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Exhibition marks 50 years since border closure

50th Ann Events Border Closure 300519 { seq} ( Photo John Bugeja) press call hosted by DCM

A historical exhibition marking the 50th anniversary since the border between Gibraltar and Spain was closed will be launched next week.

The land frontier was shut by Spain under the dictatorship by General Francisco Franco on June 8, 1969.

To commemorate this event an exhibition will be held from June 4 to 14 at the John Mackintosh Hall.

Over 200 panels and 350 images will be on display at the exhibition. There will also be a number of video presentations which will display the closure of the border in 1969 and the re-opening of the frontier in 1985.

Deputy Chief Minister Dr Joseph Garcia called the border closure as a “two-pronged attack” against Gibraltar, with the first being a diplomatic attack and the second being physical restrictions.

Dr Garcia thanks all those who have contributed to the exhibition, including members of the public who have offered their old photos and memories in the form of interviews.

The frontier gates that were closed and locked 50 years ago will also form part of the exhibition.

Dr Garcia described how the gates were going to be “thrown away for scrap”, but had been made available to the government and will be on display at the exhibition.

“The closure of the border was a traumatic event for many people in Gibraltar at different levels,” Dr Garcia said.

“There were families who were physically separated by the closure and who had to resort to shouting across to their relatives on the other side.”

“Indeed, we have chosen a powerful image of someone holding up a baby to represent this theme.”

Dr Garcia added that there were political, social, cultural and economic consequences which stemmed from the closure, and this brought the people of Gibraltar closer together.

“This distinct identity had already been forged over hundreds of years but the closure served to shape our evolution as a distinct and separate people further still,” Dr Garcia.

“Franco predicted that Gibraltar would fall like a ripe fruit. He was wrong. The reverse happened and our determination to resist and uphold our right to self-determination became stronger.”

“I am very grateful to the Archivist Anthony Pitaluga, to his team at the National Archives, to the staff in my office, to many volunteers and to the members of the public who have come forward with material for the display.”

A number of oral histories from people who lived the closure were recorded by the archivist and this will form part of the display.

A compilation of recordings produced by Gibraltarian broadcaster the late Manolo Mascarenhas will also be available, together with international coverage of the closure.

This includes Spanish workers leaving Gibraltar for the last time, the lengthy queues to exit Gibraltar and other material of interest.

A number of display cabinets will contain material from Mr Mascarenhas’ famous radio broadcasts called ‘Palabras al viento’, a diorama of Four Corners, the old guardroom and the frontier gates among other general memorabilia.

Pic by Johnny Bugeja