Saturday, February 18, 2012


I look from time to time on the Wake Up Gibraltar Facebook page to see what local issues are resonating with members. What caught my eye yesterday was a posting about Gibraltar registered cars being burnt out in La Línea with an accompanying photograph by Bryan Zammit Senior.
Apparently it was one of two cars and as that is the case I am surprised it hasn’t hit the headlines in Europa Sur or the other Campo media. The torching of cars across the border and indeed on the Costa del Sol isn’t sadly an isolated issue. A councillor in San Roque had his car set on fire near his home in Estación San Roque just a week or so ago. I reported on another case in the Cancelada district of Estepona last year and others in Marbella.

In some cases such as the councillor’s it could have been politically motivated. In other such as Estepona and Marbella it was the work of vandals with cars chosen at random. As far as I am aware all of those had Spanish plates.

Certainly security and safety has improved markedly in La Línea compared with 20 years ago when I used to drive through as fast as I could. None the less even in recent years I have reported on too many street attacks by far that have resulted in death or serious injury to the victims. Gibraltarians or residents of the Rock walking to the border after a late night out in La Línea have all too frequently been attacked. I park my car as near to the border as I can and say a silent prayer whenever I get back inside unmolested with the car in good order after an evening out on the Rock.

Are Gibraltarian cars a target in La Línea over and above any others? I simply do not know. It would be interesting to learn the facts surrounding the burnt out cars in Bryan Zammit’s photograph and whether the owners have made official complaints to the police on either side of the border.

The fact is that La Línea is not a normal Spanish town in any meaning of the word. It has close ties with Gibraltar both in the number of people living there who are dependent on the Rock for employment and of course in closer family ties by marriage. Many Gibraltarians and British workers on the Rock live there because they cannot afford the rents locally. GHA patients are treated daily at La Línea’s health service hospital.

On top of all that we have La Línea’s municipal workers who can’t remember the last time they were paid. High jobless numbers, high addiction to drugs, a high number of cross-border cigarettes smugglers, a high number of people with no roofs over their heads. For the latter the town hall has now invoked a special plan because temperatures have plummeted to around minus five. If you are unfortunate enough to be living on streets I would have thought you obviously needed help regardless of the state of the weather. I digress: in short the town is an economic and social basket case.

Given all of that I have never experienced any anti-British or Gibraltarian sentiments. However I would never leave my car parked anywhere in La Línea overnight regardless of its number plate. Nor if I could help it would I walk on the wild side of the border at night and in some areas in daylight either. It’s just the way it is.