segunda-feira, 16 de março de 2009


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Daniel Hanan

What if it had been the other way around? What if Spain had helped itself
to a slice of someone else's territory, forced the defeated nation to cede
it in a subsequent treaty, and hung on to it? Would Madrid behave as it
wants Britain to behave over Gibraltar? ¡Ni pensarlo!
How can I be so sure? Because there is precisely such a case. In 1801,
France and Spain, then allies, demanded that Portugal abandon her ancient
friendship with England and close her ports to British ships. The
Portuguese staunchly refused, whereupon Bonaparte and his Spanish
confederates marched on the little kingdom. Portugal was overrun and, by
the Treaty of Badajoz, forced to give up the town of Olivença, on the left
bank of the Guadiana.
When Boney was eventually defeated, the European powers met at the Congress
of Vienna to produce a comprehensive settlement of Europe's borders. The
ensuing treaty urged a return to the pre-1801 Hispano-Portuguese (or, if
you prefer, Luso-Spanish) frontier. Spain, after some hesitation,
eventually signed up in 1817. But it made no move to return Olivença. On
the contrary, it worked vigorously to extirpate Portuguese culture in the
province, first prohibiting teaching in Portuguese, then banning the
language outright.
Portugal has never dropped its claim to Olivença, though it has made no
move to force the issue (it toyed with the idea of snatching the town
during the Spanish Civil War, but eventually backed off). Although
Portuguese maps continue to show an undemarcated frontier at Olivença, the
dispute has not been allowed to stand in the way of excellent relations
between Lisbon and Madrid.
Now let's consider the parallels with Gib. Gibraltar was ceded to Great
Britain by the Treaty of Utrecht (1713), just as Olivença was ceded to
Spain by the Treaty of Badajoz (1801). In both cases, the defeated power
might reasonably claim that it signed under duress, but this is what
happens in all peace settlements.
Spain complains that some of the provisions of the Treaty of Utrecht have
been violated: that Britain has extended the frontier beyond that
originally laid down; that it has bestowed a measure of self-government on
Gibraltar incompatible with the outright British jurisdiction specified by
the Treaty; and (although this point is rarely pressed) that it has failed
to prevent Jewish and Muslim settlement on the Rock. With how much more
force, though, might Portugal argue that the Treaty of Badajoz has been
abrogated. It was annulled in 1807 when, in violation of its terms, French
and Spanish troops marched on Portugal in the Peninsular War. A few years
later, it was superseded by the Treaty of Vienna.
Of course, the Spanish might reasonably retort that, whatever the legal
niceties, the population of Olivença is loyal to the Spanish Crown. While
the issue has never been tested in a referendum, it certainly seems that
most residents are happy as they are. The Portuguese language has all but
died out except among the very elderly. The town (Olivenza in Spanish)
hosts one of the most important bullfighting ferias of the season,
attracting breeds and matadors beyond the dreams of any similarly sized
pueblo. Portuguese rule would mean an end to Spanish-style bullfighting,
and a return to provincial obscurity.
I'm sure you can see where this is going. This blog has always made the
cause of national self-determination its own cause. Spain's claim to
Olivença (and Ceuta and Melilla) rests on the knock-down argument that the
people living there want to be Spanish. But the same principle surely
applies to Gibraltar, whose inhabitants, in 2002, voted by 17,900 to 187 to
remain under British sovereignty.
Britain, by the way, has every right to link the two issues. The only
reason the Portuguese lost Olivença is that they were honouring the terms
of their league with us. They are our oldest and most reliable allies,
having fought alongside us for 700 years - most recently, and at terrible
cost, when they joined the First World War for our sake. Our 1810 treaty of
alliance and friendship explicitly commits Britain to work for the
restoration of Olivença to Portugal.
My real point, though, is that these issues ought not to prejudice good
relations between the rival claimants. While Portugal has no intention of
renouncing its formal claim to Olivença, it accepts that, as long as the
people there want to remain Spanish, there is no point in pushing the
issue. It is surely not too much to expect Spain to take a similar line
vis-à-vis Gibraltar.
Since this post is likely to attract some crotchety comments from
Spaniards, I ought to place on the record that you're not likely to find a
more convinced Hispanophile than me. I like everything about your country:
its people, its festivals, its cuisine, its music, its literature, its
fiesta nacional. Tomorrow night, you will find me in Sadler's Wells,
transported to a nobler and more sublime place by the voice of Estrella
Morente. Believe me, señores, it's nothing personal: it's just that you
can't have it both ways.


Chega a ser engraçado pensar na noção de autodeterminação dos povos exigida, no caso da Espanha, por ela, pro um Estado consolidado e não pela população de uma região potencialmente separatista.

No caso de Olivença existe um movimento cultural forte por lá e até um núcleo de pessoas que exigem a "devolução" da cidade à Portugal mas dificilmente este grupo constitui a maioria. Portugal, provavelmente, não moveria uma palha para pôr em risco suas relações com a vizinah espanha por causa de uma cidade perdida há 200 anos e que em nada acrescenta à nação portuguesa.

Mas o interessante disso tudo é notar como os Estdos usam noções que em nada combinam com sua situação ou com seu modus operandi geral.

Se a Espanha exige tão ferozmente que Gibraltar lhe seja devolvida - mesmo com acachapante vitória dos que apoiam a permanência da regiãocom a Grã Bretanha - poruqe não permite que Bascos e Catalães decidam seu próprio futuro?

Só vale para os outros?

É notável também que a Grã Bretanha tenha permitido um referêndo, tenha aceitado que a população de Gibraltar decidisse seu próprio futuro, num exemplo de democracia e respeito à decisão soberana do povo da região.

A Espanha sequer permite que partidos nacionalistas, como os Abertzales Bascos, concorram nas eleições regionais!

A hipocrisia espanhola é gritante!