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María Gámez, local PSOE high-flyer, becomes the first woman to head the Guardia Civil

Gámez next to the Interior minister at Wednesday's ceremony.
Gámez next to the Interior minister at Wednesday's ceremony. / EFE
  • The Malaga resident was until last week the government's official representative in the province and was once a candidate to be city mayor

With a new government come fresh faces appointed to run the country's top instititions.

On Wednesday, history was made when the first woman director general took over the Guardia Civil. María Gámez is a well-known public official and former politician in Malaga province, affilated to the PSOE party.

Fifty-year-old Gámez has held positions for the Junta de Andalucía in Malaga and until last week was 'Subdelegada del Goberno', Prime Minister Pedro Sánchez's representative in the province. She was also once leader of the PSOE Socialist group on Malaga city council.

Gámez was widely praised for her work coordinating the attempted rescue of toddler Julen, who died in a borehole last year. At the time, she caught the attention of the Interior minister, Fernando Grande-Marlaska, who continues in the same role in the new government.

Grande-Marlaska is one of two ministers who appoint the civilian head of the Guardia Civil, Spain's most iconic police force. Gámez's nomination was made jointly with the Defence ministry, as the Guardia Civil is also classed as being part of the military.

On hearing the news, Gámez said last week, "The important thing isn't being the first [woman], what's perhaps more important is not being the only one or the last."

In her speech on being sworn in on Wednesday, she listed among her challenges cybercrime and gender violence as well as combatting climate change and animal cruelty.

Gámez will also have to deal with union moves to have Guardia Civil pay increased to match higher-paid colleagues in other police forces.

Among the 175-year-old Guardia's Civil roles are: customs and border protection, patrolling trunk roads, the environment and crime fighting in rural areas and smaller urban centres.

Maria Gámez is daughter of a lighthouse keeper who once ran Marbella's lighthouse.