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Drug Traffickers Forced To Caribbean

Article Summary:

As the United States pursues security initiatives to combat drug trafficking and insecurity in Latin America, the ambassadors from the Bahamas, Dominican Republic and Jamaica on Wednesday urged U.S. lawmakers not to neglect the Caribbean.

Original Article Text From The Dialogue:

Drug Crackdowns Pushing Traffickers into Caribbean: Ambassadors

As the United States pursues security initiatives to combat drug trafficking and insecurity in Latin America, the ambassadors from the Bahamas, Dominican Republic and Jamaica on Wednesday urged U.S. lawmakers not to neglect the Caribbean.

“The significantly lower level of funding compared to past successful initiatives such as Plan Mérida and Plan Colombia creates the risk of slowing down actions to counteract the new routes in the [Caribbean] as trafficking is displaced from other areas by effective interdiction efforts,” Aníbal de Castro, the Dominican Republic’s ambassador to the United States, told the Senate Caucus on International Narcotics Control.

In other words, the Caribbean is at risk for the “balloon effect” of successful counternarcotics efforts in one region pushing the problem elsewhere, he said.

In the 1980s and early 1990s, the Caribbean was the primary transit point for illegal drugs flowing into the United States. A crackdown on those routes shifted the major narcotrafficking transit zone to Central America and Mexico, to devastating result for that region. Now, many experts warn that, as counternarcotics efforts elsewhere begin to see success, the Caribbean is again at risk. “Simple logic and common sense tells you that you probably are going to see [the shift to old smuggling routes] in the next two or three years,” the assistant secretary of state for international narcotics and law enforcement, William Brownfield said in an interview with the Associated Press in November.

While the three Caribbean ambassadors said they had yet to see a marked increase in the narcotics flow, they each expressed major concerns about a surge in crime and homicide rates-which they say is implicitly linked to drug trafficking.

The Bahamas faces “serious challenges stemming from arms trafficking, human smuggling, illegal immigration and the prospects for trafficking in persons. These illicit activities, particularly arms trafficking, a definite offshoot of the drug trade, tend to sit on the platform created by drug trafficking,” said Bahamian Ambassador Cornelius Smith.

Homicide rates have risen significantly in both the Bahamas and the Dominican Republic, while Jamaica has the world’s fourth-highest murder rate, according the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime “2011 Global Study on Homicide.”

Jamaica’s ambassador to the United States, Audrey Marks, also pointed to another devastating cost of drug trafficking in the region: social investment. “The fight to combat the illegal drug trade, in which Jamaica is neither a large producer nor a major consumer, has also diverted critical resources from social services” like education and health care, she said.

For its part, the Obama administration announced the creation of the Caribbean Basin Security Initiative in 2009 and has continued interdiction efforts through Operation Bahamas, Turks and Caicos, which has been in place since 1982.

All three ambassadors emphasized the need for continued collaboration and strengthened ties to the United States, given limited resources at home.

U.S. Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.), co-chair of the Senate Caucus on International Narcotics Control, agreed. “As we increase our security assistance to Mexico and Central America, we must not forget the Caribbean,” she said.

Link to Original Article:

From The Dialogue

Latin America Investment News on Viva Tropical