08 October 2020
We interviewed Manuel Tuero Secades, director of the Official State Gazette State Agency, for him to explain his participation in the modernisation of the Official Gazette of Cuba, within the framework of the European Union-Cuba II Exchange of Experiences project.
The European Union-Cuba II Exchange of Experiences project accompanies the Cuban government in the implementation of its socioeconomic policy through exchanging knowledge, experiences and best practice with other administrations. One of the actions in which the project has participated is the modernisation of the Official Gazette of Cuba. With this interview we will delve into what the BOE is and what the exchange of experiences and collaboration between both organisations has been like.
First of all, we would like to put all this into context. What is the Spanish BOE and what are its functions?
To understand the current reality of the Official State Gazette (BOE) it is necessary to go back to its origin. The Spanish publication has 360 years of history, and in order to put its essence in context we need to consider that the term “gazette” in English is comparable to the old Spanish expression “gaceta”.
The BOE is made up of a group of people who edit the official journal of Spain. This journal has an effect which is, let’s say, “miraculous”, since everything of a regulatory or dispositional character that is published in the journal has legal force. In other words, laws come into force and administrative acts become mandatory for all citizens.
Therefore, the existence or knowledge of legal standards today is insufficient for legal operators, and also for citizens. From the database of consolidated law, we generate other personalised products, because our citizens are not an abstract concept, our citizens have specific, personal, professional interests etc. And, therefore, we have grouped legal regulations together in both digital and paper formats. Especially in the digital format, which is currently more relevant when grouped by sector of the legal system, thinking about specific groups of citizens, for example, librarians, archivists, prosecutors, coroners, notaries, wine producers, beer producers, cider manufacturers, berry producers etc.
But we can also use other groupings, such as operations, entities or financial markets that are extremely current. It is very important that Spanish legislation is known, for example, by the operator that is based today on British soil.
Thus, the main task of the Official State Gazette State Agency is the miracle of enforcing regulations and the obligation of spreading knowledge of Spanish law.
In recent years, the BOE has promoted approachability and accessibility by citizens, turning the digital version into a glossary that allows citizens to get plenty of mileage out of it. What has this path been like?
The citizen is not an abstract concept. Citizens were born somewhere, they live somewhere, they have certain studies, they want professional advancement and they need to know about scholarships and exams. Information is also published regarding contracts, which is essential for companies that are looking to participate in a public tender or a grant.
Therefore, it is necessary to fully personalise the content of the journal, in such a way that people may be alerted to what is happening in their town or where they live. They may also be alerted to professional interests that may be affected by an administrative decision or by a regulation. Perhaps that is the success of our professional work, having known how to identify that the recipient is not an idealised entity, but a person with specific interests.
Could you tell us how the collaboration between the BOE and the Cuban administration in the European Union-Cuba II Exchange of Experiences Project came about and what its main objectives are?
The BOE is very grateful to FIIAPP because it has made personal and material resources available to the Agency that allow it to establish collaborative ties with countries that are extremely complementary to Spain, and where both Spanish citizens and Spanish companies have many interests.
One of these is the project for collaboration between Cuba and Spain. This project aims, first of all, to facilitate edition of the Official Gazette of the Republic of Cuba in a digital format.
Spain is a particularly advanced country when it comes to regulatory publishing; perhaps it can be said, without excessive exaggeration, that we have one of the most advanced legal information systems in the world. In other countries, even in neighbouring countries, legal information systems are still published on paper and not digitally. Our official publication has the advantage of being free, of having full legal value and also of being usable as a database, which facilitates access to current legal knowledge without much difficulty.
The idea is to make possible a digital edition of the Cuban gazette with full legal validity, with a digital signature and accessible on the internet from all over the world, not only from within the island, but with value towards the international community with full legal effect.
That is one of the objectives we can offer the Republic of Cuba.
This is a foundation upon which to build other elements of interest brick by brick. From the publication of the official journal, we would be able to generate a database in which current Cuban law is also accessible to foreign operators, but especially to Cuban citizens who want to know the legal reality of their country.
From the Spanish experience, what are the main challenges you face in order to digitalise and disseminate this Cuban journal on the internet? What phases do you think you should implement to make it happen?
The Cuban legal information system is a system with its own internal logic. For example, the paper-based publication groups together the subjects by sector at the time of publication. It does not obey a logic that is either inadequate or incorrect. The legal announcement system of the Republic of Cuba is sufficiently coherent from the conceptual point of view.
We can provide technological tools or share experiences to facilitate the online publication of this content that is already correctly ordered.
This exchange of experiences is enriching not only for Cuba, but also for Spain. This quality of the Cuban Official Gazette, of coherent and materially ordered organisation of the subjects at the time of their publication on paper is a vision, that is, it presents an advance that Spain could also take in order to organise, for example, its regulatory action programme.
Therefore, the collaboration programme with the Republic of Cuba is a mutually enriching programme. We cannot think of it as a unilateral relationship, but rather that as a bilateral relationship that enriches both parties.
What has been the contribution of your cooperation, at a technological level, towards the Cuban Administration?
FIIAPP and the Ministry of the Presidency have achieved, through negotiations with the European Union, that several million euros will be contributed to a collaboration project that has as a result, not only the area of regulatory advertising, but other areas such as regulatory quality and the improvement of civil or commercial records. It is within this project in general that the project of digitalisation of the official gazette is framed.
Could you tell us about the importance of the human factor, of the people who collaborate with the administration? Is there any interesting expertise in Spain that can be transferred and leveraged in this programme?
For us, the Cuban project is very easy for several reasons. First of all, for an emotional reason. When we Spaniards go to Cuba, we do not feel like we have left Spain: the reality, buildings, history, everything makes us feel part of the place. Spaniards are treated with great affection and it feels as if we were working in our own administration.
It seems that working for the Official Gazette of Cuba is like working under the same conditions as for the Spanish Official Gazette. On the one hand, there is this advantage of, let’s call it, “mutual affection”, while on the other hand, there is also a high level of expert knowledge on the part of Cuban officials of the reality towards which they want to advance technologically. Therefore, we do not speak a different technological language and we experience similar emotional realities, which makes working for Cuba very similar to working for Spain.
On a personal level, what would you highlight about the experience of having the opportunity to direct this programme?
The collaboration of the BOE with the different gazettes in the Americas is taking place in a space of associative collaboration through the network of Latin American official gazettes. Within this collaborative space, Spain has always had a personal and especially intense relationship with Cuban public managers, in part due to our family origins. My own family origins are Cuban, and there is always a close and affectionate relationship that makes it easier to find technological solutions, because where affection abounds, problems or obstacles are overcome.
After the digitalisation of Cuba’s Gazette, it is planned to proceed to share all this legal information and knowledge with other countries in Latin America and Spain. Could you explain to us what this process will consist of?
The process of integrating the laws of the different countries means leaving behind a scheme that is especially rigid, which is the one we have after 500 years of printing. Text that is written on a page is rigid, in its lines, paragraphs, pages etc.
When that content is produced in a completely digital space it becomes absolutely liquid, therefore, the hierarchies that exist for the analogue world do not exist for the digital world. As a result, we can connect Spanish legislation, with Latin American legislation and with European legislation in a European project called “Unique Identifier Project”.
Technically it has two pillars: identifying regulations the same way and structuring the contents in the same way so that there is a constant dialogue of the machines about these structured products. This structuring of the contents will mean that, shortly, when we search for a concept, we will use a concept that we all sometimes need to understand, such as leasing, renting, or buying and selling, and we will get the results from the Spanish Legal Regime, from the Civil Code and the special legislation that regulates sales, but we can also access the Legal Regime of the countries that have been connected in the unique identity of the name of the regulations and the structuring of those contents.
These somewhat technical and difficult expressions in the end intend to break the hierarchy of territory and link types of regulatory content to each other in a purely conceptual or semantic relationship. In other words, the dictionary itself will refer it to the legal regime of each institution in different countries. So the borders disappear and are simply united by semantics, by words.
Could you give us an example that helps us understand a little better the interest of this shared information, for example, for a Spanish businessman with investment interests in Cuba?
Transparency, which is one of the fundamental values of the democratic system, needs a foundation, which is knowledge. If we do not have knowledge of the legal system as a first support for exercising our rights, it is impossible to participate, influence or access knowledge of administrative activities.
Therefore, we are talking about building basic realities on which second or third generation rights are built. Accessing knowledge of the legal system in a safe way, that is, accessing the law in force today and its temporary versions, is an essential requirement for the correct functioning of the institutions and also for the correct functioning of the economic operators who need to know these legal frameworks to make their operational decisions.
How important is technological safety in this field?
Brands such as the BOE, the Gazette of Cuba or the Parliament of the Republic in Chile, among others, are strengthened by official endorsement and offer security of knowledge. Above all, they guarantee the validity of the regulations that are consulted.
In your opinion, what is the future orientation of Cuba’s Gazette?
I believe that for the Republic of Cuba it is important to have a digital tool that allows accessibility to current regulations from the entire island.
I also think that it’s feasible because Cubans make extensive use of new technologies and it is therefore much easier now to access knowledge in a digital format than on paper.
I think myself that, given the development of new technologies and the intensive use of mobile devices by Cuban citizens, it would be more useful, but this is my personal opinion, to skip paper altogether and take a bet on a digital reality that other countries, for example, could not realize.
Likewise, in Spain in 2009, when it transitioned to a digital platform, first issued simultaneous applications of the Gazette, published both on paper and in a digital format.
At this time, I believe that Cuba could make the move to an exclusive, unique digital edition, with legal validity, saving the operational costs of paper. But it this is my personal opinion. From the point of view of administrative or political opportunity, it may be convenient to keep the paper edition while, at the same time, starting the digital format; but I do not see a technological obstacle, neither for the public, nor in the availability of mobile devices to make that leap towards the digital world in a more intense way.
The BOE, for example, only publishes three copies on paper to guarantee their custody, but only those three copies.
13 August 2020
Posteado en : Interview
El coordinador del proyecto de cooperación europeo de competencia en Albania nos cuenta cómo han sido los últimos meses de trabajo en plena crisis sanitaria
Alberto Herrera, coordinator of the Twinning cooperation project financed by the EU “Strengthening of the competition authority in Albania”, shares his view from this country on the current context caused by COVID19. He tells us how the project has managed to rapidly adapt the training and activities to the new situation, without sacrificing the results. He also talks about the importance of monitoring competition in the midst of a health crisis and cooperation as the cornerstone to promote exchange between specialists.
What is the project about and what difficulties have arisen with the pandemic?
The project that I coordinate is a Twinning project funded by the European Union and carried out by the National Commission for Markets and Competition (CNMC) and the FIIAPP. The aim of the project is to ensure the protection of free competition in Albania through training activities between Spanish experts and their Albanian counterparts, which until the pandemic began required the presence of Spanish experts in the country.
The COVID19 outbreak and the resulting social distancing and confinement measures imposed both in Spain and Albania caught us totally off guard, I suppose like everyone else. This meant that planned activities had to be cancelled, as the experts were unable to travel from Spain, which plunged us into great initial uncertainty.
However, this did not result in a shutdown of our office in Albania’s activities, from where, from the outset and working from home , we focused our efforts on analysing the most appropriate strategies to ensure the continuity and achievement of project goals, coordination between all parties for an adequate design and re-planning of activities and the reconsideration of the communication strategy.
What security measures were established in Albania? How has the project work been adapted to the situation?
In Albania, measures were taken similar to those in the different neighbouring
countries and in the states of the European Union: confinement of the population, curfews at certain times of the day, closure of land borders, interruption of regular air and sea passenger transport services, suspension of activities for a large part of the public and private sector institutions and the closure of sports, cultural and leisure facilities.
However, once the situation in Albania improved, with the return to office work in mid-April, the project decided on how to resume activities with the aim of achieving the same results as those obtained face-to-face.
Based on this condition, as well as taking into account the preferences and needs of our beneficiary, from the project we suggested the possibility to institutions of going beyond the on-line teaching of master classes and organising e-learning in a form similar to those used by many universities and companies.
Finally, the chosen platform was Moodle, made available by the FIIAPP and which allows the development of interactive training from the didactic materials prepared by the CNMC experts.
Has the pandemic affected the subject on which the project is working?
Since the start of this crisis, the main goal of the European Commission and the Competition Authorities of the Member States, such as the National Commission on Markets and Competition (CNMC) in Spain, has been to ensure that essential products to protect consumer health against the virus, such as masks and gels disinfectants, should continue to be available at competitive prices.
Investigations aimed at discovering and sanctioning anti-competitive agreements between operators or abuses by companies with a dominant position in sectors sensitive to the health crisis have become a priority for the Competition Authorities in our surroundings, and in Albania too.
In line with these objectives, and with the purpose of contributing to the fight against the pandemic in Albania within the scope of our project, we launched an interesting initiative that has allowed us to deepen the collaboration given to our beneficiary.
This consisted of the CNMC making non-confidential information available to the Albanian Competition Authority regarding the actions and investigations carried out by the it with the aim of protecting consumers. One example was the launch of a mailbox to centralise complaints and queries related to the application of competition rules in the context of COVID19 or the initiation of investigations in the markets producing and distributing health care or funeral services.
Why is it important, at a difficult time like this, that cooperation should not stop?
In these difficult times in which the notions or values of transnationality and universal citizenship are being questioned, cooperation between countries becomes even more meaningful – the exchange of experiences, technical and managerial knowledge established within the framework of technical cooperation projects like ours works both ways. Both ways because it not only works in favour of the beneficiary country, but is also enriching for the implementing country. Therefore, in adverse circumstances, international cooperation offers a unique chance to exchange solutions to problems that affect us all.
What is the current situation in Albania? And that of the project?
Although there were infections, the effects of the disease in Albania were less widespread than those of Western Europe. The country has worked to reactivate its activity and economy, and the measures taken have been gradually lifted, but naturally with the adoption of the necessary precautions.
Regarding the project, the parties involved have agreed on a two-month extension, which is approximately the time for which the activities have been suspended, to allow the completion of what had been planned.
How has the relationship with the FIIAPP been at this difficult time?
Since the beginning of this crisis, there has been constant concern and coordination from the FIIAPP, firstly, to guarantee the safety of those of us abroad and secondly to ensure the continuity of the projects, given the importance of cooperation for the parties involved, as I have said before.
Once the parties to the project agreed on the resumption of on-line activities, the support of the FIIAPP, by making the Moodle platform available to the project, was decisive to guarantee optimal results, as well as the technical support and collaboration of the Department of Knowledge Management responsible for it.
The commencement of activities in e-learning format would certainly not have been possible without the support and intervention of Knowledge Management, which loaded the didactic content onto the platform.
Despite everything negative that the pandemic has brought, is there anything positive that you can draw from the situation?
Unfortunately, I feel unable to draw any positive consequences from the whole situation. Perhaps, after a time and with some hindsight, it might be possible to make a constructive reflection on all this, not limited to the repetition of clichés and stock phrases.
I personally believe that this health crisis has placed us in a very complicated situation, with a scope and consequences as yet unseen. Not only has it caused the pain of all those who have lost a loved one, but it has also deprived many people of their livelihood, putting them in a situation of economic and labour uncertainty and precariousness.
For long periods of time, a large part of the population has been subject to great pressure and stress as a consequence of the confinement and social distancing measures taken by different governments, with subsequent harm to physical and mental health.
Neither should we sight of the curtailment suffered by principles, values and rights that we believed unquestionable in democratic societies. For example, the rights of assembly and freedom of movement, among others. I am sorry I cannot offer a more positive view, but as of today, I do not believe that these events will contribute to improving our world or making us better people.
23 July 2020
Posteado en : Interview
“Niger, with its diverse culture and ethnicity, is a country of opportunities"Fernando Guerrero in FIIAPP's office
“Niger, with its diverse culture and ethnicity, is a country of opportunities”
Fernando Guerrero, a commissioner with the Spanish Police and head of mission, tells us about his experience as a FIIAPP expatriate with the ECI Niger project. This project is funded by the European Union through the Emergency Trust Fund for Africa and managed by FIIAPP. It fights criminal illegal immigration and human trafficking networks in Niger.
What was it like when you arrived in Niger? Do you have any anecdotes about that time?
I arrived at dawn in Niamey in September 2018. It was my first time in the Sahel. We had hardly had any sleep, the next morning, we went to the city centre accompanied with the coordinator. The colours, smells, landscape, the hubbub of the market, the crowds of people, the heat, and the extreme poverty… everything vied for my attention and left me a memory firmly engraved in my memory that I will never forget. As an anecdote, I remember that on the first day I noticed how local food products such as moringa with peanut paste were made and sold in the market. This seemed strange to me to start with but now they are a staple part of my diet.
And the adaptation period? What were the most and least difficult things for you?
In my opinion, if you are aware of the country you are going to and are willing to immerse yourself in the local culture, it’s much easier to adapt. Niger, with its varied culture and ethnicity, is a land of opportunities.
Some customs are strange to me, like polygamy and its rules. Also, the fact that much of the population, due to historical and social circumstances, and beyond the begging you might expect, see white people as the solution to all their problems and do not hesitate to ask for financial help at all times, even when they don’t know you at all.
Treating local people decently makes it easier to integrate. People welcome you into their homes with kindness, so you can get to know how they live.
Is this your first experience of living outside Spain? Is it proving to be very different from your previous ones? How long have you been there and how much time do you have left?
Yes, this is the first time I’ve lived away from Spain on a continuous basis. Most of the time I had spent abroad before this was in Eastern Europe. I arrived in Niger on 21 September 2018 and I’m scheduled to leave in December 2022.
What is your work like, your daily routine? Is it very different from the routine you had in Spain?
ECI Niger is a unique project, in the sense that it is a mission with an operational police component. We experts are part of the structure of the Nigerian National Police. We participate with them in operations and advise them on everything to do with police operations. We also deal with different local authorities, with the European Union Delegation; with embassies, with other projects and missions to achieve better coordination, and, of course, with FIIAPP, our operator.
The routine is different from the one I had in Spain. One component that is always important, but which is an essential priority here is diplomacy. My experience during my career in the police force is something I share with my teammates and it is essential to the success of the project. Local authorities value that experience and may feel offended if the expert lacks it.
How are relations with the FIIAPP?
We have an outstanding relationship. I have great appreciation for FIIAPP’s efforts to manage a pioneering operational police project. I also value the understanding that our coordination team shows with the daily difficulties that we professionals who are “in the field” have.
How would you rate your experience of working as a FIIAPP expatriate?
My personal and professional experience in Niger is priceless. I am fortunate to have an excellent team of professionals and people. Having worked with the National Police since 1994, working with FIIAPP professionals gives me a new point of view that enables me to grow professionally.
02 July 2020
Chief Inspector Diego Alejandro Palomino speaks about fake news, what it is, the problems it causes and how it has impacted on the current Covid-19 health crisis.Diego Alejandro Palomino durante la entrevista
FIIAPP, through some of the projects it manages, works hand-in-hand with state security forces and agencies to prevent and fight against all forms of cross-boarder organised crime. One of the new forms of crime is currently perpetrated via the latest technology. This specialist from the National Police Technological Research Unit (ITU) throws some more light on this development.
What is fake news?
Fake news can be defined as false information that appears to be true, but which intends to misinform for political, propaganda and/or economic-financial purposes.
News that falls into the category of fake news seeks to influence or manipulate the ideas of the recipients, causing confusion or deception, and taking advantage of circumstances to create fear, uncertainty and precariousness, thus making people more easily influenced.
The essential elements of this type of news combine intent and falsehood.
What are the main problems it causes?
The main problem that fake news causes is disinformation. Having knowledge of certain information usually generates unease in the recipients of the same, which in turn, can influence decision-making.
The state of alert and the problems related to the pandemic are giving rise to a high demand for goods, restrictions on mobility, anxiety and fear in people, as well as limitations in supply chains.
Any news that is generated about each or all of these activities or circumstances is being taken to the extreme; even more so when a lot of it is contradictory, thus generating greater uncertainty. This, in turn, causes people to take even fewer precautions when analysing the situation they are in and to take much more risky measures than usual.
Another problem to take into account is that quite often the information is not verified and is forwarded or disseminated without any assurance as to its truth, which contributes to its rapid expansion, thereby generating the “illusory truth effect”. In fact, very few people spread false news when they are aware that it is indeed false.
Why is it so harmful?
Fake news tends to reach many more people than true information, and may alter the criteria used to distinguish one from the other. It normally reflects an exaggerated sensationalism, which has a direct impact on people’s opinion. This type of information, due to its nature, content and objective, prevents the creation of an objective and rational judgment, thereby distorting reality and discrediting contrary information, which conditions decision-making.
Taken to the extreme, this type of information can create a domino effect, leading to substantial changes in various social, political, labour and economic matters.
In certain circumstances, fake news may even contribute to polarising society and can come to be considered as a direct attack on the quality of democracy, given its potentially overwhelming influence on public opinion.
How is it detected?
At the National Police level, we use the two fundamental tools currently available to us, due to the operational restrictions caused by the state of alarm and the functions directly entrusted to us by the instructions received. They basically consist of cyber patrolling, that is to say, monitoring social networks and tracking internet activities, and checking the information received through citizen participation.
All the information received is checked, verified and confirmed, the corresponding information notes are then issued on each event and reports on the facts and the actions taken.
Moreover, through the various police services and the secretary of state for security, reports are being issued on the control of false news, such as those drafted by the Intelligence Centre for Counter-Terrorism and Organised Crime (CITCO), the coordination and analysis body in which the Spanish security forces and agencies participate.
Has there been an increase in disinformation during the health crisis?
Generally speaking, disinformation has increased exponentially. Firstly, the dearth of true and verifiable information available about the disease itself has generated a large amount of erroneous information regarding the means of contagion, exposure, methods to avoid contagion, ways in which it may be cured, all of which generated different cases of fraud based on miraculous remedies, and even related to the Covid-19 vaccine.
Secondly, a series of social and economic needs have been generated around the disease that have led to the offer of aid by governments to alleviate them, which in turn has led to false information about the ways in which such aid can be obtained and the requirements to obtain it. Criminals have taken advantage of such circumstances to “hook” people into giving them personal data, which has caused some to become the victims of fraudulent financial transfers.
What role does cooperation play in tackling this problem?
Cooperation has a fundamental role in the fight against any criminal activity or any other that prioritises the interests of a few to generate sweeping changes, either in society or in people’s way of life.
In a globalised world where there is an absence of barriers and borders in the exchange of information and rapid access to it, countries must act in unison to combat the shared danger posed by the spread of false information that becomes generalised and reliable merely by the fact of being repeated.
Police and judicial cooperation must fight disinformation, just as it fights against organised crime, exchanging experiences and good practices and promoting the publicity of public actions in the fight against practices that seek to subvert established political orders, given that disinformation directly jeopardises democracy and people’s freedom.
18 June 2020
Here we interview Julio Bueno, Police Inspector and expert in crowd management for the MYPOL project in Myanmar
The specialist talks to us about how the MYPOL project has worked together with the Myanmar National Police. MYPOL is a project managed by the FIIAPP and financed by the European Commission, which aims to modernise and improve the institutional capacity of the police forces in Myanmar, promoting gender equality and respect for human rights.
Could you explain what the MYPOL project consists of, its objectives and the part that Crowd Control plays in it?
The general objective of the project is to contribute to the modernisation of the Myanmar Police through a more preventive, balanced and professional approach, based on international best practice, with special attention to the respect for human rights. Specifically, it intends to contribute to an effective, efficient and responsible Police Service; one that is trusted by the different communities.
From the point of view of the Police’s operational functions, the project aims to support the development of a public service police model, including a special gender sensitivity, in three main areas: proximity police; investigation units, which we know in Spain as judicial police and scientific police; and finally crowd control, understood in a general sense, focused on public security.
Regarding crowd control in particular, the expected result of the project is literally “to strengthen the capacity of the Myanmar Police to handle different types of crowds in accordance with international human rights standards.” Here, the term “crowds” does not just refer to demonstrations or concentrations. The legal concept of a crowd in Myanmar is the gathering or coincidence of five or more people in any location. In this sense, we have fully adapted to the legislation and the situation in Myanmar to develop a programme that leads to fulfilment of the project objective.
What are the differences between Myanmar’s crowd management system and that of Spain?
There are many differences between the Myanmar and Spanish systems. To begin with, in Spain there are two national and several autonomous bodies that carry out these functions, in Myanmar there is a single police force that performs all of them. Spain shifted to a public service model more than twenty years ago. This process is now taking its first steps in Myanmar, based on a military model, led by military commanders. In general, in citizen security, the Myanmar Police is evolving to a public service model similar to the Spanish one, starting from a model based on surveillance and the occupation of key places.
As for the model of public order, or crowd control in the sense of control of demonstrations and concentrations, the Spanish model and that of Myanmar are very different. Spain adopted a flexible and mobile model that is common in Mediterranean countries. Myanmar originally followed a model inherited from the colonial administration, of British origin, and during the project prior to this, the British model was chosen again, with training from Belgian, British, German and Polish police officers.
For this project, one of the mandatory initial conditions was not to change the system chosen in the previous project. To improve it and create a solid, legal and operational foundation that is both efficient and long-lasting, I chose the UN standard system, taught by trainers who are UN-trained and qualified in these techniques and systems.
And what are the differences and similarities between the units that carry out crowd management in Spain and in Myanmar?
The first and main difference is the number of police corps there are. The Myanmar police carry out the functions carried out in Spain by the National Police, Civil Guard, regional police, local police, port police and the customs surveillance service. The Myanmar police is military in its origin and structure, many of its top officers come directly from military units, without specific police training.
The so-called security crowd control units have many more functions in Myanmar and have a similar structure, organised in districts and patrols. Another big difference is the available means, equipment, transportation, which are very scarce. Although some units are similar in structure and functions, the training is very different, especially in the lower echelons, where they are much better prepared in Spain, with more specific and longer training.
Regarding gender equality in the organisation, the case of Myanmar is very unusual when compared to that of Spain. In Spain there are no restrictions on women’s access to any position and services and there are also active policies to promote integration. In Myanmar, female presence in the organisation is similar to that of Spain, around 13%, but they do not have access to special public order units. However, in the special police unit, with which we also work, female presence is high and very active, without restrictions, while in Spain and other western countries it is very low or does not exist. Despite the differences, difficulties and a certain resistance to change, the general trend is towards full future integration.
What are the challenges of carrying out this type of reinforcement in a place like Myanmar?
Myanmar is a country that has been isolated from the world for many years, with a culture and values which are very different and are deeply-rooted. The biggest challenge has been winning the trust of the institutions and gradually showing the benefits of the new models and systems. Difficulties in communication, from a cultural and organisational point of view, have always been present.
Exclusively from the police point of view, the strong hierarchical structure and the need to follow a rigid chain of command for any initiative have been a challenge and a difficulty from day one, but I think the project has managed to adapt, like all of its staff, and overcome these difficulties as much as possible.
And what are the main challenges the country faces in order to consolidate a reform of the Myanmar police?
There are all kinds of problems and difficulties in carrying out and consolidating a police reform. We must bear in mind that the country is in the middle of a debate regarding its own nature, with federalist proposals that could completely change the scenario. The armed forces, which control the Interior Ministry and a quarter of the parliament, are an essential actor in any process.
In addition to these political problems we have the presence of numerous terrorist and criminal groups in the peripheral regions: very powerful organised crime, among others. In relation to gender equality, there is still a long way to go to achieve the full integration of women in all units and levels of the structure, without restrictions. How these problems are solved will shape the administration model, and therefore the resulting police model.
What does international cooperation contribute to the project in terms of security?
The main benefit of international cooperation is to share the experience of people from different parts of the world, who in turn have extensive experience in missions and projects, which provides a global vision of the problems, and over time, a similar approach to such circumstances. International cooperation spreads internationally accepted values and techniques, which therefore have the support of international institutions and the support of members of the international community.
In terms of security, international cooperation ensures the implementation of these standards, such as international best practices and respect for human rights, giving international support to countries that have decided to undertake reforms in this regard, and that have also decided to accept help from international organisations or institutions to carry out such reforms.
For matters related to security, asking for international cooperation is a very useful instrument for countries that want to carry out reforms, but have internal resistance or other problems, such as cultural or economic, that make them difficult to implement.
What are the exchanges like between the Spanish and Myanmar Public Administrations within the framework of this project?
The Spanish Public Administrations have supported this project from the outset, in the first placeby assigning two members of the National Police Corps as Project Team Leaders, in successive assignments, and a main expert for the crowd control component that has been the same from the beginning of the project.
The National Police Corps has in several occasions sent another six members of the corps on assignment for some of the activities that have been carried out, most of these with extensive international experience in UN and EU missions. Institutional support has been essential for the proper development of the activities that have been carried out so far.
How can the citizens of Myanmar benefit from this project?
Citizens are the main customers of the police service. Shifting the orientation of the police function towards public service, and the fact that it is based on better international standards and respect for human rights, represent a clear benefit for any society.
In the particular case of Myanmar, a clear change has been seen in the way in which many conflicts are resolved, with a very significant reduction in the use of violence and an increase in police dialogue with social actors. This is something completely new in Myanmar, for which MYPOL and the previous project are largely responsible. Our work has driven change at many levels, from individual behaviour, to unit structure, to the creation of new units.
A good example of this is the Maritime Police, which has enthusiastically participated in various activities, supporting the project at all times. According to their manager, the mere fact of carrying out visible training activities in the port of Yangon has considerably reduced crime in the area, including robberies and contraband, among others.
28 May 2020
José Manuel Colodrás, Police Chief Inspector and coordinator of the FIIAPP-managed and European Union-financed EU-ACT project, tells us about his experiences and his day to day life working and living in Ukraine.Police Chief Inspector and coordinator of the EU-ACT project, José Manuel Colodrás
How was your arrival in Ukraine? Do you have any anecdotes from that time?
My first contact with Ukraine was in March 2017, although my final deployment did not take place until May that same year. I was surprised by some Ukrainian customs, relationships and attitudes, among other things, the apparent coldness of the Slavs. It must be said that this was a first impression, since as soon as you earn their trust, you can find friends here who trust in you as much or more so than in Spain, even with the barrier that the language represents.
An anecdote that caught my attention is that the national dish in Ukraine is «сало» pronounced | salo | (bacon) sliced and accompanied by raw garlic and pickles (mainly pickled gherkins). It is usually had as an accompaniment to vodka or other similar drinks (whiskey is as popular here as gorilka, which is what Ukrainian vodka is called. I was surprised, as I did not think that culinary traditions that have totally vanished from many countries in Europe, like that of making salo and pickles at home, were maintained. Family relationships are also something that, while a little differently from how we do it in Spain, are cultivated in Ukraine with meals on Sundays or outdoor barbecues.
And the adaptation period? What were the most and least difficult things for you?
The adaptation period was fast. City life is relatively easy. The hardest thing for me (and I still find it difficult) is adapting to the bureaucratic mentality, inherited from the Soviet tradition that permeates not only the administration but even the work of private companies. Any management task is complicated and the procedures for hiring, for making a simple bank transfer, or requesting a certificate make it extremely difficult to implement our international cooperation projects and, sometimes, also daily life.
Is this your first experience of living outside Spain? Is it proving to be very different from your previous ones? How long have you been there and how much time do you have left?
I have had previous experiences, but only for a few months (in West Africa: Nigeria and Senegal). As I mentioned, I have been here for 3 years and I have, in principle, a few months still to go, until December 2020.
What is your work like, your daily routine? Is it very different from the routine you had in Spain?
Yes, it must be said that the routine is very different. In Spain as a Chief Inspector with the National Police Corps, personal relationships, both with subordinates and colleagues, and with other institutions and people, occupied most of the time.
In the EU-ACT project, on a day-to-day basis, even before this COVID-19 mandated quarantine, a very significant part of the work was carried out over the internet, especially interaction with other project members: calls, emails, messages and the use of our own project platform that allows us to share all the material in the cloud. In that sense, the work is very different and has made the transition to these times, when teleworking is mandatory, quick and relatively easy.
Personal relationships with beneficiaries (Ukrainians) and with other international partners also take a long time and, in this case, they are also very different. It is necessary to put yourself in the position of being a collaborator and facilitator, rather than trying to be a protagonist in the activities, this makes for a very interesting and enriching change of perspective.
From the point of view of institutional representation, I now represent not only Spain, but the entire European Union, and that, of course, also broadens the vision we have of our work. There is a clear awareness that the EU is a whole and that, from the outside, we are increasingly seen as “Europeans“.
What is the relationship with FIIAPP like?
My relationship with FIIAPP has always been very positive. I would simply say that most of my colleagues are also friends, especially the colleagues who provide support from Madrid, who have made my job much easier and from whom I have learned enormously. What I hope is that this relationship with FIIAPP, which started before this project, will continue when this project ends. Of course, I consider FIIAPP to be a key instrument for the international projection of the Spanish administration, something that historically we have lacked compared to other countries.
How would you rate your experience of working as a FIIAPP expatriate?
As I have commented, it has allowed me to get to know a new work methodology, new areas of knowledge (socio-health issues, public policy development, the operation of international projects) and finally, it has given me a broader vision of my police work. From a personal and even family point of view, it is turning out to be a great experience that not only will I remember all my life, but it will certainly have a great impact on my personal and professional development. It is an opportunity for which I have to thank the Spanish administration and it motivates me to give the best of myself in every activity, event or meeting that I hold within the framework of the EU-ACT project.