The Spanish government’s representative in Cadiz province, José Antonio Pacheco, has apologised for incidents which occurred during a protest by National Police and Guardia Civil officers near the Gibraltar border last Wednesday, and has accused some of the demonstrators of intimidating behaviour.
The officers were taking part in a protest organised by the Jusapol pressure group, to demand equal salaries to those of the regional police and to call for more resources to tackle the trafficking of drugs and people between Africa and the Campo de Gibraltar region. They say they decided to hold the protest in La Línea de la Concepción beside the Gibraltar border because they are now targeting tourist areas, as protests in major cities have had little effect so far. They were given permission by the Spanish authorities to do so, on condition that they did not interfere with pedestrian or vehicle traffic into Gibraltar.
However, some of the protestors harassed the drivers of Gibraltar-plated cars and motorcycles and one of them kicked a woman from Gibraltar who got out of her car to confront them.
The Gibraltar government issued its own statement in response to the one from the Spanish government representative, saying:
“The Government notes that the representative of the Spanish Government in Cadiz province has made it clear in a statement issued today that permission for the protest at the border on Wednesday was granted with the express condition that the protestors did not interfere with pedestrians or vehicles crossing into Gibraltar.
He has expressed regret for the incidents that took place and has accused some protestors of blocking the pedestrian access and of intimidating behaviour towards several vehicles crossing into Gibraltar.
The representative of the Spanish Government has apologised to all those who were caught up in the incidents. He has also stated that the policy of the new Spanish Government, leaving aside matters of state, is to maintain good neighbourly relations with the people of Gibraltar.
The Chief Minister, the Hon Fabian Picardo QC MP, said: "This is a welcome statement which rightly apologises for the inconvenience caused to those whose ability to peacefully and freely traverse the frontier was interfered with earlier this week. I think it demonstrates a new sensitivity in the understanding of the importance of frontier fluidity as a matter of principle. I sincerely welcome this new and more positive approach."
Judging by the fierce arguments on social media after Wednesday’s incidents, it appears that although National Police and Guardia Civil officers in general support the call for wage equality and more resources, many of them are critical of Jusapol because they believe that behaviour of the type which occurred at the Gibraltar border is counterproductive and does not help their cause.