WASHINGTON, D.C.: The United States has committed US$30 million to improving security in the Caribbean and will also partner with the region in assisting its entrepreneurs and helping in managing energy and climate change.
In his address to leaders gathered for the Fifth Summit of the Americas over the weekend, U.S. President, Barack Obama, announced the US$30 million initiative to strengthen co-operation on security in the Caribbean. Obama said he had directed members of his Cabinet to build and sustain relations with their counterparts in the Caribbean “to constantly adjust our tactics, to build upon best practices, and develop new modes of co-operation because the United States is a friend of every nation and person who seeks a future of security and dignity”.
“I recognize that the problem will not simply be solved by law enforcement if we’re not also dealing with our responsibilities in the United States. And that’s why we will take aggressive action to reduce our demand for drugs, and to stop the flow of guns and bulk cash south across our borders. And that’s why I’m making it a priority to ratify the Illicit Trafficking in Firearms Convention as another tool that we can use to prevent this from happening,” he said.
Obama also announced the creation of the Microfinance Growth Fund, which will assist business people in the region.
“I’ve asked Congress for US$448 million in immediate assistance for those who have been hit hardest by the crisis beyond our borders. And I’m pleased to announce a new Microfinance Growth Fund for the hemisphere that can restart the lending that can power businesses and entrepreneurs in each and every country that’s represented here.
“This is not charity. Together, we can create a broader foundation of prosperity that builds new markets and powers new growth for all peoples in the hemisphere, because our economies are intertwined,” Obama said.
Obama also proposed the creation of a new Energy and Climate Partnership of the Americas, in order to produce and use energy to save jobs and protect the environment.
During his address, he urged the leaders to look forward to a fresh partnership rather than focus on past disagreements.
“I didn’t come here to debate the past; I came here to deal with the future…and by working together, we can take important steps forward to advance prosperity and security and liberty. That is the 21st century agenda that we come together to enact. That’s the new direction that we can pursue,” he said.
Obama has agreed to meet Caribbean Community (CARICOM) leaders in Washington, D.C. this year to help set up a formal structure of engagement with the U.S. A date has not been set.