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Jamaica mum on Cuba drug report

Thursday, December 16, 2010    

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THE Government was up to last night tight-lipped about cables published by the anti-secrecy website, WikiLeaks, in which Cuba expressed frustration over what it said was a failure on the part of Jamaica to deal decisively with the grave issue of transnational drug trafficking.

The Government was expected to issue a statement on the matter but up to press time last night the release was not forthcoming.

Daryl Vaz, the minister responsible for information, said the matter was being investigated by the security minister Senator Dwight Nelson and foreign affairs minister Dr Ken Baugh.

Vaz, who noted that matters such as those are best dealt with at that level because of the sensitivity, said he was sure a statement would be issued once both ministers have been able to consult with each other.

However, in defence of his Government, Vaz told journalists at yesterday's weekly post-Cabinet press briefing at Jamaica House in Kingston that it was no secret that Jamaica itself had major concerns in securing its own shoreline.

"...We have sought assistance from several countries and we still face the challenges, based on what is happening in terms of the various gun for drugs trade and other illegal activities," Vaz said.

At the same time, the Opposition People's National Party (PNP) questioned the Government's commitment to effectively battle the illegal drug trade.

"...This report must be viewed within the context of the efforts made by the JLP at around the same time to frustrate the extradition request of reputed drug lord, Christopher Coke," said Peter Bunting, the Opposition spokesman on national security, in a press release.

The cables made in August 2009 and published Tuesday by the UK-based Guardian newspaper, revealed frustration on the part of Cuba, Jamaica's Spanish-speaking neighbours, over the "lack of co-operation" on the part of the Government of Jamaica in efforts to stem the drug trade which uses Cuban airspace and its waters.

The US Coast Guard Drug Interdiction Specialist assigned to Havana reported speaking numerous times with Cuban officials about the problem and noted that repeated attempts to engage Jamaica on the issue had been ignored.

The cables stated that the prevailing concern and frustration of the Cubans in the matter was the complete disregard by the Jamaican Government when it came to sharing vital information.

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