The Minister of National Security the Hon. Wayne Munroe and US Chargé d’Affaires Usha Pitts attended a press conference at the Ministry on Monday, March 20, 2023 to update the nation on the Northern Caribbean Security Summit which took place in Miami, Florida from March 8 – 10, 2023.
Minister Munroe also announced that The Bahamas will host the summit next year.
The purpose of the summit was to discuss strategies to keep the Caribbean safe and to preserve security in the northern Caribbean: officials from US, the Turks and Caicos, the British government and The Bahamas attended.
Minister Munroe was accompanied by Keith Bell, Permanent Secretaries Cheryl Darville and Cecilia Strachan, Commissioner Clayton Fernander and senior officers of the Royal Bahamas Police Force, Commodore Dr. Raymond King and senior officers of the Royal Bahamas Defence Force, Director Anthony Ferguson and senior officers from the National Crime Intelligence Agency, and senior officers from the Customs Department.
The Bahamian delegation participated in several discussions including illegal firearms fueling violence in the region, human smuggling networks, and transnational organizations.
The member states engaged in discussions on intelligence-driven investigations which continue to result in greater interdiction efforts.
Collaboration has yielded timely intelligence reports regarding courier services which have become actively involved in transporting firearms throughout the region; and works with national, regional and international stakeholders to secure their participation.
The meetings also served to bolster operational cooperation with the Turks and Caicos and the United States’ departments of safety and security. Included were Homeland Security Investigations (I), International Narcotics and Law Enforcement (INL), and the US Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE).
All member states reiterated their commitments to the region, while seeking to foster more opportunities to engage in dialogue and share best practices on how countries in the region could further strengthen intelligence exchanges and build capacities and cooperation.
What made this summit special was the remit given to the National Security Minister by the Prime Minister to keep in “forward consciousness” climate change and the impacts of climate change on any future endeavours to keep the northern Caribbean secure.
The National Security Minister said, “You may recall that when the Secretary of the US Navy (Carlos Del Toro) came here, he acknowledged that in all we do, we have to do it in a manner that is climate sensitive. This may broaden the discussion, but it is necessary.”
The Chargé d’Affaires explained that the summit is vital to discuss at a high-level, strategies to tackle the evolving threats to security in the region.
“We have found that things have changed over the years. The drugs themselves have even changed – the kinds of drugs, where they are coming from and how they are passing through The Bahamas to the US has also changed.
“We discussed how threats are evolving – not just drugs but all the other things that come from drugs.
“When you look at all of these security issues in the Caribbean they may be based on drugs, but they may not be necessarily directly related to drugs anymore.”
The Chargé d’Affaires said the same networks that funded the original drug networks are now funding illegal migration or trafficking in humans. She also noted that there is a new financial sector that was spawned by the drug trade, i.e. money laundering.
“Money laundering can be totally supported by new sectors like crypto that we never considered might be part of money laundering a few years ago.
“So we had a lot of issues to talk about and we recognized that we needed a broader security dialogue that addresses some of these emerging threats and to make sure we sat down with all of the key partners too.”
By LLONELLA GILBERT/Bahamas Information Services