US 'would like closer integration' in Caribbean
By ALISON LOWE
Tribune Staff Reporter
THE United States government would like to see closer integration between countries in the Caribbean, with this a topic of conversation yesterday between a high level US official and Prime Minister Hubert Ingraham.
According to Dr Arturo Valenzuela, Assistant Secretary of State for Western Hemisphere Affairs, one of the major “pillars of engagement” that the United States government is hoping to promote in its relations with countries like the Bahamas and its neighbours in the Caribbean is the “strengthening” of the integration process that CARICOM represents.
Speaking to the Bahamian media during a press conference with US Ambassador to the Bahamas, Nicole Avant, at her official residence yesterday, Dr Valenzuela said this was one of a number of issues discussed with both Mr Ingraham and opposition leader Perry Christie during meetings that morning.
“We were talking about the CARICOM, how we see the evolution of CARICOM and what role could CARICOM play with regard to some of the issues (such as) climate change, security and economic development,” said Dr Arturo, a key adviser to Secretary of State Hilary Clinton on a broad range of political, economic and security issues that affect the Caribbean region, as well as South and Central America and Canada.
“There’s always room to see how we can improve processes of democratic governance and in particular in the Caribbean; (we want to) have a dialogue with leaders in the country about the possibility of increasing the integration process in the Caribbean – whether CARICOM and its framework can be strenghtened moving forward.
“Our co-operative efforts with the nations of the Caribbean have to be dealt with bilaterally – between the US and those nations – but at the same time we’re mindful of the fact that we’re better off if we can co-operate and discuss things in a broader context and in this sense a regional integration process is a process that would help in our own co-operation.
“Our security framework right now for example is within the Caribbean Basin Security Initiative (CBSI) and as you know much of our trade and economic policy has an overall focus on the Caribbean as such,” explained Dr Valenzuela.
The CBSI is a recently launched Shared Regional Security Partnership between the US and the Caribbean that seeks to bring all members of CARICOM and the Dominican Republic together to jointly collaborate on regional security with the United States as a partner.
The US is set to contribute $45 million this year and $79 million in 2011 to the initiative, which has as its core objectives the reduction of illicit trafficking, the advancement of public safety and security and the promotion of social justice.
July 27, 2010