Infrequently Asked Questions
Version: January 2005
Below are some of the questions which aren't asked about Gibraltar, and I think should be. I have included hyperlinks to relevant documents, those on my site I have annotated for clarity, while keeping the original text.
This IAQ is © John Borda 2000, and held on http://www.gib-action.com//iaq.html. Additions and amendments can be e-mailed to . To discuss with others, cut the relevant section and post to the alt.gibraltar newsgroup.
A1: None. In the Treaty of Utrecht, Spain signed away Gibraltar in perpetuity- that means forever. This was confirmed in the Treaty of Versailles of 1783. Spain also claims that UN Resolution 2353(XXII) supports her claim of territorial integrity above Gibraltarian self-determination- it does not. The UN Committee on Decolonization has repeatedly stated that "there is no option other than self-determination." See also UN Articles 73 and 74, and Resolution 1514 (XV)
A2: Good question- no idea, apart from trying to look "crusading". Gibraltar provides a convenient smokescreen from the real issues: 21% unemployment (49% in places) and a huge domestic drugs-smuggling and money-laundering problem. (See A3) There have been hints that Spain wants complete military control over the Straits of Gibraltar, which would pose problems- during the Gulf War, Spain refused to allow US or UK aircraft through her airspace on the way to the Gulf. Gibraltar did not impose any such restrictions. Had Franco been able to close the Strait during W.W.II, the consequences for the free world would have been disastrous. Another suggested option would be to "ethnically cleanse" Gibraltar and lease it as a naval base to the US (after making sure that friends and relatives of the Spanish government get the McDonalds, etc. franchises). No official Spanish suggestion is democratically viable.
A3: None, by their own admission. The Foreign
Affairs Committee of the British government (HMG) also described
the claims as "almost wholly without substance", (i.e. lies)
and an EU investigation (instigated by Spain) into our finance centre
found no evidence of illegal activity. Gibraltar has been held
up by HMG as an example to other Overseas Territories of how a finance
centre ought to operate. The US State Department gives us a
better rating than Spain, and Interpol recently described us as "clean".
The CIA World
Factbook 1999 has this to say about Spain:
Q4: Why does the Spanish government not recognize the government, police, legal system, etc. in Gibraltar?
A4: Because if they did, they couldn't call us a "colony" (non-self- governing territory)- one of the "insults" they regularly use. The Spanish government says it "abhors colonialism", when they happily recognize other non-self- governing territories' institutions, and refuse to recognize our large measure of self-government. This makes life difficult for their own institutions, who have (unofficially) requested, and received, co-operation with the Royal Gibraltar Police against drug-smugglers and illegal immigrants from Africa. Spanish government policy is frequently inconsistent and hypocritical on matters which affect Gibraltar. (See A3) UPDATE: the Anglo Spanish Agreement has recognized our Police and ID cards.
Q5: Why don't Gibraltarians want to accept the "generous" Matutes Proposals?
A5: Because the outcome is preordained- Gibraltar becomes Spanish regardless of the Gibraltarians' wishes. Our constitution states that our sovereignty will not change "against the freely and democratically expressed wishes of the Gibraltarian people". This mirrors UN Resolution 1514. Hence, as no Spanish proposal contains a mechanism for a referendum, and does not involve the removal of all restrictions ("freely" implies that the choice is made without duress, which Sr. Matutes has admitted are the reason for the restrictions), they have yet to pass the basic test of being constitutionally sound in Gibraltar. They are not even constitutionally sound in Spain, leading me to believe Matutes will not be good at his word (again). The Matutes proposals include several threats to increase restrictions, which have already been carried out. As such, they are neither generous or even remotely democratic.
A6: Simple answer: they're not democrats. Also, no referendum is likely to go their way. (last one was 12,138, remain British, 55 spoilt, 44 become Spanish, 95.8% turnout). More complex answer: because if they did accept self-determination for Gibraltar, most of Spain would also claim self-determination as of right, and attempt to break away from Castille (i.e. the Basques, Catalans, Andalucians...)
A7: Irrelevant- it's not their country. However, in a recent poll, 28% did not want Gibraltar to be Spanish. Most others have no strong feeling, and most people find that Gibraltar-bashing is almost exclusively a Spanish government pastime. Closer to Gibraltar, the feeling is that the Spanish government is sabotaging the livelihoods of Spaniards in the South of Spain.
A8: We want to remain British, with modern links to the UK. (See opinion poll) To this end we are presenting a revamped constitution, which will remove us from the UN's list of non-self -governing territories, and forever end any further discussion on sovereignty with Spain. However, we also want to be able to do business with Spain, which would benefit Spain probably more than Gibraltar, but cannot because of the restrictions.
Q9: What is the real basis for all the restrictions against Gibraltar?
A9: Sr. Matutes has admitted to the Spanish Foreign Affairs Committee that they are to force the Gibraltarian people to surrender to the anti-democratic tactics of the Spanish government. As such, they are counter-productive, and open the Spanish government to accusations of racism.
Q10: What would happen to Gibraltar if Spain dropped all their restrictions?
A10: More business could be done between Gibraltar (which already employs 4000+ Spanish residents directly) and the neighbouring part of Spain. Direct and indirect Spanish employment would boom. The Spanish government would save a fortune on social security, reap taxes, and could fire it's Gibraltar-bashing department. Spain would no longer have the prospect of a long series of politically damaging lawsuits against it for violation of it's EU obligations to Gibraltarians. The EU could also proceed with vast chunks of universally beneficial legislation that Spain is blocking on the grounds that it doesn't want to recognize Gibraltarian institutions.
A11: Because of the way the Spanish government has treated them. Who wants to be part of a country whose government tries to destroy one's livelihood, spreads hypocritical lies about you, (see Q15) conducts what can only be described as a race hate campaign against you, flouts human rights and its own EU and UN obligations against you, and conducts a "scorched earth" policy against it's own citizens in order to deny you the means to survive? Do you want to be forced to change nationality against your will? However, this option is not open in the Matutes Proposals, which would make us foreigners in our own homeland.
A12: In its simplest sense, democracy. In the decolonization sense, the right of a people to decide their own future. E.g. the East Timorese have decided, by an act of self-determination, (referendum) to become independent from Indonesia. That this had the support of the Spanish government is another example of their hypocrisy.
A13: This is a caveat in the decolonization process whereby a territory cannot "break away" from it's mother country. Intended to prevent one country taking chunks of land from another, or a country breaking up, under the guise of decolonization. As Gibraltar has not been part of Spain for 300 years (before the ruling came into force) this clause is inapplicable. It might be used to prevent Catalunya, Euskadi (Basque country) and most of Spain breaking away from Castille, but the precedent has now been set in Eritrea and East Timor for self-determination to override a territorial integrity claim. However, territorial integrity would prevent annexing of the isthmus, etc. by Spain.
A14: (updated 2004) They now take place in a tripartite forum. We successfully communicate and have co-operation agreements with many of the local government organizations, up to the Junta de Andalusia, and Mr. Caruana has offered to meet with the Spanish Government "anytime, anyplace, anywhere". This reasonable attitude has paid off.
A15: No. Official Spanish pronouncements about Gibraltar are, as a rule, wild exaggerations or outright lies. For example, when in June 2000 the FATF (Financial Action Task Force on Money-Laundering) blacklisted 15 countries' finance centres as not co-operating with them, Gibraltar, was correctly not mentioned. See the FATF Press Release (2 page PDF). However, the Spanish press, notably TVE, published a 16 name list- Gibraltar had "mysteriously" been added! After the Anglo-Spanish agreement, the Spanish government statement said that it would help them "fight crime in Gibraltar, such as drug-smuggling, money laundering, child abuse..." despite the fact that they have yet to bring a single case in law against us! July 2001: It has been revealed that the Spanish Secret Service bribes journalists to slander Gibraltar. See also: Guide to Spin
A16: That we're probably the best-regulated finance centre in the world. See a list.
A17: The number of lines is only 70,000 additional lines. A good answer is at: http://www.wtng.info/wtng-gg.html#Gibraltar (World Telephone Numbering Guide). It also includes a link to the more detailed Gibraltar Government Press Release on the subject.