Today, Vice President Biden met with the Prime Ministers, Presidents, and senior ministry personnel from 15 Caribbean nations in Port of Spain, Trinidad and Tobago, where they discussed our comprehensive regional partnership to improve citizen security in the Caribbean.
Working together in support of the Caribbean Basin Security Initiative (CBSI), the United States and the nations of the Caribbean are combating the drug trade and other transnational crimes that threaten regional security. This partnership fulfills the commitment to deepen regional security cooperation that President Barack Obama made at the 2009 Summit of the Americas. CBSI is part of an integrated citizen security effort that includes the Merida Initiative in Mexico, the Central America Regional Security Initiative, and the Colombia Strategic Development Initiative. The United States, CARICOM member nations, and the Dominican Republic are improving citizen safety throughout the Caribbean by working together to:
CBSI partner nations have collectively identified priorities for cooperation, including: building a regional information sharing network, improving maritime interdiction coordination, developing regional training capacity, implementing prisons/corrections reforms, improving asset sustainment and maintenance practices, and addressing illicit firearms trafficking. Effective solutions to these challenges will require a sustained commitment from all CBSI partners, as well as the assistance of other international donors.
The United States committed $203 million in funding for the first three years of the initiative. This contribution to CBSI includes assistance in the following areas, all developed through the CBSI cooperative dialogue process:
Maritime and Aerial Security Cooperation: Support regional maritime and aerial coordination by improving radar coverage in strategic locations and sharing radar information. Provide equipment and training that will enable Caribbean governments to carry out maritime and aerial operations to identify and respond to threats, engage in effective end game operations, and sustain those capabilities with reliability and regularity.
Law Enforcement Capacity Building: Enhance law enforcement effectiveness through police professionalization, anti-corruption training, community-based policing, and sharing regional ballistics and fingerprint information.
Border/Port Security and Firearms Interdiction: Provide technical support, technology upgrades, and training on techniques for intercepting smuggled narcotics, weapons, bulk cash, and other contraband at commercial airports and seaports, to include the enhancement of strategic trade controls through training to strengthen border security capabilities.
Youth Development/Crime Prevention: Improve academic opportunities and prepare at-risk youth for entry into the workforce. Develop capacity to build sustainable youth development systems, providing professional development and life skills, strengthening second-chance institutions, and supporting entrepreneurship opportunities.
A solid partnership, borne of our annual CBSI Dialogue and effective cooperation with Caribbean partners in the field, has begun to produce results. The December 2012 meeting in Trinidad and Tobago of CBSI’s steering body reinforced regional commitment to information sharing and deployment of national resources, linchpins to the Initiative’s long term success. In addition, we can point to the following CBSI accomplishments over the last year as indicators of tangible results: