Carmen Gomez

This, ladies and Gentlemen is what is remembered today in Spain under the heading “Gibraltar, the great shame of the false Spanish democracy”; concerning that fateful 8th of June of 1969 when Franco decreed the closure of the “Verja.” Not words of woe for their then 5,ooo families who would find themselves out of work and out of pocket; soon to lose homes they could not pay for; destitute; La Linea turning into a ghost town. Nothing like that expressed in said text; just talk of the thorn in the heart and dignity of Spain and words of repulsion towards their own; I quote “although there are many cowardly Spaniards who strive to say that Gibraltar must continue being British because there are thousands of Spaniards working on the Rock.” 


In the Area newspaper of the day you can read “the Government will adopt all the necessary measures to make sure the workers are not affected” Director General of Labour and National vice secretary of social order, will guarantee their future.” Why do I now illustrate this? Because they lied through their teeth and never supported the workers who had to emigrate and look for life on their own accord. Because Franco’s regime punished them for having taken up work in Gibraltar against his wishes. Despite the fact that there was no employment for them in Spain!

One Spanish worker recently interviewed said “if it gets bad at the frontier I will have to pack my bags and look for life elsewhere; why? “Because there still is no work for them at home. This is how it is. Their TV news coverage concerning Gibraltar and the frontier which has been a daily concern, speaks of collapse and ruin; a veritable rhetorical inflation”.

Whilst workers just say they are losing at least 300 to four hundred Euros in their pay packets due to the falling pound. This is what worries them at present; not so much the fact that said pay packet which they glibly describe, may run the risk of not being there next week. Yet they forget that in 2009 their government’s way of looking after the workers rights and their wellbeing was to swindle them out of 240 million Euros; according to findings from of an economic study carried out by La Linea municipality. Apparently in the years 1943 to 1969 the Spanish exchequer saw to it that transactions at the Spanish aduana; where workers were forced to exchange their Gibraltar wages; would suffer the deduction of half the pounds worth from their pay packets.

Motivated by money

This is a country that is moved by venality i.e. overly motivated by money. This is also a country that is moved by fear. This ladies and gentlemen can not be termed a democracy. Spanish women at the supermarket counters say the Spanish government is playing with the people; that they have no respect for them or interest in their well being; they talk about the possibility they may have to queue for hours on end after leaving work at the frontier; they talk about this on the busses going home; but I have not heard anyone yet from across the way say, we need our politicians in the Campo to show political will and we will organize ourselves to demand this. Is it perhaps that they continue to be afraid of what the consequences of such actions might have on them?

Looking back to the 4th august 1953, a Spanish newspaper “Arriba” published an interview with General Franco at which time he highlighted that “Without Spain, Gibraltar is worth nothing” and that no Spaniard should obtain permission to work under a foreign flag i.e. British. There was only a person who dared to openly object to this at the time, expressing his discontent with the fact that it was their actual citizens who were being maligned. In 2015 the Spanish media published declassified documents from the foreign office which dealt with the relation of Spain and Gibraltar which curiously noted that one of the principal opponents to Franco`s adopted polices against the Rock happened to be their military army chief Agustin Muñoz Grandes; who called what he considered to be the illogical Spanish politics towards Gibraltar, unfair and stupid; saying that business people in Algeciras, La Linea and Malaga, dared not protest for fear of the Falangist`s reprisals. This is the culture that the political power has transmitted throughout all these years.


Spain went through the motions, but its history since the end of their dictatorship, has shown that democracy, like freedom and equality, is very much a matter of degree. Spanish people are still AFRAID to speak out. An interview in the French newspaper Le Figaro, in August 1958; when asked if there was anyone amongst the Spanish men of state whom he admired; Franco replied that those he met had not been able to rise to the challenge of their political system. His assertion was that unlike other Europeans, they could not be trusted to handle their own destiny. Look at Spain at present and its Governments dilemma and you can see why he justified his dictatorship.

On the other hand, both Spain and the UK government back them, believed we could not survive without them. for whilst Spain follows a frustrating pattern in which they haul themselves up to a certain point before they drop back and have to start again; we have grown as a people; as an enviable economy and our struggle for survival over centuries, has made of us a tolerant and embracing society; something that Spain has yet to become.


We have found our collective personality through our writers; musicians; composers; dancers; painters; sportsmen and women. We may continue to be under siege but our indomitable faith in ourselves will prevail; Brexit or no Brexit.