Nancy Faeser, the Federal Minister for Everything: Anti-drug fight in South America

Federal Interior Minister Nancy Faeser is currently fighting on many fronts. Now she is driving forward the fight against international drug crime in South America. Can she deliver?

Three minutes and then Nancy Faeser has to move on. The Federal Interior Minister can take a quick look at the Praça dos Três Poderes and take a few steps across the spacious “Square of the Three Powers” ​​before the next item on the agenda comes up. Faeser listens carefully to what she is told about the center of power in the Brazilian capital Brasília. A coup attempt here failed about a year ago. But the clock is ticking, let’s move on.

Faeser has big plans and her program is tightly scheduled. The Federal Minister of the Interior is on a tour of South America, traveling through four countries within a week. A working lunch here, a briefing there, appointments everywhere, from morning to evening.

Brazil, Peru, Ecuador, Colombia – in all four countries, Faeser is concerned with the fight against organized crime, especially the flourishing export of cocaine to Europe, including Germany. “Organized crime is a danger for Germany,” said Faeser on Monday afternoon at the German embassy in Brasília.

In the Brazilian capital, the first stop on her trip, the Interior Minister wants to establish contacts and intensify relations with the countries of origin and transit through which immense quantities of cocaine reach destination countries such as Germany, especially via container ports.

Within a year, the seized quantity that was shipped from South America to Germany rose from 20 to 35 tons. According to the Federal Criminal Police Office (BKA), the amount has increased sevenfold since 2018. This is not only, but also a lucrative business for drug cartels – which, according to Faeser, must be combated decisively.

She is particularly concerned about the massive violence associated with the international drug trade, as has long been observed in Germany’s neighboring countries Belgium and the Netherlands, two central transshipment points for drugs in Europe. Faeser wants to prevent this development in Germany, she says. Act before it could be too late.

Faeser is busy, including thematically. The SPD politician is also fighting on many fronts at home. Against irregular migration, against right-wing extremists, for more cybersecurity. She is now pushing forward her “OK strategy” against organized crime, which she presented in November 2022. Faeser’s talks in South America are an important building block for this: she hopes that this will lead to better and more effective cooperation between the domestic and foreign authorities.

Nancy Faeser, the Federal Minister for Everything. Can this work?

Right from the start, almost 9,500 kilometers as the crow flies from Berlin, Faeser wants to do his thing. She signed a memorandum of understanding for increased police cooperation with Enrique Ricardo Lewandowski, the Brazilian Minister of Justice and Public Security. Two signatures, bang, first strike. Faeser smiles for the cameras. Delivered. Or?

Nancy Faesers concludes declaration of intent

It wasn’t long ago that Faeser was under constant fire. She failed as an election campaigner in Hesse and gave the SPD a historic defeat. In the affair surrounding her former cybersecurity boss Schönbohm, who has now been transferred, she gave the unfortunate impression of a landlady who reacted hastily when the media pressure became too great.

Faeser has weathered the storm and shifted the focus from her person back to her politics. Now we’re talking about content again. The Interior Minister wants to deliver and make a name for herself with tangible results, there is no doubt about that. However, there are delivery difficulties to the extent that Faeser is also dependent on the use of others.

In order to reduce irregular migration to Germany, Faeser wants to conclude so-called migration agreements with countries of origin in order to simplify both returns and regular immigration. A laborious process that requires a lot of diplomatic tact. Most recently, her house was able to report the conclusion of migration agreements, at least. But how resilient these agreements (instead of agreements) are, how well the cooperation works in practice and whether they could be expanded: that also depends on the partner countries. Means: wait and see.

Their fight against enemies of democracy is also proving to be politically difficult work. Shortly after taking office in 2021, Faeser presented an action plan. She has already been able to implement the first points – but projects such as reforming gun law to consistently disarm right-wing extremists are stuck in the traffic light coalition. The opposition Union has just put its plans to strengthen important institutions such as the Federal Constitutional Court and, if necessary, to make them more crisis-proof by amending the Basic Law, on ice: no need for the time being, talks have been broken off.

Can Faeser present results quickly and effectively in her campaign against organized crime and international drug trafficking?

At least that is the hope that comes from the declaration of intent in Brasília. There is talk of “increased cooperation”, cross-border exchange of information and “joint investigation teams” that are intended to speed up criminal proceedings. Less bureaucracy, faster results, that’s the plan.

Of course, Faeser’s partner Lewandowski also emphasizes that they want to deepen the existing collaboration. However, Brazil’s Minister of Justice is quite vague about what his country expects from this cooperation – and what it expects from Germany. Of course, trade is being fought “here” in Brazil, says the minister. Of course, the Europeans would have to do their part on the sales market. Only what? After all, Faeser assured that he would do everything he could to “make our ports safer.”

That also sounds more like a declaration of intent, a first step. And once again, Faeser must rely on the collaboration proving beneficial for both sides.

The Interior Minister will travel on to the Peruvian capital Lima that evening. She also wants to consolidate and strengthen cooperation there. The country is considered a major producer and exporter of cocaine, especially to Europe. In Ecuador and Colombia, too, the main focus will be on fighting drug-related crime.

A dense program – which is intended to prepare another important date for Faeser. Along with Belgium, the Netherlands, France, Italy and Spain, Germany belongs to the so-called coalition of European states against serious and organized crime. Faeser will host the next ministerial meeting in Hamburg on May 7th. She has big plans.

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