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Argentine University Curriculum On Organized Crime

A drug bust in Buenos Aires
A drug bust in Buenos Aires
Ezequiel Viéitez

BUENOS AIRES — A bit bored by that class on basic accounting? How about a course instead on money laundering? Or maybe one on how to stop transnational mafia groups?

Some Argentine students will soon have access to just that kind of course material because certain universities, concerned about the expansion of organized crime in the country, are looking to target their curriculum accordingly.

Universities believe graduates are heading out into a world that is more "criminal," and therefore should be better prepared, especially those who go on to become entrepreneurs. There is so much "dirty" money in circulation, they reason, that people studying business or hotel and catering, for example, should be taught to detect money laundering and other suspicious transactions.

Ten of the country's private universities are introducing a seminar on "how to stop the advance of drug trafficking." The event, also broadcast to other Argentine schools, is the first in a series of seminars the universities are organizing to promote the issue both for public debate and as potential academic content.

"We want this to become a part of extracurricular activities for students as of next year," says Avelino Porto, a dean from Belgrano University, a private school in Buenos Aires.

Porto and his colleagues reportedly have the blessing of the Catholic Church. Another organizer of the seminars, Guillermo Marconi, says that Pope Francis himself supports the program.

"This series of proposals we are launching came from a request made by the Pope in an audience given to academic authorities," Porto says.

Pope Francis, an Argentine native, became the pontiff in March 2013. A year later, the Argentine Bishops' Conference publicly expressed concern about the advance of drug trafficking in Argentina. Regional crime organizations have shown growing interest in the South American country, which they view as both a relatively safe haven for their activities and a discreet hideout.

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