Guardia Civil: “Esto es España, hable en español”

This story was sent to me by a fellow traveller.

Apparently, the mayor of pretty Montblanc in Tarragona province received a court summons for ‘disobeying authority’ after an incident with some cops over the weekend. Mayor Josep Andreu, of the left-wing Catalan nationalists, ERC, and a town councillor apparently came upon a police control point and approached the Policia Local and Guardia Civil officers in order to find out what was going on. The mayor spoke to the Guardia officers in Catalan but was told “This is Spain, you speak in Spanish”. Not the sort of line that goes down very well with any Catalan, sounding as it does, very much like something out of the dark years of the dictatorship… and even more so if you happen to be a politician in ERC.

Anyway, some sort of row ensued with the mayor refusing to identify himself until he had the officers’ names. Eventually, he showed his ID card and was allowed to leave, only to receive the summons a few days later.

Two things stike me as a bit mad in this story: firstly, I’ve been told that most Guardia Civil officers in rural Catalonia speak Catalan and are pretty jovial fellows, so long as you don’t get on the wrong side of them. So perhaps Senyor Andreu has already had some sort of falling out with them which precipitated this incident. Either that or the Guardia in question is a complete prick… both are utterly possible. Secondly, what the hell kind of offence is ‘disobeying authority’ anyway? I can’t help but think that it was inspired by one Eric Cartman of South Park, Colorado… or perhaps that should be the other way around?


3 thoughts on “Guardia Civil: “Esto es España, hable en español”

  1. I’ve never met a Guardia Civil who could speak Catalan. There may be some hidden somewhere, I guess… but I have never met any. My grandad was Guarcia Civil and he never spoke a word of Catalan.

  2. Tom, whoever told you about Guardia Civil officers speaking Catalan in rural Catalonia was having a laugh. My dad goes hunting in the countryside (Lleida) and I used to go with him when I was a boy. I have never seen a GC speaking Catalan ever. It is a myth.

  3. Hi, it seems that I was mistaken. The friend I spoke to about the Guardia Civil didn’t actually say that they spoke Catalan. What she said was that they were generally less annoying than Mossos officers, who are wont to pull-over cars full of girls in order to chat them up.

    My wife’s family contains several former Guardia Civil officers (well, there isn’t much else to do in Villanueva de San Carlos unless you want to farm) and the general opinion is that these fellows are fachas.

    I guess I was trying to give credit where it ain’t due. Let’s remember that cops, in general, are not friends of the citizen.

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