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What is the “Green March”? Symbolic invasion of Western Sahara by Morocco, the consequences of which remain latent

Madrid

Publication: Tuesday, May 18, 2021 3:53 PM

Until 1976, Western Sahara was a territory that was part of the Spanish colonies. It is a region that borders several countries: from Morocco to Algeria, via Spain and Mauritania.

And there is a historical moment which was crucial at the end of the colonization of this territory: the famous “ Green March ”, organized by the Moroccan authorities and through which King Hasan II wanted to give the final blow to its occupation of the Sahara.

More specifically, tens of thousands of civilians took part in this march, entering what was then Spanish territory. 350,000 volunteers who crossed the borders harangued by a worried Hasan II who, according to authors like Ahmed Boukhari, of the Royal Institute of Elcano, saw his throne at stake.

In view of this, as the organization of the Moroccan Sahara brings together, the monarch’s speech was solemn: “We must launch a green march from the north of Morocco to the south and from the east to the west. We must stand up as only one man., with order and organization to go to the Sahara and meet our brothers there ”, expressed on October 16, 1975.

The problem is that this arrival of Morocco directly clashed with various international diktats, such as that of the United Nations (UN) which, five years earlier, had decided to approve the so-called resolution. 2711. In this document, a fundamental fact for the Saharawi people was approved: the holding of a referendum on self-determination. A referendum which, for various reasons, ultimately never took place.

Spain, Morocco and Front Polisario

With the “Green March” came the organization which, to this day, continues to fight for the self-determination of Western Sahara. It is the Polisario Front, the same whose current leader is currently admitted to a hospital in La Rioja, and which was the trigger for the migration crisis that Ceuta has been experiencing in recent hours.

Technically, the invasion of Morocco, as well as Mauritania, two states which for a time divided the Saharawi territory, should never have happened. As Boukhari reminds us, the Madrid agreements of 1975, by which Spain had to leave Western Sahara, did not translate into what was decided in The Hague.

The New York Times itself, in its October 31, 1975 edition, predicted that the result would not only be the abandonment of Spain, but also the division of the area between Morocco and Mauritania. A fact which, shortly after, would lead to a conflict that continues to rage today.

“An unwavering human tragedy for the Saharawi people, without even guaranteeing Spain, then Mauritania, the enjoyment of what was stipulated in the various specifications of the transaction”, writes the academic.

Morocco continues to occupy much of Western Sahara, with tensions escalating in recent months, as in November last year, Moroccan authorities and the Polisario Front ended a ceasefire that had lasted more than two years. Added to this are the tensions that have been generated between Spanish and Moroccan diplomacy, because, also at the end of 2020, Spain did not recognize Morocco’s sovereignty over this area, in a dispute that has lasted for more than 45 years. .

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