Monday 19 August 2013

the pillars of hercules or non plus ultra

The European Union is dispatching a committee to possibly mediate the strife between the UK territory of Gibraltar and the surrounding Kingdom of Spain. Although this contention is nothing new, the promontory ceded to the United Kingdom in perpetuity by the Treaty of Utrecht that settled the Wars of the Spanish Succession in the early eighteenth century and residence of the Rock have roundly rejected measures for devolution. The latest escalating episode that has attracted the attention of the EU is over increased border checks that the Spanish government has imposed. Spain argues that autonomous Gibraltar, whose economy is largely based on financial services and internet-gambling is not doing enough to control smuggling and black-market activities, though employing a lot of Spanish day-labourers besides.
Britain argues it is in retribution for the sinking of several concrete blocks off-shore to create an artificial reef in waters that Spain claims, ostensibly to promote sea-life and the haul in this disputed area. From a mythological point of view, it is interesting that the landmark is interpreted as both an act of ditch-digging to reach open-waters quicker, connecting the Mediterranean with the Atlantic and as an act of narrowing the straits to prevent the ingress of sea-monsters by Hercules. Whether inviting or foreboding, what lie beyond the strait represented uncharted territory. Some contend too that the symbolism of the columns regaled with sash became the dollar sign, $ with two vertical bars from the glyph for pesos. Whatever the real reason behind this dispute and arbitration, whether it be a stance against colonialism or for self-determination and open-borders, is unclear, as British warships enter as they have done some weeks ago in the Falklands, no one is mentioning Spain's own contentious exclaves, the port cities of Ceuta, considered the southern pole of Hercules, and Melilla in Morocco. We will see what happens.