The Military have had a presence on the island for many, many years and during the 20th century, with wars all around Europe and Africa, they used the Fuerteventura as a training station.
An Article by Bernie Power with The Voice Fuerteventura
During the civil war, 1936 to 1939, the army was used to take over the country of Spain, by the fascists. The soldiers trained here for the Moroccan wars and then went over to Spain, in German planes, to help Franco win the war. The army that fought in the Spanish Sahara during la Guerra Olvidada or ‘Forgotten War’ were also from here and troops were sent over to attack the Moroccan army during the liberation in Ifni in1957.
The area was then abandoned and all troops and settlers were pulled out in in1975, after Franco died. However, there are still many stories which can be told of them and their antics while they were here. Such as, the murder of the mayor of Guisguey, savage beatings of locals and drunkenness in the streets. As many of the men were Spanish foreign legion or special forces, they were used to working on difficult campaigns and in harsh conditions like the desert, so letting off steam was hard to control. The army base, in which they used to stay, can still be seen in the capital, Puerto del Rosario, but that too is soon to be demolished.
Manoeuvres in Fuerteventura
As you leave the airport and head towards Corralejo in the north, you will pass the current army base, set back off the road. From there, the troops often venture out on manoeuvres and have been known to close down whole villages, while they practice their tactics. All the troops that I have met personally were very polite, I was quite surprised, especially after knowing what their predecessors got up to. Today, they are very active and involved in wars in Afghanistan, Iraq and other hot spots in the world.
No Entry Zone
If you leave Pajara, going South on the FV-905 road, you will drive past a large area of land on the coastal side, which is heavily marked with No Entry signs. This is military zone and definitely somewhere that you don’t want to wander in to. It is not marked as No Entry because they have secret weapons (they don’t) but because there are so many unexploded bombs and shells from many years of practice, that it is simply too dangerous to clean up, not to mention the expense such an undertaking would attract. It would cost millions, which is a shame, as there is a wild coast there and amazing views that can now only be enjoyed from a boat.
National Service in Fuerteventura
National service used to be mandatory was only stopped in 2000. The last forced conscripts left in 2002. Prior to that, all male teenagers had to undertake nine months conscription, with a choice to extend. Many of those would have passed through the forgotten military training centre, located outside Tindaya. If you go through the village, avoiding the beach road but continuing straight on to the coast, you will eventually reach two concrete ruins, located on the cliff. These are all that is left of what was the administration centre. It you look about two hundred metres to the left of them, you can also still see scars on the ground and nails from the wooden buildings, that used to house the men.
Light Infantry Regiment 9 – Soria
Often, while you are out and about today, you will come across soldiers from The light infantry regiment 9 ‘Soria’ in their army trucks or going about their duties, protecting our coasts and ready to prevent any attacks. So say hello to them and smile, as it is a hard job, especially when they are deployed.