I am sure Gibraltar’s chief minister, Peter Caruana, has been called many things in his political life both to his face, behind his back and in print. However it is probably the first time he has been told he’s just a mayor. Who say’s so? Well the mayor of La Línea, Alejandro Sánchez, that’s who. He should of course know what being a mayor is all about but his actions suggest he has little idea of anything.
The media had been summoned to a press conference to be held by the mayor on Tuesday morning at which he would impart his views on various topics of the day. The main part of his speech related to hitting at the PSOE opposition for its assessment of the municipality’s finances.
Now as it widely known La Línea is bankrupt. It cannot pay its municipal workers. The infrastructure is in a mess and there is sewage running through the streets and on to the beaches. So having to defend the indefensible is impossible but Sánchez loves to attempt to climb unreachable peaks.
It is a well used tactic of governments and dictators over the centuries that if they are facing unpopularity at home they start a war with their neighbours. Of course La Línea’s neighbour is Gibraltar so Sánchez couldn’t resist firing off a volley.
After telling us negotiations are going well with the Spanish airport authority AENA over the land for the airport terminal and that the toll could yet be a reality – in your dreams Mr Mayor, in your dreams – he decided to have a dig at Madrid and Caruana.
The official town hall press release puts in thus: “Con respecto a Gibraltar, se ha lamentado de la política desarrollada por el actual Gobierno de la Nación ‘que ha dado categoría de jefe de Estado a un señor como Caruana, que no es más que el alcalde de Gibraltar’.”
So let’s look at some of the responsibilities of Gibraltar and compare them with La Línea to ascertain which is municipal and which is gubernatorial.
Gibraltar is responsible for its all its finances, raises its own taxes whereas La Línea apart from local charges should receive monthly payments from Madrid except these are frozen because of its huge debts to the tax and social security agencies.
Gibraltar runs a government with its own ministries whereas La Línea is a municipal operation with the power and telecommunications to its offices frequently cut off because the bills aren’t paid.
Gibraltar is responsible for its own infrastructure and building projects. La Línea’s local infrastructure is a mess and major projects are funded by the Andalucía or Spanish governments.
Gibraltar generates its own electricity (don’t laugh!), provides its own water and sewage. Its telecoms companies are responsible for phone and internet connections. La Línea is reliant on Spanish companies for all such services and water, sewage is passed to the association of town halls as the municipality can’t pay its historic bills to the providers.
Gibraltar has its own army regiment, police service, ambulances and fire brigade. La Línea has no army except a verbal one, the police forces are State organizations except the town hall force. As the town hall still owes the Red Cross a huge amount of cash it closed down in its 100 th year and the fire brigade falls under the Cádiz consortium but La Línea has been threatened with expulsion on numerous occasions because it hasn’t paid its subscriptions.
Gibraltar runs its own airport and transport system. Any cross border involvement with the airport is through the AENA and La Línea’s transport connections are a disgrace.
Gibraltar has a very low jobless rate whilst at least 10,000 people in La Línea are officially on the dole but the real figure is far higher. Gibraltar is responsible for its own employment matters. In La Línea it falls to Madrid and Andalucía with the town hall doing nothing to help those in need.
Of course I could go on and on – adding that’s whilst the people of La Línea are Spanish and part of Spain the people of Gibraltar are Gibraltarian, and hence a nation.