The 1967

10th. September 1967

Taken from the book
Gibraltar - The making of a People
By Joseph J. Garcia

Dr Garcia graduated with a 1st class honours degree in history and obtained a doctorate on the political and constitutional development of Gibraltar.

Extract from Book

The choice put before the Gibraltarians was clear enough:

(a) To pass under Spanish sovereignty in accordance with the terms proposed by the Spanish Government to Her Majesty's Government on 18 May 1966; or

(b) Voluntarily retain their link with Britain, with democratic local institutions and with Britain retaining its present responsibilities.

If the Gibraltarians voted for the first option. Britain would start talks with Spain accordingly, whereas if they chose the latter, then Britain would consider the vote a voluntary relationship of the Gibraltarians with London, and would discuss with the local leaders any appropriate constitutional changes which they desired. Facilities would be made available to Madrid to explain their 1966 proposals to the people of Gibraltar if they so wished.

Regardless of the wording of the referendum, which implied that the Rock would lose its 'democratic local institutions' if it elected the first option, the choice for the Gibraltarians was clear-cut: Spain or Britain. Although the Spanish government declined to send representatives to explain their point of view, Castiella's proposals of May 1966 were given wide publicity by the Spanish media. Spanish television could be easily picked up in Gibraltar, as well as at least five Spanish radio stations. A wide variety of Spanish newspapers were also on sale on the Rock, including the La Linea paper 'Area', the Falangist daily 'Arnba . the right-wing "ABC and the Catholic 'Ya'. The Spanish proposals and point of view therefore received wide publicity.

On 22 August the British representative before the Committee of 24 in New York announced Britain's intention to hold the referendum on 10 September, and invited it to send observers to the colony. Britain further requested that any new resolution on Gibraltar should be postponed until the wishes of the inhabitants of the territory were known.

The British intervention was to no avail, and on 1 September 1967 the Committee declared that the referendum violated UN resolutions on Gibraltar, it declined to send observers to the Rock and called for a resumption of talks with Spain.

The resolution was carried by a numerically unbeatable block vote of fifteen African, Latin American, Arab and Communist countries, that is, almost a two-thirds majority of the committee. Against such odds there was never any realistic hope of a different outcome.

Faced with this adverse international line-up, the Gibraltarians made their wishes known to the world on 10 September 1967. There never was any doubt as to the result. In the weeks before the referendum, whole streets had spontaneously been painted red, white and blue by the locals, with Union Jacks flying from the windows and balconies of most dwellings.

Thus on a turnout of 95.8%, 12,237 cast their vote, of which 12,138 voted for Britain and only 44 for Spain, with 55 spoiled ballot papers.

The result was a vindication of Britain's arguments before the UN that Gibraltar was a colony that did not want to be decolonised, least of all to be integrated into Spain. A team of Commonwealth observers which had supervised the proceedings, headed by New Zealand's ambassador to France declared that they found 'that there were adequate opportunities for the use of public communication media for expounding different points of view on the referendum.

More importantly, they reported that 'there were adequate facilities for the people in Gibraltar to freely express their views on the referendum and that these facilities were in fact used.' It was their unanimous view "that the actual conduct of the referendum fully conformed with the requirements for the free expression of choice through the medium of the secret ballot.'

The Referendum Administrator praised the people of Gibraltar "for the responsible way in which they conducted themselves during a period when emotions inevitably ran high."

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