The Chief Minister has written a letter to the editor of El Pais slamming an editorial opinion published yesterday by the newspaper describing Gibraltar as home to “criminality, instability and organised white-collar corruption”.
While Mr Picardo praised another article on Gibraltar – reportage, not opinion – carried in the same edition of the newspaper, he said the accompanying editorial was “ill-informed” and “regrettable”.
“Gibraltar, alongside the United Kingdom, is working on a balanced agreement with the European Union and our neighbour, Spain, at this stage of the Brexit process,” he wrote in the letter.
“To suggest in any shape or form that Gibraltar may represent ‘criminality, instability and organised white-collar corruption’, as yesterday’s editorial piece did, shows such a disregard for truth and reality that it makes me wonder whether El País can continue to claim to be a benchmark of unbiased journalism.”
“The good work of your journalist Jesus Cañas has been scuppered by the anonymous author of this defamatory editorial piece.”
Mr Picardo added: “This lack of rigour has confused the writer of the editorial, who stated that Gibraltar is recognised as a de facto ‘tax haven’ by international bodies.”
“This is entirely false.”
Mr Picardo explained that relevant international bodies including the European Union and the OECD acknowledge that Gibraltar is not a tax haven.
He added that this was the complete opposite of the idea put forward in the editorial.
“If there is ‘criminality, instability and white-collar corruption’ in the area, it is that denounced by the mayors of the municipalities of the Mancommunidad de Municipios of the Campo de Gibraltar,” Mr Picardo wrote.
“However, their accusations are aimed at the Spanish side of the border, not at Gibraltar.”
“It must be because the port of Algeciras has become one of the largest entry points for cocaine in Europe, or because the entire Andalusian coast is awash with organised drug traffickers who are experts in the smuggling of hashish.”
“As regards corruption, I would prefer, Madam Editor, not to delve into a matter which has dealt such a blow to Spain and to the party of her previous government.”
“It is an internal Spanish matter.”
The Chief Minister highlighted ongoing efforts to foster goodwill and cooperation against the backdrop of Brexit, highlighting comments made by the Director of Spain’s Instituto Cervantes, Luis García Montero.
In an interview with Efe, Mr García said work was underway to prepare the possible reopening of the Instituto Cervantes in Gibraltar.
Mr Picardo wrote: “In a bid to foster better mutual understanding, which is seriously needed, I believe that the ambition expressed yesterday by the Director of the Instituto Cervantes to re-open an establishment in Gibraltar might therefore be an appropriate move.”
“As its most senior political representative, I defend the honour of the good people of Gibraltar and our friends in the Campo de Gibraltar.”
“It is about time that Madrid showed more empathy towards our entire area, based on knowledge and understanding, rather than baseless prejudices.”
“That is why I shall not tire of highlighting the reality of our lives and co-existence against the lack of understanding shown beyond Despeñaperros.”