June 26, 2003
More Spanish piracy
American venture Odyssey Marine Exploration and the British Ministry of Defence are hoping to find lost British gold in Spanish waters:
Spain threatened yesterday to arrest members of a salvage operation that is authorised by Britain to recover up to £3 billion from the wreck of a 17th century warship.
The ship, believed by the British Government to be the 80-gun third-rater Sussex, lies at a depth of nearly 3,000ft in Spanish waters near Gibraltar. It is thought to contain 10 tons of gold and 100 tons of silver.
Yet this is not a fight over lost gold. This is one more skirmish in Spain's ludicrous fight for Gibraltar. Small wonder they have threatened to send in gunboats when the Spanish government is prepared to use force over their claimed sovereignty over a rock they call Perejil. Flea-readers may not be familiar with Ceuta, Spain's north African colonial possession. It seems an astonishing hypocrisy for Spain to occupy part of Morocco while disputing Britain's claim to Gibraltar. Or perhaps it is a simple colonial reflex. The people of Gibraltar expressed their wish to remain British in a referendum the Spanish government declared to be illegal.
Posted by Ghost of a flea at June 26, 2003 11:07 AM
I was under the assumption that maritime law states that any warship that sinks is still the property of the nation whose flag it Flew. I understand that for instance German permission has to still be obtained to search the Bismarck.
Posted by: Dennis P. at June 26, 2003 04:36 PM
Here's to hoping that Blair continues to resist the urge to sell the people of Gibraltar down the river by giving the place back to Spain.
Posted by: Paul Jané at June 26, 2003 06:29 PM
Spain doesn't just have Ceuta in Morocco, but also Melilla. All of these and other parts of Morocco were Spanish, until under Franco just left them, and which is one of the reasons for the current problems in the Western Sahara.
Spain's biggest gripe in the past has been that the Rock has been a hornet for contraband (at night you can see and hear highspeed boats running tobacco). Spain for years has retaliated by having not recognizing Gibraltar apostille's that say "the country of Gibraltar," etc. I know this since I had a hard time buying a home that was registered in a shell company in Gibraltar, and my wedding certificate (we were married in Gibraltar) also has the infamous stamp.
Curiously though, the UK doesn't want Gibraltar either, but it's a matter of saving face. That said, there is some hypocrisy on both the UK and SPain's part, especially in this day and age of the EU. Another place to look at would be Andorra...
Posted by: jesus gil at June 27, 2003 07:46 AM