their own autonomy and to reject any sharing of sovereignty with Spain. But that doesn’t stop Spain’s ambition to reclaim the territory.

Spain may very well return to the days when it effectively embargoed Gibraltar, denying easy access to tourists and forcing residents to rely on air links to Great Britain to run their economy. The bureaucrats in Brussels frankly may also cheer on Spain’s punishment of the population and economy of Gibraltar as a means to signal its annoyance with Great Britain for turning its back on the European experiment.

Spain, however, is playing with fire and risks creating a precedent which will burn it several times over. Here’s the problem:

While Spain might object to Great Britain maintaining sovereignty over a 2.6 square mile territory which Madrid sees as its own, Spain has its own enclaves on the Mediterranean carved out of what should be, but for historical accidents of centuries past, sovereign Moroccan territory.

Ceuta is only seven square miles. In 1415, the Portuguese captured Ceuta and, during the next century when Portugal and Spain briefly united, Spaniards flocked to the city. The 1668 Treaty of Lisbon formally ceded Ceuta to Spain to whom it has belonged ever since. Spain, along with France, was a colonial power in Morocco but, in 1956 when Spain withdrew from northern Morocco (it would leave the Western Saharan in 1975), it continued to hold Ceuta.

Melilla, only 4.7 square miles, has a similar history. Spain conquered the city in 1497 and rebuffed subsequent Moroccan political and diplomatic efforts to win it back. Spain may consider it an autonomous territory but, it reality, it is a colonial outpost and an accident of history.

Spain may seek advantage from Brexit going forward in order to reclaim Gibraltar; that’s Madrid’s prerogative. However, so long as Spain continues to hold Ceuta and Melilla, instead of allowing an extension of Moroccan sovereignty, then Spain and the European Union’s case will be both hypocritical and weak.

Our first visit to Gibraltar was prompted by a desire to watch the touring Lions play Otago in 2005. We were living in Vejer de la Frontera, a village in Andalusia on the Costa de la Luz, where the locals favour football and we thought  Gibraltar would be the nearest place where people would be watching rugby.

It’s connected to Spain by a narrow isthmus on which Gibraltar airport is built.

We followed the advice of locals that it’s easier to enter the territory than face the queues when driving and once through customs and immigration we walked across the tarmac to the town.

Our first impressions weren’t positive.

The town was full of high-rise apartments that looked like they’d been designed in England with no appreciation of the Mediterranean climate.

However, the locals were friendly and we had no trouble finding a pub that would be showing the rugby next morning. The locals became friendlier still when the Lions won.

We spent the rest of the day exploring the rock, meeting the Barbary Macaques and learning about the military history including the WW II tunnels.

 

Legend has it that Britain will lose control of the territory if the apes die out. This was the seed from which Paul Gallico wrote his book Scruffy.

Chris Cleave’s Everyone Brave is Forgiven includes a more realistic and harrowing story of war in Gibraltar.

 

 

 


April 7 in history

April 7, 2010

On April 7:

529 First draft of Corpus Juris Civilis (a fundamental work in jurisprudence) was issued by Eastern Roman Emperor Justinian I.

 

1348 Charles University was founded in Prague.

1506  Saint Francis Xavier, Spanish co-founder of the Society of Jesus, was born.

1521  Ferdinand Magellan arrived at Cebu.

1541 Francis Xavier left Lisbon on a mission to the Portuguese East Indies.

1718 Hugh Blair, Scottish preacher and man of letters, was born.

 

1770 William Wordsworth, English poet, was born.

1776 Captain John Barry and the USS Lexington captured the Edward.

USS Lexington

1788 American Pioneers to the Northwest Territory arrived at the confluence of the Ohio and Muskingum rivers, establishing Marietta, Ohio as the first permanent American settlement of the new United States in the Northwest Territory, and opening the westward expansion of the new country.

 

1795 France adopted the metre as the basic measure of length.

1803 Flora Tristan, French feminist and socialist philosopher, was born.

 

1827 John Walker, an English chemist, sold the first friction match that he had invented the previous year.

 

1856 New Zealand’s first state secondary school, Nelson College, opened.

First state secondary school opens in Nelson

1860 Will Keith Kellogg, American cereal manufacturer, was born.

1862 American Civil War: Battle of Shiloh ended – the Union Army under General Ulysses S. Grant defeated the Confederates.

Battle of Shiloh Thulstrup.jpg

1868 Thomas D’Arcy McGee, one of the Canadian Fathers of Confederation was assassinated.

1890 Completion of the first Lake Biwa Canal.

 

1908 Percy Faith, Canadian composer and musician, was born.

1906  Mount Vesuvius erupted and devastated Naples.

 

1906 – The Algeciras Conference gave France and Spain control over Morocco.

1908 H. H. Asquith of the Liberal Party took office as Prime Minister of the United Kingdom.

1915 Billie Holiday, American singer, was born.

1922 Teapot Dome scandal: United States Secretary of the Interior leased Teapot Dome petroleum reserves in Wyoming.

 

1927 First distance public television broadcast (from Washington, D.C. to New York City, displaying the image of Commerce Secretary Herbert Hoover).

1933 Prohibition  in the USA was repealed for beer of no more than 3.2% alcohol by weight, eight months before the ratification of the XXI amendment.

1934 Ian Richardson, Scottish actor (, was born.

Francis Urquhart.jpg

1938 Spencer Dryden, American drummer (Jefferson Airplane), was born.

1939  World War II: Italy invaded Albania.

1939   Francis Ford Coppola, American film director, was born.

1939  Sir David Frost, English broadcaster and TV host, was born.

1940 Booker T. Washington became the first African American to be depicted on a United States postage stamp.

 

1941 Gorden Kaye, British actor, was born.

 

1943 Germans ordered 1,100 Jews to undress to their underwear and march through the city of Terebovlia to the nearby village of Plebanivka where they were shot dead and buried in ditches.

1944 Gerhard Schröder, former Chancellor of Germany, was born.

1945 World War II: The Japanese battleship Yamato, the largest battleship ever constructed, was sunk 200 miles north of Okinawa while en-route to a suicide mission in Operation Ten-Go.

Yamato sinking from the aft

1945 – World War II: Visoko was liberated by the 7th, 9th and 17th Krajina brigades from the Tenth division of Yugoslav Partisan forces.

1946 Syria‘s independence from France was officially recognised.

1948 The World Health Organisation was established by the United Nations.

Flag of WHO.svg

1948 A Buddhist monastery burned in Shanghai, leaving twenty monks dead.

1951 Janis Ian, American singer and songwriter, was born.

1954 U.S. President Dwight D. Eisenhower gave his “domino theory” speech during a news conference.

 

1954 Jackie Chan, Chinese actor, director, producer, and martial artist., was born.

1956 Spain relinquished its protectorate in Morocco.

1963 Yugoslavia was proclaimed to be a Socialist republic and Josip Broz Tito was named President for life.

1964  IBM announcedthe System/360.

 

1964 Russell Crowe, New Zealand actor, was born.

1969 The Internet’s symbolic birth date: publication of RFC 1.

 

1971 U.S. President Richard Nixon announced his decision to increase the rate of American troop withdrawals from Vietnam.

1977 German Federal Prosecutor Siegfried Buback and his driver were shot by two Red Army Faction members while waiting at a red light.

 

1978 Development of the neutron bomb was canceled by U.S. President Jimmy Carter.

1983 During STS-6, astronauts Story Musgrave and Don Peterson performed the first space shuttle spacewalk.

Sts-6-crew.jpg
L-R Peterson, Weitz, Musgrave, Bobko

1985 Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev declared a moratorium on the deployment of middle-range missiles in Europe.

1989  Soviet submarine Komsomolets sank in the Barents Sea killing 42 sailors.

K-278 Komsomolets

1990 John Poindexter was found guilty of five charges for his part in the Iran Contra Affiar (the conviction was later reversed on appeal).

1992 Republika Srpska announced its independence.

Flag Seal

1994  Massacres of Tutsis begin in Kigali, Rwanda.

1999 The World Trade Organisation ruled in favor of the United States in its long-running trade dispute with the European Union over bananas.

2001 Mars Odyssey wass launched.

2001 mars odyssey wizja.jpg

2003 U.S. troops captured Baghdad.

2009 Former Peruvian President Alberto Fujimori was sentenced to 25 years in prison for ordering killings and kidnappings by security forces.

Sourced from NZ History Online & Wikipedia


March 2 in history

March 2, 2010

On March 2:

1986 Louis V became King of the Franks.

1127 Assassination of Charles the Good, Count of Flanders.

1316  Robert II of Scotland, was born.
Robert II of Scotland.png
1545 Thomas Bodley, English diplomat and library founder, was born.
1578 George Sandys, English colonist and poet, was born.
1717 The Loves of Mars and Venus was the first ballet performed in England.

1791 Long-distance communication speeds up with the unveiling of a semaphore machine in Paris.

1793 Sam Houston, President of the Republic of Texas, was born.

1807  The U.S. Congress passes an act to “prohibit the importation of slaves into any port or place within the jurisdiction of the United States… from any foreign kingdom, place, or country.”

1808 The inaugural meeting of the Wernerian Natural History Society, a Scottish learned society, was held in Edinburgh.

 Robert Jameson, founder and life president of the Wernerian Society

1815 Signing of Kandyan treaty by British invaders and Sri Lankan King.

1836 Texas Revolution: Declaration of independence of the Republic of Texas from Mexico.

 

1842 The Grand National steeplechase at Aintree was won by Gaylad, ridden by Tom Olliver who won two other Grand national winners.

1855 Alexander II became Tsar of Russia.

1861 Tsar Alexander I signed the emancipation reform into law, abolishing Russian serfdom.

1863 The U.S. Congress authorizes track width of 4 ft 8+12 in (1,435 mm) for Union Pacific Railroad.

1865 The Volkner Incident: Missionary Carl Völkner was hanged from a willow tree  near his church at Opotiki during the East Cape War.

Missionary Carl Volkner killed at Opotiki

1877 Just two days before inauguration, the U.S. Congress declares Rutherford B. Hayes the winner of the election even though Samuel J. Tilden had won the popular vote on November 7, 1876.

1888 The Convention of Constantinople was signed, guaranteeing free maritime passage through the Suez Canal during war and peace.

1901 The U.S. Congress passed the Platt amendment, limiting the autonomy of Cuba as a condition for the withdrawal of American troops.

 

1903 In New York City the Martha Washington Hotel opened, becoming the first hotel exclusively for women.

1904 Dr. Seuss (Theodor Seuss Geisel), American author, was born.

1917 The enactment of the Jones-Shafroth Act  granted Puerto Ricans United States citizenship.

1917 Desi Arnaz, Cuban-born actor and bandleader, was born.

1917 Nicholas II of Russia abdicated the throne in favor of his brother Michael II.

 

1919 The first Communist International meets in Moscow.

1923 George Basil Cardinal Hume, Archbishop of Westminster,, was born.

 

1931 Mikhail Gorbachev, President of the Soviet Union and Nobel laureate, was born.

1931 Tom Wolfe, American author, was born.

1933 The film King Kong opened at New York’s Radio City Music Hall.

 

1937  The Steel Workers Organizing Committee signed a surprise collective bargaining agreement with U.S. Steel, leading to unionization of the United States steel industry.

1938 Ricardo Lagos, President of Chile, was born.

1938 Lawrence Payton, American singer and songwriter (The Four Tops), was born.

 

1939 Cardinal Eugenio Pacelli was elected Pope and took the name Pius XII.

Pacelli12.jpg

1942  Lou Reed, American singer and guitarist, was born.

1943  Tony Meehan, English drummer (The Shadows), was born.

1946 Ho Chi Minh was elected the President of North Vietnam.

1948 Rory Gallagher, Irish guitarist, was born.

1949 Captain James Gallagher landed his B-50 Superfortress Lucky Lady II in Fort Worth, after completing the first non-stop around-the-world aeroplane flight in 94 hours and one minute.

 

1949 – The first automatic street light was installed in New Milford, Conn..

1950 Karen Carpenter, American singer and drummer (The Carpenters), was born.

1953 The Academy Awards were first broadcast on television by NBC.

1955 King Norodom Sihanouk of Cambodia abdicated the throne in favor of his father, King Norodom Suramarit.

 

1955  Jay Osmond, American musician (The Osmonds), was born.

1956 John Cowsill, American musician (The Cowsills), was born.

 

1956 Mark Evans, Australian bassist (AC/DC), was born.

1956 Morocco declared its independence from France.

1962 Jon Bon Jovi, American musician (Bon Jovi), was born.

1962 In Burma, the army led by General Ne Win seized power in a coup d’état.

1968 Daniel Craig, English actor, was born.

1969 The first test flight of the Anglo-French Concorde was conducted.

 

1970 Rhodesia declared itself a republic.

1972  The Pioneer 10 space probe was launched from Cape Canaveral.

Pioneer 10 at Jupiter.gif

1977 Chris Martin, English musician (Coldplay), was born.

1978 Czech Vladimír Remek becomes the first non-Russian or non-American to go into space aboard Soyuz 28.

VladimirRemek.jpg

1989 Twelve European Community nations agreed to ban the production of all chlorofluorocarbons (CFCs) by the end of the century.

1990  Nelson Mandela elected deputy President of the African National Congress.

Nelson Mandela on his 90th birthday in 2008.

1991 Battle at Rumaila Oil Field brings an end to the 1991 Gulf War.

1992 Armenia, Azerbaijan, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Moldova, San Marino, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan and Uzbekistan joined the United Nations.

2004  Al Qaeda carried out the Ashoura Massacre, killing 170 and wounding over 500.

Sourced from NZ History On Line & WIkipedia


El Jardin del Califa

July 17, 2009

La Casa del Califa  is one of Vejer de la Frontera’s gems.

califa

The hotel is made up of a collection of houses dating from the 1oth century to 17th centuries.

califa 4

It also has a wonderful restaurant, El Jardin del Califa, which serves delicious Moroccan food.

califa 2

califa 3


Gone to Morocco

July 12, 2009

The note on the table when I got back from school on Friday afternoon told me my farmer and visiting friends had gone to Morocco for the day.

It’s only a short distance from Vejer de la Frontera where we’re staying but it’s a completely different culture.

We can see the hills of Africa from the town and it’s only a 35 minute trip on the ferry from Tarifa to Tangier.

medina 4

Although there is a strong north African influence in the southern part of Spain, the food in Morocco is different too and a wander through the medina subjects you to an amaxing array of sights and scents.

 medina 2

medina 3


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