Questions on US/Caribbean security plans
IT WOULD have been encouraging news for regional governments in need of urgent resources to boost security and justice administration to learn that the United States will release US$77 million next year to enhance varied programmes.
The disclosure came at the just concluded meeting of the Caribbean Basin Security Initiative (CBSI) in Guyana from the United States representative, Julissa Reynoso, deputy assistant secretary for Central America and the Caribbean in the State Department’s Bureau of Western Hemisphere Affairs.
However, while this allocation in United States’ President Barack Obama’s 2012 budget would be of some help to this region, which had entered into an original “partnership accord” on security initiatives at the historic 1997 CARICOM/USA Summit in Barbados with then President Bill Clinton, there is need for explanations to help inform public understanding.
Since successive Washington administrations like to convey the impression of “generosity” in aid disbursements on security and anti-crime programmes to the Caribbean, the United States would also be aware that this region – which bridges the two Americas – is pivotal to its own national interest when it comes to implementation of any security partnership that involves combating crimes such as drug trafficking, gun-running and human trafficking.
Further, that foreign aid is so often tied to the acquisition of materials and human resources from donor nations that small regions like ours have quite limited options in making crucial decisions on agreed projects.
Donor nations also ask for oversight by their “experts” that has, at times, bordered on contempt for trained Caribbean professionals.
Over the years, and before the 9/11 terrorist attacks on the United States, this region has come to learn of various “security initiatives” launched by Washington in the “interest of hemispheric security”.
There have, for instance, been – apart from the 1997 accord with Clinton – President George Bush’s “Third Border Initiative” and, more recently, the CBSI.
Perhaps the time is long overdue for the United States and CARICOM governments to give the people of this region some details on progress achieved, or problems encountered, in implementation of at least the 1997 accord as it relates to “justice and security” and how consistent this process has been in responding to the objectives of the CBSI.