News Americas, NASSAU, Bahamas, Thurs. June 8, 2023: Unlike China or Saudi Arabia, the US’ focus in the Caribbean on crime largely persists as Caribbean American US Vice President Kamala Harris revealed plans for just over $100 million to combat weapons trafficking, gun crimes and security in the region but little focus on economic investment and access to business financing.
At a meeting in the Bahamas with Caribbean and US leaders on June 8th, Harris and the US Justice and State Departments also kept the focus on crime fighting. The Justice Department said it will appoint a coordinator to tackle illegal weapons smuggling, while the State Department aims to enhance forensic work, strengthen local police forces, and assist in solving gun-related cases through a unit based in Trinidad and Tobago.
Collaborating with the UK, the US also said it will launch a mentoring program in the eastern Caribbean to improve the prosecution of gun-related crimes, addressing the backlog of cases faced by island nations.
The deteriorating security situation in Haiti is another area of concern. The US State Department says it plans to support the Haitian National Police in investigating and prosecuting crimes related to gangs, weapons smuggling, and human trafficking.
Efforts to alleviate the dire situation in Haiti involve a $53.7 million investment from the US Agency for International Development (USAID) to combat hunger, provide clean water, and improve healthcare. Additionally, $10.5 million will support Haiti’s struggling agricultural sector.
Another $15 million will go to help emergency response and preparedness in the region and address the challenges faced by low-lying island nations reliant on tourism. Additional funds will reportedly be allocated to help them prepare and adapt to the impacts of climate change.
However, in a region which suffers from lack of access to capital for SME’s and major projects as well as derisking, the US’ Veep has set aside $20 million alone to aid Caribbean businesses focusing on renewable energy and energy efficiency. The remaining funding – 28 million – will go towards “food security.”
Yet Harris insisted that “strengthening the U.S.-Caribbean relationship is a priority for me, as it is for President Joe Biden.”