Rabat - Ildefonso Castro, Spanish Secretary of State For Foreign Affairs, encourages “dialogue and respect for the law” especially regarding Rif protests, which are of interest to Spain.
Rabat – Ildefonso Castro, Spanish Secretary of State For Foreign Affairs, encourages “dialogue and respect for the law” especially regarding Rif protests, which are of interest to Spain.
“We urge all parties that there be dialogue, respect for the law, and rules for the legally constituted state.”
He put forward that what is happening in the Rif is “an eminent protest of socioeconomic demands,” adding that the Moroccan government “is trying to find ways to answer them.”
Another official from Spain’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs assured that the Spanish government is paying attention to the situation, just as they do with any area close to Spain.
Protests have been taking place in the Rif region of northern Morocco since the death of fisherman Mouhcine Fikri last October, and they have intensified in recent days following the arrest of the leader of the protests, Nasser Zefzafi.
Castro discussed the Rif protests following questions from the opposition’s spokespeople, in particular those of Esquerra Republicana de Catalunya (ERC) and Unidos Podemos, who had asked if the government was concerned about the situation or had contacted relevant Moroccan authorities.
In his speech, Castro also underlined that despite various “internal problems” like current protests, Morocco is “a model of stability in the region,” and that in the wake of the Arab Spring’s protests, the country had reformed its constitution and was “advancing on many issues.”
He also stressed that the region is a priority zone for Spain, because between 2014 and 2016 they invested more than EUR 28 million in the area.
Joan Tardá, a spokesperson for the ERC, has recalled the close relationship between the Rif, Spain and the republicanism of the Spanish state. He said that Spain owed “historical debts” to the region, especially given “the Guernica of the Rif” in 1921, when Spain used chemical arms to fight its colonial war.
Tardá did not link the current protests of the Rif to nationalism, but rather signalled that its lands were “historically a little marginalised by the Moroccan state”. Here he referenced the protests of 1958, 1984 and 1987, and also the death of five youths in Al Hoceima during the protests of 2011.
According to the politician’s analysis, whilst the 2004 earthquake in the region should have caused the Moroccan authorities to change their policies and increase their investments, the new protests and vindications have shone light on “new repressions”. Catalan Tardá added that Morocco’s Rif region is the origin of many “new Catalans.”
Member of Parliament Ángela Ballester noted that her own party, Unidos Podemos, was formed following a social movement similar to the one in the Rif.
PSOE’s Ignacio Sánchez-Amor has warned that it is “delicate” that Spain has been referred to in the press as a place where “a plan to destabilise was conceived,” because he believes that this could generate “tensions with its southern neighbour,” even if Spain had nothing to do with it.
Ciudadnos’ Fernando Maura evaluated that events like this are a reminder that what is important is stability in countries near Spain’s borders.