Tag: international relations

Latest Gran Canaria News, Views & Sunshine

Centre-Right Pact Between Regionalists (CC) And Resident Conservatives (PPAV) Returns Marco Aurelio Perez As Southern Mayor

The conservative Partido Popular-Agrupación de Vecinos (PP-AV) and the right of centre regionalist Coalición Canaria (CC) have this Thursday signed a local government pact that will shape the future of the southern Gran Canaria tourism municipality of San Bartolomé de Tirajana. The alliance, dubbed a “Pact for Stability and Socioeconomic Progress of San Bartolomé Tirajana”, represents 60% of the votes cast in the municipality’s recent local elections, emphasised the  mayor-elect, Marco Aurelio Pérez (PP-AV), who returns for the third time to lead the local council responsible for some of the most important tourism areas on the island, including Maspalomas, Playa del Inglés and San Agustín.



Local Government Coalition Agreement Maspalomas and the South of Gran Canaria

A governing coalition pact has been finalised in San Bartolomé de Tirajana. The Popular Party–Agrupación de Vecinos (PP-AV) conservative residents party is to join forces with regionalist centre-right Coalición Canaria (CC) to govern the main tourist municipality on Gran Canaria for the next four years. Marco Aurelio Pérez will serve as mayor for the entire four-year term, and the Popular Party will take charge of Employment, Sports, Roads and Infrastructure, and Human Resources, among other areas. The regionalists, led by Alejandro Marichal, will oversee Urban Planning, Economy and Finance, and Tourism as their main departments.



Storm Óscar Latest: Government of the Canary Islands Declares Rain Alert for Western Islands and Gran Canaria

A storm system, dubbed Óscar, has formed over the last few days over the mid-north Atlantic, unusual for this time of year, and has led to concern from meteorologists and journalists as it passes south of the Azores, its tail should reach The Canary Islands, before the system heads northeast towards mainland Spain.  Advisory warnings have been issued in expectation of heavy rainfall, primarily in the Western Isles of the Canary Islands Archipelago, though some rainfall is also expected to reach Gran Canaria over the next couple of days.  It seems unlikely that any major consequences will stem from the bad weather, however these things can be unpredictable and so every precaution is taken to ensure people are informed and kept safe.



Foundation Investigated for Alleged Mismanagement of Public Funds Meant for Care of Unaccompanied Migrant Minors

The 7th Investigative Court of Las Palmas de Gran Canaria has opened a preliminary investigation into the Social Response Foundation Siglo XXI and four of its directors. The Anti-Corruption Prosecutor’s Office in Las Palmas filed a complaint against them, alleging crimes that could include forgery of commercial documents, mismanagement, and embezzlement of public funds. The investigation aims to determine whether this nonprofit organisation, and its officials, could have misused public funds intended for the care of unaccompanied migrant minors, during the migration crisis of 2020 that was precipitated by the pandemic confinement on the islands, leading to a build up of arrivals having to be assessed and cared for by the Canary Islands Regional Government, using hotels left empty due to the lack of tourism. The estimated amount involved in the alleged misuse stands at around €12.5 million between 2020 and 2022 on Gran Canaria alone.



Canary Islands Expect Rain and Potential Storm Weather Next Week

The Canary Islands are preparing for a change in the weather next week, as a significant increase in cloud is expected bringing higher probability of rain. The effects of a powerful storm forming in the Atlantic Ocean are likely to extend to the Canary Islands as well as neighbouring Madeira and The Azores.




US Naval 6th Fleet IKE Strike Group conduct maritime exercises with Morocco in Operation Lightning Handshake

The USS Dwight D. Eisenhower Carrier Strike Group (IKE CSG) is participating in Operation Lightning Handshake, a bi-lateral maritime exercise between the U.S. and the Royal Moroccan Navy (RMN) and Royal Moroccan Air Force (RMAF) during the first week of March, which will take place between The Canary Islands coastal waters and Morocco’s Port of Agadir.




“It’s an honour to participate in this historic bi-lateral maritime exercise; hallmarking 200 years of an enduring partnership with Morocco.” – Rear Adm. Robertson

The exercise enhances interoperability between the U.S. and Moroccan Navies across multiple warfare areas, many of which include: surface warfare, anti-submarine warfare, air and strike warfare, combined logistics support, maritime interdiction operations.
 “On behalf of the Sailors assigned to the IKE CSG it’s an honor to participate in this historic bi-lateral maritime exercise; hallmarking 200 years of an enduring partnership with Morocco,” said Rear Adm. Scott Robertson, commander, Carrier Strike Group Two. “Exercises like Lighting Handshake enhance the foundation of our interoperability and continued support of our long term commitment to security in the region.”
Lightning Handshake 2021 increases the ability of U.S. and Moroccan maritime forces to work together in order to address security concerns and increase stability in the region.
Participating ships in Lightning Handshake from the IKE CSG, commanded by Rear Adm. Scott Robertson, include flagship USS Dwight D. Eisenhower (CVN 69); and Destroyer Squadron 22 ships include Arleigh Burke-class guided-missile destroyers USS Mitscher (DDG 57), and USS Porter (DDG 78).
Aircraft participating in Lightning Handshake include – Squadrons of Carrier Air Wing (CVW) 3, embarked on Eisenhower include the “Fighting Swordsmen” of Strike Fighter Squadron (VFA) 32, “Gunslingers” of Strike Fighter Squadron (VFA) 105, “Wildcats” of Strike Fighter Squadron (VFA) 131, “Rampagers” of Strike Fighter Squadron (VFA) 83; “Dusty Dogs” of Helicopter Sea Combat Squadron (HSC) 7; “Swamp Foxes” of Helicopter Maritime Strike Squadron (HSM) 74; “Screwtops” of Airborne Command and Control Squadron (VAW) 123; “Zappers” of Electronic Attack Squadron (VAQ) 130, and a detachment from Fleet Logistics Support Squadron (VRC) 40 “Rawhides.”
Moroccan assets participating in Lightning Handshake include: Royal Moroccan Navy Frigate Tarnk Ben Ziyad (SIGMA Class Frigate) Royal Naval HQ Maritime Operations Center (MOC) Royal Air Force HQ Air Operations Center (AOC), one Panther Helicopter, and two of each fixed-wing combat F-16 and F-5 fighter aircraft.
USS Harry S. Truman Carrier Strike Group (HSTCSG) participated in the 2018 exercise and included unit events which flexed interoperability between the U.S. and Royal Moroccan Navies in the following warfare areas; communication, link, Anti-Submarine Warfare, close air support and Naval Surface Fire Support.
Dwight D. Eisenhower Carrier Strike Group is a multiplatform team of ships, aircraft and more than 5,000 Sailors, capable of carrying out a wide variety of missions around the globe.
U.S. Sixth Fleet, headquartered in Naples, Italy, conducts the full spectrum of joint and naval operations, often in concert with allied and interagency partners, in order to advance U.S. national interests and security and stability in Europe and Africa.

“Operating from bases at Casablanca, Safi, Agadir, Kenitra, and Tangier, the navy has acquired new equipment designed to expand its operational capabilities. The Moroccan Navy has become a growing and important partner with the U.S. Navy in Europe and Africa and has been a major participant in the U.S. Navy led annual multi-country exercise Phoenix Express, as well as a joint maritime law enforcement operation held in July 2009.
The navy’s responsibilities for coastal protection were significantly broadened in 1973 when Morocco increased the limits of its territorial waters to 70 nautical miles. Further pressures were put upon the service in 1981, when the government adopted an Exclusive Economic Zone and restricted the ability of foreign fishing fleets to operate within 200 nautical miles of Morocco. Since that time the navy has been kept busy patrolling Moroccan waters, and there were numerous reports of Spanish, Portuguese, Soviet, and South Korean trawlers being detained and taken to Moroccan ports for having violated the country’s restrictions on foreign fishing. The navy also has assisted in attempts to stem traffic in contraband and drugs that has moved through Moroccan ports.
On 3 January 1976, the Moroccan Navy stopped a Soviet cargo ship off the Spanish Sahara and found a cargo of arms. In response to the evidence of increased Soviet support for the Polisario rebels, U.S. Navy vessels made three port visits in Morocco during January 1976. The US Secretary of State, with the concurrence of the Department of Defense, decided that a well-publicised U.S. Naval visit to Agadir would be desirable to send a signal to the Soviets in response to the positioning of three Soviet Navy ships in the region. A three-day visit by CG-20 Turner early in February followed.”
—- Global Security
Today the Kingdom of Morocco is a key strategic partner in Africom, the US Military Africa Command and increasingly one of Africa’s largest purchasers of US arms, rivalling Algeria and Saudi Arabia in arms bought over recent years.  The Polisario Front, fighting for the liberation of Western Sahara, declared a resumption of hostilities with Morocco last November following ever more heavy handed tactics deployed against protesters demonstrating Morocco’s continued occupation, resource stripping and illegal road building in the disputed territory, ending a 29-year ceasefire.


The Canary News

“Moroccan immigration and blackmail” writes President of Gran Canaria Cabildo

As well as a regional government, and local councils (municipios), the Canary Islands also has an added political layer of Island Councils (Cabildos Insulares).  The Cabildo de Gran Canaria is our island’s representative government, made up of every local mayor and representatives of all the major parties.  The current president of the island Cabildo de Gran Canaria, since 2015, is Antonio Morales (from the Nueva Canarias party – NC). In a strongly worded statement, on his own personal blog, he has today warned that, in his opinion, the neighbouring Kingdom of Morocco may well be instrumental in the current migrant crisis affecting the island. He believes it is part of a concerted policy of Moroccan immigration and blackmail, to strengthen their negotiating positions with Europe.
In fact, he believes that there may be insidious motivations for Morocco to be ignoring international law, as well as migrant departures from coastlines they control, in an attempt to expand their own economic interests, and encroach on the waters of the Canary Islands, using the archipelago as a bargaining chip to gain control not just of fishing rights but also a huge deposit of valuable metals and rare earths contained in an undersea mountain less than 300 miles south of these islands.  Moroccan immigration and blackmail is a serious allegation, which Morales backs up with several pieces of evidence, in his view, proving an expansionist policy that risks serious conflict in the region, with unpredictable results.
Here is what he has to say, interpreted by our editor-in-chief Edward Timon .



Antonio Morales, President of Cabildo de Gran Canaria
“I am convinced that the different events that the Canary Islands have been experiencing in recent months in relation to the kingdom of Morocco are not the result of chance. The increase in migrants, especially young people and minors from the Moroccan coasts without the intervention or control of the authorities, the pretense of delimiting jurisdictional waters in conflict with the maritime zone that belongs to the Canary Islands or the administration of the [artisanal fishing] wealth of the Canarian-Saharan bank and phosphates in territories that are pending self-determination because they belong to the Saharawi people; these are not isolated decisions but I believe that they are integrated into a strategy of using the Canary Islands to pressure and blackmail Europe and Spain.
Last April, during confinement due to the coronavirus, the Official Gazette of Morocco published two laws approved by Parliament in January and February, with which the country unilaterally and illegally extended its maritime border to the Canary Islands. In this way, in an act of expansionism, Morocco establishes its territorial waters at 12 miles, delimits its exclusive economic zone at 200 miles and has decided to expand its continental shelf up to 350 miles, thus, in addition to annexing the waters of Western Sahara, despite that being a territory pending decolonization, [the new Moroccan laws] would include a part of the Canarian waters that Spain has claimed from the UN since 2014.
A few months later, there was a sudden increase, unprecedented since the “cayuco crisis” in 2006, in the arrival of migrants in boats to the Canary Islands, in particular to Gran Canaria. So far this year it is [more than] 17,000 people, of which around 11,000 have made it to Gran Canaria. The Arguineguín Harbour has become a “camp of shame” in which thousands of people spend days, and even weeks, crammed into 400 square meters, in subhuman conditions. Many of these people are Moroccan citizens and many of these vessels departed from Moroccan territory.
Last week the Moroccan army attacked Sahrawi civilians who were peacefully demonstrating in the Guerguerat buffer strip, south of the Sahara, against the illegal breach that the Moroccan Government had opened in this place. Both the breach and the attack by military personnel represent a clear violation of the military agreement, and are contrary to the established peace plan. This has generated an escalation of military confrontations with unpredictable consequences.
Graphic courtesy of ABC used by Antonio Morales do illustrate his claims of Moroccan immigration and blackmail
One only has to see the interconnection of the facts to reach the conclusion that Morocco is using the Canary Islands as a bargaining chip to pressure the Spanish State so that it does not interfere in their expansionist plans over our waters and Western Sahara, as well as to prevent it from assuming a more active role as the colonial power in the Sahara (which it still is) to demand the holding of the referendum and the culmination of the decolonisation process for this territory.
This would also explain the sudden increase in migratory flows over to our archipelago since it would be one of the ways that the Alawite Kingdom could pressure Spain at a time of intensification in the conflict with Western Sahara. Because, although police and military routes cannot be the way to manage migration, it is also clear that Morocco has [sufficient] control over its territory to be able to stop the arrivals of boats to our coasts, especially those of their own fellow citizens.
And it is not the first time that the economic and geostrategic interests of both territories have come into conflict. The most flagrant case is that of the Canarian Saharan fishing bank, de facto managed by Morocco despite not being part of its territory and which is even included in fishing agreements with the EU (although they have been subsequently suspended). According to the Canarian Intersindical Union, our islands are losing at least 400 direct jobs and more than 1,000 indirect jobs due to not being able to fish in waters that correspond to us for historical and geographical reasons.
As in the case of fishing, the maneuver to appropriate the Saharawi waters, and claims on a part of the Canarian waters, corresponds not only to an expansionist but also an economic desire. Although it is still a long way from being exploited, Morocco is fighting for Mount Tropic, located some 269 miles south of El Hierro. It is estimated that [this undersea mountain] may contain the largest deposit in the world of tellurium [a rare semi-conductive metal] with 6,000 times more than what is currently extracted from the earth’s crust. To this can be added cobalt and rare earths present in the area, fundamental raw materials for the economy of the future.
As serious as this is, it is with lukewarmness or even passivity that the Government of Spain has responded to the annexationist claims and the fait accompli policy of our neighboring country. Furthermore, these two laws were approved days before an official visit to Morocco by the Minister of Foreign Affairs, European Union and Cooperation, Arancha González Laya, in an obvious gesture applying pressure to diplomatic negotiations with Spain. So far the minister has limited herself to transmitting calm to the Canary Islands and guaranteeing the government’s support for our territory without this having been translated into concrete gestures.
I am convinced that in the end this dynamic is detrimental to both territories. Relations between Morocco and the Canary Islands are historical. About 40,000 Moroccan citizens have lived with us for years and it is clear that cooperation in commercial, tourism or renewable energy matters could be very beneficial for both. The Canary Islands occupy a very important geostrategic position and one of our aspirations is to have relations of peace and cooperation with our neighbors.
But for this to be possible, it is essential that Morocco stop using the Canary Islands and the lives of thousands of people who come to our coasts in boats as a method of applying pressure in its diplomatic relations with Spain, relaxing control of its coasts and borders to increase migration pressure every time they want to negotiate something. And of course it is unacceptable that in its expansionist zeal it intends to appropriate the resources of the Canarian-Saharan fishing bank or the underwater resources.
It is also essential that Morocco complies with international law, that it puts an end to the illegal occupation of Western Sahara, stops its expansionist claims and commits itself to holding the [promised] referendum on the independence of this territory. Otherwise, as we are seeing, sooner or later we will find a warlike escalation 100 kilometers from our territory that would pose a serious risk to the Canary Islands and a total breakdown of relations with the neighboring country.
For its part, the Government of Spain cannot continue to disparage and ignore the Canary Islands, prioritizing its diplomatic relations with Morocco over the well-being of our archipelago. The lukewarm response of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs to what could be considered an attack on the Canary Islands, such as the annexation of a part of our waters, is not acceptable. We must have a voice in Spanish policy towards Morocco.
The commitment of the Canary Islands and the progressive Canarian nationalists cannot be other than to position the islands as a territory of peace, a host country with democratic values ​​that promotes cooperation and progress among neighboring peoples. But this can only be possible from [a position of] firmness and determination and the demand that Morocco strictly comply with international law and respect for territorial integrity, both of Western Sahara and of our archipelago.”


The Canary News

Canary Islands Migration: Ukraine war exasperating food shortages, poverty and unrest in the West African Sahel

by Timon .:. | June 25, 2022 | #TheCanaryMigrantCrisis, Editor's Thoughts, investigation, Migrants Gran Canaria, News | 0 CommentsSpecial ReportTimon .:. Without being overly sensationalist, it would be fair to say that, a perfect storm has been brewing for some time in Western Africa.  The Canary Islands is a region on the frontier, and needs to avoid allowing fear to drive decision making. The...
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€51 million project to manage Canary Islands migrant reception facilities announced as referrals increase from the Canary Islands

by Timon .:. | May 11, 2021 | #TheCanaryMigrantCrisis, News | 2 CommentsThe Spanish Central Government's Council of Ministers this Tuesday approved an initiative from the Ministry of Inclusion, Social Security and Migrations, agreeing to contract the public company Tragsa, for the amount of €51 million, to provide properly managed migrant...
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Unaccompanied migrant minors: Canary Islands Ministry of Social Rights has been appealing for help for months and to all the administrations to help take responsibility

by Timon .:. | May 7, 2021 | #TheCanaryMigrantCrisis | 0 CommentsThe Deputy Minister of Social Rights of the Government of the Canary Islands, Gemma Martínez, said back in January that the archipelago is "clearly facing an humanitarian emergency situation" in the care of unaccompanied foreign minors, she appealed to all the...
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“An unprecedented emergency” Spain’s Ombudsman demands that the Interior Ministry not prevent the departure of migrants from the Canary Islands

by Timon .:. | April 28, 2021 | #TheCanaryMigrantCrisis | 0 CommentsThe Ombudsman, Francisco Fernández Marugán, tasked, as the Public Defender, to investigate Spain's response to The Canary Migrant crisis, has directly demanded that the Ministry of the Interior cease “police practices” that prevent migrants from leaving the Canary...
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On The Canary Route this year at least one person dies at sea, on average, every 32 hours

by Timon .:. | April 28, 2021 | #TheCanaryMigrantCrisis | 0 CommentsAir Force photograph showing twelve survivors and five deceased on board a cuyaco located in August 2020, by Search and Rescue (SAR), some 205 kilometres south of Gran Canaria. At that time there were twelve survivors on board. One died shortly after in the...
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Las Palmas judgement concludes that migrants can legally travel from the Canary Islands to the Peninsula, with just their passport and an asylum request

by Timon .:. | April 17, 2021 | #TheCanaryMigrantCrisis | 0 CommentsA passport and an asylum application are sufficient documents for any migrant to legally travel from the Canary Islands to mainland Spain. This fact, under the law, was formally recognised by a judge at the Contentious-Administrative Court number 5, in Las Palmas de...
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Nearly 50 arrests as part of Gran Canaria Policia Nacional investigation against people trafficking to The Canary Islands

by Timon .:. | April 12, 2021 | #TheCanaryMigrantCrisis | 0 CommentsThe police raids across the South of Gran Canaria, on Friday, as part of a cross border investigation into the illegal organising of irregular migration, in the municipality of Mogán, have resulted in nearly 50 arrests, with a confirmed total of 27 arrested on Gran...
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Secret police operation makes 30 arrests since coordinated raids across south of Gran Canaria on Friday

by Timon .:. | April 11, 2021 | #TheCanaryMigrantCrisis, Crime | 0 CommentsReporting: Timon .:. Cover Image: Bård Ove MyhrSpanish National Police have so far detained a total of around thirty people as part of a secret police operation, what is being termed as a macro-operation, against people trafficking and irregular migration, linked to...
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Exclusive: Spanish police raids in Puerto Rico de Gran Canaria and Arguineguín, with Europol, result in at least 15 people detained suspected of people trafficking

by Timon .:. | April 9, 2021 | #TheCanaryMigrantCrisis, investigation, Migrants Gran Canaria | 0 CommentsThere were at least 15 people detained in a combined operation between Spanish police and the EU Agency for Law Enforcement on Friday, when agents with balaclavas, bullet-proof vests and automatic weapons were deployed onto the streets of Puerto Rico de Gran Canaria...
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Canary Islands working with Spain to better share responsibility for migrant minors, and employment rights for government workers, taking control of coastal management and planning

by Sanna | April 7, 2021 | #TheCanaryMigrantCrisis, Business, Immigration, politics | 0 CommentsÁngel Víctor Torres, the President of the Canary Islands, met in Madrid this Tuesday with Spain's Minister of Territorial Policy and Public Function, Miquel Iceta, to conclude the process of transferring strategic competences, including coastal management, financial...
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