• 05 September 2022


    Posteado en : En primera persona

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    First-hand: cooperation on cross-border crime

    Two delegations of foreign ministry and migration officials from Colombia and Ecuador arrive in Spain, on a study visit organised by the EUROFRONT programme, to learn about the border control model implemented in the Schengen area

    Delegaciones de funcionarios de  cancillería y migración de Colombia y Ecuador durante su visita a la Comisaría General de Extranjería y Fronteras en Madrid

    Gema Palencia, a EUROFRONT technician, recounts the visit, which takes place between Madrid, Algeciras and Tarifa, in the form of a diary. A journey under the certainty that the only way to tackle transnational crime is through cooperation.

    DAY I. 5 September 2022

    There will be five days of visits to police institutions for migration management and cooperation, as well as border posts at airports and ports.

    An interesting opportunity offered by the European Union programme co-led by the FIIAPP, EUROFRONT, to exchange processes and procedures, learn efficient interventions on both sides and find opportunities for collaboration that can be applied to Colombia and Ecuador and the other countries with which the programme collaborates: Argentina, Brazil, Bolivia, Peru and Paraguay.

    With enthusiasm and the hope that from the meeting we will find greater opportunities for collaboration… Let’s get started!

    Gema Palencia, técnica de EUROFRONT, trabaja en la oficina de la FIIAPP en Madrid organizando la visita a España de las delegaciones de funcionarios de  cancillería y migración de Colombia y Ecuador
    Gema Palencia, EUROFRONT technician, works in the FIIAPP office in Madrid organising the visit to Spain of delegations of foreign ministry and migration officials from Colombia and Ecuador.

    At the General Commissariat for Foreigners and Borders I meet the members of the delegations in person, and after numerous e-mail correspondence it is pleasant to put a face and a voice to the participants.

    Despite the jet lag, they were particularly participative during the presentation by Commissioner General Julián Ávila Polo and in the subsequent presentations on the different units that make up the General Commissariat.

    Visita de estudios de delegaciones de Colombia y Ecuador a España en materia de prevención del delito transfronterizo
    Delegations of chancellery and migration officials from Colombia and Ecuador during their visit to the Comisaría General de Extranjería y Fronteras in Madrid.

    Among the comments, the issue of the Venezuelan problem, common to all countries, and the exchange of information, came up for discussion. Another topic of interest is the successful experience of Punto Atenas, an operational document verification service run by experts in document forgery, which in ten months has dealt with 3,400 queries from various authorities. The idea of replicating a similar system in the Latin American region is met with great interest.

    The afternoon is devoted to Barajas Airport and to getting to know in situ the operational border management in the Schengen area.

    Full day 1, intense and with many open questions. We continue…

    DAY II. 6 September 2022

    On the way to the International Cooperation Division of the police, comments revolved around the previous day’s visit to Barajas Airport. The means of detecting forged documents or automated passages captured the most interest of the tour.

    Information exchange and cooperation were the key words of Tuesday’s session. Based on the conviction that this is the only way to tackle transnational crime, the functions and effective results of the SIRENE Office, an exchange point with European police forces, as well as those of the INTERPOL and EUROPOL offices, were presented.

    I continue to be surprised by the high level of interest of the delegations, and not only me, but also the rapporteurs, who are grateful to have such active participants. During his presentation, the Head of the Operational Section of the SIRENE bureau, Agustín Hernández, points out:

    “A large part of today’s organised crime is transnational, therefore international police cooperation is essential to tackle it”

    And among the debate arises the need to share data to combat new forms of irregular migration, and as an example, the citizens of Central Asian countries who use South American airports as a gateway to reach the United States.

    The Division is also the key point of collaboration with Spanish Cooperation institutions, as it participates in the management of around 30 international projects, several of them implemented by the FIIAPP.

    In the afternoon, train to Algeciras to learn about Operation Minerva and border management in the port area.

    On the road…

    DAY III. 7 September 2022

    In the Bay of Algeciras, a sea and an ocean meet, two continents come together and cultures cross. A key point of entry to Europe from Morocco, between June and September it can see up to 2.5 million people pass through.

    Moroccan coast as seen from Algeciras

    The delegations from Ecuador and Colombia have learned in situ how police teams with members of up to 17 nationalities are integrated to support the control of trafficking in persons and goods within the framework of Operation Minerva of the European Border and Coast Guard Agency (Frontex) and led by the Spanish National Police during the summer months.

    This coordinated action streamlines management thanks to the specific knowledge of each country’s agents and the ease of access to their countries’ databases, which allows for rapid verification of travel documents.

    An example of cooperation that has shown them the possibility of extending the current bilateral agreements that each country has with its neighbours to a regional level. The Undersecretary of the Ecuadorian Migrant Community, María Soledad Córdova, stressed that:

    “The European Union is a strategic ally in border management and in addressing the challenges of migration”

    They are struck by the magnitude of the movement of passengers, vehicles and goods and the effective organisational machinery in Tarifa and Algeciras, as well as the detection of irregularities and the effective cooperation that serves to alert or prevent crimes in other European countries.

    It is also surprising how close Africa can be seen from the bay, much closer than it appears on the maps.

    From the comments among the group and with the agents at the border, I perceive that the reflections after what we have heard and witnessed these days are taking more and more shape.

    Day IV. 8 September 2022

    After visiting the headquarters of the Central Unit for Illegal Immigration Networks and Documentary Forgery (UCRIF) in Madrid, we see the work on the ground in the Algeciras office.

    Border experts from Colombia and Ecuador during the explanations given by National Police officers at the Algeciras police station

    Issues detected at border controls are in many cases the thread that is pulled to unmask human or capital trafficking networks, or the clues that are shared with other international police forces, the missing piece of the puzzle to stop gangs that operate globally.

    The second secretary of the Colombian Foreign Ministry’s International Cooperation Directorate, Andrés Rodríguez, points out during the visit:

    “Migration challenges at the border must be addressed jointly and EUROFRONT is a programme that can provide important lessons for Colombia”

    Questions about deadlines and procedures for irregular cases or the comparison of different legislations are the main part of the debate during the last day of the visit to Algeciras, in which delegations finalise all aspects related to cross-border crimes, from detection and control to investigation.

    Members of the Colombian delegation observe the Moroccan coast from Algeciras


    And back on the train to Madrid… time for reflection. Friday’s day of conclusions looks set to be interesting.

    Tomorrow we continue…

    Day V. 9 September 2022

    Last day….

    We closed by learning about the ADEXTTRA database containing information and registration of foreigners. A swarm of interconnected databases, from various sources, which allows the cross-referencing and extraction of information of great use both for the police and for various public institutions that manage the issuance of documents and various procedures with foreigners.

    The final assessment puts on the table new paths to follow in terms of training, bilateral and regional cooperation following the European model of the Athens Point, legislative harmonisation and formal follow-up, when the delegations return to their countries and the proposals to be followed are institutionally validated.

    If there is one thing they all agree on, it is the positive thing of having seen that it is possible, and the high effectiveness of police and institutional cooperation, which is essential to combat cross-border crime.

    gestión fronteras
    Delegaciones de Colombia y Ecuador escuchan las explicaciones durante su visita al Puerto de Tarifa

    The FIIAPP and EUROFRONT have also received some interesting learning. Víctor Suárez and Agustín Hernández, experts in foreigners from EUROFRONT who organised the technical visit and accompanied the delegations, emphasise how productive the exchange was and how productive it was to learn about other forms of management. They have now also noted down some highly recommendable ideas to incorporate into the processes in Spain.

    The visit is over, but we are continuing with a closer and more effective collaboration, adapted to the needs of each country.

    The delegations of Ecuador and Colombia pose with several agents of the National Police in the Port of Tarifa during their visit


    We go on…. And we are doing much better.

  • 07 December 2017


    Posteado en : En primera persona

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    EUROsociAL+, looking for answers

    If one thing characterises EUROsociAL+, it is seeking answers to the questions posed by Latin America

    “When we had the answers, they changed the questions”, said Pelayo Castro referring to a graffito discovered by the Ecuadorian poet Jorge Enrique Adoum and made universal by the Uruguayan writer Mario Benedetti. This catch-phrase, quoted by the European Union Ambassador in Costa Rica at the opening of the EUROsociAL+ meeting in San José, laid the foundation for the three days of discussions and exchanges in the capital of Costa Rica.


    Because, if one thing characterises EUROsociAL+, it is seeking answers to the questions raised by Latin America. The answers are to be found in Europe and in Latin America, and in Costa Rica they were transformed into reality with significant commitments to fighting gender violence, social dialogue and regional development.


    Also, in this third stage of the Latin American social cohesion programme, we would like to be part of the answers. This means being more strategic, once again placing social issues on the European-Latin American cooperation agenda and contributing to ensuring that countries meet the Sustainable Development Goals. This is why we demanded even more strongly that actions be implemented to support public policies that have a real effect on reducing the inequality gap in the region.


    The initial meeting was not only inspiring because of the discussions, it also presaged an unforgettable cultural moment that occurred during the first annual meeting of the third stage of EUROsociAL. Creativity laboratories gave a voice to the different realities existing in the Latin American countries through children and young people at risk of exclusion, the struggle of the LGBT community, and the situation of those who are in detention, who, through poetry, painting and photography expressed their wish to be part of a society that offers them the same rights and the same opportunities as anyone else.


    It was a meeting filled with symbols, from the word Freedom, which was the name given to the Metropolitan Park where the meeting began, to the former prison known as “La Peni”, which has now become the Children’s Museum and which we visited on the occasion of Universal Children’s Day. The best way, therefore, to end these lines is the prologue written by Kennly Garza, subdirector of the Vilma Curling Comprehensive Care Centre, for the book of poems written by the inmates of this prison, entitled Luna compartida” (Shared Moon). In the prologue, entitled “Alquimistas de significados” (Alchemists of meaning), Kennly calls our attention to some of these allegories: A women’s prison is an uncomfortable, antagonistic place; the unsuspected arrival of cherubim brings on a smile. At the back, the whispers of five hundred writers disturb our conscience when we know we are part of these stories. A scene of losses and grievances, it is also an island of warrior women whose stories deserve to be told before the River Cañas claims its own. Until then, here is the tribute of their words, transparent and direct, warning that while there are women in prison writing about inequality, talking about freedom will never be easy or commonplace, it is an urgent debt that only applause does not endorse”.


    Enrique Martínez is the communications manager for the EUROsociAL+ programme

  • 10 April 2015


    Posteado en : Opinion

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    In the first person… She started writing her name

    Her daughter had never written her name before. Now, at least, she makes an attempt. Kouser is a Tunisian teacher and has a daughter with an intellectual disability. Together they achieved this milestone after Kouser received a training course on teaching techniques for children with disabilities. Training developed within the framework of a cooperation project financed by the EU and managed by the FIIAPP.

    “We’ve seen another communication method which is very important: language with pictogrammes that lets children communicate on their own. Also adaptation activities, for example for materials: notebooks, furniture… It’s the first time I’ve received this type of training, and so it was tremendous. It’s opened up new horizons for me, and now we can offer our children an appropriate work method.

    We’ve also talked about the importance of inclusion into mainstream schooling and adaptation of the school curriculum. Before we only worked on integration in schools, that is, on providing a special education class for persons with disabilities in an ordinary school; but that’s not the same as inclusion, that’s segregation. Adaptation of the curriculum is very important for educating children with disabilities, whether physical or mental, because it gives each child a special system for learning.

    In my daughter’s case, she didn’t know the Arabic alphabet or the numbers. We had tried various methods, but none had worked. She was in school and was promoted to the next grade level automatically. After the exchange with the experts from the project, I thought of bringing my daughter here because I could see that this was very professional work. We started to work with her, and I discovered that my daughter was happy and that she also wanted to move the letters to spell out her name”.

    Kouser is a beneficiary of the project ‘Support for socio-economic integration of persons with disabilities’ in Tunisia. Over its two years of duration, it was managed by the FIIAPP and had a budget of two million euros. Hear other voices from the project on our radio programme ‘Public Cooperation Around the World’ (Radio 5, all news)


  • 13 January 2015


    Posteado en : En primera persona

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    In the first person… After regaining freedom

    Enjoy her daughter and breathe life into her own business. That's what Yesenia, 32 years of age, will do when she gets out of the largest women's prison in Chile. She is participating in a social and labour-market reintegration project coordinated by EUROsociAL, the European Union programme for social cohesion in Latin America. She tells us her story.

    “I’m in charge of a workshop with 35 women workers, and I review their work. It’s an internal control before the product reaches the street. It’s not easy. Around here, you learn to assume responsibilities, adapt to schedules and supervise people older than yourself… you learn to work and to communicate with them.

    When I get out of here, I want to enjoy being with my daughter and running a business. I know everything I need to know about businesses and how to talk to outside people because that’s something I’m accustomed to. It’s not going to be hard for me.”

    You can learn more about this project by listening to our radio program ‘Public cooperation around the world’ (Radio 5, all news). In little over three years, EUROsociALhas already implemented this project in 13 countries thanks to the work of its justice partners: France Expertise Internationale, the Conference of Ministers of Justice of the Ibero-American Countries  and the International Juvenile Justice Observatory.

    The author has sole responsibility for the opinions and comments expressed in this blog