Dr Eugene Newry (right), Bahamas Ambassador to the United States, is pictured with Michael Shifter, President of the Inter-American Dialogue
WASHINGTON, USA -- The Inter-American Dialogue, in conjunction with the Organization of American States (OAS), held a special discussion on US drug policy in the Western Hemisphere in Washington, DC, on June 25, 2014.
Panelists included Congressman Eliot Engel, ranking Democrat on the House Foreign Affairs Committee; Congressman Matt Salmon, chairman of the House Foreign Affairs Subcommittee on the Western Hemisphere; Michael Shifter, president of the Inter-American Dialogue; and Paul Simons, executive secretary of OAS Inter-American Drug Abuse Control Commission (CICAD).
The Bahamas was represented by Dr Eugene Newry, Bahamas ambassador to the United States; Chet Neymour, deputy chief of mission, Bahamas Embassy; and Krissy Hanna, second secretary, Bahamas Embassy.
During a statement delivered by Newry, he informed attendees that, given The Bahamas’ close proximity to the United States, vulnerabilities to illicit narcotics trafficking remained a constant fight. He further stated that the illegal flow of drugs through The Bahamas had for decades threatened the country’s social fabric and stability.
Notwithstanding the ongoing global challenge of drug trafficking, particularly within the Western hemisphere, Newry commented that The Bahamas government had continued to pursue and strengthen its longstanding partnership with the government of the United States through operational legal frameworks such as Operations Bahamas Turks and Caicos (OPBAT), the Comprehensive Maritime Agreement, the Enduring Friendship initiative, and the Caribbean Basin Security Initiative (CBSI), all of which, he noted, served as a catalyst for capacity building in the areas of national and regional security.
Given The Bahamas’ concerns with respect to the US government’s changing legal framework on drug policy, the ever evolving dynamics of the drug trade, and the emerging trends of illicit narcotics trafficking in the region, particularly given the increase in intensity in interdiction and focus that the United States has now averted to protect its southern (United States-Mexico) border, The Bahamas government, from a mutually beneficial approach, encourages greater US bilateral support and assistance in safeguarding both the Bahamian and US maritime domains.