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19 December 2019

The Major Security Challenges in the 21st Century, by Spain’s Guardia Civil

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We face major Security challenges in the 21st century, warned the Director-General of the Guardia Civil (Civil Guard), Félix Azón, at a recent meeting organised by Executive Forum. Azón went on to discuss the main key factors in the fight against terrorism, organized crime, cybercrime and gender-based violence, as well as in managing migrant flows. Read more

The major challenges facing the Guardia Civil include the fight against terrorism, both domestic and international. “Although homegrown terrorism in Spain has stopped, we are still threatened by it from abroad,” explained Félix Azón. Another line of action is the fight against organized crime, which is transnational and requires continuous collaboration and information sharing with police and security forces in other countries.

This is evidenced by the participation of police forces from other countries in 95 of the 126 operations against organized crime that Spain carried out in the first half of 2019, with over a thousand people arrested or investigated.


A third line of action is cybersecurity and cybercrime. “Organized crime is increasingly moving onto the Web and into cyberspace and this has been consolidating, widening the scope of criminal activities and their potential consequences.” This scenario has meant that the Guardia Civil, “as well as investigating this type of crime, has continued its efforts and actions to ensure safer use of new technologies by the public. In other words, we not only have to chase the bad guys, but we need to teach the good guys how to defend themselves.”

In the first half of 2019, we carried out over a hundred operations related to online crime and arrested or investigated nearly 200 people. “We have what we call civilian cyberguards, who patrol online to try to make the online space more secure.”

Another field of action is the management of migrant flows. In this field, “the Civil Guard, with its experience, its potential and its deployment, contributes decisively to safeguarding people’s lives at sea, improving monitoring at the EU’s external borders and combating criminal networks engaged in human trafficking.” In 2018 “we intercepted more than 2400 boats trying to enter Spain, transporting people in an irregular way. We were able to monitor almost 60,000 irregular immigrants in these boats.”

Fight Against Gender-Based Violence

The fight against gender-based violence is another major concern of the Guardia Civil. “Victims of gender-based violence are a vulnerable group, and a major focus of our support effort.” Among its other actions, international deployment is also important. “We are aware that safety within the country needs to begin far beyond our borders. Crime has become international, and the only way to fight it is by cooperating with the police forces of sister countries.” And, finally, the Guardia Civil is working to ensure public safety not only in the major population centres but also in villages, in what has been called “abandoned Spain.”