Zapatero's Smile for Morocco

Numerous reports on TV, radio and the press would require an analysis and revision to correct the distorted pictures of reality they convey.

One such example is the night newscast in Spanish TV channel “Cuatro”, of January 5th, 2008, reporting on the return of the Moroccan ambassador in Spain. Just a quick background note: After an official visit in November 2007 by the King and Queen of Spain to the Spanish cities of Ceuta and Melilla (located on the north coast of Morocco), Morocco complained that the visit was a provocation (they claim Ceuta and Melilla are their territory). The Moroccan ambassador to Spain was recalled from Madrid.

The news piece last night argued that this diplomatic incident has been the only one between Spain and Morocco during the current term of Spanish PM Rodríguez Zapatero, boasting that diplomatic tensions between both countries has been far less during Rodríguez Zapatero‘s term than during the previous PM’s (Aznar‘s) term.

Specifically, the news report pointed to several incidents during Aznar‘s term:

  • Tensions between Spain and Morocco related to fishing-grounds
  • Spain’s position with respect to Sahara
  • Spain and Europe bound illegal immigration, originating in Morocco
  • The culmination of those incidents with the Moroccan occupation of the Perejil island.

whereas, highlighting the lack of conflict and the good management of Rodríguez Zapatero, the news piece states that during his term, there has only been one diplomatic hiccup with Morocco:

  • The recall of the Moroccan ambassador from Spain, after the Spanish Royal visit to Ceuta and Melilla.

In other words: “Cuatro” newscast brings up diplomatic problems in a previous presidential term, to downplay the one incident that took place under Rodríguez Zapatero‘s term in office. What we see here is standard tactics by channel “Cuatro” and related media, focused in a continuous publicity campaign to erode and discredit former PM Aznar and his Popular Party (PP). This campaign is an important vote catalyst for the PSOE (Socialist Party), which obtains its largest support when they succeed in making people think of the “danger” of the PP or Aznar returning to office, rather than gaining support based on the results of their own time in office.

Moreover, this news piece dares to suggest that diplomatic relations with Morocco should have been free of tensions, regardless of Moroccan actions or decisions. This would have been possible had Aznar remained an spectator before Morocco, as b>Rodríguez Zapatero did. The current president had not few issues to attend to, but of course he chose to smile rather than: (i) defending the rights of Moroccans themselves before human trafficking mafias (tightly linked to illegal immigration), (ii) exhorting Morocco to play active collaboration in the investigation of the Madrid bombings of March 11th 2004, (iii) defending the interests of the Sahara people before Morocco, (iv) defending the Spanish territory rather than appearing in public next to Moroccan maps showing Ceuta and Melilla as Moroccan cities, to name a few of these issues.

Undoubtedly Rodríguez Zapatero avoids conflict, as “Cuatro” very well points out; what they are not saying is how the smile tactic brings no solution to the problems and issues affecting Spanish interests, and the interests of people in Spain and Morocco.

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