Spain’s Minister for Home Affairs Fernando Grande-Marlaska met in Washington with the Secretary of the US Department of Homeland Security, Alejandro Mayorkas, to promote and strengthen security relations with the United States, a collaboration which, according to the minister, “is a priority and in which we share interests and objectives in various areas.”
Grande-Marlaska held the meeting with Mayorkas as part of his trip to Washington, during which he will hold various meetings with members of Joe Biden’s administration, including the Attorney General, Merrick Garland.
In his meeting with the Secretary of Homeland Security, Grande-Marlaska stressed that the bilateral relationship between Spain and the United States in the area of the Interior, and more specifically in police cooperation, “is very intense, as shown by the number and quality of the joint police operations that have been carried out in recent years”.
The minister explained that cooperation between Spain and the United States is also “particularly intense in areas such as the fight against terrorism, the fight against organised and transnational crime and the investigation and dismantling of drug trafficking groups and networks”.
The meeting with his counterpart was a continuation of the meeting held between Grande-Marlaska and Mayorkas on 23 June in Madrid, to which various meetings by video conference have also been added, the last one last January. The Spanish minister expressed his gratitude for these previous meetings, which have allowed for “an agile and sincere debate on matters of extraordinary importance for both countries”.
The meeting, among other things, served to strengthen the mechanisms for the exchange of information for the prosecution of terrorism and serious crime. This fluid and constant collaboration, with great impact at the operational level, also takes shape in areas such as the search for fugitives, the fight against money laundering, investigations into crimes against industrial and intellectual property or the pursuit of child pornography.
Commitment to multilateralism
The meeting with the Secretary of Homeland Security also revolved in part around the commitment to multilateralism as an effective tool for tackling various transnational criminal phenomena. The Spanish minister underlined the coincidence of strategies and objectives that Spain and the United States have in regions such as South and Central America.
In this regard, Grande-Marlaska discussed with Secretary Mayorkas some of the issues discussed last week with Colombian President Iván Duque and members of his government in Bogotá, during the Interior Minister’s trip to Colombia. The minister pointed out that the United States, Spain and Colombia share objectives in the fight against organised crime as well as against drug trafficking and related environmental crimes.
“Spain and the United States are very present in various projects in Colombia and other states in the region, which opens up the possibility of identifying synergies and undertaking joint action based on these common interests,” explained Grande-Marlaska.
In his meeting with the Secretary of Homeland Security, the Minister for Home Affairs also highlighted the opportunity that the Spanish Presidency of the European Union, in the second half of 2023, represents “to promote transatlantic dialogue and the possibility that the United States will transfer its proposals to make progress in this forum for dialogue”.
Immigration policy was also one of the issues shared by Spain and the United States that were discussed at the meeting between Grande-Marlaska and Mayorkas. With the new approach established by the Biden Administration, both countries agree on the need to work on cooperation with and capacity building in countries of origin and transit, as well as on the fight against human smuggling and human trafficking.
Organization of American States (OAS)
The Minister for Home Affairs also had the opportunity to meet with the Secretary General of the Organisation of American States, Luis Almagro, and other leaders of this institution, in which Spain is celebrating the fiftieth anniversary of its activity as a permanent observer this year.
Grande-Marlaska thanked “for the invitation to get first-hand knowledge of the headquarters of the Organisation of American States and its extensive programme of activities in the Americas” and expressed Spain’s support “for the various projects underway” and its willingness to “continue to participate actively in some of whose activities may require the experience and knowledge accumulated by Spanish experts in the field of security”.
Today’s agenda of the Minister for Home Affairs in Washington is completed with several meetings with the Spanish embassy team in the United States and a meeting with the Spanish ambassador to the OAS, Carmen Montón.