CARICOM TO APPROACH AMERICAN GOV’T ON STEMMING FLOW OF ILLEGAL GUNS INTO REGION
By Jenique Belgrave
As a regional symposium on crime and violence wrapped up in Trinidad and Tobago, CARICOM heads agreed on several actions including placing a ban on assault weapons in their nations.
“CARICOM heads are agreeing today to take a decision, as we have done, to ban the use and presence of assault weapons in the civilian population of our nations…We are undertaking to provide business support for those who need it and to do fundamental restructuring of our education system,” stated host Prime Minister Dr. Keith Rowley of Trinidad and Tobago.
Delivering closing statements at the end of the two-day event on Tuesday evening, he said while some of the undertakings will have serious economic and budgetary consequences, regional nations are prepared to do what is necessary to bring about a safe and secure future for their citizens.
“Unfortunately, we can’t count on everybody in the region to join in, but as David Rudder says they will come along eventually. Change is not always embraced by even those who accept that change is required, because it’s an opportunity for some and it’s death for others. But if we are worthy of the name of leader and leadership is what is required of us, then by God we will lead and stand the consequences in the face of the population. We cannot continue like this,” the leader of the twin-island republic added.
Echoing sentiments expressed by Chair of CARICOM and Prime Minister of The Bahamas Phillip Davis K.C. on the need for the United States to get involved in stemming the flow of illegal guns from its own shores into the Caribbean, Rowley revealed that a communique will be sent to the US government lobbying for its help in the matter.
“A communique is going to come out from this room signed by CARICOM leaders that will go to our major trading partner and friend up north in Washington, indicating that we have identified that a major component of the contribution of our circumstance is the seemingly unregulated illegal flow of guns and ammunition into our territories coming from the United States,” he said.
Pointing to CARICOM’s decades-long assistance in the US fight the drug trade, he stated it was time for reciprocity.
“We want a greater effort in preventing the manufacturers of these killing machines and projectiles from having the profit-making outcome that is killing people and destroying our society. We want the guns and ammunition stopped and we will take equivalent action in our country for that which slips through but we want to see the borders both there and here so secure that it will become difficult for that kind of business to easily bring this kind of havoc on Caribbean societies,” said the CARICOM co-chair for security and energy.
“That letter will go to Washington and I have every confidence that the United States President and his administration will understand the pain that we’re feeling and we’re backing it up with evidence and solid information that this threat is not just real, it is being experienced. These little islands in the Caribbean cannot sustain for much longer, the death rate and economic destruction that wanton use of arms and ammunition is reaping on us,” he stated.
Commending those attending the symposium, Davis urged them to employ some of the ideas and initiatives proposed in the meeting.
“The issue is a complex one and multi-faceted and all hands are needed on deck and as I continue to remind us all together we are stronger and together we will achieve more,” he stressed.