THE Cook Islands registered Southwester cargo vessel sailed from Laayoune in Western Sahara with 7,000 tons of sand headed for Palma.
Western Sahara was annexed by Mauritania and Morocco in 1976 following the withdrawal of Spain from the area once called Spanish Sahara and there has been heavy fighting between the indigenous people through their Polisario Front and the occupiers.
Although the United Nations refused to recognise Morocco’s claim on the area and has classified it as an ‘occupation’ the armed struggle has turned into a political war with Morocco holding most of the territory.
When it became known that the sand had been removed from the desert the association of friends of the Saharan people in the Balearics made a formal call for the ship to be denied permission to dock and to return to the occupied area.
This plea which centred on the wrongful exploitation of a natural resource was initially considered by the local government with some members calling for the Guardia Civil to intervene but finally today (Wednesday May 23) the vessel was allowed to dock in Palma and the sand was unloaded after permission was granted by the Guardia Civil.
Although there have been rumours that the sand was destined for beaches for on the island, the Balearic government has denied this saying that it is for use in construction and on golf courses.