Invasion! Diplomacy! Spies!

Yes, yet again.

It seemed the Guardia Civil thought it would be a fine old idea to invade British Gibraltar territorial waters and arrest, take to Spain, and then detain a couple of locals, ie Gibraltarians. Oh and confiscate some of their gear too. (No not gear as in drugs, just legal equipment on boats).

Her Majesty’s Government of Gibraltar has received confirmed reports that officers of the Guardia Civil vessel Rio Ceden boarded and took control of a Gibraltar registered vessel in British Gibraltar Territorial Waters and then forcibily conveyed it and its occupants to Algeciras at high speed and without navigational lights.

They subsequently confiscated perfectly legal equipment aboard the vessel. The individuals aboard the vessel were not suspected of being involved in any illicit activity of any kind.

This, and subsequent quotes from the HM Government of Gibraltar press office website.

Good to know that you can’t even safely sail in your own three-mile limit without the Spaniards coming to give you grief huh?

Official reports received by the Government state that the Guardia Civil even turned off the navigational lights on the Gibraltar vessel that they boarded and on their own vessel as well in an attempt to avoid detection. This points to the fact that they must have known that they were acting in British Gibraltar Territorial Waters where Spain has no jurisdiction.

It is important to recall that the Civil Guard commenced these illegal incursions in 2009, unrelated to any fishing dispute and that they have continued at regular intervals ever since. Indeed, at one point Spanish Civil Guards even entered the Port of Gibraltar and landed on our soil. This has been the case regardless of who was in Government in Spain or in Gibraltar.

Except of course, one should point out that regardless of politics, Spanish governments of whatever colour continue to bleat about Gibraltar. How much of this is Guardia Civil policy and to what extent are they doing their job at the behest of the politians?

This belligerent act of provocation by the para-military armed forces of Spain, akin to the actions taken by them previously in respect of merchant shipping and pleasure craft in our waters, cannot be allowed to go by unchallenged.

In this instance, to add to the gravity of the situation, two Gibraltarians, British citizens, were illegally detained and forcibly transferred from Gibraltar to Spain across the international dividing line in the Bay of Gibraltar. This criminal false arrest and illegal detention continued for almost two hours.

Now I do think that is rather naughty. I must say. What right does the Guardia Civil have to arrest Gibraltarians in Gibraltar? Of course, Spain doesn’t recognise our waters. Or even Gibraltar as far as that goes. So of course it is ok, to gaily sail up, board someone else’s boat and cart them off to another country.

According to Spain, the Gibraltarians were illegally fishing for tuna in breach of EU regulations. And as territorial waters weren’t mentioned in the Treaty of Utrecht 300 years ago, Spain considers they don’t exist around Gibraltar.

Funny how the Treaty of Utrecht is invoked by Spain for one reason and disregarded for others…

Remember people, the Guardia Civil are armed. They are the civil guard and colloquially known as Franco’s boys. They were the ones who would cart off your friends and family for imprisonment and torture when someone informed on you (irrelevant whether or not the accusation was true). You do not argue with them.

I can give you the ins and outs of each side of the arguments, but basically, Spanish armed civil guard officers arrested Gibraltarians a few hundred yards off Europa Point (Gibraltar) and ‘invited’ them to go to Spain. Yeah, right, and I’d argue with armed Guardia Civil officers at night – or any time.

Simon Hughes, Deputy Leader of the UK Liberal Democrats, has been in Gib this week.

“I will take back a clear message to UK Ministers: Britain must be tough and unbending in insisting that Spain respects international law,” said Simon Hughes MP.

Mr Hughes added,

“But my immediate message to my UK Ministerial colleagues on my return to London this week is that Britain must be tough and unbending in insisting that Spain respects international law. Incidents like that last Friday night are unacceptable.

The UK Government must make sure that the Spanish Government gets this message at the highest level. Madrid must understand that unwarranted interference with lawful activities by Gibraltarians should stop once and for all.

Spain is a civilised country with a proud history. It does itself no favours in the international community when provocative and unjustified actions are taken like that in Gibraltar waters on Friday night.”

Let’s leave the last word on this issue with the government press release:

The time has now come for action, not simply written protests from London to Madrid. The United Kingdom needs to ask itself how it would act if these events had been perpetrated by Argentine paramilitary forces in the oil and fish rich waters around the Falkland Islands or in the areas around the coast of the British Isles.

Ah, there we have it. Our waters are not rich enough for the UK to actually DO ANYTHING. Quick Gibbos!! Discover some oil. Now!!

I am beginning to wonder if Gibraltarian loyalty to the UK is an annoying nuisance to the powers that be……..

Monkeys to watch over us
(For non Brit readers – there is a legend than when the monkeys (apes) leave Gib, then Gib will cease to be British)

Ironically a couple of other bloggers have raised related issues.

Liz, over at ec-cen-tric asked a pertinent question. Does talking actually solve problems?

Well, it is doing stuff all so far, quite frankly, in the case of Gibraltar.

Our Governor, Sir Adrian Johns, said gunboat diplomacy is no longer appropriate. No? So what is? Because sure as hell a few little verbal protests are doing jack shit nada.

Slightly more broadly, Pigpen wrote about what he wanted from his politicians (and it wasn’t their views on Britain has no talent)

Are we all just really full of rhetoric these days and incapable of any sensible or decisive action?

In Len Deighton’s world, his spies are always full of action. Cynical, tired, jaded, but pull out all the stops.

A few good reads

I read ‘An Expensive Place to Die’ the other day – it was so good I had it finished within 24 hours.

British spy in Paris is set up to deliver American nuclear info to Chinese via some crazy guy who creates strange sexual dossiers on powerful people. It sounds weird, but believe me it was good. Gotta read it again before I take it back to the library. Published 1967 – and already talking about Chinese world domination.

And… The Tailor of Panama. I saw the film years ago while staying at my mother’s in the UK. It had the delectable Pierce Brosnan of Bond fame (this is a short vid link), so clearly it was worth a watch. Brosnan is like Richard Gere, far better as a sleazy baddy than a good guy.

I watched the film in Spanish as well, I bought the DVD, I still enjoy it. And then, browsing in the library near D for Deighton I noticed C for le Carre. The Tailor of Panama was written by Le Carre – although why was I surprised?

Great film, great book. English spy goes out to Panama and inveigles a British tailor into reporting on non-existent resistance to the government. It always reminded me of Graham Greene’s Our Man In Havana, and at the end of Carre’s novel – he mentioned that as his inspiration.

There are some changes between the book and the film, but either way, good read, and good film. Try either or both if you haven’t done.

XPD – I haven’t yet read, next one.

And – a quick food fix. For vegetarians out there, these salami slices are superb. And, on the right, Morrison’s yeast extract on toast. Also recommended. (I think Americans call it nutritional yeast – I suppose it is really, nutritional I mean).

Veg salami, eaten far too quickly. Fortunately a jar of yeast extract lasts longer.

75 comments on “Invasion! Diplomacy! Spies!

  1. Ahh NI now there’s a place close to my heart. Had I been born catholic and living in the six counties where would I be now, dead in all probability. The thing with the English is (and I deliberately exclude Scots, Welsh and Irish) we feel everyone should actually fall in line with our wishes. Once upon a time in a distant universe England, somehow, managed to hold sway over all of Gods creation and you should all be bloody grateful for it and stop whinging.
    From a disillusioned servant of the Queen, gor bless ‘er


  2. Hello, im a newcomer to your blog and find it very interesting and informative on life in Gibraltar. I have a question, concerning the spanish attitude to Gibraltar how do they square the circle in regard to their occupation to Ceauta? Or is that just overlooked?


    • Hi Brian

      I don’t think the Spanish would regard their position with either Ceuta or Melilla (or the other isles off Morocco that they claim) as occupation. And as I am not a Spanish politician I can’t really answer that.

      I can tell you that, Spaniards who live across the frontier and work here, Gibbos who cross over to shop, eat, drink, whatever, are happy with the status quo.

      My partner spends most of his time laughing with his Spanish colleagues about their claims to Gib while they hang onto Ceuta and Melilla. To the person in the street it is nothing. No-one cares. It is a waste of time at a political level IMO.

      Does that explain anything? If not, I’ll have another go because I appreciate it is a difficult one.


  3. The monkey seems to take a serious view of all the comings & goings. I agree, from even a general non-political point of view – it’s outrageous. I’m not sure what was trying to be accomplished, bullying, boredom, mistaken identity, cocking of leg… I’m prety sure I read some Len Deighton when I lived at home and Dad was a prime source of reading matter… his selection but I’d read it first and tell him if was any good :) May revisit at some stage. Morrison’s yeast extract I assume is like vegemite/marmite/promite. Do you get avocados on Gib or in Spain? My favourite breakfast is vegemite & avo on toast :) And, eating avo’s is great for your skin.


    • Monkeys are thinking and sentient beings – they always look most thoughtful to me. I wanted a quirky pic to fit the post (seeing as I didn’t capture the Guardia Civil invasion late at night) and s/he seemed to fit the bill.

      I think your assessment is perfect. But they have to be taking their orders from somewhere or someone higher up. And that is the problem.

      I’m a relative newcomer to LD, but I got hugely hooked on the Bernard Sampson trilogies. Excellent books.

      I like his heroes because they are so British! They aren’t good looking in a Bond way, but they are attractive because they are thinking, smart, cynical, idealistic, and effective. Very good combination.

      The only difference compared Marmite is that M has a couple of extra flavins or something added eg riboflavin or whatever. Vegemite I am sorry to say has some junk in it. Ooops. In terms of ethical shopping, Marmite is owned by Unilever (bad) and Vegemite by Kraft (can’t be as bad as Unilever). No idea who makes the Morrisons one.

      I found this interesting review of yeast extracts

      We do indeed get avocados. One of my neighbours in Spain has an avocado finca and when times were better we were inundated with them. I love them. I don’t buy them from the supermarket as they are fridgie trucked so in Gib I choose with care. Sounds a great combo and will try it out. I love guac, but am happy just to buy them and plonk in a salad. They are quite expensive here though :(


      • Thnx for the review – interesting. I was somewhat confused at first as Cenovis is a vitamin brand in Australia, but I sorted myself out. I’m probably not going to give up vegemite as a tube lasts months & months. Promite wasn’t tested – I liked it as a kid. I’ve not paid attention to see if it’s still available.


        • I make no comment, I’ve never eaten Vegemite or Marmite (or Bovril). I only started the yeast extract thing when I became veg. I didn’t look up Promite, but I will though. No decent avocados at the super yesterday so need to hunt some down elsewhere….


  4. Hmmm…nutritional yeast. Really doesn’t sound very appetizing. I’m willing to giveit a try, though.

    So the natives of Gib don’t care if its the British or Spanish who rule? Is there a Gib nationalist movement?


    • It is salty (and I don’t like salt) but incredibly tasty. Check out the link on the reply I posted to ED above. There is a top tip in there about not spreading it too thickly. If you look at my pic, I have spread it pretty thinly on the toast. I don’t use butter with it, which I think is a vile combination, but I understand others do. Bleugh!

      Oh yes the Gibbos do care. To the extent that the two referendums that have been held return a 99% plus vote of wanting to remain British. But, there is a symbiotic relationship with the local town across the border. People from La Linea (which has HUGE unemployment) can get work in Gib that they would not otherwise have. People from Gib cross the frontier for shopping and eating out. Many Gibbos have relatives who live in Spain. It’s quite complex, but at a local level we all get along really well. Spaniards in La Linea know it would be financial disaster for them – and for us – if Spain ever got its tacky hands on Gib.

      With the exception of defence and foreign policy, the Gib government determines policy. Those two issues are in the hands of the UK. There isn’t a nationalist movement as such. Gibraltar is content to be self-governing and remain a British Overseas Territory.


      • I definitely see the appeal of “you’re responsible for my defense and dealing with annoying foreign governments and I get to decide on all the fun stuff.” It makes sense that they’d vote to throw their lot in with the much more stable government.


        • Why change? Gibraltarians have been British far longer than they were Spanish. We are far too small to run the biggies – foreign and defence – so it suits as is. Gives the Brits a continued strategic base at the head of the Mediterranean.


  5. I would find that quite unnerving, knowing that Spain don’t see anything wrong with ‘invading’ Gib waters and doing as they please.
    Love your monkey pic, long may they live there.


    • Hmm, unnerving is one way of describing it :( I guess they are demonstrating that to them, they are NOT Gib waters. They are Spanish. Gib does not have a three mile limit because it wasn’t included in the Treaty of Utrecht – is Spain’s story. In fact what was included in the Treaty of Utrecht 300 years ago was just the old town, so also doesn’t include the reclamation lands. You know Spain, life moves on and you’ve never got over losing Gib!!

      I was flicking through some iPhone pix and discovered loads I had never used that were actually half way decent, so thought Mr/Ms Monkey would do quite nicely for this. Five years later and I still can’t resist taking photos of them wandering around Main Street. I mean who else lives with monkeys walking around the high street? And doesn’t the fur look so soft and fluffy? (probably full of fleas :D)


  6. @Roughseasinthemed – Although I live in the United States and do not understand everything about Gib politics. I have done some research on the subject. It seems appalling that Spain had the audacity to arrest the fisherman. I get the feeling that Spain was trying to test the UK to see if they would actually do anything. I guess we will have to see if the UK decides to act. I doubt it. Gib does need to find some oil and quick, as you stated in your post. I appreciate the link to my blog.

    Hopefully, the UK does something, otherwise it is likely Spain will do such acts over and over, with no consequences.

    Great Post!


    • Thanks L, and pleased you were inspired to do some research on our tiny piece of the earth.

      Sadly I think you are right. So far the UK has done nothing. We’ll see. It’s time something was done instead of endless political meaningless talk. Now you see why your post was so relevant! And thanks.


      • @roughseasinthemed – The UK in whole seems quite confusing to me as an American. Gib generally governs itself, but the UK provides military support. Correct? Does Gib pay taxes to the UK? If so, doesn’t the UK have a responsibility to protect all citizens of Gib from Spain and other countries?

        To be honest, I am finding the entire political system of the UK hard to understand. Now, I know why Americans fought so hard to be a sovereign nation. The war with England was a bloody, hard war for Americans. The UK government system seems over-complicated. I thought the US government system was the most complicated in the world. Many of my followers have told me how complicated the UK government system is, and have changed my mind – also upon research of the UK government.

        I still do not understand how the UK still governs and has acquired so many small territories.

        I assume that all of the small territories pay massive taxes to the UK government. Is the UK government ignoring all of the other small territories (as it does Gib)? I read the UK acquired many small territories via military force long ago, and still to this day, has sovereignty over those small territories.


        • As far as I am aware Gib does not pay any taxes to the UK – but for example, the Royal Gibraltar Regiment is funded by the UK Ministry of Defence and the soldiers pay UK taxes and social, so it’s not that clear cut. I know about that one because we know people serving, but there may be other examples that we don’t know about.

          The UK is responsible for defence (and foreign policy) for Gibraltar. It has a constitutional responsibility for these two areas although everything else has been devolved locally.

          I find the US system hard to understand. Well, I actually don’t understand it at all! To me, the UK government isn’t complicated, but clearly I grew up with it. I think the difference is that European governments and their former colonies are based on extremely old systems. To me, as an outsider, the American system seems to be based on power and money, eg how many film stars have ever got into office in the UK? (qv Arnie and Clint). In the UK, you get individuals who can raise a small amount of money to stand for office, so you get the flying maharaja party, the greens, the Lord Sutch candidates etc etc. Maybe you don’t want to vote for them, but they aren’t excluded from the system.

          The UK has 14 British overseas territories and two crown dependencies. I did a quick bit of research and see America also has 14 overseas dependencies! Pretty good for a new country there. Ours are historical just like the Netherlands, France, Norway, Spain etc etc I don’t think there is any difference.

          I don’t think the UK ignores its territories, it’s a question of how to play out the diplomacy. It certainly doesn’t ignore the Falklands where it has racked up the defence in face of claims by Argentina.

          Not every acquisition has been by military force, some have been occupation – so to speak, and again that applies to all colonial powers not just the UK.

          A lot of my followers and commenters are British, or Commonwealth, but I do have other readers, so with this in mind, I’ll do a post about British Overseas Territories, colonialism and the modern world. It’s the sort of post I would normally put on Clouds but given the Gib relevance I’ll stick it on here in the next day or two.


          • Your comment is true. Most U.S. politicians are raised as politicians. They came from long family ties to money and wealth. The majority of the time, their fathers, and their lineage had money, power and political status. Our laws are generally made by powerful businesses that have pay people to go to Washington D.C. to push for the laws that will help the huge corporations the most. I myself have traveled the far distance to Washington D.C. It is a lovely city. Anyone who travels to the United States, I would recommend first stop at Washigton D.C. and to stay at the Washington Mariott at Wardman Park. There are so many different cultures that live in D.C. It is unlike any other place, I have ever been. There is every type of food in the world. I met many world politicians in D.C. (at the hotels). If you ever decide to come to the States, try to make it to D.C. You would love it.


          • I’ll be honest, I discussed this with my partner, as it was such an interesting topic, so I had some input before I replied.

            DC would always have been on my list years ago, but I did read that it had become seedy and violent, so that put me off a bit. There are some other places in America that enchant – Florida Keys, the Everglades, New Orleans, Boston, California for example.


          • No, I actually traveling in D.C. for (3) days completely alone. It is a friendly city. Just be sure to NOT EVER go even one block outside of the triangle that is D.C. If you go one block outside of the triangle, then the Washington D.C.. police do not have jurisdiction and that is gang territory.

            I made that mistake once. Will never do it again. I accidentally walked one block outside of the triangle – huge mistake!


    • Ha pirates! You mean the Guardia Civil? They are so tough even real pirates would weigh anchor and clear off.

      Funnily they are talking about introducing contraception for the monkey colony to try and control the numbers.


  7. As I understand it Spain considers Gibraltar to be an occupied territory but have constructed an argument about the retention of Cueta and Melilla on the basis that these are integral Spanish communities because they were settled by people expelled from Iberia during the Reconquesta! Hypocritical but clever!


    • Actually Spain, like Argentina pulls the ‘it’s integral to our land mass’ sort of argument (although they don’t claim Portugal, just one of the border towns). And say that the Treaty has been broken because Gib has extended outside the boundaries declared 300 years ago. I’m not so up on the Ceuta Melilla isles off Morocco claims, but clearly if you are looking at geographical integrity then Spain’s claim to any of those is hardly high. I’ll look up the Ceuta and Melilla history, it’s interesting.


  8. Another good read with a touch of education. What I want to know is the Spanish come and go almost as they please, is there not any Gibraltar (UK) security in the waters as defence.I dont think our MP will do much…Or it could be the Spanish are so hard up for cash they will hold an auction for all this stolen goods… Thanks for the mix of politics and reading with film…:)


  9. Sadly, the UK doesn’t have a veto over bailing out Spain, think that would make the Spanish government think twice. Once that nice shiny new royal navy destroyer has finished its tour of duty in the south Atlantic, instead of parking up in Portsmouth for a few months why couldn’t it sit in the Port of Gibraltar. That might make the Guardia Civil less aggressive.

    What I want to know, is when are the Spanish going to give the Canary Islands back to Morocco.


    • This is where unions are stupid. I see no reason why other countries should bail out others. The more destroyers in Gib the better :)

      I think I need to do a post on dependencies and claims – it is an interesting topic!!


    • Well they look pretty happy where they live and they are well fed, so hopefully they will stay. I just love it when they walk down Main Street. Or hang off my neighbour’s balcony. If anyone asked me about the top attractions of Gib – monkeys wandering around the city has to be one!

      The Guardia Civil are not too bad in Spain. Invading Gib is bad though :(


  10. You are, by far, my most favourite, “Gibbo” ever…have you ever considered a gig in politics? I’m sure you’d make a splash and be all the talk of both Spain and the Gib :) (And, undoubtedly, many others’ blog posts!)


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