BASSETERRE, St Kitts (CUOPM) -- With most of the Caribbean Community (CARICOM) island member states, the challenges of border security are enormous.
Delivering remarks at the third meeting of the Caribbean Basin Security Initiative (CBSI) Commission in St Kitts, St Kitts and Nevis Prime Minister Dr Denzil Douglas said although the United States has been instrumental in enhancing capabilities in this area border security challenges are still enormous, and the threats are ongoing and real.
Douglas expressed the region’s deep and collective appreciation to US President Barack Obama and his administration for the clear, forward-thinking, and resolute manner in which the United States has partnered with CARICOM on the matter of law enforcement and national security.
“This has resulted in our being able– together – to sharpen and intensify our battle against the multi-faceted national security challenges bedeviling our region. And this is making a world of difference. This modern age, with its advances in travel, technology, and other phenomena, has forced our region to confront, head-on, many threats not of our making. Threats that are alien to our socio-cultural and historic evolution, and which, as a result, on our own, we were often experientially and materially not used to fighting,” Dr. Douglas said, adding that the Caribbean Basin Security Initiative, however, has greatly enhanced capabilities in this regard.
“We in the Caribbean did not get to nationhood by being faint of heart, however, and so with the involvement of our key international partners, we shall continue pursuing a resolute course in defense of our national security interests. We know that we have to both anticipate -- and effectively battle -- these threats as they arise. We know that criminal elements are now using, with great efficiency, highly advanced technological and organizational approaches, in order to make inroads in this region. Complicating matters is the fact that the resultant threats, with which we must now contend, are no longer either exclusively from this region, or even of this region. Indeed, those who create these threats are emboldened and networked by the best in twenty-first century technology, and the worst in twenty-first century pathology,” Douglas told delegates from the CARICOM member states, the Dominican Republic, Canada and the United States.
The two-day meeting attended by security chiefs, heads of regional security institutions and agencies, is co-chaired by Astona Browne, permanent secretary in the Anti-Crime Unit in the Office of the Prime Minister of St Kitts and Nevis, Commissioner representing CARICOM and Liliana Ayalde, deputy assistant secretary for the Caribbean, Central America and Cuban Affairs, Department of State, Commissioner representing the United States.
Douglas said that illegal trafficking, in its myriad forms, is indeed the scourge and the bane of the twenty-first century.
“The enormous amount of time, energy, resources and expertise that go into the production, acquisition, storage, and transfer of illegal narcotics into the illegal trafficking in weapons of various types and, most depraved of all, into the trafficking of human beings demand a multidimensional and incisive counter-attack from the forces of law, the forces of order, and the forces of good governance. And that is what makes the work of the CBSI so very important,” said Douglas.
He said that it is the organization and technological advances of those against whom it battles that makes the projected thrust in the area of expanded regional coordination key.
“The ability to share information, and in a time-effective manner, always has a pivotal impact on the types of operations that entities like the CBSI undertake. Because not only must there be enhanced access to data traditionally controlled by individual countries, but there is also, in our case, the complicating factors posed by the fact that in our region, linguistic differences abound. No-one would ever question the depth of our commitment, Ladies and Gentlemen. But the peak effectiveness that we all seek also demands that we be able to communicate quickly and clearly with the necessary arrangements having been put in place to ensure that the time-consuming - and sometimes inaccurate translations that have long plagued multilingual collaborations all over the world - neither hinder nor compromise the CBSI mission, in this region,” said Douglas.
He said there still remains the challenge of the technological infrastructure between and amongst member states not always being compatible, thereby posing yet another challenge when there is a need for the timely dissemination of crucial intelligence.
“By definition border security poses the supreme challenge for us, affecting, as it does, our ability to fight the flow of illegal narcotics into our international waters and on to our shores, our ability to fight the flow of illegal weapons into our jurisdiction, and our ability to identify any human traffickers who may decide, as they move from one country to another, to in some way use our territory,” said Douglas.
The prime minister said the partnership that has been forged between the United States, the Dominican Republic, and CARICOM, in the form of the Caribbean Basin Security Initiative, reflects the spirit of friendship and collaboration that exists between member states.
“Most importantly, it reflects the inescapable reality that the production of drugs, the consumption of drugs, and the flow of weapons that always follow the drug trade has embroiled our hemisphere in a predicament from which we would all wish to be extricated. This, however, will not happen because we wish it. It will happen only as a result of the type of focused work that has taken place under the auspices of the CBSI, and that will continue to happen,” said Douglas.
He said that the social, economic, and overall stability of the CBSI member states stand to benefit greatly from the type of deliberations that have been occurring, and will occur during the St. Kitts meeting.
Douglas said that the CBSI serves as a key defender of this region and its people.
“You know and I know that that is no exaggeration. Let us go forward then, always alert to ways in which we might strengthen our levels of strategic collaboration and practical effectives. Always alert to ways in which we can protect our nations from those who wish to create mayhem and despair,” he told delegates.