A New Approach to Regional Security – Arturo Valenzuela, U.S. Department of State Assistant Secretary for the Western Hemisphere

United States President Barack Obama standing next to Guyana's President Bharrat Jagdeo at the Opening Ceremony of the Fifth Summit of the Americas in Port of Spain, Trinidad and Tobago

United States President Barack Obama standing next to Guyana's President Bharrat Jagdeo at the Opening Ceremony of the Fifth Summit of the Americas in Port of Spain, Trinidad and Tobago

The United States is committed to working with our Caribbean neighbors to combat threats that endanger our mutual security. President Obama, during the 2009 Summit of the Americas in Trinidad and Tobago, voiced the U.S. commitment to partnership in this hemisphere: “As neighbors, we have a responsibility to each other and to our citizens. And by working together, we can take important steps forward to advance prosperity, security, and liberty.”

On May 27, 2010, the United States and the nations of the Caribbean will live up to that responsibility by launching the Caribbean Basin Security Initiative (CBSI), an important step forward for the prosperity, security, and liberty of the region. CBSI will support a joint U.S.-Caribbean partnership that addresses the various security and safety concerns of our respective governments and citizens.

US Southern Command {SOUTHCOM} part of RSS: Regional Security System for the Caribbean

US Southern Command {SOUTHCOM} part of RSS: Regional Security System for the Caribbean

The definition of “security” under this new view goes beyond assistance for security forces and anti-trafficking efforts. CBSI is a broad initiative that also puts an emphasis on citizen safety partnerships that recognize the need to invest in crime prevention approaches, including education and workforce development as alternatives to criminal enterprise. This comprehensive view also acknowledges the need to further strengthen justice sector institutions to successfully investigate and prosecute all forms of criminal activity.

The United States and Caribbean nations are entering a new phase in our relationship—a phase of dialogue, shared responsibility, and understanding. This relationship should not be viewed as a panacea against crime and violence, but the beginning of a collaborative approach—one that identifies and provides appropriate and sufficient resources to institutions and communities in a common effort to support their efforts. Over the past year, representatives from our governments have met four times to define our strategic priorities.

We have similarly identified a framework for security cooperation and a broad plan of action. These are not mere political declarations but rather guiding documents that should set a clear path toward improving citizen safety over the coming years.

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