Mayra Villamarin I already wanted to be a soldier long before I entered the Army. He comes from a military family, starting with his father, and when he was studying in high school in Ecuador, where he was born, he 42 years, he signed up for an optional subject called Premilitary, in which he was taught “even to shoot & rdquor ;.

“That’s where I think it all started & rdquor ;, he explains.

Almost three decades later, Villamarín, a petite and outgoing woman, is NCO of the Spanish Army and is specialized in telecommunications and electronics of helicopters. yours is one unusual trajectory and at times very difficult, at least seen from the outside, which has led him to emigrate to Spain being single mother with a newborn baby, working from domestic help As soon as he arrived here, he then left his daughter in the care of her parents for several months to begin his training as a soldier, be promoted to non-commissioned officer, later move to Iraq as part of the Spanish mission in that country and, for six years now, be years, one very young grandmother

A single mother, Villamarín entered the Armed Forces in 2005, with a five-year-old daughter, and now has a six-year-old grandson.

Villamarín explains all this as if it were just a fun adventure, without a shadow of drama, ending each sentence with a smile. She is sitting in a large, bright meeting room in the Battalion Headquarters of the Army Airmobile Forces, in Colmenar Viejo (Madrid), where he has spent almost every day for the last two decades. As a woman and as an immigrant, she is part of two minorities in the military sphere, but insists that none of the factors has penalized him.

“I have not perceived no racism or xenophobia here inside I’m the same, I don’t notice it, but I really haven’t noticed it. Y as a woman I haven’t had any problems either. No different treatment no discrimination and neither favoritism or overprotective will to make things easier for me. And do not think that I say this because there are more people here right now who are listening to me & rdquor ;, she explains. Next to Villamarín, on the other side of the huge table where he tells his story, there is top two following the conversation.

A growing presence

The incorporation of women into the Armed Forces began in February 1988. Since then, except for a three-year hiatus between 2009 and 2011, coinciding with the worst moment of the previous economic crisis, their presence has continued to grow. are now 16,022, 12.9% of the total, according to latest data from the Ministry of Defense. Between the top brass, however, the figure is much lower. It is below 1%, with only two female generals, Patricia Ortega Y Begoña Aramendia, something that the Government usually justifies by a mere time issue, having had far fewer years to climb than their male peers.

Women entered the Army in 1988 and since then they have not stopped increasing, to the current 16,022, 12.9% of the total

top brass immigrants, instead, there is none. The incorporation of this group, which has paid a high price for his role in the Armed Forces (three of the six soldiers killed in an attack in southern Lebanon in 2007 were Colombians, for example), he has also been much more recent. In 2002, to combat the shortage of Spanish recruits, Defense opened the doors of the barracks to citizens from Latin America and Equatorial Guinea, that came to be almost 5,000 15 years ago, a figure that has been reduced to just 100 (88 men and 12 women), partly due to the crisis and partly because many of them have acquired Spanish nationality since then .

Villamarín entered the Army in 2005. Thirteen years later, in 2018, as a non-commissioned officer, he spent six months in the taji Foundation, north of Baghdad, a facility that two years later would suffer a series of rocket attacks that caused two deaths and fourteen wounded, none of them Spanish. But she says that He did not have “many scares & rdquor; during your stay there.

At that time, at 38 years of age, he was already Grandma. His daughter had had a very young child, at 16, with whom Villamarín spends several afternoons a week, while the mother studies Nursing. “People tend to surprise much more when I say that I am a grandmother than when I tell them that I am a military man,” she points out. Why? Well, because I’m very young & rdquor ;.

The presence of immigrants has plummeted in recent decades, from almost 5,000 in 2007 to just 100 now

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And now, seeing the mother’s experience over all these years, the daughter wants follow when I finish my degree, in two years, something that could lead to Quite strange situations. Having a bachelor’s degree, she would enter directly as an officer, a higher rank than Villamarín, who is a non-commissioned officer, and she would have to greet her every time she came across her in the Colmenar Viejo barracks.

“Here one has to always show respect to his superior, as is logical –he explains-. Now, when we get home…”. Villamarín extends his arm, makes the gesture of firm hand and for a moment he is silent. Then she laughs again.

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