01 February 2018
Category : Opinion
The project against organised crime and drug trafficking trains the institutions involved in the countryTraining as part of the project
A few weeks ago, the director for Latin America and the Caribbean at EuropeAid, Jolita Butkeviciene, tweeted that “the European Union does not impose programmes, it backs national policies; this is our way of looking at cooperation”.
These statements fit perfectly with the results being achieved in the fight against organised crime and drug trafficking in Peru. This fight is being backed and supported by the European Union in an effective way through a project managed by FIIAPP, as well as additional funding amounting to 32 million euros.
In 2017, our Peruvian partners, whose national policies we back and support, achieved the best ever results in the fight against organised crime. 111 criminal drug trafficking organisations were disbanded, 78 illegal runways for transporting drugs to other countries were destroyed, and 324 cocaine laboratories were burnt down, many of them identified through intelligence work. What’s more, 22,165 hectares of coca leaves were destroyed, preventing the production of up to 204.8 tonnes of cocaine. These results are unparalleled in terms of previous years and denote a clear effort by the new Peruvian administration to improve results in this area.
The project, implemented by FIIAPP, provides training and technical assistance for the main institutions that fight against organised crime and drug trafficking in this Andean country. The Peruvian participants in this project are obtaining very good results and it has been independently verified that they are successfully applying the knowledge and tools transmitted by officials from EU member states to their Peruvian counterparts.
SUNAT Aduanas is one of the institutions being supported by this project, in this case in preventing contraband:
Also worth mentioning is the backing and support the project has given to judicial authorities to successfully resolve big national cases linked to international organised gangs, and the achievements reached in terms of intelligence, such as the creation of the first IT system to manage information to combat organized crime in Peru (SIIETID).
We live in an interconnected world and cooperation plays an essential role in resolving problems related to transnational organised crime. This influences many areas of the bi-regional European-Latin American agenda.
The problem of drug trafficking must be broken down according to its type and its impact on institutions and people. There is a large difference between a drug producing country and a drug transit or a country that consumes drugs. In Latin America, drug trafficking has a direct effect on the governability of states. The enormous amounts of money moved by organised gangs can be enough to buy governmental structures and destabilise countries—sadly, there are many examples in the region. This is without mentioning the violence it generates and the damage it does to social cohesion. In Europe, there is a deep impact in terms of crime, but it remains primarily a public health issue. Two problems which are interconnected on both sides of the Atlantic.
Through big bilateral projects managed by FIIAPP in Peru and Bolivia and regional projects like EL PAcCTO and COPOLAD, the EU backs policies aimed at combating organised crime and drug trafficking, problems which have such a large impact in both Latin America and Europe. This support is applied through an on-demand method, something which our Latin American partners really appreciate, who praise the EU’s horizontal rather than paternalistic way of working. This is definitely a recipe for obtaining good results.
In fact, this participative working method is one of the hallmarks of the ‘soft power’ approach that characterises EU cooperation. These projects, in which knowledge is shared and long-lasting links between public administrations on both sides of the Atlantic are established, are undoubtedly the best way to achieve results which are sustainable in the long term. In fact, our project has produced contact networks that are already working on researching areas related to transnational organised crime, not only between Europe and Peru but also regionally.
Public safety as a goal
However, we cannot afford to be complacent. The fight against organised crime is polycentered and involves many challenges, such as money laundering and effective collaboration between governments. To improve the quality of life of people in many Latin American countries, we need to make progress in this area as this will have a direct impact on the safety and well-being of citizens. In 2017 alone, 25,000 people were violently killed in Mexico for reasons linked to organised crime, something which should make us think about how to support our partners in the region.
Latin America is a strategic cultural and trade partner for the European Union and as such we need to a have a consistent and improved collaboration policy which helps to optimise the well-being of its population and protect the rule of law. Twenty years since its creation, there is no doubt that FIIAPP is a mature instrument that is well suited to channelling and implementing bi-regional European-Latin American cooperation projects and achieving the excellent results we are now seeing. Let’s not forget that, as outlined in the latest Elcano report, the 2016 European Global Strategy talks about a wider Atlantic space and states that the EU will try to extend cooperation and forge strong links with Latin America and the Caribbean.
Due to its extensive experience and recognition in the region, the Foundation is already a key player in achieving this goal and an important ally of European institutions in empowering the State. This is exactly why we need to keep zealously promoting the results obtained by our Latin American partners. Using facts to demonstrate that as well as strengthening our counterpart institutions on the other side of the Atlantic, more importantly, these actions improve the lives of their people.
Gerard Muñoz, coordinator of the project to fight drug trafficking in Peru
More information on the project in our area on Radio Nacional de España (RNE):
The views and opinions expressed in this blog are the sole responsibility of its author.