Interior Minister Fernando Grande-Marlaska has named an Andalucian Socialist and longtime government administrator, María Gámez, to become the first woman ever to serve as general director of Spain’s Guardia Civil militarized national police force.
Gámez is well-known in Andalucia, having risen to public prominence by challenging the status-quo within the Socialists’ regional PSOE-A affiliate party and twice running on the PSOE-A ticket for mayor of Malaga — nearly beating the longtime conservative Partido Popular mayor of the city, Francisco de la Torre, on her second attempt in 2016.
Associated with the dissident wing of the PSOE-A that in 2016 supported President Pedro Sánchez in his battle with then-Andalucian President Susana Díaz and other regional Socialist party “barons”, in June 2018 Gámez was appointed under the first Sánchez as Subdelegada (“Assistant Delegate”) in Andalucia.
In that post, she was thrown into the national public limelight in January 2019 as federal government spokesperson during the 13-day dramatic yet unsuccessful attempt to rescue Julen Rosello, an eight-year-old boy who had fallen down an abandoned well in Totalán, near Malaga.
As Subdelegada, Gámez worked closely with and reportedly gained the respect of commanders of the Guardia Civil, which coordinated the unsuccessful effort to rescue Julen. Over the past two years in the Subdelegada post, she has also reportedly become very familiar with the work of the Guardia Civil in fighting organized crime, particularly smuggling and narcotics trafficking into Spain from North Africa and Gibraltar.
The daughter of a lighthouse keeper, Gámez grew up travelling around Spain as her father worked in lighthouses from Galicia’s Cies Islands to Punta Doncella, and is reportedly a fan of the music of Nina Simone and Mercedes Sosa. She becomes the first woman director in the 176-year history of the Guardia Civil.
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