13 December 2018
Posteado en : Interview
"Colombians are very open, which facilitates closeness"
In this interview, Pepa Rubio tells us about her life in Bogotá since she began her career as an expert in management and gender on the AMERIPOL support project, focused on strengthening the international cooperation capacities of the police forces that are part of AMERIPOL.
How long have you been in Colombia? How have you adapted to this country?
I have been in Bogotá for about 5 months, where I came to manage the EL PAcCTO: support to AMERIPOL project whose objective is to improve the cooperation of the police and judicial authorities of the partner countries in their fight against transnational crime. The project is exciting and I am also having the opportunity to go deeper into issues such as Gender Violence and Human Trafficking, which I consider crucial and which have a great impact in the region.
As for my transfer, I was accompanied by my husband and my son and at the beginning I was rather worried about what the adaptation would be like for the whole family. Luckily we have adapted quickly and well. Fortunately we have not suffered from altitude sickness. Bogotá is a great city and we like life here, although we must take certain precautions in terms of security.
What has been the most difficult aspect to adapt to, and the easiest?
The traffic is the biggest problem I have found living here, depending on the time of day the “trancón” (traffic jam) is inevitable and it is a bit exasperating. The easiest thing is the contact with people, luckily I met lovely people right from the beginning. Colombians are very open and facilitate closeness, which I love!
Is this your first experience outside of Spain?
It is not my first experience abroad. Before Bogotá I spent 3 years in China and another 3 years in Vietnam working with Spanish cooperation on issues related to gender and human trafficking. I also lived a year in Germany where I finished my university studies. It is my first long-term stay in Latin America, and because of the cultural ties that unite us with the region, I think adapting has been comparatively easier.
What is your work like and your daily routine? Is it very different from the routine you had in Spain?
I work at the AMERIPOL head office in Bogota, so my colleagues in the office are members of the Security Forces of several countries in the region, at the beginning it was unusual working surrounded by uniforms and I still have trouble remembering the ranks of all. In any case, my colleagues at AMERIPOL have received me with open arms, despite being a civilian, for which I am very grateful.
As for the management work, it is not very different from what I was doing in head office, but I do notice that, being concentrated on a single project, I find it easier to keep up with the management and contents than when I was responsible for multiple projects. Due to the nature of the project, our activities depend to a certain extent on the support of high political and police authorities, and the reality is that with 8 partner countries we continuously depend on electoral calendars, rotation of governments, ministers or police directors and we have to prevent these changes from affecting our programming (or minimise the effects), although this is difficult.
What is your relationship like with head office in Madrid? And with your colleagues in Bogota?
My relationship with head office is very good as well as constant and necessary. I have a very close contact with Irene Cara at the technical level and with Álvaro Rodríguez for economic management, both of them help me and improve the results of my work. Irene was already responsible for the backstopping of the previous phase of the project, so having her background knowledge is a good thing.
At the leadership level, both Ana Hernández and Mariano Guillen are very involved in the activities and their follow-up, this commitment is very important for the success of the activities and their visibility vis-à-vis Spanish institutions.
I also have contact with the legal department, the ICT department and with the communication partners, whom I all bother from time to time.
As for my colleagues from Bogotá, the project office is made up of Marcos Alvar, the project manager, Nadia Kahuazango, the project assistant, and myself. Marcos is in charge of the technical part and the relations with the partner countries, and each day is an opportunity to learn from his extensive experience in police cooperation. His coordination is also very horizontal, which makes it possible to add visions and inputs and achieve results that are shared by the whole team. Nadia takes care of the logistics part very diligently and is a great companion.
How would you assess your experience of working as a FIIAPP expatriate in Bogota?
I consider myself privileged to have the opportunity to contribute my experience and energy to such an interesting and relevant project. I firmly believe in the importance of consolidating AMERIPOL as a hemispheric cooperation mechanism and the project is contributing enormously to this process.
At the level of the tasks to be carried out, I think that the fact of having worked in the FIIAPP headquarters before gives me a very complete view of the work, having been on both sides of the curtain is very useful as it helps me to empathise with and understand the positions of both the headquarters and those on the ground.
In addition, FIIAPP as an organisation is a ten out of ten, another advantage of working in an organisation at this level is that there are other projects with similar themes and activities and colleagues are always willing to share experiences and contribute to the coordination of content. It is a luxury to have so many good professionals a click or a call away.
Do you have any experiences or anecdotes about your arrival in the country?
In the first meeting I had in Colombia, someone asked what we wanted to drink and everyone asked for a “tinto”, which in Spain is a red wine, and I remember thinking: Christ, it’s not even nine o’clock in the morning! I asked for a glass of water. Then they brought coffees for everyone and I realised that a “tinto” in Colombia is a coffee, and to think that I almost asked for a beer to help me “fit in”, I would have died of embarrassment!
23 November 2017
Posteado en : Interview
Mariano Simancas, Chief Commissioner and Head of the International Cooperation Division with the National Police, tells us about the challenges, results and projects in this area that the force is working on, in collaboration with FIIAPP
Guaranteeing security is one of the most important challenges at the international level. What are, in your opinion, the most relevant issues or areas for the Police to address in relation to international cooperation?
Spain maintains its interest in fighting against all forms of terrorism, organised crime and illegal immigration, as well as against related crimes: human trafficking, document forgery and money laundering. Although it is equally important to emphasise that we are part of the European Union and it is the European Police Agency (EUROPOL) which, after consulting the Member States, establishes the priorities through its reports: SOCTA and TE-SAT, the keys to establishing national policies.
In addition, the advance of jihadist terrorism has meant a substantial change in work dynamics in terms of international cooperation and the transformation of collaboration procedures.
Where do you think there is a need for projects in which the police can participate? In which areas and in which countries?
Following on from this, at present the police will be interested in participating in any cooperation project that fights against terrorism, illegal immigration, organised crime and related crimes. Right now the key region, where many of these phenomena occur, is Africa. Without forgetting what has already been undertaken in the Ibero-American region, where several successful projects have been carried out.
What are the challenges for international police cooperation?
The Treaty of Lisbon introduced an interesting perspective: the “integrated approach”, according to which the EU’s work and initiatives are no longer formulated in a closed, linear manner, they now involve different cross-cutting tasks and synergies between different actors.
This approach requires that, in police or judicial matters, other perspectives such as social or educational perspectives be observed, which will consolidate the desired stability, but it also forces us to work jointly with different bodies.
Can you highlight the results and impact of an international cooperation project on which you have worked?
We are very satisfied with the participation of the National Police in many projects, which demonstrates its excellent collaboration with FIIAPP, but I would highlight the work of AMERIPOL. What initially started as an EU sponsored project to exchange data on drug trafficking, has continued growing with the support of different countries in Ibero-America, leading to the development of the Ameripol National Units, as well as the use of SIPA (Police Information Exchange System for AMERIPOL). We expect further development and growth similar to that of EUROPOL.
The police is currently working on a wide range of challenges, such as those that affect the environment. What are your thoughts on the projects that deal with chemical and biological CBRN threats?
The European Union is showing increasing interest in environmental crime: illicit trafficking, illegal logging, arson or illicit discharges. The eighth round of mutual evaluations has started within this European framework. It will assess the extent to which Community legislation and the measures taken by the different Member States are sufficient to deal with issues related to illegal trafficking, and it will also make appropriate recommendations.
Another threat the police technicians are working to combat is drug trafficking and organised crime, what are the major advances that can be highlighted in this area thanks to international cooperation projects?
The National Police has been working intensively for many years to combat criminal groups and organisations, which has provided us with an excellent understanding of their progress towards models specialising in financial engineering and with precise transactions on the internet using new technologies. Obviously these new circumstances influence the work the police undertakes, and they make it much more focused and specialised, so that is why we have been moving in this direction lately.
The trafficking of arms and people are also global phenomena, what are the main challenges at the police level?
The policing of both of these kinds of criminal activities has political support from the highest levels of the European Union and the Spanish Directorate General of the Police.
Arms trafficking has been tackled within the Criminal Policy Cycle as an Operational Action Plan, which will cover 2018 and 2019. Spain has led this initiative and achieved some spectacular results. One example is Operation PORTU, which took place earlier this year in the province of Biscay. It resulted in the seizure of more than eight thousand firearms ready for sale to terrorists and organised crime groups.
In terms of human trafficking, the strategic objective is to minimise the damage caused by this social scourge. From the publicity campaigns, such as the one launched a few years ago “Con la trata no hay trato” (which roughly translates as zero tolerance for human trafficking), to the special focus on dismantling organisations involved in this phenomenon, in which the international cooperation component is key. I can state that it is one of the highest priorities for the police.
The police has been working with FIIAPP for almost twenty years. How would you assess FIIAPP’s work in these areas, and the collaboration between both institutions around the world?
I can only express how pleased I am with it. The collaboration between FIIAPP and the National Police has been efficiently managed for many years. This cooperation has resulted in the implementation of numerous projects: from twinnings with EU candidate countries to the management of Internal Security Fund programmes, or more recently the Trust Fund that allocates large amounts of money to projects linked to illegal immigration, mainly in Africa. In all these cases, FIIAPP has been a solid and reliable travelling companion.
I am fully aware that the management of funds is not an easy task, and in this case, the Foundation gives us the necessary support to push forward with all the international cooperation initiatives that interest us. We hope to be able to count on this support in the years ahead, and to strengthen this relationship of mutual trust that allows us to make progress in the specialisation and improvement of the service that the National Police provides.