A man who disappeared over two decades ago in Bilbao has been found alive in Navarra.

On March 19, the Guardia Civil of Bizkaia, as part of their ‘DESBIZCA’ operation, finally revealed the mystery of a man who had been missing for more than 21 years.

Although the initial report was lodged at the Guardia Civil station in Barakaldo, Bizkaia, in 2009, it was reported that the last known contact with the man was on January 1, 2003.

He was thought to be living on the streets in Bilbao’s Zorrotza neighbourhood, facing various health and financial troubles. However, efforts to find him in his last known location yielded no results.

Following protocols for missing persons, the Guardia Civil took a DNA sample from one of his children, which unfortunately did not lead to any matches. No death certificate was registered or signs of him in municipal records.

However, a breakthrough came when investigators discovered an active bank account in Caparroso, Navarra, where his pension was being withdrawn regularly. This clue led them directly to him.

Upon locating him in Caparroso, the man was found in good health, living with a family of fairground workers.

Since 2007, he had been travelling with them, attending fairs across northern Spain. He told the Guardia Civil that although he did not have a telephone, his family could contact a housemate or, if necessary, visit him. His family were informed of his whereabouts the following day, March 20.

This case underscores a critical aspect of missing person investigations involving adults: the choice to disappear.

The Guardia Civil clarified that their role ends with locating the individual. It is up to the person found to decide if and how they wish to reconnect with their family.

The judicial process is concluded unless there are indications of criminal activity related to the disappearance.

In such instances, the complexities of personal freedom and family bonds are brought to the forefront, reminding us of the delicate balance between autonomy and responsibility.