SH24H asked Dr. Alberto Maestre Fuentes about the historical and legal role of Spain, as a de jure colonizing and administrative power of the Sahara, and how this role is seen by Spanish intellectuals.
-1-Mr Alberto Maestre Fuentes- DOCTOR IN HISTORY BY THE UNIVERSITY OF BARCELONA and EXPERT IN WESTERN SAHARA AND AFRICA IN GENERAL- in his book: AN ABANDONED PEOPLE- DECEPTIONS IN THE DECOLONIZATION OF WESTERN SAHARA: Can you explain us the subject of the deceptions?
I really did not expect that Spain would deceive in such a clear and blatant way, not only the Saharawi people, but the entire international community. I discovered that, from the first moment, when Hassan II announced his Green March, Spain, which officially defended compliance with international legality before the UN, secretly negotiated with Morocco the illegal transfer of Western Sahara. Also, thanks to the consultation of unpublished documentation, such as the political comments broadcasted by Radio Sahara, by Radio Nacional de España, dependent on the Spanish government, it is observed how it was proclaimed daily that Spain was not going to allow Morocco to occupy the territory, explaining that said country did not have any historical right over it. That everything that Morocco said was a lie and that the Sahrawis should not worry about anything, since Spain would fulfill its duty to decolonize it; But meanwhile the Spanish government and Franco’s heir, the then Prince Juan Carlos de Borbón, were already determined not to do their duty. Spain was only interested in keeping up appearances, as the Spanish Minister Solís himself confesses to Hassan II on his visit to Marrakech and to whose report I had access: “I solemnly say to Your Majesty that we do not want independence. What we need is to cover the forms and save our commitments and that we agree that the Sahara is for Morocco ”. While the Spanish ambassador to the UN said the opposite. Aren’t there more deceptions than that?
-2- With each discussion that unites us with the Spanish elite, including intellectuals and the media, they express their feelings of guilt at the abandonment of the Spanish government of its responsibilities towards the rights of the Saharawi people, why this feeling is not converted In a declared demonstration, a position that could put pressure on the Spanish governments to assume their responsibilities so that the self-determination of the Saharawi people is respected?
The Spanish left has generally been related to the Saharawi cause, when it really is a cause that should unite all Spanish sectors. There are many interests and we all know that Morocco can use different resources to stop this union. The Spanish image, due to the fact that Africa has not closed the chapter on decolonizations, due to its disastrous policy in this matter, is negative and all forces should focus on it to make the Spanish government understand the error of their position. As a Spaniard, I feel ashamed that, in Africa, in the XXI century, there is a colony, which is what it is for the United Nations, because of my country. Doing nothing and not explaining that the Sahrawi conflict exists and that until 1975 these Sahrawis were Spanish for all intents and purposes, does not solve the issue, quite the opposite.
-3- There are many writers of different nationalities who have addressed the issue of the Saharawi people. Why don’t we see, for example, a framework that unites the voices of these writers, either at the level of Spain or the world?
There really are associations of groups of writers who are friends of Western Sahara, but it is true that a much larger union would be lacking in order to give visibility to this conflict that lasts too long. There are many interests and as I have said before, Morocco has the means to abort any major initiative that goes against its misnamed “its Sahara”. I know that some writers and researchers have been tempted by Morocco to support their thesis. As my friend and colleague, Pablo Ignacio de Dalmases, says, “Morocco pays its allies well.” But well, I am optimistic and I personally believe that there is a tendency towards a union of all writers and researchers who are simply in favor of international legality being complied with. It is the only way to raise awareness of this serious problem.
-4- As a specialist, how do you see Morocco’s behavior towards its neighbors?
Well, we’ve seen it recently in all its glory. He has been trying for a long time to use any weakness in Spain to attack it. Immigration, terrorism, Spanish companies based in Morocco, Ceuta and Melilla, fishing, the Moroccan community based in Spain, etc. Whatever element he has at his disposal, to pressure and wear Spain down, he will not hesitate to use it to achieve his objectives. The Moroccan Prime Minister, Saadeddine El Othmani, already said it last year when he affirmed, without shame, that once Western Sahara is fully controlled they will go through Ceuta and Melilla. And then? And it doesn’t go bad for them, so far. Spain is keeping quiet and on top of that it transfers millions of euros to them and sells them weapons. You don’t need to know much about geopolitics. It is elemental. You cannot help and arm a country that does not hide its territorial claims over yours. That attitude is the one that Spain must abandon, for once and for all, because what it transmits is simply weakness.
-5-How do you rate the monitoring of the Spanish press on the Western Sahara conflict?
Of not being up to the task. The news about the conflict is scarce, almost residual. Due to the latest events with the resumption of the war and the clumsy decision of former President Trump, the large Spanish media finally spoke about the Saharawi conflict, but in a very prudent way and because they had no choice. Not to have done so would have been outrageous. Months have passed and it is difficult to see that they address the issue again. There is a war in Western Sahara and it is as if it did not exist. That is, they follow the Moroccan policy of denial. I said earlier that there are many interests. But it seems that something is changing and we will have to wait for the next few months to see how it passes. Some have realized that Spain would have to adopt its rightful position, as a de jure administering power and try to help resolve this decades-long conflict.