11 Jun, 2024 @ 14:00
2 mins read

‘Gibraltar will NEVER become a part of Spain’: Minister slams UN decolonisation committee in New York for failing to listen to Gibraltarians

HEALTH Minister Gemma Arias Vasquez slammed the UN Special Committee on Decolonisation for failing to remove Gibraltar from its list of countries that need to be decolonised.

Fabian Picardo’s heir-apparent, Arias Vasquez became the first Gibraltarian woman to speak at the United Nations in New York when she appeared before the committee, which is also known as C24.

During her ten-minute speech she criticised the body for keeping Gibraltar on the list of ‘non-self-governing territories’ while reiterating that ‘Gibraltar will NEVER become a part of Spain’.

Gibraltar has been on the list since 1963 despite two separate referendums overwhelmingly laying down the territory’s desire to keep its connections with the United Kingdom.

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Health Minister Gemma Arias Vasquez slammed the UN Special Committee on Decolonisation for failing to remove Gibraltar from its list of countries that need to be decolonised

“I am here to remind you that I am not Spanish. To remind you that I am not English,” Arias Vasquez told representatives from the 29 member states of the committee.

“To remind you that I am Gibraltarian. I represent a separate and distinct people.”

The minister described Spanish sovereignty of Gibraltar as ‘the recolonisation of our country by a different colonial power’ and ‘a travesty of the decolonisation process’.

She slammed the committees ‘repeated failure to engage with the people of Gibraltar’ and instead called for a C24 delegation to visit the Rock and ‘learn at first-hand what Gibraltar is all about’.

“Without engagement there will be NO progress, and sadly no engagement exists,” she added.

Aras Vasquez became the first woman from Gibraltar to address the UN

“The Gibraltarians are tired of your repeated failure to delist us. You have talked the talk for too long. It’s time for your committee to walk the walk.”

The Health Minister explained that since the end of the Second World War, over 80 former colonies have been decolonised and 750 million people granted self-determination.

Other territories that have been successfully removed from the list while retaining strong connections to their former colonial masters include Greenland and the Faroe Islands (Denmark) and Puerto Rico (USA). 

However, Spanish diplomats at the UN have consistently blocked this outcome for Gibraltar. 

While decolonisation for Gibraltar means being removed from the C24 list, for Spain it means the transfer of sovereignty to them.

Following her address at the United Nations, Minister Arias Vasquez met with the Deputy UK Permanent Representative at the UK Mission to the United Nations to discuss ways in which Gibraltar can further progress the process of decolonisation

Despite these difficulties between the two neighbours, Arias Vasquez emphasised that the people of Gibraltar ‘wish to develop friendly, neighbourly, constructive relations with Spain’.

She pointed out the recent history of cooperation, including the thousands of Spanish workers whose salaries were paid by Gibraltar during the Covid lockdown.

At the same time, Spanish authorities showed good will by keeping the border with Gibraltar open and fluid despite the lack of a post-Brexit treaty.

Fabian Picardo, the Chief Minister, lauded Arias Vasquez for stepping in ‘at short notice’ and said her speech ‘underscored our commitment to self-determination and focus on the rights of the people of Gibraltar and put across our arguments for removal from the UN List of Non-Self-Governing Territories.’

Walter Finch

Walter - or Walt to most people - is a former and sometimes still photographer and filmmaker who likes to dig under the surface.
A NCTJ-trained journalist, he came to the Costa del Sol - Gibraltar hotspot from the Daily Mail in 2022 to report on organised crime, corruption, financial fraud and a little bit of whatever is going on.
Got a story? [email protected]
@waltfinc

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