Wed | Jul 15, 2020

US deploys warships to the Caribbean - Trump says he wants end to illegal drug trade that threatens American lives

Published:Friday | April 3, 2020 | 12:23 AM

WASHINGTON (CMC):

The Donald Trump administration in the United States is sending warships to the Caribbean in an effort to stop the illegal drug trade.

The move announced by the president on Wednesday, comes a week after the US charged Venezuelan President Nicolás Maduro and other senior officials in the country with “narco-terrorism”.

It accused them of flooding the United States with cocaine and using drugs as a weapon to undermine the health of Americans. In addition, a reward of US$15 million has been offered for information leading to Maduro’s arrest.

“We must not let the drug cartels exploit the [coronavirus] pandemic to threaten American lives,” said Trump in making the announcement at the White House.

“Today, the United States is launching enhanced counter-narcotics operations in the Western Hemisphere to protect the American people from the deadly scourge of illegal narcotics,” he said.

DISRUPTION OF DRUG SHIPMENTS

Trump added that the US was co-operating with 22 partner nations, enabling the US Southern Command to “increase surveillance, disruption and seizures of drug shipments and provide additional support for eradication efforts which are going on right now at a record pace”.

“We’re deploying additional Navy destroyers, combat ships, aircraft and helicopters, Coast Guard cutters and Air Force surveillance aircraft, doubling our capabilities in the region.”

The US deployment comes two days after US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo offered to lift crippling sanctions against Venezuela, if Maduro and opposition leader Juan Guaidó agreed to a power-sharing deal.

Under the US plan, Maduro would step aside and a transitional council would govern until fresh elections.

The Venezuelan government, has, however, called the deployment a “diversion” from the current pandemic spreading around the US – and the world at large.

Venezuela has experienced economic collapse – inflation was 800,000 per cent last year – and 4.8 million people have left the country.

Guaidó who has accused Maduro of being unfit for office, has won the support of many in the country as well as the United States and European Union.