The Spanish Government has apologised to Gibraltarians and others caught up in violent incidents during a protest at the border on Wednesday.
Madrid’s representative in the province of Cádiz, José Pacheco, said the group behind the protest, Jusapol, had breached restrictions set on the demonstration by blocking traffic and intimidating drivers.
“We apologise to all those people who were affected by the incidents last Wednesday,” Mr Pacheco said in a statement.
Mr Pacheco said Jusapol had been exercising a constitutional right to demonstrate in a public space for a legitimate cause.
The group campaigns for pay parity for Spanish police and Guardia Civil officers with better-paid regional police counterparts.
But he said the Spanish Government would not condone the manner in which some protestors behaved during Wednesday’s demonstration, during which Gibraltarians were targeted with physical intimidation and shouts of ‘Gibraltar español’.
In the most serious scuffle that day, one local woman was kicked after she stepped out of her car to confront a protestor who had struck out at her as she drove past.
Jusapol contests that version of events and yesterday said it would file a formal complaint with the courts in Spain to clarify the events at the demonstration.
The Jusapol protestors at the demonstration had been supported by around 20 members of the far right political party Vox, who the Gibraltar Government suggested on Wednesday had hijacked the event.
Yesterday Mr Pacheco said that while the demonstration over police pay had been authorised, any other sentiments expressed by protestors “were their responsibility”.
He added that the Spanish Government’s objective, irrespective of Madrid’s well-known foreign policy on the Rock, “…will always be to have good neighbourly relations with the citizens of Gibraltar.”
“Anyone who uses their constitutional right [to peaceful public demonstration] to cause a disturbance or make other claims does not do so with the consent of the Spanish Government or the approval of its representatives,” Mr Pacheco said.
Last night the Gibraltar Government said the statement was a positive development after Wednesday’s incidents.
“This is a welcome statement which rightly apologises for the inconvenience caused to those whose ability to peacefully and freely traverse the frontier was interfered with earlier this week,” said Chief Minister Fabian Picardo.
“I think it demonstrates a new sensitivity in the understanding of the importance of frontier fluidity as a matter of principle.”
“I sincerely welcome this new and more positive approach.”