Adapting to the closure of the border

Adapting to the closure of the border
On the left: 1930s. Ángela Castillo, Francisca Aguilar’s grandmother on her mother’s side, on the rooftop of the house where she worked as a servant, in Gibraltar. Photograph: personal archive, Francisca Aguilar. On the right: 2010. A woman, possibly Moroccan, dressing a work coat and work shoes sweeps the entrance to a patio in Gibraltar. Photograph: Beatriz Díaz Martínez © Beatriz Díaz Martínez

Adapting to the closure of the border

In the 1950s, Franco’s regime gradually tightened the conditions for access by Spanish workers to Gibraltar, until the definitive border closure and telephone cut-off in 1969. This was a disaster for the cross-border community. Thousands of families lost their jobs and means of survival and decided to emigrate. La Línea market collapsed. Around two thousand Gibraltarians who lived in La Línea were forced to move to Gibraltar. Over a thousand families were split in two and tried to keep in touch. The same happened with friends.

To survive, Gibraltar reinforced its contacts with North Morocco, another poor and dependent community in the Straits. Shipping companies improved communication with Tangiers and Ceuta for fresh food and leisure. Gibraltarian women who had previously never worked, took jobs in hospitals, nursery schools and homes. The gap left by Spanish workers was also filled by Moroccans, which created a big housing problem.

Adaptation allowed the population of Gibraltar to survive in the new situation. With the gradual opening of the border between 1982 and 1985 relations and trade started to face towards El Campo de Gibraltar.