EU and 14 Latin American countries want permanent channel to fight crime

Brussels, Sep 28 (EFE) – The European Union (EU) and the 14 countries that make up the Latin American Committee for Internal Security (CLASI) on Thursday expressed their willingness to promote a “permanent channel” to collaborate more closely against organized crime.

Interior ministers of both regions met in Brussels for the second time since CLASI was launched and approved a joint declaration that “certifies the vocation of cooperation” and, for the first time, “expresses the will to establish a calendar of regular meetings and a permanent channel of communication,” in the words of the acting Spanish Interior Minister, Fernando Grande-Marlaska.

In a press conference at the end of the meeting, held in parallel to a Council of EU Interior Ministers, Grande-Marlaska assured that these measures would give “stability to an essential collaboration.”

“We can only be effective through international cooperation, which also goes beyond the limits of the European Union,” the Spanish minister summarized.

In the declaration, the two sides commit to a greater exchange of information and intelligence, joint operations involving financial investigations, and promoting development-oriented drug action measures.

They will also call for the Bi-regional Operational Task Force to combat drug trafficking, whose first operational meeting was held in October 2022 in Buenos Aires, to “launch joint operations.”

Likewise, they stress the importance of supporting the institutionalization process of Ameripol, the Police Community of the Americas, which will strengthen its role in the fight against serious and organized crime in the Latin American region.

“When we look at the situation of organized criminal groups, we see that they are based on both sides of the Atlantic; it is necessary to fight them together with our Latin American partners,” said the European Commissioner for Home Affairs, Ylva Johansson.

She highlighted the growing drug problem, especially the increased entry of cocaine into Europe. She added that “a network is needed to fight another network.”

The 14 Latin American countries (Argentina, Bolivia, Chile, Colombia, Costa Rica, Ecuador, El Salvador, Honduras, Mexico, Panama, Paraguay, Peru, Dominican Republic, and Uruguay) and the 27 EU countries will meet again next semester, under the Belgian presidency of the EU Council, when it takes over from Spain, organizer of Thursday’s meeting.

The first ministerial meeting to address these issues was in March 2022, on the occasion of the constitution of CLASI. Still, on that occasion, only seven Latin American countries participated.

“We care about the relationship with Europe because it can open our eyes and help us think about many things, but we can also help them because many drugs that come to these places come from America,” said Argentina’s Security Minister, Anibal

Domingo Fernández, to the press upon his arrival at the meeting.

He says they are “willing to commit ourselves more to a permanent task and someone to monitor this task to reach these results faster than one imagines.”

Despite collaborations in the past with “excellent results,” such as with the Spanish Police, Fernandez assured that it is necessary to do more: “Navel-gazing does not give results,” he concluded.

For his part, the secretary general of the Panamanian Ministry of Public Security, Jonathan Riggs, whose country currently holds the pro tempore presidency of CLASI, called from Brussels for “unifying criteria in the fight against organized crime.”

“We share the same problems worldwide, the affectation to sustainable human development, the democracy of the countries is at stake, as a result of the money produced by criminal networks,” he summarized.

He hoped that the declaration “manages to reactivate the police networks, that the EU continues this collaboration through best practices, through advisors, through the economic resources that our nations often do not have. ”

On the other hand, the Bolivian Minister of Government, Carlos Eduardo del Castillo, valued “talking to each other as equals, working together” because it is “the only way to achieve better results” in the fight against transnational crime. EFE


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