Plea for help to fight drug arms trade

Caribbean Community (CARICOM) leaders say they have pressed United States President Barack Obama for greater support in securing the region from the traffic in illegal narcotics and small arms.

The leaders said they met with Obama in Cartagena, Colombia, during the two-day Sixth Summit of the Americas, which concluded on Apr. 15.

“A wide ranging discussion included sharing of ideas on enhancing the role of small business, distance education, job creation, health, information and communication technology, new systems and rules in the U.S. banking system, debt and the role of the G20 (Group of 20) in assisting highly indebted middle income countries,” a CARICOM statement said.

“President Obama told the group which comprised Caribbean Community (CARICOM) leaders and the President of the Dominican Republic that the bonds between the two sides were deep and that his country had followed through on the initiatives identified at their previous meeting in Port-of-Spain, Trinidad and Tobago, in 2009,” it added.

Obama, who was accompanied by his Secretary of State, Hillary Clinton and the U.S. Trade Representative, Ron Kirk, indicated that he had “personally invested in the region” and assured that there would be follow through on the ideas presented at the meeting, CARICOM said.

Meantime, Trinidad and Tobago Prime Minister Kamla Persad-Bissessar, the lead CARICOM Head of Government on security, drew summit leaders’ attention to the major challenge of transnational organized crime, urging “prompt action towards enhancing safety and security levels for the people of the Americas

“We must act decisively on crime and violence in ways that make a difference,” she said.

“We know that the criminal elements operating in the Americas are very organized, in some instances to the extent that their resources exceed in number and sophistication the resources of the state,” Persad-Bissessar added.

She stressed that a “holistic approach” is necessary for fighting crime, encompassing strategies for prevention, detection, conviction and rehabilitation.

“Crime security and safety is one of the major challenges facing our countries today,” she said, adding that it is a “multifaceted, transnational pandemic, requiring collective effort.

“We must be our brother’s keeper,” she continued. “No one country can do it alone and, indeed, I take inspiration from my country’s own motto ‘Together We Aspire, Together We Achieve.’”

The Trinidad and Tobago leader said social inclusion and the eradication of poverty are “key priorities” for preventing crime.