WASHINGTON (CMC) – United States Vice President Kamala Harris will on Thursday announce new initiatives aimed at strengthening the US-Caribbean partnership.
In a statement, the White House said that Harris, whose father is retired Jamaican economist Dr Donald Harris, will announce new initiatives that address security and firearms trafficking; the need for an enhanced diplomatic presence in the eastern Caribbean; the crisis in Haiti; and the US–Caribbean Partnership to Address the Climate Crisis 2030 (PACC 2030).
More than US$100 million has been allocated to aid new assistance for the region.
Harris and Bahamas Prime Minister Philip Davis will host the US-Caribbean Leaders Meeting in Nassau, Bahamas on Thursday.
“This meeting will build on the vice president’s previous meetings with Caribbean leaders in April 2022, at the June 2022 Summit of the Americas in Los Angeles, and in September 2022,” the statement said.
“The vice president’s trip delivers on the Biden-Harris Administration’s commitment to advance cooperation with the Caribbean,” it added.
The White House said the Biden-Harris administration is “committed to disrupting firearms trafficking in the Caribbean by interdicting illicit shipments of firearms and ammunition, and by holding offenders accountable and bringing them to justice.”
To bolster these efforts, the White House said the US Department of Justice (DOJ) will name a coordinator for Caribbean Firearms Prosecutions who will be an experienced DOJ prosecutor.
“The creation of this position will elevate this critical issue and help implement the provisions of the Bipartisan Safer Communities Act, which included new federal criminal provisions on firearms trafficking and straw purchases,” the White House said.
It also said the US Department of State is supporting the recently established regional Crime Gun Intelligence Unit (CGIU) in Trinidad and Tobago, which facilitates collaboration and cooperation among regional and international law enforcement agencies including the Caribbean Community Implementation Agency for Crime and Security; US agencies including the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives, Homeland Security Investigations (HSI), Customs and Border Protection, the Bureau of Industry and Security); and INTERPOL.
“The CGIU will address critical firearms investigation training needs in the Caribbean and help our Caribbean partner nations solve gun-related crime cases, deterring gun crimes in the region and bringing criminals to justice,” the White House said. “The CGIU will provide training on the real-time collection, management, and analysis of crime gun intelligence and encourage information sharing with international law enforcement partners.”
In addition, the US Department of State, alongside the United Kingdom, will leverage the presence of a senior criminal justice advisor in the Caribbean to mentor local prosecutors and judges, improve the criminal justice experience of victims and witnesses, and enhance public legal education.
“This program will build more efficient criminal justice systems to achieve more effective prosecutions of firearms-related crimes throughout the Eastern Caribbean,” the White House said.
Assistant Secretary of State for Western Hemisphere Affairs Brian A Nichols will accompany Harris on her trip to the region “to discuss climate resilience, energy and food security, and economic prosperity with Caribbean leaders.”
This trip also celebrates the 50th anniversary of bilateral relations between the United States and The Bahamas.