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Govt outlines plans to mark 50th anniversary of border closure

HMS QEII in port 11-02-2018 (Photo John Bugeja) view from Upper Rock

The Gibraltar Government said yesterday it would mark the 50th anniversary of the closure of the border with a programme of events including an exhibition in Gibraltar and a booklet for distribution to schoolchildren.

It described the closure as a key landmark in the development of the modern Gibraltarian identity, a moment of defiance in the face of the Franco regime in Spain.

“The closure of the land frontier was an important moment in our evolution as a people,” No.6 Convent Place said.

“It served to cement together our identity as Gibraltarians and to move us even closer to the United Kingdom at a time when our links with Spain were completely cut off.”

“It symbolised the determination of the people of Gibraltar not to surrender their birthright no matter what pressure was exerted upon them by Madrid.”

The format will follow as far as possible the events that took place to mark the 75th anniversary of the wartime evacuation of civilians in 2015 and the 50th anniversary of the 1967 referendum throughout last year, which were all coordinated by the Deputy Chief Minister Dr Joseph Garcia.

The final programme of events is yet to determined.

“The closure was the culmination of a series of events by the Franco regime in Spain which was designed to bring Gibraltar to its knees,” No.6 Convent Place said.

“The policy of General Franco and his Foreign Minister Castiella failed dismally as the people of Gibraltar united in their defiance to the dictator and in their determination never to become part of Spain.”

“It is important that the younger generation is fully aware of their history and of the sacrifices made by their forefathers.”

The government also outlined plans for a joint event with La Linea, an initiative that has drawn significant flak after it was first floated to the Chief Minister’s recent visit to the Spanish city.

The Mayor of La Linea, Juan Franco, has proposed one joint event which could take the form of a seminar looking at the impact of the closure on either side of the border, or a reception, No.6 Convent Place said.

“The exact shape that this will take is yet to be agreed,” the government added.

Pic by Johnny Bugeja