Gunboat Diplomacy: Franco and Gibraltar
Here is your answer to a lot of things. This may even answer what my aunt remembered about Franco in 1972. I get the chills when I hear in the news that Spain sent a gunboat into your territorial waters near Gibraltar. You say it has been going on every five years for the past 300 years. No American would permit such an intrusion. Here it would be considered suspicious and odd that a country like Spain would even remember Gibraltar for 300 years let alone act on it. It would get everybody stirred up on this side of the Atlantic, and the population here would demand it be stopped. In Britain you say it does not mean anything to you. Your nerves have gotten used to more violence, more intrusions, more gunboats, more soldiers, more air force planes, more shooting, more everything that has to do with war. To us here in the US the gunboat in Gibraltar’s waters seems to spell real trouble in the future. The Spanish are not to be trusted. I bet you anything that when the Brits were staying in Madrid during the time period of Franco, too, they saw soldiers in the streets, they noticed that the soldiers were trying to keep them isolated from the other Spanish citizens, and they had a hard time coming and going as they wished. The difference is that Brits and Europeans in general think nothing of this sort of behavior. They may even prefer it in fact because it brings peace and order to the capital city of Spain under the Fascist Dictator Franco, and we all remember that the Brits were willing to make another deal with another Fascist Dictator. It was the same thing in 1968 with De Gaulle and I’m sure it was the same thing in Nazi Germany with Adolf Hitler. What even western Europeans may think odd is what my aunt experienced in Athens in 1973 with soldiers in the street. But here things were so disorderly that even the local population was not listening to the soldiers. And terrorists were sneaking into the Athens Airport. In fact, they did not even have to sneak. They could just walk right in because there were no guards on duty at all. Employees of any kind were hard to find in the Athens Airport in those days which is why only weeks later Americans really were massacred there. When you say that “gunboats are part of the drama” in Gibraltar, I know I am onto a real difference between Americans and Europeans.
Mr. Benley in Key to Lawrence: Special Edition is always lecturing his daughter, Dora Benley, about her fiance, Edward Ware, the British lord. Winthrop Benley is the quintessential successful Robber Baron type who berates the Old World for starting World War. Later it would be World War 2. Americans are still having a hard time getting used to this sort of thing. Even the terrorists come from the Old World. Certainly Franco did.
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Tariq Ibn Ziyad: The History of the Pillars of Hercules
Originally captured in 711 AD and fortified by Tariq Ibn Ziyad, the Moorish invader of Spain, Gibraltar didn’t belong to Spain again until 1462. (Before that it must have been Roman. Remember the Pillars of Hercules?) That was only thirty years before Granada fell and Columbus sailed for the New World. It belonged to Spain from 1462 to 1711, less than three hundred years. The British captured it in 1704 during the War of the Spanish Succession. So the British have held Gibraltar longer than the Spanish ever did. At the end of the war the Treaty of Utrecht ceded Gibraltar to the British. Then during the Great Siege of Gibraltar, the French and Spanish unsuccessfully tried to take it back from 1779 to 1783. The same Treaty of Paris that gave the US its independence confirmed that Gibraltar would still belong to the British. In 1830 Gibraltar was made a British Crown Colony. They adopted a new constitution for Gibraltar in 1969. Spain closed the border between Gibraltar and Spain from 1969 to 1985. All residents of Gibraltar were granted British citizenship in 1981. So you see this sovereignty dispute has been going on for quite awhile. The Spanish never give up. I don’t think they are about ready to give up either.
You say Franco organized a smooth transition to democracy, and he was so enlightened. But one of my relatives visited Spain in 1972 before the end of Franco and told tales. Did you ever visit Franco’s Spain? Did any of your relatives? It didn’t seem so enlightened from what I heard. For one thing Franco dictated your itinerary. You could not go on any tour outside Madrid without visiting the Valley of the Fallen to commemorate the Spanish Civil War. Everywhere you went you were accompanied by guards. Soldiers marched outside your hotel and you couldn’t go anywhere without their permission. My aunt said that you weren’t even allowed to speak to the Spanish people outside the hotel at all. She claimed that she felt uncomfortable being there. A tour guide at the Prado in Madrid told her that line about the smooth transition to democracy after Franco’s death under the King Juan Carlos who would have full control until then. She scoffed and said that she wondered when Spain had ever been democratic BEFORE that, so what were they converting back to? Spain had no idea what democracy was.
Spain is the repressive regime that wants Gibraltar back, not the enlightened state that you think it is.
Located at the ancient Pillars of Hercules at the western entrance to the Mediterranean, Gibraltar is one of those exotic locales that form the backdrop of the Edward Ware Thrillers at War novels published by Cheops Books LLC. Edward and Dora visit Gibraltar in Hitler’s Agent. It is also mentioned by Pliny the Elder in the Vesuvius Plot. The famous apes of Gibraltar are mentioned again by Pliny the Elder in Old Faithful Plot along with many other infamous locales.
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Gibraltar Through The Ages:
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Gary says that there is a cartoon in the UK Telegraph today about the Gibraltar stand off. It has May dressed like like Elizabeth 1 in a pose that is positively regal. The title of the cartoon is The English Armada. You can see out through a window behind her the Straits of Gibraltar and the Rock of Gibraltar. But why would a British admiral be quoted as saying that the English could singe the beard of the King of Spain? Why is he allowed to talk like that?
Apparently the British got Gibraltar during the War of the Spanish Succession. The British captured Gibraltar in 1704, over three hundred years ago. If the British had gotten their candidate on the Spanish throne, then they probably would have given up Gibraltar to him. But they didn’t succeed, and in the Peace Treaty of Utrecht in 1713, Gibraltar was ceded to the British. They have been there ever since. At the time the British thought it was a strategic location and saw the advantages of it despite the three year siege of Gibraltar at the end of the eighteenth century between 1780 and 1783. The Spanish and the French were trying to get Gibraltar back. The British were way outnumbered, and they started hollowing out tunnels in the rocks. They were firing cannon down on the enemy. The Spanish and French were trying to starve them out, and there had to be relief expeditions sent by the British to keep the garrison well-supplied. The Spanish have been complaining about it ever since even during WW2. Franco right after the Fall of France was making noises about Gibraltar. Hitler even offered to give Franco Gibraltar if he would fight on his side. Once it became clear that the British were not going to be defeated, Franco called that off. And the British have held onto it ever since. There is no way they could give up now — except to the US. And the US is very reluctant to take on overseas territories. It is just too key a strategic position.
Gibraltar is a setting in the upcoming Edward Ware Thrillers at War title Hitler’s Agent. Even the apes of Gibraltar play a role. Dora and Edward find themselves docking there to refuel on their flight from Hitler and Mussolini in Italy back to Paris to meet Churchill at the Ritz and finally to Southampton.