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Opinion & Analysis

#Miscellanea: Smugglers and Beauty Queens

(Photo John Bugeja) 202017GibraltarGibraltar Test in Albert Risso House Gibraltar

Lately, there has been considerable discussion in the local media about beauty pageants and whether we should be giving them the sort of prominence they receive in Gibraltar.

I do not wish to contribute directly to this debate, but I have a little anecdote of my own which I’d like to share with the CHRONICLE’s readers.

About a year ago, I was contacted by a German journalist called F----- S-----. He was coming to Gibraltar to record a documentary on Brexit and Gibraltarian identity, and he asked me if I was willing to meet up with him and be interviewed.

I told him that I was based these days in the UK and that it’d be difficult for us to coincide on the Rock, but I gave him a list of Gibraltarians that he should contact. One of these was my friend, the journalist and poet Giordano Durante.

A few months later, when I came to Gibraltar on holiday, I asked Giordano how his interview with Herr S----- had gone.

‘Well, he was a really nice and affable chap,’ Giordano confessed with an awkward smile, ‘ – but I somehow got the impression that he believed that Gibraltarians are all about tobacco smuggling and beauty pageants and not much else.’

As someone who has spent the last fifteen years talking and writing about Gibraltarian hybridity and the uniqueness of the ‘llanito’ story, I was, of course, a little disappointed to hear all this.

But as the day wore on and I was able to reflect on what Giordano had told me, I realised that you couldn’t exactly blame Herr S------ for thinking along these lines.

For a start, the rampant smuggling witnessed in the 1990s has left us with something of an albatross dangling around our necks, a sort of ‘leyenda negra’ that is still being invoked against us all these years later.

And as for the ‘beauty pageant obsession’, well, all you have to do is google ‘Gibraltar’ and ‘beauty pageants’ and see what you come up with.

I did the same an hour ago and among my results I came across the following beauty pageants/ model competitions: Miss Gibraltar, Mrs Gibraltar, Mr Gibraltar, Dream Girl of the Year, Miss Glamour, Miss Teen Gibraltar, Super Model Universe Gibraltar, Gibraltar’s Next Top Model….

M. G. Sanchez has written nine books on Gibraltarian subjects, among them novels, short story collections, books of essays and autobiographical memoirs, all of which are available on Amazon. More information on his writing can be found at or on his Facebook page. He also tweets under the handle @MGSanchez.

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