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Canada’s Minister of State of Foreign Affairs (Americas), Peter Kent, with Canadian High Commissioner to Barbados and the Eastern Caribbean, Ruth Archibald, at the lecture held at the Errol Barrow Centre for Creative Imaignation on Wednesday night.

 
   

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Region warned of displaced criminal elements

9/17/2010

THE region is being warned that efforts by extra-regional governments to put pressure on transnational criminal organisations and drug cartels are causing their displacement to other territories.

Unfortunately, some of those criminal organisations are taking their criminality and violence out of areas such as Mexico into Central America and the English-Speaking Caribbean.

Word of this from Canadian Minister of State of Foreign Affairs (Americas), Peter Kent, while speaking to the media after delivering a lecture at the Errol Barrow Centre for Creative Imagination at the Cave Hill Campus on Wednesday night.

According to the Minister, “Honduras has seen a reflection of that. Guatemala, which already had serious problems of criminal organisations which threatened the civility of the State, now has on the northern borders some of these displaced Mexican criminal organisations. There is a real concern that it has a very serious potential to destabilise governments … The massive amounts of money which give these criminal organisations firepower beyond the capacity of some of the sovereign States,” he remarked.

Minister Kent said that this is an issue on which there needs to be co-operation. “It is something that only if we cut off the financial networks that allow these organisations to make these incredible amounts of money and fuel their private armies and brutality that these armies can exert on local and national societies, [can we succeed]. So we are very concerned.”

He commented on his visit to the Regional Security System in Barbados where the types of technology used by drug smugglers, particularly in the form of fast boats, were identified.
“They (the RSS) are only catching five per cent of the total volume that is being shipped. Most of those arrests are based on intelligence, not interdiction from patrols. So it is a continuing threat to our continuing societies.”

“We are seeing that some countries where drugs were normally transited through, El Salvador for example which was a transit country and where the local contacts were paid in cash they are now being paid in drugs. So they are establishing a user community in El Salvador that didn’t exist before. So that is a danger,” he stressed.

He noted that all countries have a reason to be worried since criminal organisations will go to the point of least resistance.

“The reason that the problem isn’t manifested here (in Barbados) is because the law enforcement of this country, the justice system, Governments have demonstrated over the years that it will not be tolerated,” he said.

With regard to white collar crime he said that Canada, known to have very stringent practices, has signed a number of tax information agreements to track the movement of financial resources.

“We encourage all countries of the Americas to ensure that financial institutions follow very clear and transparent rules and governance with regards to deposits on one hand and also with regards to their operations and the sorts of wrongdoing that we have seen in a number of scandals in the Caribbean within the last couple of years,” he said. (JH)

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