The Spanish General Election will soon be upon us (November 20) and one familiar name will be missing from the hustings for the Senate in Cádiz province. José Carracao, Pepe to his many friends both side of the border, has decided he will not be running to retain his seat for the sixth time for PSOE. As the socialists seem set for a drubbing it may be a wise move but his political career does stretch back over three decades and he is now of retirement age – perhaps you could call him the Joe Bossano of PSOE.
Apart from the fact we are both socialists Pepe and myself are also jimenatos by adoption at least. He was the mayor of Jimena, president of the Mancomunidad de Municipios del Campo de Gibraltar and then a five term senator in Spain’s Upper House – perhaps politics enough for any man or woman.
Of course in recent years because of his special relationship with the Campo de Gibraltar and indeed Gibraltar itself the Spanish Government chose him to be their man on the spot to represent it in cross border affairs.
In his role as senator he has worked hard for the Campo de Gibraltar. He has helped attract heavy industry to the area, pushed for the installation of natural gas to homes, worked with the Partido Popular government of the day as well as being the driving force behind the construction of the A-381 Jerez to Los Barrios road and the making in to four lanes the N-340 between Algeciras and Vejer.
Although Pepe is now thought of working with the Ministry of Foreign Affairs on Gibraltar his first stint was with the Ministry of Defence. For Spain as for Britain and wider NATO the Straits zone is of major strategic importance.
Pepe has been a strong supporter of the Dialogue Forum and says he does not believe it is dead even thought there are not likely to be any new talks this side of the Spanish and Gibraltarian elections. He is confident that whether PSOE or the PP win in Spain the process will continue. Pepe admits it will be difficult to see how the current process would fare under the PP because of the views they have aired against it but he has no doubt that dialogue will go on in one form or another. He also believes the old formula of two flags and three voices is dead in the water and the world has moved on.
The senator has in the past had strong words to say about the chief minister but applauds him for agreeing that Spain has the right to submit proposals for the future of the colony (if Gibraltar still is a colony that is. Discuss).
With a general election in the offing in Gibraltar does Pepe believe that will herald a change in relations with Spain. He says not as all the parties on the Rock are agreed that Britain should not return the Rock to Spain. Yes intriguingly he is of the opinion that there are people in Gibraltar, who do not speak out publically, but want an accord with Spain because it would benefit both communities. Of whom does he speak? Caruana? Los Palomos?
Pepe also believes Fabian Picardo has great potential to become the next chief minister of Gibraltar. He has marked him down as a friendly person with whom Spain would want to draw up lines of collaboration but he is fully aware that on the sovereignty issue Picardo clasps to his heart and soul the “No Surrender!” mantra.