• 03 September 2015


    Posteado en : Interview

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    “The EU has a very powerful security strategy right now”

    The head of FIIAPP's Security and Justice team explains the Foundation's work in the fight against drug trafficking and the EU's anti-terrorism efforts.

    Ensuring the security of citizens is a major objective in FIIAPP’s work. All over the world, the Foundation develops cooperation projects funded by the European Commission in the areas of security, the fight against drug trafficking, the eradication of terrorism and money laundering, and the prevention of natural disasters and nuclear, radiological, biological and chemical threats.

    The experience exchanges it facilitates between European Union member states and the beneficiaries result in changes to laws, regulations and working strategies that enable the receptor countries to offer a more secure life to their citizens.

    In this conversation, Ana Hernández fills us in on the details of the work of the Foundation in the fight against drug trafficking and other areas in this sector, and how the European Union, in response to the current context, has put the focus on preventing radicalisation and terrorism.


    Where is FIIAPP’s work concentrated in terms of illegal drug trafficking and why?

    We are focused mainly on the Cocaine Route, which theoretically runs from Latin America to Europe, through Africa; and on the Heroin Route, which runs from Afghanistan and has one branch through Asia and another through the Black Sea. These are the two routes we concentrate on for developing projects, because the Commission is focused on these two routes.


    What do we do there?

    Right now we have many types of projects. In the ‘Cocaine Route’, we have projects focused both on ports and container control, and on fighting money laundering of the proceeds of drug trafficking. In Latin America, through AMERIPOL, we are also trying to create a new police network in Latin America. This means applying a global approach to the fight against drug trafficking. In the ‘Heroin Route’, we’ve also been working on human trafficking and on the creation of information networks so that police forces can exchange information and conduct monitoring.


    Are more and more projects of this type being funded?

    The European Union has a very powerful security strategy right now and is funding large projects. What we’ve observed is that they are funding large-scale projects: they want various member countries to join together to develop these projects with a more global approach to contribute their experience, along with Spain, to other countries—for example, Ghana or Venezuela—with very different idiosyncrasies, so that they can benefit from this knowledge. In the end, this means creating networks, creating links, learning together. Often, when it’s our policies or our civil guards that are going to these countries, you realise that there are many things over there that they can learn from, and synergies and good relationships end up being created.


    Is the EU starting to work in new areas?

    Lately they are focusing on issues related to terrorism. Large-scale programmes are being launched to fight terrorism, and radicalisation is being attacked. The EU is realising the great power terrorist groups have in communication media, on the Internet, and in all these networks, for getting their messages out, and that many people who were not radical are becoming radicalised, being recruited… So they’re making a great effort in this area. In fact, one of the large projects for which we have submitted a proposal recently is specifically on the issue of radicalisation. Although it’s also true that this aspect is included in all terrorism projects.

    Another issue being addressed increasingly in Europe is cybercrime. It’s an issue which is rising in importance and which, evidently, is being developed increasingly and has great potential.

    And, lastly, the EU is working on the fight against money laundering. This is also important because of its role in financing terrorism and organised crime. The fight against money-laundering and financing networks, which in the end is what feeds these groups, is also a way of eradicating this problem.

  • 10 July 2015


    Posteado en : Opinion

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    Searching for Cocaine at the Port of Callao (Peru)

    Gerard Muñoz, coordinator of the EU project to combat drug trafficking in Peru, witnesses an operation conducted by the Peruvian port authorities at the Port of Callao.

    It’s 6:15 in the morning and we are at the entrance to the loading docks at the Port of Callao, around 25 kilometres north of Lima. There is a quite odd and steady flow of workers, stevedores, seamen, customs officials, contractors and other people that you really can’t tell what they do at a port, which employs over 5,000 people and is one of the largest ports on the American continent. One of the characters milling around the port approaches me and asks me for a cigarette, I offer him the last one in my pack, telling him to keep it and that I’m going to give up anyway. Oddly, it’s the same brand as he usually smokes, or so he tells me. The guy smiles and asks me where I’m from, I tell him that I’m from Iceland, that usually means that people will leave me alone and not bother me with talk about Barça and Madrid. It’s very early and I got up at 4:15 am.

    Here the days begin way before dawn and you never know when they will end, today is the second week of the course that we have organised on searching ships and shipping containers for drugs. Two German customs officials have come along to teach the primarily practical activities. From their height and build, it’s obvious that they are not from this land. Both the instructors and the students are excellent and have achieved some unbeatable results.

    It’s calculated that 60% of the cocaine that currently arrives in Europe comes from Peru. The majority of this substance is transported to its destination by sea. It normally arrives at the commercial ports and recreational harbours of Spain, Belgium or Holland. Drug traffickers are usually ahead of the curve in terms of techniques for hiding drugs. We have seen everything from clothing impregnated with cocaine, drugs hidden in the stomachs of frozen fish or in babies’ nappies – anything goes.

    No less surprising or dramatic is the situation faced by some people in Peru who become involved in this illegal trade, most due to need but others due to greed. From the poor farmer who is under a death threat to grow the coca plant (both he and his family) from the narco-terrorist group Shining Path; the young person forced to work in a chemical laboratory in the jungle to make base paste and who is a target of bombing by the army (something which is not reported in newspapers); the single mother who, to pay her bills, swallows 74 bags of cocaine and is arrested on arrival in Europe because she has been reported by the very same organisation that it trying to smuggle in other “drug mules” on the same flight and so wants to distract customs officials; to other more tragic situations that I prefer not to go into. It’s hard when you see the human faces involved in this business to get the ‘product’ to the end user.

    Of course, the protagonists of the previous paragraph are just cannon fodder for this business. In reality, the real beneficiaries of this illegal industry are the large criminal organisations, fiscal paradises and certain powers that be, which have no regard for the human repercussions of this issue.

    With a view to disrupting this illicit trade, the European Union has launched a project to support the fight against drug trafficking in Peru, led by FIIAPP, in collaboration its partners, the law enforcement agencies of Spain, Germany, United Kingdom, France and Czech Republic. The objective of this project is to improve the air, land and sea drug interception capabilities, as well as improving capabilities for obtaining intelligence, investigating and prosecuting drug lords.

    At the time of writing this post, as part of one the project’s activities, we are working at the Port of Callao alongside the institutions responsible for drugs seizures at Peruvian port, namely customs, police, public prosecutors and coast guard.

    As I said at the start, in the morning we build a profile of suspicious ships and containers, then we later carry out the practical search activities on them to see what we can find. For example, the port intelligence unit passed us some information about a container carrying frozen corn, passion fruit pulp and Rocoto pepper (very spicy) to Spain. Come on! As if there isn’t enough corn in Spain or it is cheaper to bring it frozen in a refrigerated container from Peru – it just doesn’t make sense. So we set the container aside to be searched. The students on the course disassemble the container’s refrigeration system and check the load and, indeed, among the corn and passion fruit pulp we find a suspicious box containing a security seal and instructions on how to apply it. This means that at some point between Callao and Spain, this container would be opened, loaded with cocaine and the new security seal would then installed. An investigation is currently ongoing into who placed the new security seal inside the container and into other issues relating to the container’s origin and destination. Curiously, a worker from the loading area in which the container was stored has disappeared and no one seems to know where he is.


    At the end of the day we attend a debriefing session, where everyone explains what they have learned and how it can be replicated in their units. The idea behind this project is that every time you train someone, that person in turn conveys the knowledge gained to other members of the department to which they are assigned.

    As night falls, our day’s session comes to an end and we make our way back to Lima, in rush hour traffic it will take us at least another hour to get home. Tomorrow we will begin again at dawn, I wonder what we will find…

    Gerard Muñoz Arcos – Coordinator of the EU-ENLCD Project (Videoblog)

  • 18 June 2015


    Posteado en : Opinion

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    The cooperation and development fair

    EUROsociAL, the European Commission programme for social cohesion in Latin America, participated in European Development Days in Brussels.

    The year 2015 is key for cooperation. Declared the European Year of Development by the European Union, its mid-point coincided with its flagship event, European Development Days, which brought together people from five continents in Brussels with a significant African presence (an exception to the logical European majority), dozens of public institutions (also with a clear European Union majority), bilateral agencies and international bodies, fewer DNGOs than expected, and a small but media-covered presence by the private sector, with special attention to Melinda Gates and the Gates Foundation championing health issues.

    Three auditoriums, 16 laboratories (or small conference rooms), 5 meeting points, 44 stands, 4 press areas and 2 television broadcasting sets, numerous cameras and a good turnout, without reaching the attendance levels of ARCO or FITUR to give a close-at-hand example. In short, a true cooperation fair.

    But beyond the staging, it was possible to learn a great deal from others and to invite them to take an interest in the themes that EUROsociAL proposed in Brussels: Europe and Latin America, their cooperation relationship, social cohesion policies, and the reality of the two regions during the crisis and at the present time. An interesting thematic and geographic “exception” in an agenda more focused on Africa and Asia and on sectors such as migration, health and food safety.

    As far as the rest was concerned, the theme of inequality was very important, and here the FIIAPP also participated along with think tanks like ODI and DIE, and the World Bank; gender equality with the presence of AECID; reproductive rights; the Ebola crisis; food safety with an impressive stand by the FAO (including planters made of rubber tyres made in Guatemala); and the fresh proposals of young international leaders.

    Constant foot traffic (with a look that was more white-collar than NGO) peppered by musical performances, photographic exhibitions, improvised interviews… an event with a paperless spirit in which the technological assistance was lacking (or failed) as the WiFi was not up to the deployment arranged by the organisers, as the participating institutions are called in Brussels.

    This decisive year for development will bring us another three milestones: the third conference on development financing (Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, 13th-16th July); the special summit on sustainable development (New York, 25th-27th September), where the Sustainable Development Goals (SDG) are to be approved, and the summit on climate change (COP21, Paris, December).

    As for the #EDD2015 tweets, they’re already talking about 2016.

    By Enrique Martínez, EUROsociAL communication and visibility officer

  • 28 May 2015


    Posteado en : Reportage

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    The face of development aid

    Nineteen Spaniards are contributing their faces and their stories to explain to citizens what the development aid lent by the European Union consists of.

    Núria is a “Barcelonesa” and she lives in Angola. She is a face of cooperation. She collaborates with a local development project in this African country. It’s not the first time she’s worked as a volunteer, or in Angola or Africa. Mozambique and Mauritania were earlier destinations.


    Now 39 years of age, she’s contributing her experience as an economist and social worker to local Angolan institutions. The purpose of this project, financed by the European Commission and managed by the FIIAPP, is to improve opportunities for economic development and access to basic social services for vulnerable rural families.


    This year, Núria has been chosen as one of the faces of the Nineteen Citizens Give Development Aid a Face campaign as part of the “2015 European Year of Development” launched by the Representation of the European Commission and the Information Office of the European Parliament in Spain. The goal is to explain what Europe is doing in the area of cooperation through the experiences of these citizens. All of them are Spaniards.

    Did you know that the EU is the largest donor to development aid?

    The European Union and its Member States are the largest donors of development aid worldwide, and they fund and drive hundreds of programmes and initiatives aimed at improving living conditions for citizens. In 2013 they donated 56.5 billion euros to help countries all over the world fight poverty.

    The “2015 European Year of Development” seeks to publicise this activity and also its results. “Our world. Our dignity. Our future” is its slogan, and the story of Núria and all the other faces of development aid are helping to spread the word about it in Europe and the rest of the world. #EYD2015#19Rostros


  • 07 May 2015


    Posteado en : Opinion

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    Health, for all

    Going to the hospital in Popayán, in Colombia, can turn into an odyssey costing up to 100,000 pesos (€35), a luxury most people can't afford.

    A European citizen takes an average of 15 minutes to reach a doctor, but in Colombia territorial dispersion represents a barrier to ensuring access to healthcare services. The city of Tambo, the country’s second largest in surface area, is one such example. There, in an area of 3,280 km2 with some 60,0000 inhabitants (94% in remote rural areas), there is one doctor for every 7,500 inhabitants, well below the national average (15 per 10,000 inhabitants). And from one community, it can take several hours, on horseback or in a car, to reach the closest medical centre. Under these conditions, reaching the hospital in Popayán, the capital of the department, can turn into an odyssey costing up to 100,000 pesos (€35), according to Eduardo Villa, physician and manager of the hospital of Tambo. A luxury beyond the reach of most of the inhabitants of one of the poorest departments of the country, in which the average per-capita income is 250,000 pesos[ii] (€100).


    These factors explain, in part, the city’s dramatic perinatal mortality rates in recent years: 34 per 1,000, double the national average and nearly 10 times greater than in Spain. When he arrived at the hospital in 2012, Dr Villa decided to address this problem by seeking the support of key stakeholders in this mainly indigenous and rural territory: traditional doctors and midwives. This meant adding the experience of Western medicine to the experience and ancestral knowledge of midwives. Dr Villa created groups for exchanges and training with the aim of improving monitoring of pregnant women, and prevention and detection of high-risk pregnancies. Luis Amaro, midwife and traditional doctor, was a member of one of these groups. He’s been attending births in isolated indigenous communities, day and night, all his life. Since he’s started participating in the midwife group, he now quickly identifies high-risk pregnancies and sends the patients to the hospital.


    Another initiative launched by the hospital was the opening of a “hotel for pregnant women”, to facilitate early admission of women with high-risk pregnancies at no charge. The result of these two measures combined is noteworthy: in less than three years the perinatal mortality rate in the city fell decisively, approaching zero.


    This module represents a new paradigm for Colombian health policies and aims to achieve “quality access to healthcare services”, in the words of Fernando Ruiz, the Deputy Minister of Health, “so that problems are mainly resolved at the primary healthcare level”. The model is focused on family and community medicine, for care that is closer to patients, understands their social context, and puts the accent on pro-health and preventive healthcare. To do this, 5,000 family doctors will be trained over the next 10 years. The model also aims to reduce territorial gaps in healthcare through the opening of clinics closer to the population, the creation of “mobile health brigades”, and a system of incentives for family doctors in remote areas. Implementation of the new model is already underway in the department of Guainía after a three-way negotiation with the local authorities and indigenous representatives. In 2015 it will be implemented in other departments to achieve full coverage in the territory by 2016. The opening of another 15 university programmes in Family Medicine is also anticipated.


    EUROsociAL, the cooperation programme of the European Commission with Latin America for social cohesion, supported the Colombian Ministry of Health in designing the model, sharing the experiences of France and Brazil in the area of healthcare in remote areas, and that of the United Kingdom, Spain and Mexico in the area of family medicine. The aim is to ensure the right of all citizens to healthcare so that in within a few years the success of El Tambo is not the exception in Colombia.



    Peggy Martinello, Senior FIIAPP Expert in the EUROsociAL Programme

    [ii] Source: Colombian National Administrative Department of Statistics, 2013Principio del formularioFinal del formulario