• 19 March 2020

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    Posteado en : Opinion

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    International Day for the Elimination of Racial Discrimination

    Florencia Gaya, project technician for “Living without discrimination in Morocco” and an expert in equality and non-discrimination, tells us why March 21 is the international day for the elimination of racial discrimination, offering an in-depth reflection on the reality of discrimination and the role of cooperation to promote coexistence and fight racism.

    21 March this year marks the 60th anniversary of the Sharpeville massacre in South Africa. On that day in 1960, dozens of peaceful demonstrators were killed by the South African police while protesting against the apartheid Pass Law.[1]

    In memory of the victims of this bloody episode that marked a turning point in the history of the fight against racial segregation, the International Day for the Elimination of Racial Discrimination is celebrated every March 21.

    It is a day on which we draw attention to and raise awareness of this issue, as well as highlighting the fact that there is still much to do in order to build inclusive societies in which diversity is seen as an opportunity and not as a threat.

    Discrimination: an everyday reality for many people and groups

    Although discrimination is prohibited by law, racism and xenophobia are part of daily life for many people and groups.

    An immigrant couple who are denied a job or unable to rent a home because they are foreigners. A young Muslim woman who is insulted on public transport for wearing a hijab. A young gypsy victim of bullying by his classmates due to his origin.

    These are some examples of unequal treatment and racist episodes that some people face daily as a result of their skin colour, beliefs or national or ethnic origin.

    One of the greatest difficulties is that very often, those involved (the perpetrators and victims of these acts) do not even perceive these events as discriminatory, racist or xenophobic.

    What it takes to combat these practices more effectively

    We need to promote measures and action at different levels.

    We need, first, to be aware of the problem, recognise it and make it visible. Understand the way in which discriminated groups suffer, measuring the size of the problem through data collection, studies and research. We need to raise public awareness on these issues.

    We also need the promotion and implementation of more effective legislative measures, in order that countries, as the main actors responsible for guaranteeing the right to equality and non-discrimination, assume a strong commitment in this regard, providing legal instruments, policies, plans, programmes and other courses of action to prevent and fight against such phenomena.

    We need to put in place educational and training measures and those that raise awareness about human rights, which help dismantle the prejudices and stereotypes at the heart of racist and discriminatory behaviour, which place value on and encourage respect for diversity.

    We need to listen more, show interest and understand the point of view of the people who are directly affected, giving an adequate response to victims.

    We need strategies to tackle any new expressions of intolerance and hatred which are spread through the internet, among many other measures.

    Cooperation as a tool to promote coexistence and fight racism

    Cooperation with other countries, organisations and relevant institutions can serve to strengthen national mechanisms for the promotion and protection of rights and support the actions that are being implemented by different actors to promote coexistence and combat racism and xenophobia.

    For example, in the case of migrants, international cooperation projects can contribute to reinforcing public policies aimed at promoting integration, equal treatment and non-discrimination. They can also provide support and training for other non-institutional actors, such as NGOs, allowing them to play an important role in this regard.

    The delegated cooperation project, “Living together without discrimination: an approach based on human rights and the gender dimension”, a project financed by the European Union in which FIIAPP participates as a co-delegated partner of  AECID, focuses specifically on these aims.

    Through support, the exchange of experiences and knowledge of good Spanish and European practices, the project seeks to improve existing public instruments and policies in Morocco aimed at preventing and combating racism and xenophobia towards the migrant population.

    It is a complex, comprehensive and highly relevant project in the current context, since it addresses some of the fundamental axes and areas of action that countries need to establish or reinforce in order to advance towards effective equality.


    [1] The Pass Law was one of the measures imposed by the apartheid regime in South Africa through which the movement of the black population within the country was strictly controlled and restricted.

  • 27 February 2020

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    Posteado en : Opinion

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    Back to the Future: perspectives of Spanish Cooperation for the twenties

    David R. Seoane, the FIIAPP communication and knowledge management technician, proposes this reflection on the opportunities and challenges of a new decade for Spanish cooperation

    Fotografía de cooperantes españoles. Autor: Miguel Lizana (AECID)

    In 1985, Martin McFly calibrated the “flow condenser” of his old DeLorean to travel to the future, to 21 October 2015. Just a month before McFly arrived, the United Nations General Assembly had approved the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development. A road map focused on people, the planet, peace, prosperity and alliances that represents the international commitment to eradicate poverty and promote sustainable and egalitarian development. A kind of trip to the future that, in ten years, should lead us to a fairer world where nobody is left in the past.

    Spanish Cooperation, with the twenties already under way and a decade before the happy landing in a sustainable future, has much to say and many decisions to take during this time. A journey, probably not as instantaneous as the one in Dr. Emmett (Doc) Brown’s time machine, but one full of opportunities and challenges. So, let’s jump on board the DeLorean and see.

    A new decade has begun, and with it a new era for Spanish Cooperation since Arancha González Laya took over as the new Minister of Foreign Affairs, European Union and Cooperation, which seems good news given her profile marked by multilateralism after her responsibilities in the European Union and the World Trade Organisation (WTO). In fact, she has not made us wait. From the moment she was appointed, she announced that she would make refocusing international cooperation policy a priority in her mandate.

    And she has. The creation of a State Secretariat devoted exclusively to cooperation, led by the appointed diplomat Ángeles Moreno, which bodes well for the specific weight that the Ministry of Foreign Affairs wants to give to sectoral policies for international development. The other part (the geographic) of the former title of the secretariat, “and for Latin America and the Caribbean,” is now integrated into the more powerful portfolio of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs. “Spain is back, Spain is here to stay” declared González Laya when she took office on 13 January.

    The opportunity of political and institutional stability, ostensibly longer-lasting than that to which we have been accustomed, also brings a set of challenges facing Spanish Cooperation and a journey in which it will have to take sides now and into the future. Among them are the gradual increase in public resources for cooperation, after years of austerity due to the ups and downs of the crisis; facing the reform of the Law on International Cooperation (Law 23/1998, of 7 July), in response to much demand from civil society; or to seriously consider starting a debate on the creation of a new institution (or the reformation of the cooperation system as we know it) that has a French-development-bank style economic-financial face (AFD). There, it is said, lies the cooperation of the future. Wrapped in the flag of virtuous blending and policies first. Technical cooperation accompanied by credit lines that allow infrastructures to be built and encourage private investment. Leverage of resources (ODA and other flows) and knowledge, in which more and more players have a right to be heard and to vote. This means that development is everyone’s business.

    For the time being, these issues were put on the table last week, when the minister appeared before the Foreign Affairs Committee of the Congress of Deputies. There was talk of the reform of AECID, of a new law, of Spain’s commitment to the 2030 Agenda and to the SDG Joint Fund (Joint SDG Fund), and the Government’s willingness to allocate 0.5% of Gross National Income (GNI) at the end of the current legislature was even announced. These are good omens for the future, not forgetting where we are now. The latest official data (ODA Monitoring Report 2016-2017) places us at 0.19%, which is well below the EU average.

    A step further up, in the European Union, there are also new times with the launch of the Von der Leyen Commission. In terms of cooperation, the DEVCO (Directorate-General for International Cooperation and Development priorities are clear: green pact, poverty, gender equity, better migration management, promotion of civil society at a global level, Africa and the 2030 Agenda. At the European level, Spanish Cooperation will have to endorse these lines of action by contributing its know-how to strengthening European development policies. The role of the FIIAPP here, as a solid implementing agency, is essential to continue to have the confidence of Brussels.

    In the context of the difficult negotiations for the new Multi annual Financial Framework of the Union (2021-2027), the foreseeable emergence of the NDICI (Neighbourhood, Development and International Cooperation Instrument) a new instrument binding all pre-existing development issues, aims to change the game rules in an attempt to create synergies and increase the effectiveness of the European funds. If this occurs, adaptation to the new standard will be a challenge. For the time being, the AECID is approaching the decade as a key opportunity by chairing the Practitioners Network, which gathers and coordinates the main European cooperation agencies.

    The debate on development in transition is a theme in which Spanish Cooperation has the potential to be active. The term, coined by the European Commission, the ECLAC and the OECD Development Centre, invites us to reflect on the immediate challenges facing cooperation policies in middle-income countries (MIC) that are no longer official ODA recipients despite failing to overcome numerous structural gaps. These are in the majority in Latin America. The bond of mutual trust between Spain and the region opens a window of opportunity for our cooperation. Historically, we have facilitated the bi-regional dialogue that, in the words of Sanahuja, “urgently needs to resume” between an EU and a Latin America and Caribbean sitting at the table of a new paradigm based on advanced cooperation.

    On the other hand, the important role of other institutions in the Spanish cooperation system such as the Fundación Carolina in the field of higher education and knowledge generation cannot be ignored in the coming years. There’s no question that the raw material of our work and the most valuable currency of the future are knowledge. Nor the multiple Spanish institutions and organisations that fit into the decentralised cooperation model. A clearly exportable multi-player and multilevel cooperation model, since Spain is a country where which this type of cooperation has more weight among the members of the Development Assistance Committee (DAC). An opportunity for the added value of our cooperation, but a challenge in the light of constant challenges such as aid effectiveness or coordination between players.

    And so, between challenges and opportunities, we will all make the journey to the future that we want. In the coming years, Spanish Cooperation will have the possibility with results to endorse a valuable fact that we hope will continue to ring true for the next decade: according to the most recent Eurobarometer, the Spanish population is the one that gives most support in Europe to international cooperation policy as one of the Government’s main priorities.

    An exciting decade is beginning in which, as the unforgettable Marty  said on one of his trips through time, “We may not be ready for this music yet, but our kids will love it.” We have a decade ahead to make cars fly and, while we’re at it, to make our development cooperation more modern and efficient. Let the happy twenties begin.

    David R. Seoane

    FIIAPP communication and knowledge management technician

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  • 13 February 2020

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    Posteado en : Opinion

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    Strengthening cross-border governance: Peace border

    Bárbara Gómez, a democratic governance agent of the EUROsociAL+ programme gives us her vision on the border situation at the Uruguay river basin, shared by Brazil, Uruguay and Argentina, and EUROsociAL+ efforts to promote good governance at the borders.

    EUROsociAL+ promotes good governance at the borders.

    We are in the southernmost triple border of Americabetween Barra de Quaraí (Brazil), Bella Unión (Uruguay) and Monte Caseros (Argentina). This border’s lands share, among many other things, the trinational basin of the Uruguay River, which, throughout its course, involves the territories of Uruguay (mainly coastal departments, but not only these); the coasts of the provinces of Entre Ríos, Corrientes and Misiones of Argentina, and half of the area of the states of Rio Grande do Sul and Santa Catarina of Brazil.

    In these moments of migratory upheaval, it is becoming increasingly necessary to encourage dialogue between those communities that share territory and many times the same needs, but are in different countries. To promote spaces of good cross-border governance and, therefore, “Peace Border” spaces.

    People who live in the tri-national basin of the Uruguay River have a shared identity that feeds on itself every day, generating a spirit of constant coexistence. The entire area is characterised by a relatively homogeneous population concentrated in a small number of urban centres. Quality of life indicators are relatively high compared to other areas of Latin America. Nevertheless, they also share problems that recur throughout the basin. On numerous occasions, people from the same family live in different municipalities belonging to different countries. Solutions to everyday problems are difficult when these people face bureaucratic hurdles where the laws between the three countries are not homogenised/mutually recognised Or, for example, living on one side of the border and working on another often causes situations of inequality due to incompatibility of the currency and its value, among other things. The same applies to language in the case of Brazil, which, from a positive perspective, also brings cultural enrichment.

    All this evolution of circumstances with which the citizens of the border live requires special attention from the governance of public policies charged with meeting the needs of a particularly idiosyncratic population. Helping to strengthen the interrelationship between public authorities at different levels, as well as with external relations between countries, is a major effort, but at the same time a fascinating challenge that brings us back to territorial cohesion framework.

    The workshop on Challenges for the sustainable development of the Trinational Basin of the Uruguay River was an opportunity to start a joint reflection on how to generate comprehensive policies for better integration and impact on the processes, generating better opportunities for the development and social cohesion of shared territories.  Stakeholders from nations, as well as sub-national and local authorities, civil society representatives and bi-national organisations, all participated in this activity at the end of September 2019, which allowed different representatives from the three countries involved to sit at the table with a multilevel perspective. All of this is based on the logic of establishing a roadmap for improving governance, understood as the effective implementation of social inclusion mechanisms and the improvement of the perception that citizens have of themselves (according to the ECLAC definition). To achieve this, the aim was to establish tasks and responsibilities to develop strategies and policies to build trust and strengthen social cohesion, facing the asymmetries generated by the peripheral and border condition of the territory. In this case, the roadmap opted to establish mechanisms for a more effective linkage of local entities with existing structures and strategies for the basin’s management[1].

    It is important to note that the Uruguay River is not only the territory’s main economic development vector, but also the backbone of the cultural, educational, environmental and social dimension of this stretch of the basin, in which there are prior links and ties that require greater planning and cooperation between stakeholders.

    From the + EUROsociAL programme we have been accompanying the Uruguay Mayors Congress, which is leading the initiative, in the development and strengthening of integration strategies in the territories of the cross-border basins of the Uruguay River and Merin Lagoon to channel the development possibilities of the cross-border areas with a watershed approach, strengthening governance and empowering local and subnational governments. Likewise, the Committee for the Development of the Uruguay River Basin (CCRU), has been established as a strategic coordination space for the subnational and local governments of this region shared by Argentina, Uruguay and Brazil. This workshop is one of the activities that will contribute to the achievement of improved governance result in these border areas. The European experiences presented will also help to visualise successful processes of equal importance, and inspire dialogue between regions where geography does not distinguish between nationalities.  In the words of Trías (1985), “Reality becomes denser in limits.”

    Bárbara Gómez Valcárcel. Democratic Governance Technician. EUROsociAL +

     

    [1] Roadmap prepared by Jose María Cruz, AEBR (Association of European Border Regions) in collaboration with experts: Marcos Pedro Follonier and Hamilton Santos Rodríguez commissioned by the EUROsociAL + Programme

  • 09 January 2020

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    Posteado en : Opinion

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    Latin America and the Caribbean and the European Union in 2020: perspectives and opportunities

    The director of the Carolina Foundation, José Antonio Sanahuja, analyses the geopolitical situation in terms of the relations between the European Union, the Caribbean and Latin America

    José Antonio Sanahuja

    At the beginning of this new decade, Latin America and the Caribbean, taken together within the international system, face a more adverse regional and global scenario. But at critical junctures, opportunities are also arising to redefine the development agenda and strategies for international insertion. Despite significant progress, the region remains burdened by deep social divisions and institutional weakness, and it seems to be falling back into its old boom and bust cycle, characterised today as the “middle income trap”.     

    The economy is one of the main challenges in this unfavourable scenario. Latin America and the Caribbean are going through their worst economic period in decades: the end of the commodity cycle, the “trade war” driven by the United States and the global economic downturn and the instability in the region being the main causal factors. In 2019, the region’s average GDP growth was only 0.1%, and for 2020 a meagre 1.3% is projected. This was not only due to the impact of the very serious drop in Venezuela’s GDP: in 2019, 14 out of 20 Latin American countries had growth rates below 1% and 18 countries were in a clear deceleration phase. Overall, 2014-2020 will have been the lowest growth period in the last seventy years, even worse than in the so-called “lost decade” of the eighties. 

    The effects of all this is significant setbacks in social indicators. Between 2014 and 2019, GDP per capita fell by 4% and open unemployment and the informal economy were on the increase once again. The social advances of the commodity boom – poverty reduction, middle class expansion, a slight decrease in inequality – have come to a halt and there has already been a backward step: during that same period poverty increased from 28% to 31% of the total population and extreme poverty from 7.8% to 11.5%. This establishes a scenario of rising social expectations that will not be met, both for the middle classes as well as for sections of the population that were no longer poor, but vulnerable to recession. As noted by the executive secretary of the United Nations Economic Commission for Latin America and the Caribbean (ECLAC), Alicia Bárcena, Latin American societies cannot withstand a new round of adjustment policies and a different economic policy framework is required: “it’s time for fiscal policy to revive growth and respond to social demands”.  

    These trends are also causal factors for the general “discontent in democracy” and social protests that have taken place across the region: all the countries in Latin America and the Caribbean have held legislative and/or presidential elections between 2017 and 2019. A clear pattern has emerged from this electoral “super cycle” that transcends the traditional left-right divide: the defeat of the ruling party whatever its political leaning, as a result of widespread demands for political change. This expresses a broad “discontent in democracy” that is also observed in the data from “Latinobarómetro” and other opinion polls: 6 out of 10 people do not trust their governments, and 8 out of 10 say their government is corrupt. Between 2009 and 2018 the proportion of people dissatisfied with the way democracy functions rose from 51% to 71%. These are the worst statistics in 25 years. There is also growing social questioning regarding “policy capturing” by some elites which society perceives to be true “extractive elites”: between 2006 and 2018 the proportion of those who think their country is governed for the benefit of the rich and powerful has risen from 61% to almost 80%, as a regional average. In short, the economic decline has meant that inequalities, corruption, citizen insecurity – which are on the increase in countries such as Brazil, Mexico and Venezuela – as well as “bad government” are now less tolerated.  

    Beyond national circumstances, these elements are key to understanding the changes in government in Argentina and Mexico, and the origin of the social revolts that erupted in 2019 in countries such as Chile and Colombia. Overall, the backdrop of relative stability seen in Latin America just a year ago has disappeared in the space of a few months at the hands of a number of liberal-conservative governments, in a surprising way in some cases such as Chile, and the “package” of neoliberal policies implemented by them seems to be widely questioned.  

    It is important to note that these trends have particular local and regional characteristics, with structural and agency factors specific to each national scenario. These distinguishing factors are key: they explain whether popular revolts will take place or not, they explain their particular dynamics (Ecuador, Chile); or whether the discontent is channelled through electoral mechanisms (Argentina, Uruguay, Mexico); whether the reasons behind the protest and the demand for political change are related more to inequality and/or socio-economic precariousness (Argentina, Chile, Ecuador), or to political or electoral factors, such as electoral fraud (Bolivia), or corruption (Peru, Brazil), or the rejection of the consolidated middle classes and the higher income strata, or social change and the rise of counter-powers (Bolivia, Brazil). There is, however, a common regional pattern, and at the same time, these trends also represent the particular Latin American expression of a global dynamic of disaffection and crisis in democracy, the rejection of elites, and of challenging or questioning the current order.  

    Furthermore, Latin America and the Caribbean have a scenario of ideological divisions and deep political polarisation, which is also observable in other regions, that negatively affects their ability to formulate public policies based on consensus, and the possibility of maintaining these over time. In particular, this has resulted in a visible paralysis of Latin America’s capacity as an international actor. Faced with these divisions, the crises in Venezuela and Nicaragua prevent the Organisation of American States (OAS) from acting and they prevent countries from resorting to their own regional bodies to seek democratic outlets: the Union of South American Nations (UNASUR) has been dismantled by liberal-conservative governments and the Community of Latin American and Caribbean States (CELAC) is paralysed. In addition, the forums promoted by right-wing governments, such as the Forum for the Progress of South America (PROSUR) and the Lima Group, have no credibility as a result of its members being aligned with a United States, which is once again exerting some influence in the region. Thus, a more fragmented Latin America and the Caribbean becomes another arena for growing global geopolitical competition, with a rising China, a more assertive Russia, and a more interventionist United States, although it has no clear strategy beyond clumsy struggles to contain China and its interests. 

    The imperative to reactivate the bi-regional relationship and the role of the European Union 

    In this scenario, the EU should reactivate its relationship with Latin America and the Caribbean. After a period of relative abandonment of the bi-regional link, it is aiming to gain presence and dialogue within the region. This entails a stronger commitment and greater investment of political capital. Indeed, given the region’s fragmentation and the greater competition in global geopolitics, Latin America seems to perceive China and the United States as the key actors in the economy and/or in managing political crises, particularly in the case of Venezuela. This perception of emerging bipolarity has weakened the EU’s position, but this is also based on self-inflicted reasons: on the one hand, the loss of political dialogue. The 8th EU-LAC Summit, which was to be held in 2017, was suspended sine die due to political divisions on the Latin American side, but also, little was done to reverse the situation on the European side. On the other hand, changes in the EU development cooperation policy adopted in the 2014-2020 budget period, which, with the “grading” of most of the middle-income countries in the region, meant that the EU would deprive itself of the tools and resources that, beyond the transfer of resources, are necessary for development work in the region.  

    Given the regional and global scenario and the new political situation in European institutions, it is necessary to recognise both the imperative of a renewed bi-regional relationship, as well as the opportunities that would be opened up in the new regional geopolitical landscape. In light of the competitive power that other global powers exert in Latin America and the Caribbean, how can the EU act with the new geopolitical vision the Von der Leyen Commission has adopted as its strategic direction and hallmark of its mandate? On the one hand, the EU must continue to act with its own profile and unique initiatives to address the crises in the region, in particular in Venezuela. In light of the risk this crisis poses, it is essential to deal with its humanitarian dimension with initiatives that also contribute to its negotiated exit, promoting elections with democratic guarantees, or initiatives that allow the use of the country’s oil resources to acquire essential goods abroad, through a partial suspension of US sanctions, as proposed by the initiative known as “Petroleum for Venezuela”. 

    Beyond these crisis scenarios, in Latin America and the Caribbean, a “geopolitical EU” must be based on a social agenda. The EU is now the only global actor in regional geopolitics that is approaching Latin America with an agenda focused on the central concerns of their societies: inclusion, quality of democracy, human rights, gender equality, peace and citizen security. In short, with everything that constitutes the 2030 Agenda, the content of which can be seen as a renewal of the “social contract”, which today is in question. In particular, Latin America and the Caribbean offer an opportunity for the European Green Deal to develop its external dimension. To this effect, resuming the bi-regional political dialogue and promoting a more active cooperation policy through the new programmes and financial instruments that are being defined within the 2021-2027 Multiannual Financial Framework is considered to be urgent.  

    To a large extent, many of these elements have already been raised in the Communication “The European Union, Latin America and the Caribbean: joining forces for a common future” from April 20192. It is the first EU policy document with Latin America since 2009 and it makes important changes: firstly, a more horizontal relationship to address shared challenges. It is not, as in the past, an EU that paternally helps Latin America to solve its problems, but one of two regions that are working together in the light of shared interdependencies, risks and challenges. Secondly, the repolitisation of relations, with a “more strategic political commitment”, more investment of political capital, and “stronger” positions on shared values and interests.  Thirdly, a relationship with “variable geometry” is proposed: to avoid the “one size fits all” or “least common denominator” approach by recognising the diversity of LAC, and this would mean further progress between the countries and groups that want to and can intensify their commitment around four priorities: prosperity, democracy, resilience and effective global governance.  

    To this end, the EU must implement an advanced cooperation strategy, in line with the new, more horizontal European Consensus on Development, which, without renouncing the use of development aid, must leave “gradation” behind and be open to all the countries in the region. This requires a “tailored” approach for each country, including South-South and triangular cooperation, public policy dialogue, knowledge sharing and significant investment in areas such as resilient infrastructure and ecological transition, by means of the financing channels that the new Instrument for Neighbourhood, Development and International Cooperation (IVDCI) provides.  

    Underlying this societal and geopolitical agenda there is an important premise. There will be no way to face global challenges such as climate change, migration, trade, security, accelerated technological change, and the future of work, essential to achieving the 2030 Agenda, if both regions do not rebuild bi-regional dialogue and join forces within the multilateral agenda. 

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  • 02 January 2020

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    Posteado en : Opinion

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    Vulnerability, corruption and human trafficking, links in the same criminal chain

    EUROsociAL+ and the Ibero-American Association of Public Prosecutor's Offices (AIAMP) are promoting joint action by prosecutors in Argentina, Paraguay and Brazil to combat corrupt practices that facilitate human trafficking.

    Shortly before dawn, Maria crossed the Paraná River on a barge. She did not have the migratory permits to reach her destination, but rather the hope for a better life. The triple border that connects Brazil, Argentina and Paraguay for over 1,000 kilometres is easily breached. With the promise of a job as a household employee, she arrived in the Argentine province of Misiones. Upon arrival, her alleged employers took away her identity card and showed her around her new workplace, an illegal brothel on a ranch. From that moment onwards, Maria was forced into working as a prostitute in a small room, surviving on the minimum that her captors gave her.  She had become one of the more than 2.5 million victims of human trafficking worldwide, according to figures from the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC).

    She decided to escape, but did not get very far. She was found by a local police officer who, far from helping her, returned her to the brothel. This real case is an example of how the corruption of public officials facilitates or is complicit in human trafficking, a criminal phenomenon that particularly affects women and girls, usually for the purposes of sexual exploitation. This is underlined by Sergio Leonardo Rodríguez, head of the Administrative Investigations Office (PIA) at the Argentine Public Prosecutor’s Office: “A human trafficking network, especially for the purposes of sexual exploitation, cannot prosper without corruption. It’s just not possible. The public agent component is always needed to facilitate these crimes and the officers responsible for investigations must be conscious of this factor. This is why it is very important that cases are investigated from the beginning with this double vision: looking at both corruption and trafficking”.

    The corruption of public officials is manifested in aspects such as the periodic collection of money and/or the possibility of receiving sexual favours. On the other hand, these officials can also neglect their duties regarding inspection and surveillance, or act by improperly facilitating the issuance of documents or permits. They may also hinder the action of justice by providing information on operations and offering protection to criminals, among other illegal behaviour. This deviant behaviour can occur in police bodies, customs agents, health agents, doctors, judges, prosecutors, municipal authorities, among others, along the length of the criminal people trafficking chain. In some cases they reflect the existence of small-scale corruption, but in others this behaviour is part of a systemic phenomenon. In other scenarios, their powers allow officials to control the criminal activity itself.

    In October, and with the aim of combating this scourge, the First International Workshop on Corruption and People Trafficking was organised in Buenos Aires by the Democratic Governance area of the EUROsociAL+ Programme and the Argentine Public Prosecutor’s Office. Participating in the activity, carried out within the framework of the First Work Plan by the Network of Prosecutors Against Corruption, which pertains to the Ibero-American Association of Public Prosecutor’s Offices (AIAMP), were representatives from anti-trafficking and corruption departments from Brazil, Paraguay and Argentina. The latter country also providing personnel from the National Ombudsman’s Office, the National Anti-Corruption Office, the Victim Protection Unit at the Ministry of Justice, the University of Buenos Aires and the NGOs Women in Equality and Citizen Power.

    During the activity, corruption and the associated risks present in human trafficking were analysed, as well as various problems relating to the lack of identification and early prosecution of these practices, distrust in the state or fear of reporting caused by the perception that local authorities are involved with criminal organisations.

    “The rescues we have had were of women and girls from extremely vulnerable homes”

    The workshop also analysed how the extreme vulnerability of women and girls is capitalised on by the criminals who exploit this criminal economy. This is described by a Trial Prosecutor from Posadas (Misiones), Vivian Barbosa: “The rescues we have had were of women and girls from extremely vulnerable homes. Sometimes, they could not be defined as homes, since the parents themselves had been the ones who had handed them over to carry out this type of work. Therefore, they often do not feel as if they are victims, moreover, they considered they were better off in these places. They come from places without drinking water, with dirt floors. So when someone offers them a room with a bathroom, food and, eventually, the possibility of sending money to their families, they see it as an improvement and accept this condition, they don’t feel they are victims. I have frequently had the sensation, when a rescue is taking place, that the liberated women were angry because we had got them out of prostitution”.

    A series of strategic proposals emerged in relation to such institutional and inter-institutional organisation, the early linking of anti-corruption investigations in cases of people trafficking where required, the strengthening of the capacity for analysis and the strengthening of anonymous complaint and protection mechanisms. Likewise, the importance of preventing these manifestations of corruption and making their risks visible was also outlined.

    As far as Maria is concerned, with whom we started this article, she finally had better luck. Two Paraguayan friends managed to flee the ranch and the bus they were travelling on was intercepted at a border police control. They reported the situation and Maria and four other Argentine women who were still captive, two of them minors, were released. The two pimps, a man and a woman, were sentenced to 15 years in jail. No action was ever taken against the corrupt officials that facilitated this criminal activity.

    Borja Díaz Rivillas, Senior Expert in Democratic Governance for FIIAPP and EUROsociAL+

    Ana Linda Solano, EUROsociAL+ expert in corruption and gender

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  • 19 December 2019

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    Posteado en : Opinion

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    More ambition from COP25

    Alma Martín Pérez, a support technician in the EU-Cuba Exchange of Experiences programme to promote renewable energy sources and energy efficiency reflects on programme participation at COP25 and the results of the summit.

    Ponentes del acto "Transición energética y oportunidades de inversión económica en Cuba"

    The COP25 World Climate Summit expected more ambitious agreements on climate change neutrality by 2050. The frantic level of discussions and negotiations from the almost 200 countries participating in the summit relentlessly sought a last-minute consensus. Nonetheless, the CO2 emissions market and other relevant issues were postponed until Glasgow COP26, scheduled for November 2020.

    Over two weeks, representatives from countries, international organisations, institutions and civil society produced figures that testify to the urgent need for action: The oceans are receiving 13,000,000 tonnes of plastic annually, increasing acidification of the seas is affecting fishing and impacts on food security. Three quarters of the planet are under threat, over one million species are at risk of extinction, greenhouse gases have reached a new high. The next 50 years will see 250 million to 1 billion environmental refugees. The data is overwhelming. Commitments are needed to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and avoid the temperature rising by over 1.5 degrees.

    Nonetheless, COP25 was not only about raising the alarm and the environmental emergency. It also offered spaces for awareness and dialogue to address environmental issues from a multi-disciplinary approach: biodiversity, gender, migration, town planning, industry, finance, technological development, etc. A wide range of topics to ensure that both specialists and the general public alike learn of the situation as it stands, without giving way to drama and pessimism, because there is still time to act.

    Accordingly, FIIAPP worked closely with the High Commissioner for the 2030 Agenda, Cristina Gallach, helping to organise COP and promoting different activities, such as the panel on “Energy transition and economic investment opportunities in Cuba” in collaboration with the project coordinator Maite Jaramillo, Felice Zaccheo (European Commission Head of the Regional Programs Unit for Latin America and the Caribbean), Marlenis Águila (Director of Renewable Energies at the Cuban Ministry of Energy and Mines), Elaine Moreno (General Director of the National Energy Office in Cuba – ONURE), Ramsés Montes (Director of Energy Policy at ONURE) and Eric Sicart (Fira Barcelona). This event falls within the scope of the EU-Cuba Experience Exchange programme to promote renewable energy sources and energy efficiency, which is funded by the European Union and managed by FIIAPP. The main elements of the programme were highlighted at this event, along with the opportunities and challenges facing Cuba in developing renewable sources and using energy efficiently.

    Island countries are directly subject to the consequences of climate change and are aware of how strongly environmental protection is linked to sustainable economic and social development. Formed by specialists from MINEM and ONURE, the Cuban delegation invited to the COP used the panel to announce the country’s ambitious policy to substantially reduce the use of hydrocarbons and carbon dioxide emissions by 2030 by progressively increasing renewable energy sources and enhancing their use in the electric power generation matrix.

    Beyond the COP, the international community has begun to take steps towards ecological transition. However, the challenge is to do so in time and justly and fairly to prevent a worsening of existing inequalities. The responsibility for change requires public policies by countries, international and regional organisations aimed at decarbonising the economy, adapting the current system to the Sustainable Development Goals and the 2030 Agenda.

    Even though the agreements reached at COP are not those envisaged, one thing has become evident in the course of the summit, namely, the interest of Spanish society in strengthening climatic action and in progressing towards CO2 emission neutrality. It is time to act and seek joint solutions.