Regional Media Outlet to host Summit at Hilton Barbados: Peaceful Caribbean Conference 2012 – Focus on Solutions

Times have changed for many countries across the Caribbean, where the rise of criminal gangs has turned once-peaceful islands into little short of battle zones.

Drug traffickers have helped drive up the crime rates by introducing firearms and narcotics with a street value exceeding the size of the Caribbean’s legal economy.

Gang-related shootings have become common in the Caribbean, according to a new report on global homicides by the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime.

{FILE IMAGE} "Alarmed citizens are putting pressure on politicians and law enforcement agencies throughout the region to attack the problem." VIP Registration US$299 each | VIP tickets include: Reserved preferred seating * Pre-conference breakfast with guest speakers and dignitaries * VIP lunch with guest speakers and dignitaries * Conference materials and exclusive memorabilia * Autographed pictures and/or books of guest speakers and dignitaries * Early evening entertainment * VIP cocktail party

Regional experts are concerned that a culture of violence has become entrenched in the islands, where nearly 70 percent of homicides are committed by firearms.

Until fairly recently, we had an innocence about ourselves in the Caribbean, but that’s been lost. This thing is a Pandora’s Box and I’m not sure you can ever close it again. — Marcus Day, director of the Caribbean Drug and Alcohol Research Institute, St Lucia.

Comparisons with other parts of the world can be stark. Jamaica, with roughly 3 million people that has been hit hard by drug and extortion gangs for years, recorded 1,428 killings in 2010. In comparison, Chicago, a city of nearly 3 million, reported 435 homicides last year.

Alarmed citizens are putting pressure on politicians and law enforcement agencies throughout the region to attack the problem.

Criminals are getting bold these days. I’m ashamed to know that my people are killing each other over small things, material things, and it’s getting worse. — Norelle Scott, a 19-year-old Bahamas college student

Trinidad and Tobago declared a state of emergency and imposed a strict curfew in certain areas – a curfew many Trinidadians felt was required and even overdue.

Who among us does not yearn for a return to the peaceful, serene Caribbean of yesteryear?

With this in mind, the Peaceful Caribbean Foundation, in association with Caribbean News Now, is holding its first regional conference in Bridgetown, Barbados, on addressing the increasing problem of crime in the Caribbean, featuring top personalities from the Caribbean and the US, as well as the publication’s editors and contributors. There will be key addresses and panel discussions on the major issues confronting peace and stability in the Caribbean. It promises to be a hugely important event for anyone interested in the future of the Caribbean as a place to live and visit.

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