Local governments and reintegration: the success of Zacatecoluca

 

In the efficient management of return processes, the Salvadoran municipality of Zacatecoluca has shown that, with a focused strategy, local governments can promote an integral reintegration of returnees and address the multiple causes of migration.

In 2015, this community of some 75 million inhabitants was the fourth most violent municipality in El Salvador. The violence and the difficulties faced by the population promoted a life project that favored irregular migration and negatively impacted the development indexes.

In 2018, Zacatecoluca occupies the tenth position among the municipalities with the highest number of returnees to El Salvador from the United States and Mexico, according to the statistics of the General Directorate of Migration and Immigration.

Despite a complex panorama, the municipality reports an improvement in the local competitiveness index and a reduction in violence by 60% according to the information registered by the Municipal Observatory for the Prevention of Violence, fed with data from the Police National Civil (PNC). This change has substantially improved the climate of citizen security and the quality of life of its residents.

How was this transformation achieved?

Zacatecoluca has launched a series of coordinated actions to improve performance in social and economic indicators, as well as a national and local strategy to improve the attention of the migrant and returnee population. This strategy consists of four elements:

  1. Preventive approach. The community has assumed the structural prevention of violence through the generation of a framework of protection, the creation of opportunities and the recovery of spaces. Some of the initiatives under this line of action include the creation of workshop schools, the promotion of projects for entrepreneurs, reintegration into the education system through flexible education modalities, the opening of youth employment offices focused on the population at risk and the promotion of artistic and cultural practices. Similarly, Zacatecoluca created a local office for victims of violence, which provides psychological services, legal advice and recreation to people who have survived sexual abuse, gender violence and domestic violence, among others.
  2. Increase in competitiveness. Zacatecoluca has also promoted an improvement in its municipal competitiveness indexes. This has been possible thanks to the development of innovative proposals that have attracted investment and improved mobility. The authorities have sought the inclusion of the rural sector and have applied the use of technologies to add value to the products of the area, but above all they have incorporated a gender and youth approach to reach the most vulnerable populations.
  3. Specific interventions for insertion of the returnee population. With the participation and cooperation of the IOM and the technical advice of the National Council for the Protection and Development of the Migrant Person and their Family (CONMIGRANTES), the creation of the first municipal office at a national level to care for the migrant and their families was initiated. The office provides services and advice on the prevention of irregular migration, assistance to returnees and links with Salvadorans abroad.
  4. Establishment of multisector alliances. The national government, international agencies, cooperation agencies, academia, the private sector and civil society organizations have provided support to the municipal office to achieve goals such as return, readmission and dignified and sustainable reintegration; capacity development and recognition of qualifications and competences; linking returnees with job opportunities and enabling spaces for coexistence.

The progress of Zacatecoluca shows the importance of local governments having a greater role in the policies of prevention and management of migration. Undoubtedly, their close relationship with people offers multiple opportunities to improve their quality of life and offer them greater protection.

 

 

Francisco Salvador Hirezi Morataya  has a PhD in General Medicine from the University of El Salvador and a postgraduate degree at the Civil Hospital of Strasbourg, in Digestive and Endocrine Surgery. In 2009 he was elected Municipal Mayor of Zacatecoluca and currently holds his fourth term as mayor of this city. He is also a member of the Association of Municipalities of Los Nonualcos. Since 2015, he has been a member of the Board of Directors of the Corporation of Municipalities of the Republic of El Salvador (COMURES), currently serving as Director of Legal Affairs.

 


Multilateral cooperation, a key for migration governance

Categoria: Migration Governance
Autor: Guest Contributor

Migratory movements in Central and North America have been determined by diverse political, economic, environmental, social and cultural factors. Due to their complexity, migration processes at national and regional levels reveal a great number of challenges, so cooperation and dialogue between countries and agencies is essential to address them properly.

Inter-state consultation mechanisms on migration (ISCM) are forums run by States in which information is exchanged and policy dialogues are held for States interested in promoting cooperation in the field of migration. These mechanisms can be regional (regional consultative processes on migration or RPCs), interregional (interregional forums on migration or IRFs) or global (global processes on migration).

There are 15 Regional Consultative Processes on migration active in the world, but few as consolidated and with as much experience as the Regional Conference on Migration (RCM), created in 1996.

The RCM is a regional consultative process on migration to exchange experiences and good practices in ​​migration at a technical-political level. The coordination of policies and actions is carried out by its eleven member states: Belize, Canada, Costa Rica, El Salvador, the United States, Guatemala, Honduras, Mexico, Nicaragua, Panama and the Dominican Republic.

Created at the first Tuxtla Summit, the RCM is governed by the following objectives:

• Promote the exchange of information, experiences and best practices.

• Encourage cooperation and regional efforts in migration matters.

• Strengthen the integrity of immigration laws, borders and security.

This poses a great challenge, since it involves the balance of security issues at each country’s level as well as at a regional level, the search for national prosperity and economic improvement, and the rights of migrants in accordance with international agreements and conventions.

 "The issue of migration has many challenges, and among them is public opinion. Sometimes the issue of immigration is not so popular, if it is not addressed in an appropriate manner. There is a lot of misinformation about migration issues, and countries’ efforts are not always recognized," said Luis Alonso Serrano, coordinator of RCM’s Technical Secretariat.

The RCM works with three different liaison networks: the fight against trafficking in persons and migrant smuggling, consular protection, and the protection of migrant children and adolescents. This year, the RCM is going through a re-launch process, led by Guatemala as Presidency Pro-Tempore, to innovate and be at the forefront in meeting regional objectives. The RCM is a dynamic process and evolution is one of its main characteristics.

Among its achievements is the establishment of different assistance projects for the return of vulnerable migrants, training workshops and seminars on migration issues, and technical and institutional assistance to the migration authorities of RCM’s member states.

The RCM has also published a comparative analysis of the legislation of Member States on trafficking in persons and migrant smuggling, which is periodically updated, as well as a series of guidelines and manuals for migration governance.

However, of all its achievements, the most important achievement of the RCM is teamwork: the commitment of continuous dialogue between countries characterized by different economic, socio-cultural and migratory realities. This regional consultation process provides a space for equal representation and participation to government delegates, facilitating the identification of matters of common interest, as well as needs, objectives and areas of action.

The efforts of the RCM are complemented by the work of other regional entities interested in migration governance, such as the Central American Integration System (SICA). Currently, SICA and IOM are developing a study on the causes and consequences of migration in the region, to develop a regional action plan to address the phenomenon.

As Serrano explains: "The immigration issue does not belong to a single country on its own. Through the exchange of experiences and good practices, a dialogue between peers is created to share challenges. You not only learn from the good, but also from the opportunities for improvement, in order to strengthen migration governance and ultimately reach the target population: the migrant population, whom we owe our work to. "

For more information about the RCM and access to documents and publications, visit: http://portal.crmsv.org/