Author Malgara García has launched a new book “El cierre de la Verja de Gibraltar visto a través de la prensa”, which recounts the traumatic closure of the frontier through the eyes of the Gibraltarian, Spanish and British press. Her conclusion… the closure of the frontier was a big mistake.
An investigation conducted by Diario España de Tánger inspired Malgara García Díaz to dig deeper into this traumatic chapter in recent history, so she got down to work… García Díaz spent several months researching, compiling and analysing the way in which the media of the time had reported on what had happened, how it happened and what consequences were.
This was no easy task, but she has finally released “El cierre de la Verja de Gibraltar visto a través de la prensa” (“The closure of the Gibraltar Frontier as seen through the press”), published by the Casa de la Memoria La Sauceda.
Coincidentally, while cataloguing the works of journalist Jesús Infante Corrales, which was deposited in the Casa de la Memoria la Sauceda after his death, numerous documents of immense value were discovered. Among them; clippings from ABC Sevilla about the closure of the frontier between May – October 1969, a newspaper that published interview, visits by authorities to the Campo de Gibraltar and even some cartoons drawn by some of the most prestigious cartoonists of the time, such as Mingote.
The International Perspective
In addition to ABC Sevilla, Malgara García Díaz used a wide variety of publications in her research, such as Diario de África (Tangier), The Gibraltar Chronicle and Vox (Gibraltar), La Actualidad Española (Barcelona) and La Voz del Sur (Jerez de la Frontera). She also included some other British and Moroccan media outlets, which the author says gives a good idea of the international perspective of the conflict.
After extensive research, the author says that the closure of the Gibraltar Frontier was a mistake for Spain: “From my point of view, it was a mistake because the only thing it achieved was to make Gibraltar stronger and enhance Gibraltarian and British national sentiment. Also, the intention behind doing this was to sink Gibraltar’s economy and not only did that not happen, but look at where we are now”, she told ReachExtra.
García chronicles how events unfurled, as well as the first Gibraltarian demonstration, the situation in which 5,000 Spaniards were stuck in Gibraltar, the lack of labour that the closure caused on the Rock and the Development Plan for the Campo de Gibraltar.
Headlines throughout local and international media featured Spain’s cutting off of Gibraltar telecommunications and the end of the ferry link with Algeciras, the demands of Spanish workers in Gibraltar, the reduction in the population of La Línea as families left and Spanish investments in the Campo de Gibraltar.
“A thousand faces and outcomes”
“The closure of the frontier had 1,000 faces and outcomes in the Campo de Gibraltar as well as in Gibraltar, but it was also followed very closely by the press internationally”, she explained.
Malgara García said that it was the reactions of people that impacted her the most during her investigation: “There was annoyance because people didn’t understand what was happening, but there was also fear. Although the Spanish media maintained that people were asking for this, and that it was a matter of patriotism, the general public were very scared for their future and La Línea lost a significant part of its population. The people were not taken into account.”
García said that her intention with this book is neither to provide an opinion, nor to convey preconceptions about the closure of the Frontier, but rather that the reader should “interpret or value what each publication said. For me, it is especially important that we do not ignore our past, because without the past, the present cannot be explained, and the future cannot be faced”.
“I think the people who experienced the closure of the Frontier have a partial vision. It may be very useful for you to know what was said in the media to have a more comprehensive and closer understanding of how an event happened that was actually half solved, like the entire conflict with Gibraltar, which continues to this day and where there is no easy solution”.
This book can therefore help us to shed light on what happened and how the media at that time reported on it. This book comes highly recommended: It is available in several bookshops in Campo de Gibraltar, such as Algeciras and La Línea.
Malgara García Díaz has a degree in History, specialising in Archaeology. Garcíá has dedicated her life to teaching without abandoning her other passion. As an archaeologist, she has been the director of the Carteia site in San Roque for seven years. She is also a member of the Instituto de Estudios Campo-Gibraltar and collaborates with the Casa de la Memoria La Sauceda archive and is the president of the Casa de la Memoria association.
Book presentation in Gibraltar: Thursday, October 1 at 1:00 p.m. at Garrison Library