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.
07 November 2019
"You see things with a different perspective, what cooperation looks like in the field, and it all adds up - you learn and expand your way of seeing things"
Pilar Fernández, coordinator of the ICRIME project, tells us about her experience as a FIIAPP expatriate, her adaptation to El Salvador and her daily routine in the country.
How long have you been in El Salvador? What has your adaptation to this country been like?
I landed in San Salvador on June 4, so I have spent more than five months coordinating the ICRIME project, which is funded by the European Union, AECID and the Central American Integration System (SICA). In the project, managed by the FIIAPP, the main objective is the reinforcement of investigation units, forensic institutes, and criminal investigation networks and procedures in the SICA.
As for the adaptation, it has not been very difficult since previously I had lived for a few periods of 3-4 months in San Salvador, between 2013 and 2017. Therefore, I already knew the city, how to move around the country, who to call to take a taxi, where to go shopping, what to visit, etc. In addition, friends here, both Salvadorans and Spaniards, always affectionately make you a new “welcome plan“.
What has been the most difficult aspect to adapt to, and the easiest?
Although I have lived in San Salvador in previous years, it is still difficult to get used to the great storms and the tremors, as they call earthquakes here, since we are in the ‘Valley of the Hammocks’ for good reason and there are continuous ‘tremors’.
From another side, due to security issues, going for walks is tricky, and getting around the city on foot, especially after dark. Not having that freedom of movement is hard to get used to, since in Madrid I walked a lot.
The easiest things for me were the logistical issues of finding an apartment to live in for almost three and a half years. Thanks to my friend Xiomara, before arriving in San Salvador, I already had photographs of different apartments to choose from, because she took the time to visit them. In three days, I saw all the apartments and signed the rental agreement.
Do you have any special experiences or anecdotes about your arrival/adaptation to the country?
Well, certainly the arrival in San Salvador was somewhat rough, since we left Madrid airport three hours late. This was because the plane burst a tyre before entering the taxiway. So, we returned to the starting point at the airport, fire fighters came and in the end we had to change planes. But the aircraft’s alarm systems worked…
Also, as the flight goes via Guatemala, when we went to land at La Aurora airport in Guatemala City, they told us that we had to keep circling in the airspace until a big storm passed… so another 40 minutes late… So, all-in-all a 24-hour trip.
So, you had lived in El Salvador before?
Yes, I had the experience of living in the ‘Tom Thumb of Central America’. I was managing two projects on issues of Central American regional integration and democratic security with SICA. Since the headquarters of the General Secretariat are in San Salvador, I moved here for different periods over five years.
What is your work like, your daily routine? Is it very different from the routine you had in Spain?
We are working at the headquarters of the Directorate of Democratic Security (DSD) of the General Secretariat of SICA. So the daily tasks in the office means being in contact with the DSD team that carries out the overall coordination of the project. In addition, being in the same building facilitates communication and work with the people who make up the Spain SICA Fund, an instrument of Spanish Cooperation that also implements other results from the project.
The team is now fully formed with two main specialists, the project manager, the three local people from El Salvador and myself as project coordinator. So coordination between the teams, with the Delegation of the European Union in Central America and with the beneficiary institutions, is vital to achieving the project results.
After leaving the office there is always a short time to share with friends, attend an event at the Cultural Centre of Spain in El Salvador, do some sport or rest. So the routine is a bit similiar to the one I had in Spain.
What is your relationship like with the FIIAPP team in Madrid? And with your colleagues in El Salvador?
The relationship with the FIIAPP team in Madrid, with Esther Utrilla, Sonsoles de Toledo and Cristina de Matías, is close and daily. In fact, with Esther, due to the seven-hour difference between Spain and El Salvador, we leave one another WhatsApp messages to keep ourselves up to date, in addition to emails. I am also very grateful for the support of my colleagues in the Strategy and Communication area, Iosu Iribarren and Laura Ruiz. As well as Sara Ruiz from HR.
With respect to my colleagues in El Salvador, we have integrated quite well, we are gradually getting to know each other. Both Mariano Simancas, project manager and Lola Moreno, main expert and myself, are new to the FIIAPP, so we are learning together about the application of the internal procedures, and how to approach the implementation of the project. And of course, I have a great opportunity to learn about forensic topics and criminal investigation with them, since they have a vast and wide experience. So I’m very happy, because professional enrichment is guaranteed!
How would you rate your experience of working as a FIIAPP expatriate?
I value it positively. It’s a test, a calculated challenge. Having to leave your country, your city, family, your friends, that comfort zone – it’s not easy. But it means an evolution in professional and personal development.
You live outside Spain, and you also make a small family almost 8,700 kilometres from Madrid. You see the things that happen in our country, in El Salvador and in the Central American region from a different perspective, and you experience cooperation in the field, and this all adds up – you learn and expand your way of seeing things.
10 October 2019
"FIIAPP is a well-recognised Foundation and that gives one a very easily attained feeling of belonging"
Ernesto Prieto, coordinator of the project ‘Support for the forces of European Union law in the fight against drugs and organized crime in Peru’, funded by the European Union and managed by FIIAPP, tells us what his adaptation to the country and its daily routine has been like in the first months of the life of this project.
How long have you been in Peru? How have you adapted to this country?
I arrived in Lima on May 16, so I have only been here for a little more than 2 months. The truth is that it has not been difficult because I had already started here as a ‘Young Aid Worker’ and it has been a bit like coming home. On the other hand, I have seen many changes since the last time I was there, a more congested city, with a lot of traffic and a great deal of businesses, with a lot of coming and going and more momentum.
What has been the most difficult aspect to adapt to, and the easiest?
What I found most difficult was the weather, because I came directly from my previous destination, in the Dominican Republic and Cuba, and it meant landing in the southern winter, always cloudy and cold, but with time one adapts to anything What I found easiest, was being back in a place which was familiar to me, even finding friends that I had left behind years ago, it is nice reuniting with people you have not seen for a long time.
Is this your first experience outside of Spain? If not, is this one proving to be very different to your previous missions?
I have been away from Spain for a long time, I have worked in several countries, besides having already been in Peru, it isn’t such a different thing for me. Perhaps the biggest difference is that in my previous job in Peru, I was linked to a project in the Colca Valley, a province of Arequipa, a place high up in the mountains, and now in Lima things are very different, like food, the weather and the services one has access to.
What is your work like, your daily routine? Is it very different from the routine you had in Spain?
The work is not very different from a Spanish routine, or at least I think so, I have not worked there for a long time. But in the end, it is a management job that maybe similar to others that can be carried out in Spain. One thing that’s certainly true is that it begins very early so as to get around the problems of the 7-hour difference with Spain, with me trying to answer emails and calls to sort out issues as soon as possible. There is a lot of contact with partners and many meetings that help generate the necessary trust with the different stakeholders, it is a job that entails a lot of negotiation, of understanding in order, progressively, to be able to consolidate the processes.
What is your relationship like with the FIIAPP team in Madrid? And with your colleagues in Peru?
From the beginning, it has been extraordinary both with the team in Madrid and with colleagues in Peru. They are very professional people, who really do know what they are doing, they are very experienced. Likewise, my colleagues in Peru are very well trained and skilled, they know what they want from the project and are clear that the idea is to create stronger institutional structures, so it is very easy to work like this.
How would you assess your experience of working as an FIIAPP expatriate?
Working with FIIAPP is a new experience for me. At the beginning, to a great extent, I had to adjust to new procedures, ways of doing things, but I was always supported in this, which enabled me to integrate quickly. On the other hand, I have always had the opportunity to be linked to government cooperation, developing institutional strengthening programmes that enabled the implementation or development of different public policies. However, I had never had the opportunity to work in a European context, being able to share the work with officials from different nationalities and sectors is proving to be very enriching professionally and personally, with continuous learning. That is of great value to me, working as an FIIAPP expatriate. In addition, it is a well-recognised Foundation and that gives one a very easily attained feeling of belonging.
Do you have any experiences or anecdotes about your arrival in the country?
Well, at the beginning, I mentioned coming from a Caribbean climate where summer began with very high temperatures, to land in a place with permanent and cold cloud cover, because suddenly, I did not have the right clothes to go outside, so imagine how cold I was until I could quickly buy something warm to put on.
03 October 2019
We interview Jesús Gastón, general director of the State Tax Administration Agency (AEAT) of Spain, who tells us about the importance of international cooperation in relation to tax agencies, and the benefits for citizens
How important is the Assembly of the Inter-American Centre of Tax Administrations (CIAT) for the Spanish administration?
Basically, the objective is to analyse all the factors related to human resources since, for tax administrations, their people are the main value they have. Often, we talk about the importance of information in managing tax systems, but our staff is the best thing we have. We have to take care of them, we have to understand how to process the best professionals, get enough of them, and use their work and that of other organizations. In short, get them to help us move forward in an increasingly changing world.
What contribution has the State Tax Administration Agency of Spain made to the CIAT Assembly?
We have extensive experience in participating in international forums, we know the European and American experience, and we try to learn from others while also explaining the steps we are taking to achieve an ever more professional staff, better trained and more adapted to the challenges of tax administration, and what we do is share our experience with others.
In the middle of the era of technology, where it is practically on a pedestal, it is striking that the reflection is on the human factor. How do the two pillars come into play in daily work?
Technology helps because it allows certain conflictive workers to be able to work in a much simpler way, but it also constitutes a very important challenge because the staff has to adapt to the technological changes, since otherwise we would be unable to take advantage of those changes. It is therefore critical to analyse the two factors together.
How important is international cooperation in tax matters, taxation, tax collection, collaboration between countries…?
It is decisive these days because the world is increasingly open and global. We need to coordinate our regulations to avoid the occurrence of tax evasion, aggressive tax fragmentation worldwide, and the existence of tax havens. And then the tax administrations have to share information, exchange it because companies, especially the largest, operate globally, and for them there is no reference country, rather they have to deal with many. Then we find that companies are global, but tax systems and tax administrations are local or national. The only way to deal with this problem is to act in an increasingly coordinated manner and exchange that information.
Cuba and its tax organization, with the National Tax Administration Office (ONAT), is making a great effort in moving forward on this matter. There is an exchange programme of experts from the EU and Cuba in which Spain is actively participating. How does it look to you right now?
We have always collaborated very closely with Cuba, including, of course, in taxes. We have now been collaborating with the National Tax Administration Office (ONAT) for several years to help them in this process of change that all we tax administrations must now face by training our staff and incorporating new technologies. We have been helping them not only with human resources, but also with collection, taxpayer assistance, improving legal safeguards, and with procedure, and, indeed, we will continue to collaborate along all the lines that are considered a priority by the Cuban administration so that they achieve a goal as important as providing better service to citizens while also controlling the economic situation of the tax system .
In that sense, we always talk about social responsibility, the impact of citizens on tax policies. What are the benefits that citizens should take into account in their tax system?
The main goal of tax systems is to provide resources to public administrations, since these resources are essential to providing services to citizens. Education, health and infrastructure depend largely on the payment of taxes, and what needs to be done is to help the taxpayer who wants to fulfil their tax obligations, and one way to help them is not only by providing the service, but also obligating those who try to avoid taxes to pay them.
We talked about the impact of the benefits that the citizen obtains from having a tax system.
The main aim of tax systems is to provide revenue to public administrations so that they can provide services to citizens, such as health, education and infrastructure, and what tax administrations have to do is help taxpayers who want to comply so that it is as easy as possible to fulfil that obligation. An indirect way to help them is also by obligating those who do not want to pay the taxes they owe to do so as a result of the tax administration’s monitoring actions all for the benefit of all citizens through better services.
16 August 2019
"Talks with other experts and learning about the point of view of the other side of the Mediterranean is a very enriching experience"
Severino Falcón, coordinator of the “Improvement of the Tunisian research and innovation system” project and chief technical adviser of the Ministry of Science, Innovation and Universities tells us about his experience during his initial months in Tunisia: his first mission and his first experience living abroad.
How long have you been in Tunisia?
How have you adapted to this country?
To answer this question, I must stress that it is my first mission. So, in the beginning, I went carefully, but as the days have gone by, adapting has been easy, smooth and comfortable. A critical point was having an apartment to live in. Once you have accommodation, if you are happy living there, it makes it easier to adapt. In the case of Tunisia, having a small Spanish community to rely on was very helpful.
What has been the most difficult aspect to adapt to, and the easiest?
First of all, my family. But with new technologies and transport, the distance is not such an issue.
Another difficult issue is speaking Tunisian and … running. Outside the capital, there are plenty of nice places to run. But the city of Tunis is not very attractive for running.
The people here are the easiest aspect. They are very friendly.
Is this your first experience outside of Spain?
Yes. It is my first experience.
What is your work like, your daily routine? Is it very different from the routine you had in Spain?
We are doing a project with defined activities. This makes it easier to know what to do. It’s new to me, and during the last six months, my daily routine has been focused on helping to get the project up and running. For this, the experience and advice of Raphael, project manager, and each supervisor, team member and an expert who participated, have been very important.
In the past I was on the other side of the project, that is to say, convening and tracking projects of the Ministry of Science, Innovation and Universities and the State Agency for Investigation.
What is your relationship like with the FIIAPP team in Madrid?
Basically, my relationship with the FIIAPP is through Yessica, the technician who manages the project, who I talk to and send emails to every day. I work with her to find ways to include the activities proposed into the project’s framework. It isn’t easy, since ideas often come up that are not feasible (such as changing the direction of a mission). Nancy joined us recently, and she is helping with mission logistics and travel for the experts. In short, the relationship, at least on my part, is very good… Now you will have to ask Yessica and Nancy.
And with your colleagues in Tunisia?
I have a great relationship with the work team.
I speak to my counterpart every day and we get on well. With the project leader of the Ministère de l’Enseignement supérieur et de la Recherche Scientifique (MESRS) too, though, although she is close by, since she has been appointed director general of research we have to organise meetings well in advance.
How would you assess your experience of working as a FIIAPP expatriate?
In view of my previous answers, I only have one answer to that question. Very good.
Do you have any experiences or anecdotes about your arrival in or adaptation to the country?
Every week and even every day is different. From the time you spend alone to the times when you can’t keep up with your work and social engagements.
For the time being, having conversations with other experts and learning about the point of view of the other side of the Mediterranean is a very enriching experience.
31 July 2019
Francisco Sancho, coordinator of the AECID in Bolivia, talks to us about the spanish cooperation and the project “European support for Bolivia’s special forces for fighting drugs”
What role does Spanish cooperation play in Bolivia?
Cooperation in general, and especially in Bolivia, before defining any work, is building dialogue.
Dialogue with the Bolivian institutions, with the Bolivian government, at both central and regional levels, with the municipalities and with local authorities. We must also conduct a dialogue with civil society and, based on this dialogue and all the information we receive, carry out an analysis and determine which specific actions and lines of work are most complementary for the Bolivian government and where we see our comparative advantages lying.
What are the priorities of Spanish cooperation in Bolivia?
Our priorities have been adjusted over the years as the country has grown and expanded, but we can set out four main priorities.
First, governability. For us, governability is the democratic core of a country, and above all it is the improvement of government’s administrative and management capabilities. In planning processes, as we do with the Bolivian Ministry of Planning. And also in gender equality issues as we do with the Ministry of Justice, through the Vice Ministry of Equality, paying very special attention to the issue of violence against women.
Financial aspects are also important, because there is a lot of infrastructure that requires very intense work as regards water, sanitation, and so on.
Thirdly, we have the area that can be grouped together and referred to as social cohesion, including health and education, the emphasis currently being on health, whereas previously it tended to be on education.
Bolivia being an intermediate income country, we are still working on primary care, but we have been moving more and more into covering Bolivia’s need for training of specialist doctors for the second level of medical care. And also, towards having at least five basic specialities catered to in hospitals so that patients referred from the first level of primary care can be treated at the second level.
Another very important area for us is that of heritage, culture and development, but always from the perspective of development and above all improvement of living conditions. The objective is to build on the interplay among Bolivia’s heritage, the conservation of that heritage and the country’s historical memory to develop a strategy, jointly, at national and regional level, aimed at promoting tourism and improving its citizens’ living conditions and incomes.
These are the four most important areas. Apart from this, we also do a considerable amount of work with NGOs, always within these four axes, everything being agreed in advance. The aim is to focus on these four areas and to work together on them, joining forces with the NGOs and the country.
And the priorities of Bolivia, regarding cooperation?
Bolivia’s priorities are exactly the same. We work with an analysis, with the country’s planning documents, and based on this dialogue, which we build at the social and institutional levels, we make a proposal for shared action based on our comparative advantages.
Based on these advantages, we have established the four work axes which I mentioned earlier: governance with special attention to the violence of women and planning management; health, especially as regards medical specialisation; issues relating to water and sanitation, where much progress has been made and where the Spanish water and sanitation fund’s programme, together with the government of Bolivia, has made a very significant effort. and finally, the area of heritage, culture and development.
How important is inter-institutional coordination between the AECID and the FIIAPP?
It’s essential. To achieve cooperation, inter-institutional relations are indispensable. No work can be done, especially in the area of cooperation, if there are not good inter-institutional relations.
The project “ European support for Bolivia’s special forces for fighting drugs ” is financed jointly by the European Union and Spain’s AECID and now we also have a budget from the FIIAPP.
Right from the start, both in the preparation of the first planning documents and later in the following steps, there have been very close relations between the AECID and the FIIAPP. They have always sent us regular information, which we appreciate, because it allows us to have clear knowledge of the progress and to detect the difficulties and make suggestions – only suggestions, because ultimate responsibility of course lies with the FIIAPP as implementer.
As part of this joint inter-institutional work, we also have to devise and put forward suggestions for resolving the problems that arise in the normal course of a project. I believe that this inter-institutional relationship is very important.
How has the joint work between the two institutions been for the development of the project to support the fight against drugs and human trafficking?
The fact is that, as I mentioned earlier, it’s a task that’s been carried out jointly from the very beginning, from conception. I should also mention that the European Union delegation has done a very good job of coordination in this respect.
We’ve worked on each of the points, paying special attention to detail. In all the meetings we’ve had, we’ve paid specific attention not just to how the project is evolving and to monitoring, but also to analysing problems and above all to joint proposals, in a consensual way.
I think this is the key word, consensus, finding one as regards the work dynamics and above all in problem solving.
What do you think are the main things achieved in the project thanks to this close collaboration?
The main thrust of this programme, which involves some very complex issues, is really the fight against drug trafficking and all related crimes.
The initial panorama was one of many national institutions, each with its own powers and its own roadmap and very little contact among them. This has been greatly improved. The programme of the FIIAPP, the European Union and ourselves has been the search for coordination and more pooling of resources among the institutions that work on this problem in the country. I believe that really important advances have been achieved.
Another achievement that can be highlighted is the training of human resources. This training is essential, not just because there have been many courses with specialists coming from Spain and other countries such as France to deliver this training, but because “train the trainers” sessions have been proposed so that this “installed capacity” can continue to produce without the presence necessarily of external support.
And, above all, the need, as we have commented many times with the FIIAPP, for this training to be formally set out in writing. And for job descriptions to include this need for training, because in many cases it provides some assurance as to the suitability of the person who is going to do the job. Thus, with the institutional and personal changes that are usual in any institution, the person occupying the position would be offered the possibility of training or, training already received would be taken into account.
And finally, when we speak of related crimes, especially for Spanish cooperation, the related crime that we wish to address most particularly is people trafficking. Especially, the trafficking of women, related in many cases with exploitation of sexual services, almost slavery, and also the trafficking of young people.
This line seems to us very important and sensitive because it has a very large incidence in the country. In this regard, the FIIAPP has been working on the preparation of a series of planning documents, at regional level and at the key level of the departments (provinces). It is a work that we complement, with our bilateral effort, together with the Bolivian Ministry of Justice and of course the NGOs.
All aspects of the programme are important, but for Spanish cooperation this line of work of related crimes, specifically people trafficking, is the one on which we have collaborated most insistently, given that it is a line of work that we also have in the country.
Would you highlight other examples of joint work between the AECID and the FIIAPP?
The relations between the FIIAPP and the Spanish-AECID cooperation are very close. We are sister organisations, we work together and obviously we do so in other countries too.
We also collaborate on regional programmes such as EUROsociAL+ where we have also been sharing experiences regarding people trafficking.
Here, the work of the FIIAPP and the AECID has been a permanent job for many years and in which we have many connections and relationships.