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Female Guardia Civil officer presiding march is first for Spain
A GUARDIA Civil Chief Commander is the first woman ever to preside over the October 12 military march anywhere in Spain – María Jesús Pascual headed up the force's procession today (Thursday) in honour of the Virgen del Pilar, the patron saint of the Guardia Civil.
Although the patron, whose name translates roughly as St Mary of the Pillar, is clearly female, no woman has ever led the national holiday processions – so María Jesús, based in the city of Cáceres (Extremadura), made history today.
María Jesús took over as chief of staff and command support in Cáceres exactly four years ago, and was promoted in June this year to Commander.
She has been granted several awards, including the Guardia Civil's White Cross of Merit and the Police Cross of Merit, and has been commissioned abroad twice – once in México DF and once in the Ecuadorian capital of Quito.
The processions started at noon today all over Spain, with the largest – presided by King Felipe IV, national head of the military, and his wife Queen Letizia – being held in Madrid.
All police authorities and the various armed forces in each province join the marches in the towns and cities they are stationed in.
Along with the presiding officer, the provincial MP for public safety heads up the march in each provincial capital – in the case of Cáceres, this is José Carlos Bote.
The ceremony pays tribute to members of the forces who have lost their lives in service, and to those still serving, and medals and other awards due are presented.
In Cáceres, a total of seven Local Police officers were given medals for their role in the break-up and arrest of a large and dangerous group of criminals.
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