Spanish dictator Francisco Franco no longer guards the city gates of Melilla, a Spanish enclave and autonomous city on the northwest African coast. Without much fanfare, a group of workmen operated a mechanical digger and heavy drills to chip away at the brick platform on which the statue stood, lifted it off by a chain around its neck, and carted it away in bubble wrap on a pickup truck.
About 150 sub-Saharan migrants managed to enter Spain’s north African enclave of Melilla on Monday after a group of 250 stormed a barbed-wire border fence, the Spanish Interior Ministry said. Spanish media showed video of those who got over the fence running down the streets of Melilla shouting “Barca, Barca!” as they headed toward a detention centre.
As negotiations over Spain’s entry to the European Union grew tense in 1983, King Juan Carlos twice told British officials it was not to Spain’s advantage to recover Gibraltar, according to newly declassified documents released to the UK National Archives.
The British Government drew a historic parallel between Gibraltar and Spain’s north African enclaves in a parliamentary response this week. While recognizing that Ceuta and Melilla had a different constitutional relationship with Spain, Europe Minister David Lidington said the enclaves and Gibraltar both stemmed from “a distinct set of historical circumstances.”
A Tory MP has asked the British Government to press Spain within the European Union over “legal problems” arising from Ceuta and Melilla. Philip Hollobone, the Conservative MP for Kettering, made the request in a written parliamentary question on Gibraltar tabled in the House of Commons.
Spanish Foreign Minister José Manuel García-Margallo has long been a vocal critic of Gibraltar’s competitive tax framework, denouncing the Rock as “a tax haven” despite its recognised compliance with international standards set by the EU and the OECD, among others.
Spain’s King Juan Carlos told Margaret Thatcher’s most senior official at least twice that “it was not in fact in the interests of Spain to recover Gibraltar soon, even if it were possible.” Instead he agreed with the United Kingdom that it was for Spain to make herself attractive to the Gibraltarian people.
A political adviser on Arab affairs at the UN in New York said Spain operated “double standards” by dismissing Moroccan sovereignty claims over Ceuta and Melilla as unfounded while pursuing its own claim over Gibraltar.