The European Forum for Urban Security (Efus) is partner of the EUROsociAL II programme of technical cooperation between the European Union and Latin America. Efus is executive partner of the “citizen security” section of the project together with the International Juvenile Justice Observatory (IJJO) and France Expertise International, the French public agency for development aid.
As part of the project, European and Latin American experts are working together in order to promote citizen participation policies and the recognition of the role played by local authorities and stakeholders in security strategies. In 2013, more than 30 technical assistance missions were carried out in the six countries partners in the programme: Uruguay, Colombia, Ecuador, Mexico, El Salvador, and Panama.
Eight of the experts collaborating in this project are part of Efus: Vasco Franco (Portugal), Francesc Guillèn (Spain), Josep Lahosa (Spain), Claudia Laub (Argentina), Paulo Machado (Portugal), Gian Guido Nobili (Italy), Laura Carrera (Mexico) and Lorena Cohan (Argentina). In a series of short interviews, they give their views on the programme and the benefits it brings to both Latin America and Europe.
Laura Carrera – Mexico
Laura Carrera explains how social prevention of violence and crime, which constitutes her field of expertise, is a relatively new area of research. It seems that there is now a need to rethink social prevention and to define what this can bring to crime prevention in the current context. The security problems are very different in Europe and Latin America but violence and crime still affect young people and families in both regions. The Latin American cooperation encouraged by the EuroSocial programme offers new opportunities for all the experts involved.
Josep Lahosa – Spain
Through the working groups formed by the European and Latin American experts, Efus was able to pass on the experience and knowledge it has acquired over the last 30 years. As Josep Lahosa, Executive Director of the Spanish Forum for Prevention and Urban Security, explains, the European participants were able to share their experiences and their best practices, and specify cases where their objectives were not being met. The history of Latin America as a continent is marked by problems related to social cohesion and fragmentation. While taking into account the real differences between Europe and Latin America, the participants were able to share their proactive prevention practices against urban crime. The expert underlines the importance of implementing public policies of citizen participation, insisting that citizens must also assume their responsibilities and reclaim the urban areas in which they live.
Claudia Laub – Argentina
For Claudia Laub, the EuroSocial programme is particularly interesting as it allows the experts to establish a dialogue between the Latin American and European continents and to learn from each other. According to the Argentinean expert, the recent crises in Europe have revealed the similarities between the two continents and it is therefore important to share information and know-how in order to find the innovative ideas and concepts needed to resolve the security problems they face. By mobilizing different countries and different types of stakeholders, the EuroSocial programme encourages much closer cooperation.
Vasco Franco – Portugal
In this video, Vasco Franco, an international expert specialised in security and prevention of urban violence, explains how the collaboration between the European Forum and certain Latin American countries, as part of the EuroSocial programme, has been a source of mutual enrichment long awaited for by experts in the field. Thanks to the training courses provided by the Udelas University and the meetings held between public institutions specialising in violence prevention, the partners in Latin America were able to benefit from the concepts and methods long employed by the European Forum. In return, the programme has not only allowed the experts to voice their ideas, after many years of research, but also it has provided an opportunity for them to learn from their Latin American partners about the realities of countries such as El Salvador, Panama, Costa Rica, Mexico and Argentina, in order to work together on innovative solutions to violence and crime.
Paulo Machado – Portugal
For Paulo Machado, Efus’ participation in cooperation projects with Latin America are part of a strong tradition in Europe, and above all in Portugal, of communication with the wider world. This collaboration is very beneficial as it allows meetings between new stakeholders and opportunities to face new realities on the ground, particularly those concerning urban Latin American movements, citizen participation and the security of assets and people, both in and out of the home. From a personal perspective, Machado emphasizes how this experience has been unforgettable and immensely rewarding and that it has allowed him to gain a far better understanding of Latin American security issues than a simple theoretical approach would have offered.
Gian Guido Nobili – Italy
A European expert for the EuroSocial project, Gian Guido Nobili remarks that this cooperation between Latin America and Europe has allowed experts to work on territories with great development potential and equipped with top-quality infrastructure. Europe has a huge amount to learn from this partnership with Latin America, whose wealth of resources can benefit Europe, especially given the current crisis.
These countries can also offer important theoretical expertise, which can be made available and passed on. As part of this joint effort between Europe and Latin America, the experts have sought to encourage the planning and coordination of an extensive collection of initiatives, many of which are already in place but unevenly applied throughout the territory.
Once the planning of these activities becomes more systematic, Nobili thinks that in the near future the ideas and contributions offered by the partnership will have important consequences for Europe which, stimulated by Latin America, will see urban security policies being driven forward with a newfound energy.