What happened to us was unforgivable and unforgettable

Carmen Gomez

The UK Government knew full well what the outcome regarding the referendum would be; and yet despite what their intelligence gathering and sharp political awareness might have foreseen concerning the consequences; they offered us that morsel. 

We took it without any hesitation; with just the desire to demonstrate to the UK and Spain exactly how we felt. The closure was something we had not envisaged could ever happen. It was totally unexpected. Personally, I had never imagined that a country like Spain could take such an action; not morally or otherwise; seeing how we appeared to be so integrated at the time; what with all our inter marriages and the fact that there was a working relationship which served us and them equally, just as well.

Here we were; without any previous warning given so we could get the life of our town in order; out in the cold. With one padlock they cut away our human links; our economic survival; our telephone and telegraph links; our livelihood. Similar to a cage that holds a hamster who goes round and round his wheel, going nowhere.

All these years later, after their transition; when democracy supposedly came to Spain, not one single apology or sign of one; from any of the consecutive Governments in Spain for the psychological harm and the suffering that was caused us. I have of course since realized that they are not capable of any such sentiment. Even many of the Spaniards working here, I have been told, have a reputation for talking badly about us at the drop of a hat. Any Gibraltarian who still believes that there might be a change of heart from Spain in the near, or very distant future, is only kidding themselves. This is my opinion born out of many years of witnessing their falsehoods and “canalladas.” It is my utmost belief that this aspiration of some amongst us, “is beyond their control!”

Never forget

What we must never forget; particularly at this time when we remember what went before; is that the memory of the padlock on the border gate is an image that does not fade with time, at least not in the minds of those who suffered it for themselves. But more importantly, because every now and again, be it whosoever’s voice rings out, the call “Lock them in!” can still be heard.

They may want to remember on the other side of the border, and so they should, what happened to their own after that fateful date; but the truth is that neither the memory of this, nor any other collaborative project they may wish to foment from time to time in sign of friendship; will ever stir in them any heartfelt sentiment for us. Nor will they ever stand by our side to defend our rights if that means going against their government’s ideologies; even if a few might be tempted; for they would risk being seen as “traitors” in Spanish eyes.


There are those amongst us I know, who insist in fostering relationships with them whilst pretending to themselves that the rest of us are simply anti Spanish. These are people who would rather forget; people who have brainwashed themselves into believing that it was only the dictator Franco who didn’t like us. The truth is that when Franco died in November 1975, there was again a hope that a major change in Spain’s Gibraltar policy would come about; that attitudes towards us would change. Did they? Of course not! The facts speak for themselves ladies and gentlemen. There is no fake news here. In fact, during our sixteen year siege it had become a matter of honour amongst the populace not to seek better relations with Spain. What have they learnt in all these years about us; about our raison d’être? “Rien” “Zilch” “Nada.”

When in the 1970`s there was industrial unrest in Gibraltar, this was seen by the Franco regime as a rebellion of Gibraltar citizens against their “Colonial masters.” All these years later, the fact that we voted to stay in the EU as opposed to the UK who voted to leave, is seen this time by their supposed democratic regime, as a sign that we wish to no longer maintain our relationship with the UK. They don’t understand us; they have not absorbed any of our characteristics; they have not tried to familiarize themselves with any of our customs. Why? Because we don’t interest them as a people. To them we are nonentities!

Because I am of that era; when I saw that evocative photograph of a father with his child aloft in his arms and stared at those gates which were kindly gifted to the people of Gibraltar; by whom I believe to be a Spanish friend of Gibraltar; I felt tears well in my eyes.

I sincerely hope that our schoolchildren will be treated to a tour of the exhibition at the Mackintosh Hall, as one Gibraltarian woman there remarked; so they can learn of the cruelty that dictatorships are capable of and what their parents and grandparents went through in order to defend their rights as a people. What happened to us was unforgiveable and unforgettable. They must know that in countries like Spain who have been weaned on fascist values, people don’t count; just, “La Patria.”


It is enough that we hear the Spanish Foreign Affairs Minister Borrell confirm, that Spain’s vision of the EU is that of a Federal State where democracy has no part to play. Ladies and Gentlemen, if I sense discontent amongst the community; I trust that they will have the sense to momentarily capitulate in the face of a reality which escapes us all; that reality being “Brexit;” which has not gone away and which the Spanish Government wants to use to recuperate its aspiration over the Rock.