Guardia Civil (Spain): Wikis


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Guardia Civil
Common name Benemérita
Escudo Oficial Guardia Civil.svg
Logo of the Guardia Civil.
Motto El honor es mi divisa
Honour is my Emblem
Agency overview
Formed May 13, 1844
Legal personality Governmental: Government agency
Jurisdictional structure
National agency ESP
Governing body Ministry of the Interior (Spain)
Constituting instrument Spanish Constitution of 1978
General nature
Operational structure
Headquarters c/ Guzmán el Bueno, 110

28003, Madrid, Spain

Guardia Civiles 80,000
Elected officer responsible Alfredo Pérez Rubalcaba, Minister of Interior
Agency executive Francisco Javier Velázquez López, Director General
Barracks 2,691
Dogs 500
Horses 131
A Nissan Patrol of the Guardia Civil.
Horse guards of the Guardia Civil during the ceremonies of the Dos de Mayo 2008 in Madrid

The Guardia Civil, commonly known as the Benemérita, is the Spanish gendarmerie. It has foreign peace-keeping missions and maintains military status and is the equivalent of a federal paramilitary police. As a police force, the Guardia Civil is comparable today to the French Gendarmerie, the Italian Carabinieri and the Dutch Royal Marechaussee as it is part of the European Gendarmerie. The Guardia Civil uses as its leading emblem the motto "El honor es mi divisa" (Honour is my emblem) stressing its esprit de corps and pointing out the importance of honour. Their precincts are called "casa cuartel" (barrack-house) and, like other military garrisons in Spain, they appear under the motto "Todo por la patria" (Everything for the Fatherland).



The Guardia Civil was founded in 1844 during the reign of Queen Isabel II of Spain by the Basque Navarrese aristocrat Francisco Javier Girón y Ezpeleta, second Duke of Ahumada, an 11th generation descendant of Aztec Emperor Moctezuma II[1]. The purpose of their creation was to dismantle any revolutionary sentiment in the rural population, and much focus was given to the Basque provinces. The policing done by the Guardia Civil was carried out earlier by the Holy Hermandad. The first academy of "guardias civiles" was established in the town of Valdemoro, south of Madrid, in 1855.

The Guardia Civil's first job was to restore and maintain land ownership and servitude among the peasantry of Spain. In the countryside the monarchy's primary goal was to stop the spread of anti-monarchy sentiment. The end of the First Carlist War had left the Spanish landscape scarred by the destruction of civil war, and the government moved fast to suppress the increasingly-angry peasantry. Based on the model of light infantry used by Napoleon in his European campaigns, the Guardia Civil was born as a police force with high mobility that could be deployed irrespective of inhospitable conditions and that was able to patrol large areas of the countryside. Its members, called 'guardias', maintain to this date a basic patrol unit formed by two agents, usually called a "pareja" (a pair), in which one of the 'guardias' will initiate the intervention while the second 'guardia' serves as a backup to the first one.

The Modern Force

Today the Guardia Civil is a police force subject to the checks and supervision expected in a democratic society. Moreover, the guardias' proven effectiveness throughout history, whether in controlling banditry or in addressing the subsequent challenges and tasks given them, meant that additional tasks have been added regularly to their job description.

Today, they are primarily responsible for policing and/or safety regarding the following (but not limited to) areas and/or safety related issues (given in no special order):

  • highway patrol,
  • protection of the Royal Family and the King of Spain,
  • counter drugs operations,
  • anti-smuggling operations,
  • customs and ports of entry control,
  • safety of prisons and safeguarding of prisoners,
  • weapons licenses and arms control,
  • security of border areas,
  • bomb squad and explosives,
  • security in rural areas and in locations with less than 10,000 inhabitants,
  • anti-terrorism;
  • coast guard,
  • police deployments abroad (embassies);
  • intelligence and counter-intelligence gathering,
  • cyber- and internet crime;
  • hunting permits and
  • environmental law enforcement.
Mounted Guardia Civil
Guardia Civil's CASA CN235 Surveillance Air Plane


The Guardia Civil has been involved in labours as peacekeepers in United Nations sponsored operations, including operations in Bosnia and Herzegovina, Angola, Congo, Mozambique, Nicaragua, Haiti, East Timor and El Salvador. They also served with the Spanish contingent in the war in Iraq, mainly in intelligence gathering, and they lost seven 'números'. In addition to el instituto armado ("the armed institution", the Guardia Civil is known as la benemérita ("the good-deserving"). They served in the Spanish colonies, including Cuba, Puerto Rico, the Philippines, Spanish Guinea and Morocco.

The Guardia Civil has a sister force in Costa Rica also called the Guardia Civil. The Costa Rican 'guardias' often train at the same academy as regular Spanish officers.


They typically patrol in pairs. Their traditional hat is the tricornio, originally a tricorne. Its use now is reserved to parades or ceremonies, being now substituted by a cap, a beret or the characteristic "gorra teresiana"[2].

Members of the Guardia Civil often live in garrisons (casa-cuartel) with their families.

Since the Guardia Civil must accommodate the families of its "guardias", it was the first police force in Europe that accommodated a same-sex partner in a military installation.

The symbol of the Guardia Civil consists of the Royal Crown of Spain, a sword and a fasces. The different units have variations of this symbol.

Ranks, specialisms and insignia

NATO Code OF-8 OF-7 OF-6 OF-5 OF-4 OF-3 OF-2 OF-1
Bandera de España Spain Guardia Civil Teniente general.gif Guardia Civil General división.gif Guardia Civil General brigada.gif Guardia Civil Coronel.gif Guardia Civil Teniente coronel.gif Guardia Civil Comandante.gif Guardia Civil capitan.gif Guardia Civil Teniente.gif Guardia Civil Alferez.gif
Teniente General General de División General de Brigada Coronel Teniente Coronel Comandante Capitán Teniente Alférez
English equivalent Lieutenant General Major General Brigadier Colonel Lieutenant Colonel Major Captain Lieutenant Ensign
NATO code OR-9 OR-8 OR-7 OR-6 OR-5 OR-4 OR-3 OR-2 OR-1
Bandera de España Spain Insignia de Suboficial Mayor Insignia de Subteniente Insignia de Brigada Insignia de Sargento Primero Insignia de Sargento Insignia de Cabo Mayor Insignia de Cabo Primero Insignia de Cabo Insignia de Soldado de primera Insignia de Soldado
Suboficial Mayor Subteniente Brigada Sargento Primero Sargento Cabo Mayor Cabo Primero Cabo Guardia Civil Primera Guardia Civil

The corps has been organized into different specialties divided into operative and support specialties[3]:

  • Seguridad Ciudadana - Public order and preventive service, which makes the bulk of the Guardia Civil.
  • GEAS (Grupo Especial de Actividades Subacuáticas) - Divers.
  • GRS(Grupo de Reserva y Seguridad) - Riot control
  • Servicio Marítimo - Guardia Civil's Naval Service, tasked with seashore surveillance and fisheries inspections.
  • SEPRONA (Servicio de Protección de la Naturaleza) - Nature Protection Service, for environmental protection.
  • Servicio Aéreo - Guardia Civil Air Service.
  • Servicio Cinológico - K-9 Unit, for Drugs and explosives detection and people finding.
  • Servicio de Montaña - Mountain and Speleology Rescue.
  • Servicio Fiscal y de Fronteras - Customs and Revenue Service
  • SIGC (Servicio de Informacion de la Guardia Civil) - Intelligence Service.
  • TEDAX (Técnicos Especialistas en Desactivación de Artefactos Explosivos) - lit, Explosive Artifacts Defuser Specialised Technicians (EOD)
  • Agrupación de Tráfico - Traffic Group , The Guardia Civil's Highway Patrol, tasked with the control of freeways and highways.
  • GAR (Grupo de Acción Rápida) - Quick Action Group Unit. Special antiterrorist unit, operating within Basque Country provinces.
  • UCO (Unidad Central Operativa) - Central Operative Unit, a branch of the Policía Judicial focused on complex or nation-wide investigations.
  • UEI (Unidad Especial de Intervención) - Special Intervention Unit.


  • Spanish citizenship
  • Good standard or native Spanish language ability
  • Between eighteen and thirty-one years old.
  • More than 1.65 metres (65 in) tall (men) and 1.55 metres (61 in) (women)
  • Having obtained the Compulsory Secondary Education (ESO) degree
  • No record of acute illness and general good health.
  • Be able to swim




On 23 July 2007, Roberto Flórez García, a retired guardia civil ascribed to Centro Nacional de Inteligencia was charged with spying for a foreign power (allegedly Russia)[4].

Political Involvement

In the nineteenth century the Spanish army got involved in politics regularly. The Guardia Civil was no exception. For this reason, the 'guardias" were seen historically as a reactionary force. On 3 January 1874, General Manuel Pavía y Rodríguez de Alburquerque stormed congress and ended the Spanish First Republic with a company of thirty guardias civiles.

The first three decades of the 20th Century in Spain was a time of political turmoil. During this period the Guardia Civil served frequently in the restoration of order remaining mostly loyal to established regimes. Thus, it supported the dictatorship of General Miguel Primo de Rivera (1923–1930), but it also supported the Spanish Second Republic (1931–1939). During the Spanish Civil War, the Guardia Civil forces split almost evenly between those who remained loyal to the Republic -53% of the members[5]- which changed their name to Guardia Nacional Republicana - "National Republic Guard")[6] and the rebel forces[7]. After the war, under the authoritarian government of General Francisco Franco (1939–1975), the Guardia Civil was reinforced with the members of the Real Cuerpo de Carabineros de Costas y Fronteras - "Royal Corps of Coast and Frontier Carabiners"[8].

The involvement of Guardia Civil figures in politics continued well to the end of the twentieth century: on 23 February 1981, Lt. Col. Antonio Tejero Molina, a member of the Guardia Civil, participated with other military forces in a failed coup d'etat. Along with 200 members of the Guardia Civil Lt. Col. Tejero took hold of the lower house of the Cortes.

Police brutality

A different issue is the heavy-handedness use by the 'guardias'. For a long time the Guardias were feared because of their excesses, great power and authority in rural areas, and for what seemed to be a total lack of accountability for their actions. The fact that they covered mostly rural and isolated parts of the country allowed for this lack of accountability. At the end of the nineteenth century, the Guardia Civil conducted a campaign against Andalusian anarchists (Spain), accusing them of being members of the secret society The Black Hand. For this reason the 'guardias' had a mythical (negative) reputation in literature and in popular history. Some of the poems of Federico García Lorca, especially the world-famous Gypsy Ballads, portray the 'guardias civiles' as the natural enemies of both gypsies and marginal figures including against anarchists that were popular in rural areas of Southern Spain. Lorca's poems have contributed to the Guardia Civil's traditional reputation as a heavy-handed police force.

See also


  1. ^
  2. ^ "Orden General número 1", Boletín Oficial de la Guardia Civil 3, 1998-12-29  
  3. ^ "Orden General 16", Boletín Oficial de la Guardia Civil 30, 1999-10-21  
  4. ^ "La fiscalía acusa de un delito de traición al ex espía doble destapado por el CNI", El País, 2007-07-24,  
  5. ^ Muñoz-Bolaños, Roberto (2000), "Fuerzas y cuerpos de seguridad en España (1900-1945)", Serga 2  
  6. ^ Decreto de 30 de agosto de 1936, 8/30/1936  
  7. ^ The International Bridgades - Colodny, Robert G. Accessed 2008-05-12.
  8. ^ "Ley 15 de Marzo de 1940", Boletín Oficial del Estado, 3/15/1940  

External links


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