Sunday, February 22, 2009

The Uncivil Guard

In Spain there is a military-style police corps called La Guardia Civil. They are largely disliked for their association with the Franco regime of oppression and violence and for the fact that they only speak in Castilian Spanish regardless of the time they spend in any of the autonomous provinces which have their own language, such as Catalonia, or the Basque country. They are also renowned for their chuleria, their bullying and chest puffing aggressiveness. One arm of their organization is responsible for policing traffic and patrolling areas where there have been outbreaks of crime.
Oscar and I live about 6 kilometres away from the nearest town and the roads to our place are narrow, twisting country lanes. Because Oscar is a musician, he often comes home in the early hours of the morning and as a solitary male, is a prime target for being pulled over and questioned or searched by the Civil Guard. They usually wave a light at him, ask for his documentation, occasionally ask him to get out of the car and search through for drugs or stolen goods, which of course they never find because Oscar is always on his way home from a gig, not from buying heroin or burgling the neighbours. They are always in their marked cars, always in uniform and always reasonably civil, though certainly never polite.
Recently there have been rumours of people who dress up as Civil Guard officers, stop unsuspecting drivers in the middle of the night and, after making them get out of their car – sometimes at gunpoint, rob them of everything including the car. So it is not surprising that when Oscar came upon two unmarked cars stopped in the middle of one of these country lanes last night he was wary and more than a little apprehensive. A man waved him down, and thinking there may have been an accident he slowed to a stop. The man was young, maybe 22 or so and wearing a dark jacket and trousers with no visible insignias. He came to the window and asked Oscar for his DNI, the Spanish identity card. This in itself is unusual as the Civil Guard usually request your vehicle documents and driver’s license, so wary as he was, Oscar asked the man to identify himself. The man yanked his jacket open, pulling his V-neck sweater down to reveal a small plaque on his chest with a letter K followed by a few numbers. “Is this identification enough?” he demanded. Now, I am convinced that very few people would be able to recognize the authenticity of a Civil Guard plaque, and the man still hadn’t actually said that he was part of any police force, so Oscar replied that no, it wasn’t really and could he produce some other form of accreditation. At this, the man became very aggressive, pulled aside his right jacket flap to show his pistol in its holster and yelled “Is this enough accreditation for you?”. Oscar, in the middle of the night on a quiet country lane, with two unmarked cars and an aggressive young man flashing his gun at him replied “no, it isn’t”. Immediately the man yelled at him to get out of the car and Oscar, with every reason to be frightened, accelerated past him and drove off as fast as he could.
A few bends in the road, maybe a kilometre later, a glance into the rear vision mirror showed a car giving chase with a flashing blue light in on its dashboard. Ah, so they actually were police. Oscar pulled over immediately.
“Get out of the car! Show your hands!” guns pointed, voices raised. Oscar was frisked and the car rudimentarily searched. “Where are you going?”
“Home, I live here, I am on my way home from a concert”.
“No you’re, not. You are on your way to the police station. Get in the car”, guns still pointing.
The police station is about eight kilometres from where the Civil Guard made Oscar lock and leave the car. Once there, Oscar, in the language native to the region, tried to explain his reasons for having driven off, but was interrupted by the officer shouting “to me, you speak in Spanish”. He gave positive on the breathalyser, coming in at 0.03 (the legal limit is 0.025). This is unfortunate but must be accepted. What is not acceptable, apart from the shouting and gun-waving, is that he was then charged with having ignored an officer’s orders to stop, and with dangerous driving risking collision with a patrol car (I wonder how, when driving forwards, one can collide with a car which is most definitely behind). Nor is it acceptable that his phone was taken from him and when he protested, the officer virtually screamed that he was the one in charge here, he was the boss, then (cryptically) that first comes one and them comes two, and that if Oscar continued like that he was going to “win it”. Added to this, Oscar was not offered even a drink of water in the two hours that he was retained, nor was he offered any means of transport back to the car. He had to walk two kilometres to town, get a bike we happen to keep there and ride back to the car. In the dark, at five in the morning.
How very Civil.


  1. Sometimes nothing changes. Creepy idea having these kind of people so close.
    Hope you guys are alright!!
    btw. Oscar did good. A pitty no one will be held responsible (other than Oscar).

  2. Thats nothing surprising anymore. Another damn rookie out to make his bones and for what?

  3. Uf, siempre la misma historia. ¿Cómo quieren que nos sintamos protegidos con esa chulería y arrogancia de por medio? En fin, muy bien hecho: la dignidad ante todo.

    P.D. Soy el chico de CC.AA. que os envío un correo hace unas semanas. A ver si consigo algo de tiempo y me paso a veros!

  4. Hi Guys,

    My name is David...

    I stumbled across your blog today... I currently live in Barcelona, with my pregnant wife and 2yrs old son. We are planning to move out of the city soon and are looking around for options on how to live. We both want to be close to nature and are looking for the most human experience as possible. EarthShip looks like the kind of thing that we could get are teeth into. The more I read about it, the more I feel like doing it.

    I see that you guys are already quite far down the road, so I felt compelled to get in touch. I will start reading the rest of your blog, but also would like to get in touch with you to get more info (if you have the time...).

    Anyway congratulations on your earthship, it's obviously such a wise and special thing, and I wish you all the best in living a fulfilling life in it.

    My email is

    Speak soon

  5. Hola,

    Es acojonante, la realidad supera la ficción, unas veces para bien y otras para mal. Se me ocurre incluso pensar que si no llega a huir podrían haberle jodido de cualquier manera. Es la confianza que inspiran como bien habéis dicho.

  6. Hola
    Mi nombre es Sebastián
    Me gustaría poder preguntarles un par de cosas sobre la construcción de su casa, pues estoy decidido a hacer una yo. Pero primero me gustaría saber de todo un poco, por ejemplo de trámites legales que hayan tenido que haber hecho etc.

    Si me pueden escribir con su mail para enviaros las preguntas se los agradecería mucho.
    Mi correo es


  7. Hi, i´m living in Cantabria. And i would be very interest too in the construction of an earthships. I can see with your example that it is posible here in Spain (without politics bribe paids) and i would like to know the legal burocracy apart the chuleria of the civil guardians in the way of your home. They are working there to fulfil them internal fury and evil than really they are.

    Nice to discover your blog. I will frequent it from now on.

    Thank you and again i would like to know about burocracy in Spain that you had to do for build it.

  8. They sould be call C-EVIL Guardians hehe

  9. Hola Oscar & Lisa...

    Mi nombre es Néstor,
    Primero; os felicito chicos! teneis una casa preciosa, personalmente me he emocionado mucho al saber que ya hay alguien en España que ha llevado a cabo una obra tan magnifica!!!
    soy un nuevo admirador del señor Reynols y su concepto de sostenibilidad. Y ahora tambien vuestro...
    Me gustaria saber si es posible aprovecharnos (unos colegas y yo...) de vuestra experiencia y de la cercania a Valencia para poderos visitar y asi aprender mucho más sobre como construirnos un earthship!!!
    Tenemos algunas dudas sobre los temas de permisos de obra y sobre los libros de Reynols, ya que hemos intentado buscarlos por todos los medios en español y al parecer no hay... sabeis algo sobre esto?

    Para estar en contacto mi mail es

    All the best!!!

  10. No me sorprende, como bien decías al principio era la policía de Franco y aún sigue siéndolo. Son lo peor de la policía de este país.
    Como ciudadanos no tenemos derechos (por mucho que nos vendan la moto de lo contrario), ellos en cuanto les da la gana los violan a su antojo y nuestra opinión no vale.
    Yo creo que en su situación habría reaccionado igual, se están poniendo muy de moda las bandas de rumanos y sur-americanos en las carreteras, disfrazados de policía y cada vez va a peor.
    Por ley debería estar prohibido que un policía fuera de paisano, deberían ir SIEMPRE bien marcaditos con su uniforme e insignias (y aún así tenemos el derecho de dudar si lo son o no y de exigirles que nos demuestren que lo son, sin golpes ni gritos, se supone que están para servirnos).
    Respecto a lo del idioma me parece también lamentable, si estás viviendo en un sito HAS DE DEFENDERTE EN EL IDIOMA como mínimo, aunque sea castellano-catalán, castellano-gallego o castellano-vasco...y mucho más si es la policía, se les ha de exigir que lo hablen (a parte del inglés, por supuesto). No puedes ir de agente de policía y ni siquiera poder tratar con gente de otros países, luego es cuando vienen los golpes, gritos y mal entendidos.

    En fin, no sé si en los chinos venderán detectores de polis falsos...jejejeje sería un buen negocio :P


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