Contrary to most people’s beliefs that the age of colonialism ended in 1994 with the end of apartheid in South Africa, Spain still to this day colonizes a part of Morocco. The city of Ceuta and Melilla, along with a chain of small islands off the coast, make-up the lands of the Spanish colony in Morocco. Also we shall not forget the Canary Islands. These two cities and islands are the oldest surviving Spanish colonies in the world. The Moroccan government claims this land belongs to Morocco and considers the land to be under foreign occupation. The Spanish government claims the lands rightfully belong to Spain. The Spanish government insist that Spain has been the historical rulers of these lands. The city of Melilla was conquered by Spain in 1497 and Ceuta was inherited by Spain in 1580, with the union of the Spanish and Portuguese monarchies.
In 1912, France and Spain established a protectorate over Morocco. Under this agreement, Spain inherited an area of land stretching from the almost the Atlantic Ocean to Moroccan-Algerian border, and the Western Sahara. In addition, Spain continued its control over Ceuta and Melilla.
In 1956, Morocco gained its independence from France. Spain surrendered most of territory acquired under the French-Spanish protectorate. However, the Spanish government did not surrender the cities of Ceuta and Melilla; instead it insisted that Ceuta and Melilla are not colonies since Spanish people have been living there before the existence of Morocco.
Today, the cities of Ceuta and Melilla are home to about 75,000 people each. The cities attract thousands of people daily. Moroccan labourers and merchants go to and from each city on a daily basis. African immigrants come seeking an easy way to get to Europe since Ceuta and Melilla are officially part of Spain.
In response to the immigration problem, Spain has built three parallel electrified wired fences, reminiscent of the Berlin Wall (Wall of shame), to reduce the illegal immigration. The 19 feet high fences are equipped with infrared cameras, tear gas canisters, noise and movement sensors, and control towers. The Moroccan government has objected to the construction of the fences.
In addition, Moroccan nationals have reported that they have been subjected to racism when entering Melilla. In August, Moroccans protesting against racism and police abuse in Melilla recently conducted a blockage of the border crossing, stopping trucks from making food deliveries into Melilla.
As history has shown, Spain’s refusal to relinquish controlled over all of its territories in Morocco to the Moroccan government will undoubtedly lead to future conflict as Spanish influence continues to diminish worldwide.