Crime/Security Still Tops US’ Priority Areas In The Caribbean

May 20, 2019 in National

The US government is pledging closer ties and continued support for the Caribbean region, including the Eastern Caribbean territories.

According to Assistant Secretary of State for Western Hemisphere Affairs Kimberly Breier, the Trump administration intends to strengthen relations with its Caribbean partners. She was at the time delivering remarks at the Eighth Caribbean-United States Security Cooperation Dialogue at the Department of State on May 16.

“This administration sees the Western Hemisphere Canada, Latin America and the Caribbean as a strategic priority for the United States; after all, we are the Caribbean’s largest trading partner, millions of Americans visit and study in the Caribbean, we share many interests in seeing credible opportunity. This year we celebrate ten years of our partnership under our Caribbean Basin Security Initiative, however the United States has had deep ties to the Caribbean since our founding, but for a long time many perceived the United States had neglected our relationships in the Caribbean to our great detriment – no more. The Trump administration is changing that. It has put a new focus on closer ties with the region due to our shared interests and the crisis in Venezuela which require more cooperation, not less. We are further building on our efforts to draw on all the tools of the US government to expand and enhance our relationship with the Caribbean.”

Security remains a critical component of the US-Caribbean partnership, and the Assistant Secretary of State said the US continues its multi-agency engagement to enhance transnational crime fighting efforts in the region.

“We recognize the importance of the Caribbean to the success of this hemisphere and believe that a region united in our shared values and interests will result in a more prosperous region. Key to this is the issue of our security our meeting to day is an opportunity to the chart the course of our partnership to address crime and security in the Caribbean and identify ways together to enhance efforts to build on our results.

“To demonstrate our commitment to this partnership, I am please that many US agencies have joined this dialogue. These actions show the Trump administration’s dedication to the region and represent our coordinated investment and bipartisan support of the US congress of with the US Caribbean 2020 strategy to improve our collective security.

Under the Caribbean Basin Security Initiative the United States has allocated close to $600 million over the last ten years to support our joint efforts on combatting illicit trafficking networks, increasing public safety and security, strengthening rule of laws and reducing youth crime and violence the theme for the dialogue is “A strategic, integrated, smarter, technological approach to security”, and we have an opportunity to recognize our success and continued challenges under CBSI and discuss ways to take our cooperation to the next level and advance our shared goals.”

Outlining some of the successes of those joint security efforts in the region, Breier assured that US government would more to advance cooperation, especially through its Caribbean Basin Security Initiative, a joint regional citizen safety strategy intended to tackle security and criminal threats to the region.

“Our joint efforts have resulted in many wins. I commend Caricom for adopting its first ever regional counter terrorism strategy last year. More countries in the Western Hemisphere should follow your leadership on this. These successes have occurred because leaders in government, the private sector, and civil society took ownership of the challenges and showed willingness to jointly address them.

“In addition to achieving clear measurable results under CBSI, the Caribbean continues to face increasing threats from terrorism, transnational criminal organisations, illicit trafficking, and illegal migration. On illicit trafficking, whether drugs, firearms or people it ruins lives and destabilizes societies. Transnational criminal organisations exploit permissive environments to conduct their illegal activities and their actions steal sovereign resources sap economic vitality and threaten our citizens.

“Better coordination of law enforcement efforts, stronger democratic institutions and judicial systems, and a vibrant civil society are essential to tackling these challenges. Further to this, we encourage we urge all of our Caribbean partners to join the United States and ratify the San Jose Treaty, an agreement that will give our Maritime authorities an important law enforcement tool to secure our shared economy and the safety of our citizens.”

Breier said the region should also be prepared to make transformational changes to counter future threats, including cyber security challenges, and incorporating security in their procurement processes, capital projects, and build out of infrastructure for Fifth-generation wireless (5G), the latest iteration of cellular technology.

She thanked the member countries for their commitment to the CBSI, the US Caribbean 2020 Strategy and the US Caribbean Resilience Project.