The tiny Pyrennean principality of Andorra -- a tax and duty-free haven on the border of France and Spain -- is in revolt.
The tiny Pyrennean principality of Andorra -- a tax and duty-free haven on the border of France and Spain -- is in revolt. And the revolt is over something dear to the heart of every Andorran ... the treatment of foreigners. As 16,000 of the 23,000 people in the principality are foreigners, the tax laws and freedom of movement are naturally guarded jealously.
The thorn in the Andorran side is a 700-year-old medieval decree which shared rule of the mountain community between France and Spain. Now, the co-princes -- French President Valery Giscard d'Estaing and the Spanish Bishop of Urgel -- have announced they are assuming full control over the influx of foreigners. Their reasons -- to check population growth and curb the entry of undesirable aliens.
In the past, the local Council of the Valleys has drawn up its own rules applying to foreigners.
There have been a series of meetings to complain about what has been described by some "radicals" as an "attempted princely coup d'etat". The last decision, however, was more moderate and was to form a committee to meet the co-princes and reach a compromise.
Residents in Andorra are mainly Spanish, although there are many French and Britons ... and even a few Indians, Israelis and Turks.