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The U.S.‐Caribbean Shared Security Partnership: Responding to the Growth of Trafficking and Narcotics in the Caribbean
Testimony before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee

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by Douglas Farah
Published on December 15th, 2011

Thank you for the opportunity to testify today on the Caribbean Basin Security Initiative and the increasing flow of illicit drugs through the Caribbean region.

As many others have said, drug trafficking routes and networks are like water running downhill, they will always seek the path of least resistance. And, like a balloon, when pressure is applied in one area the displaced operations pop up in another. The $139 million, two-year CBSI program, in anticipation of the pressure being applied in Mexico and Colombia, is aimed at making it simultaneously more difficult to traffic cocaine and other illicit drugs through the Caribbean.

According to the State Department the purpose of the CSBI money flowing into the Caribbean is to aid in:

o  Maritime and Aerial Security Cooperation
o  Law enforcement capacity building
o  Border/Port Security and Firearms Interdiction
o  Justice sector reform
o  Crime prevention and at‐risk youth

These are laudable and necessary areas of cooperation with the small and generally under-resourced countries of the Caribbean, and the program correctly anticipates the region’s growing importance as a transnational shipping route not only for drugs, but for human smuggling and other transnational organized criminal activities.

Of the 16 nations in the Caribbean, the U.S. government has identified four (the Dominican Republic, Haiti, Bahamas and Jamaica) as major transit countries, while many others, particularly in the Eastern Caribbean, continue to serve as significant transit points.

But there are several significant roadblocks for the CBSI achieving its goals, in addition to the traditional issues of corruption, weak institutions, lack of rule of law, and lack of resources to fight traffickers who are well-resourced. and have multiple unguarded points of entry across the region. I would like to address these in particular today, and also to stress they cannot be addressed outside of the broader regional context of Latin America. The two most significant roadblocks, in my opinion are:

1. The growing political and economic influence of Venezuela in the region, a significant drawback given that Venezuela is a growing and primary gateway for the flow of illicit narcotics into the Caribbean, and that senior members of its government have been sanctioned for their involvement with drug trafficking and designated terrorist entities;

2. The continuing existence of large offshore financial centers offering multiple services to a broad array of transnational criminal organizations, both regional and extra‐regional, thereby allowing the profits of illicit activities to flow back to criminal organizations. As you are well aware, some of these TOC groups, particularly those operating out of Mexico, pose a significant national security challenge to the United States.

Read the Download file complete testimony here.

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