A radical anti-capitalist Spanish trade union plans to “occupy” Gibraltar for one day next month to reclaim The Rock for Spain and as a protest against tax havens.
The leading spokesman for the 20,000 member Andalusian Workers’ Union, Diego Cañamero, announced the plan on the union’s Facebook page on Sunday.
The union has previously been involved in Robin Hood-style activities including supermarket raids for the poor and the “expropriation” of a disused luxury hotel.
Cañamero emphasised that this would be a “peaceful protest.” He said it was primarily an action against tax havens: “It’s a crucial topic right now in Europe, as there are more than a dozen tax havens where money is hidden, allowing people to dodge taxes.”
Despite what the Spanish radical says, Gibraltar is no longer a tax haven. It now shares the same internationally-agreed tax status with countries such as the UK and Spain.
It is a British Overseas Territory with no capital gains tax and no wealth tax.
However, Gibraltar does have British armed forces stationed on The Rock, so it is not surprising to hear from Cañamero that that details have yet to be worked out and how members of his union will get around border security: “We’re going to enter peacefully. We’re not going to face off against anyone or break anything.”
“It’s sincerely an act of peaceful protest in the face of the economic situation that we’re living right now. Unemployment is around 25 per cent and even higher in Andalusia [the region adjoining Gibraltar]. There’s little access to credit and no money for public services like hospitals and education. Meanwhile tax havens continue to exist.”
José Caballero, the union’s secretary general, said to The Local: “We also want to reinstate Gibraltar’s Andalusian sovereignty, dismantle the British military base and protect small-scale fishing in those waters.”
Gibraltar has been a source of tension between Spain and Britain for centuries, with Madrid demanding the return of the strategically important Rock ceded to Britain in the 1713 Treaty of Utrecht, which ended the last of the wars in which Louis XIV sought French control over the Continent.
A year ago, tensions between Spain and Britain flared again when Gibraltar installed an artificial reef off its coast in waters whose sovereignty is disputed by Spain.
In retaliation Spain began imposing crippling checks at the border and began illegal incursions into Gibraltar waters. According to the Daily Telegraph, since the start of 2013, there have been more than 600 illegal incursions by Spanish vessels in British Gibraltar Territorial Waters resulting in repeated official complaints.