10 October 2019
Posteado en : Entrevista
"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.
02 August 2018
Gerard Muñoz reflects on the parallels between twinning projects and his experience in coordinating the project to fight against organised crime in Peru
Are we carrying out twinning between public administrations in Latin America, as the practice is known in the European Commission?
Formally no, but we have a series of very similar projects which could be considered as a pilot. Of course, these are an opportunity for the European Union to transmit their values and influence, especially in these times of turbulence and disagreement between the big blocks.
The negotiation of the new EU multi-annual financial framework 2021-2027 may be the time to introduce this topic into the cooperation agenda, with FIIAPP as a major player due to its extensive experience in this area.
Its technical characteristics make it a very useful development mechanism for middle-income countries in Latin America. Of course, it needs to be adapted to a very diverse reality at a sub-regional level, finding positive conditionalities regarding participation. We shall see.
What is twinning?
According to the European Commission, twinning is an EU mechanism for institutional cooperation between Public Administrations of EU Member States and beneficiary or partner countries, with the aim of achieving concrete mandatory operational results through peer to peer activities.
In countries in the process of joining the EU, such as Serbia or Macedonia, twinning between administrations focuses on providing support for the transposition, implementation and application of EU legislation, the famous acquis communautaire. This is to ensure that that when they become full members of the EU, they can operate normally following the European legal standards in sectors such as the administration of justice, security, transport, consumption, public health and intellectual property.
Since 2004, twinnings have also been implemented with some of the EU’s strategic partners such as the Ukraine and Turkey. Within this framework, the mechanism aims to improve the capacities of the public administrations in these countries by training their staff and supporting the reorganisation of their structure. It also supports the approximation of national laws, regulations and quality standards to those of the European Member States, within the framework of cooperation or partnership agreements signed with the EU.
A similar experience in Peru
In Peru over the last four years, FIIAPP has carried out activities similar to twinning through a project to fight organised crime, with similar aims. The project focused on components that correspond to the expected results. A series of activities were carried out that include workshops, training sessions, expert missions, study visits, internships and specialist technical advice.
Over this time, more than 2,600 Peruvian civil servants have been trained, 109 courses run in 64 different subjects, 34 technical assistances provided, and 13 internships organised in Europe. This has involved the mobilisation of more than 200 officials and employees in the public administrations of the Member States and an on-site team was responsible for the project.
The twinning is based on executive learning and sharing best practices, as has been the case in Peru in terms of intelligence, investigation and judicial processes. All this in order to improve the Peruvian State’s capacities in fighting drug trafficking and organised crime.
To give an example, after 4 years of work, the Peruvian authorities are obtaining record figures regarding interventions and the dismantling of organised gangs dedicated to drug trafficking and international organised crime. To cooperate on this achievement by the Peruvian public administration, the project introduced new research approaches based on intelligence and the implementation of new technologies. This was accompanied by legal changes and the fostering of inter-institutional and international work. Professional and personal exchanges between officials are here to stay, facilitating information swaps and problem solving between Peru and the EU.
Opportunities and challenges
It should not be forgotten that the EU is Peru’s main trading partner with which it has significant common interests regarding strategic sectors such as telecommunications, mining, hydrocarbons, fishing, agriculture and natural resources. Improving the rule of law and security in Peru is therefore a challenge the country shares with Europe.
In this sense, it is worth reflecting on the power of positive conditionality mechanisms associated with the effective introduction of the reforms stemming from the framework of the projects or programmes implemented by the EU. We have been and continue to be inspired by the twinnings that have yielded such good results.
To cite just one example, in the case of Peru, the project has promoted legislative change to fight effectively against money laundering, a real problem in this Andean country. This recently formalised change could see key indicators improve to such an extent that, at some stage, the door would open to OECD membership. With its access, Peru will be able to present itself to the world as an open, stable market economy with a clear and reliable legal foundation. This will have a bearing on in its negotiating capacity, positioning the country at a regional and international level. At present, the European Union is technically and financially backing Peru’s entry into the OECD.
Other positive developments, much needed in the region, include the improvement in access to universal public health and the increase in tax collection to meet the State’s expenses. Twinning projects and programmes can be linked to the reforms and results obtained in these sectors.
Given the regional and sub-regional disparity in Latin America, the challenge for the EU is to choose the countries and sectors to deal with in twinning, offering high-quality technical cooperation that is attractive to the various countries. In fact, the regional programmes in Latin America, which currently cover several sectors, such as EUROsociAL+, COPOLAD, EUROCLIMA+ and El PAcCTO can be good instruments to accompany the EU delegations in their selecting of sectoral priorities for twinning in the region.
It will not be easy to adapt this instrument and perhaps it should be reinterpreted given the diversity of middle-income countries. However, it ought to be given a chance, if only to reflect on this when allocating funds from the new European Union budget.
Gerard Muñoz, coordinator of the project to fight drug trafficking in Peru
* The definition of twinning has been taken from the European Commission website
01 February 2018
The project against organised crime and drug trafficking trains the institutions involved in the country
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):
18 January 2016
EUROsociAL, the cooperation programme of the European Union, has contributed to the creation of a defence protocol to allow foreign women in different prisons in Peru to efficiently access justice and receive better assistance.
In Peru’s prison population, there are two groups especially vulnerable to overcrowding and living conditions in prison: on the one hand, young people, 11% of the total; and on the other, foreign women, 90% of whom are serving sentences for drug trafficking. Under the country’s constitution, it is the responsibility of the Public Defender’s Office to guarantee access free of charge to the right of defence to persons with few economic resources or who are in situations of vulnerability. Within the framework of the regional intervention with public defender’s offices being carried out by EUROsociAL, the Peruvian government considered it a priority in 2014 to improve the situation of these two groups by establishing conduct guidelines for public defender’s offices. To this end, in 2014 EUROsociAL collaborated with Peru’s Ministry of Justice, through the Directorate-General of Public Defence and Access to Justice, to expand to the national level the support of the programme to public defender’s offices by preparing a specific, nationally-applicable, defence protocol.
CONTENT OF THE PROTOCOL
The protocol addresses, on the one hand, the main needs identified in the collective of incarcerated foreign women in prisons, such as translation, up-to-date and understandable legal advising on prison benefits, alternatives for returning to their countries of origin, adequate spaces for caring for sons and daughters, guarantees for maintaining links with their families, and access to adequate medication. In addition, it addresses the specific needs of young inmates, such as receiving differentiated treatment because of their age, access to prison benefits, and contact with their families. The protocol determines concrete actions, as well as general and specific recommendations, that public defender’s offices should adopt to ensure adequate attention to these collectives, from the moment of detention to execution of the sentence.
Prison systems normally do not address the different needs and problems of women inmates. The intervention in Peru is situated in a line of work of the programme with the public defender’s offices which incorporates the gender perspective and aims to impact the justice administration so that it contemplates gender factors that influence the commission of crimes and serving of sentences. In this line, another two protocols prepared in Guatemala and Costa Rica have been approved which address, respectively, the situation of incarcerated women with sons and daughters and family members.
10 July 2015
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)