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SPAIN: Aznar closes the Gibraltar gate

Christopher Jones says: "As the P&O cruiseliner "Aurora" slipped out to sea, Spanish police unlocked the gate to Gibraltar. They ended the worst diplomatic spat between London and Madrid since 1969 when Generalísimo Franco locked the gate to the rock -- it remained closed until after his death.

I am including access to the Guardian article which describes the outbreak of a virus onboard the liner which is now headed for Southampton. This curious reminder of General Franco's legacy in Spain came as I pulled an old book off the shelf, in an effort to find a more balanced view of the negotiations that occurred in 1940 and 1941 between Franco and Germany's fuhrer, Adolf Hitler.

Jean Baptiste Duroselle was my professor of history and I have always treasured his Histoire diplomatique de 1919 a nos jours (Dalloz). Duroselle is crystal clear in the book and outlines the circumstances surrounding the three meetings between Franco and Hitler, Mussolini and Admiral Canaris and his refusal to join the war.

What my fellow WAISers have (intentionally?) omitted from our discussions (and some of them from published articles) was the state of Spain in 1940. The country was close to starvation and Franco was accutely aware of this. In his conversations with the Duce in Bordighera, Franco demanded massive deliveries of wheat and other grains and a condition for participation in the war. This is a clear manifestation that the Caudillo knew just how tired and exhausted Spain was and fully unprepared for war.

The Bordighera meeting with Mussolini was urged on the Duce by Hitler, who rightly considered that he had made no headway in his talks with Franco and was anxious to attack Gibraltar. Hitler obviously thought that fellow Latin dictator Mussolini was better equipped to deal with Franco. Prior to this, Admiral Wilhelm Canaris (a closet monarchist, survivor of SMS Dresden, who would be later killed by Hitler just before the end of the war) was sent by the Nazi chieftain to Madrid to urge Franco to reconsider his stance taken at Hendaye. In each and every instance, writes Duroselle, Franco refused.

It has nothing to do with pro-Francoism, it has to do with a non-biased examination of all the facts, something Duroselle was renowned for".,3858,4789176-110474,00.html

Such epidemics in cruiseliners have broken out frequently in the last year or so. Strange. The passengers of the "Aurora" say they will sue the P&O. Will these cruise companies stay in business? We have lamented the false view these happy vacationers get of the world, in sharp contrast to the experiences gained by serious travelers. If the cruise companies go out of business, it will be no great loss.

Ronald Hilton - 11.04.03