Deputy Assistant Secretary of State Julissa Reynoso yesterday said while the control of Congress is up for grabs in pending mid-term elections, the issue of regional security is cross-party and cross-border.
“This is not only a question of doing things for our neighbour,” she said at a briefing at the US Embassy’s Information Resource Centre on Marli Street, Port-of-Spain. Reynoso spoke after meeting with officials of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and the Ministry of National Security on a range of issues.
US Ambassador Beatrice Wilkinson Welters said the funds – which can be used to support hardware purchases such as offshore patrol vessels – will be available to Caribbean States and the mechanism for access to the funds is being worked out. Although she did not give details at yesterday’s briefing, Wilkinson Welters said Trinidad and Tobago “is playing a significant role in the implementation of this initiative.”
Reynoso noted that the Caribbean Basin Security Initiative will focus on combating corruption within the ranks of the security agencies as well as the combating the drug trade by supporting a holistic array of measures. “Prevention is critical. You can’t just give hardware, you can’t just give money, you have to create alternatives for young people,” she said.
“It’s not only hardware in terms of ships, but also the judiciary.” Reynoso also noted efforts to curb the drug trade in Central America. “If we don’t invest in one part then the narcos will go to another part,”she said. She also noted that the measures discussed yesterday are separate and apart from funding devoted to dealing with the situation in Haiti. She noted that the US has invested US $1 billion in programmes to assist Haiti in the wake of destruction caused by earthquakes recently and that a further supplemental allocation of $1 billion was also granted.
“We have a commitment to Haiti,” she said. “It is the most urgent issue we have in the region. We will continue working in Haiti non-stop until we see tangible results...Haiti is on our minds all of the time.”