Gibraltar’s chief minister has filed a criminal complaint against a Spanish far right party which he claims has incited hatred against the British territory.
Fabian Picardo has made the complaint in the Spanish courts against four leaders of Vox, which surged in elections in November to become the third biggest party in parliament.
Picardo highlights a “long list of statements [...] which reveal a a clear strategy of disparaging the Gibraltarians and our institutions in a manner which seems clearly designed to create an atmosphere of hatred among Spaniards towards Gibraltarians.”
“In recent days, some of the online comments provoked by statements made by Vox and its national leaders have specifically urged violent action against Gibraltar.
The statement goes on to cite Europe’s “long and dark history [where] minorities have been targeted by extremist political ideologues. The outcomes of some of those campaigns of hatred are an incredible blot on European history.”
In a tweet from the official Vox Twitter account on December 14, which has thousands of retweets and likes, the party brands Gibraltar under British rule a “nest of drug trafficking, smuggling, and home to all kinds of beach bars and covers to launder money.”
“We must end that colony of parasites. We will never give up what belongs to us, # GibraltarEspañol”
Vox has gained support in Spain with a populist right wing message including hostility towards migrants and opposition to the Catalan independence movement.
After the story broke, Vox's representative in the Spanish city of Cadiz, tweeted: "They denounce us for hate crime.
"Gibraltar functions as a tax haven that parasites and impoverishes the region of Campo de Gibraltar."
Euronews has reached out to Vox for comment.
Britain captured Gibraltar, which is just six square kilometres, from Spain in 1704 and ‘the Rock’ was formerly ceded to the British in 1713 following the Spanish War of Succession.
Spain attempted to retake the territory on numerous occasions throughout the 18th century but were unable to do so. In 1968, Gibraltarians voted by an overwhelming majority to remain part of the UK, and did so again at a second referendum in 2002.
But nevertheless, both nationalist and mainstream political parties in Spain have long urged an end to British rule over Gibraltar. In 2017, a scandal over Spanish lobbying over the territory prompted a backlash from the UK and a number of stories in the British media.
In 2019, the European Union described Gibraltar as a "colony of the British crown", while in 2018 Spain's leader Pedro Sanchez called for future talks on the territory given the uncertainty surrounding Brexit.
Gibraltar is still waiting to see how Britain's future departure from the European Union could affect Gibraltar. In the 2016 Brexit referendum vote, 96 percent of Gibraltarians voted for Britain to remain in the EU.