Pilar Cascón Barrero, interpreter in Madrid.  today is

His life seems like a novel because of his work as an interpreter with the Civil Guard and at the Barajas airport. And because, unintentionally, the Nobel Prize winner for Literature, Gabriel García Márquez, stomped on him in the street.

Born and raised in Almendralejo, her family moved to La Zarza when she was 17 years old. She graduated in Chemistry in Badajoz, but she guided her professional life along the path of languages, mainly French, a language that she knew from a very young age thanks to her grandmother.

Study a career that has nothing to do with your professional destiny. What led you to study Chemistry?

I was not at all clear about what I wanted to study and one of my COU professors, José Luis Mesías, a doctor in Chemistry and an oenologist, who also taught classes at the Faculty, told me “You are coming to do Chemistry.” And there I went.

He finishes his studies and packs his bags for Madrid. What projects does she have in the capital?

What I really liked were languages. I spoke French from a very young age, thanks to my paternal grandmother, and from the age of 12 my parents sent me, at the end of the school year, to a school in the north of France, in Angers, where I spent the entire summer. So I thought that in Madrid I would have a better chance of finding a job where I could use this language. I prepared and passed official exams from the French National Ministry of Education and the Official Language School of Madrid. I also studied some Arabic and English.

How do you access the General Directorate of the Civil Guard?

One morning I received a phone call from a very serious man telling me that I had to report immediately to the General Directorate of the Civil Guard. I got scared, and I told him that he had gotten confused, that I hadn’t done anything. He was from INEM.

They called a lot of people, they gave us a test and I got one of the two French places. Years later, I passed the Ministry of the Interior exams and already had a permanent position. I think I was the first civilian woman that the Civil Guard hired. I stayed there for 18 years.

What does your work at the DGGC consist of?

From my time in the Civil Guard, I can say that it was as intense as it was interesting. My job consisted of translating and doing consecutive interpretations in meetings with members of Security Forces, judges, researchers, scientists… from countries like France, Morocco, Algeria, Tunisia, Lebanon, Mauritania, Switzerland. Sometimes he traveled with letters rogatory to France, Luxembourg and Switzerland.

I worked and studied a lot. The vocabulary used, both in translations and interpretations, was very extensive, very varied and very technical given the large number of services that existed in the General Directorate: Judicial Police (criminalistics, ballistics, DNA laboratory, acoustics, explosives… .), Seprona, Information, Traffic, Maritime Service… etc. And furthermore, since there were few translators, we also translated for the National Court.

I have great admiration for the Civil Guard, its professionalism and the high level of training that I found.

One stage ends and another begins at Barajas Airport. How and why does it land there?

After so many years, I felt that I needed a change and I asked for a position at the airport police station, where there was a position for a French translator-interpreter. And here I also feel very comfortable.

What role does it currently perform?

My job now is completely different from before. Mainly, I work as a French interpreter with the Border Police in non-admission procedures for people who intend to enter Spain, and are not allowed, either due to irregularities in their documentation or because they do not meet the requirements required by law to enter. in Europe. They come from African countries where French is an official language, such as the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Republic of the Congo, Cameroon, Ivory Coast, Senegal, Central African Republic, etc.

I also perform interpretations in interviews with asylum or international protection seekers from the countries I have just named. Most of the time they are very tough interviews, of people who suffer enormously and who have fled their country, even leaving their children, because their lives are in danger.

In your professional stages you will have experienced situations or anecdotes worth telling. Can you tell us some?

Well, one of the most curious has had nothing to do with my profession. One night I was walking with a friend along one of the streets in the center of Madrid when a man, upon leaving the historic Mindanao hotel, stomped on me. As he turned to apologize to me, I realized that his face looked very familiar to me. It was Gabriel García Márquez who was dating his wife. After a kind and polite exchange of words, he invited me to enter the hotel since it was cold outside. There we were chatting for more than an hour – at that time I knew by heart the first pages of ‘Chronicle of a Death Foretold’ -. I thought the chance meeting was fantastic, like his books.

What relationship have you maintained and maintain with La Zarza?

I come more and more frequently. Despite not having normally resided here, since I was young I have had my family in La Zarza. I hope and want to return when I retire.

What memories do you have of your childhood and adolescence in our town?

I have some very beautiful and fond memories. I liked to go as a child with my grandfather to the park bar and later, as a teenager, to the terrace. That music, that atmosphere was unique.

I also remember the two cinemas with great affection. Western films at Fernando Galán’s cinema or the summer sessions at the Terraza cinema. In Madrid I was a neighbor of José Luis López Vázquez and, sometimes, I had coffee with him. I told him that I saw it in the cinemas in my town. It seemed incredible and magical to talk to him when I had recently been watching some of his films in La Zarza.

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