Regional security officials meeting in Guyana

GEORGETOWN, Guyana, Dec 5, CMC – The annual Caribbean Nations Security Conference (CANSEC) is taking place here with delegates being told that there is need to criminal networks sanctuary and freedom of movement.

The conference brings together more than 50 key United States and Caribbean senior defence and law enforcement representatives to unify regional action to counter transnational and transregional threat networks.

It is being is co-hosted by the Miami-based US Southern Command and the Guyana Defence Force and is being held under the theme “Unifying Regional Action to Counter Trans-regional and Transnational Threat Networks”.

Head of the US Southern Command, Admiral Kurt Tidd told the opening ceremony that the meeting would address the “most pressing security challenges facing us today.

“We hope to deny criminal networks sanctuary and freedom of movement. By integrating and sequencing our respective operations and activities, we can sustain pressure against illicit networks and aggregate the impact of individual mitigation and preparation efforts,” he added.

He told delegates that also included the US Principal Deputy Assistant Secretary, Francisco L. Palmieri that the event here is taking place at a time when there is volatility, uncertainty and interconnected challenges.

He said new traditional and non-traditional risks are also co-existing and reinforcing one another regionally and internationally.

“We see State and non-State actors competing for influencing and challenging democratic values,” he said, indicating that extreme weather events was having a far-reaching impact on peoples and their economies.

Tidd said the meeting would also examine ways of tapping into the expertise and skills of civil society and the private sector; foster greater cooperation and integration within the Caribbean and other regions.

“This network was born of sustained engagement that emphasise collective active and cooperative solutions. It is built on the foundation of information sharing. It is inclusive and principled, binding together like-minded nations who share common values and a commitment to work together,” Tidd said.

Prime Minister Moses Nagamootoo, who is acting head of state in the absence of President David Granger, outlined how Guyana has sought to deal with domestic criminality while also contributing to the regional fight.

He said since coming to office in 2015, the government has moved swiftly to smash the system where the government was compromised by drug lords and where security forces were on the threshold of being compromised.

Nagamootoo said this has resulted in some of the largest interceptions in recent months but explained that those interceptions were not without networking with external security agencies.

Chief of Staff of the Guyana Defence Force, Brigadier Patrick West, said he is optimistic that the conference will be successful in doing what it has set out to do which includes addressing regional security challenges and the growing threats from non-military sources.

“Our partners must be committed to strengthening our weaknesses because our vulnerabilities will create challenges for them since we can only provide the gateway for many illegal activities which occur within North America and Europe,” he said.

He said the region was also facing increased threats by cyber-crime, noting “the security forces are, in many instances, way behind the perpetrators of these crimes and we need now, more than ever, to be able to be in step with or ahead of this new level of technological challenge within the region”.

The conference ends on Thursday.

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