US continues to partner with region to address challenges
THE EDITOR, Sir:
In 2011, St Kitts and Nevis faced spiralling crime and one of the world's highest per-capita homicide rates. Working with US government-sponsored legal advisers, the Kittitian government, police, and prosecutors put in place new policies and practices that led to a double-digit drop in the rate of violent crime, making communities safer.
This is one example of the strong US commitment to working hand in hand with the nations of the Caribbean to address shared challenges.
I am in Barbados to focus on our cooperation and to meet with all the US ambassadors who serve in the Caribbean. The US and the Caribbean enjoy extensive political, economic, cultural, and family ties. We share a commitment to human rights and democratic values, reflected in free and fair elections. We share as well a commitment to fighting corruption and diversifying our economies to share more widely the benefits of economic growth.
High-level engagement is essential to our partnership. At each of the past two Summits of the Americas, President Obama met with Caribbean leaders to discuss how to strengthen the vital US-Caribbean friendship. Secretary Clinton has made 10 trips to five Caribbean countries, and other Cabinet-level officials, including Secretary of Homeland Security Janet Napolitano and Attorney General Eric Holder, visited the region. US officials from across the government work closely with Caribbean counterparts every day to advance our shared agenda.
CREATING LASTING BONDS
The hallmark of our engagement is the Caribbean Basin Security Initiative (CBSI), through which we have committed US$203 million towards improving citizen security, reducing violence, and combating illicit trafficking. CBSI is creating lasting partnerships through a focused, whole-of-government approach, with shared responsibility.
We are seeing results: for instance, illicit drug seizures are at record levels, and homicide rates in several countries are down substantially.
Our engagement also has a strong economic dimension. Trade and investment remain robust, with Caribbean companies benefiting from US trade preferences to bring jobs and development to the region. We are increasing women's economic participation through initiatives like the Women's Entrepreneurship Network.
We are committed to improving educational opportunities through USAID programmes, as well as 100,000 Strong in the Americas, President Obama's goal to boost educational exchanges between the US and Latin America and the Caribbean to 100,000 in each direction. We are especially focused on increasing education and work opportunities for youth.
On energy and the environment, we are improving technical capacity and laying the groundwork for investment under the Energy and Climate Partnership of the Americas (ECPA) and the Connect 2022 initiative. ECPA has enabled Suriname to use sustainable power generation and to protect its vast ecological wealth.
We are strengthening health systems in 14 countries through the president's Emergency Plan for HIV/AIDS Relief. In Guyana, where we have invested US$175 million over the past 10 years, the HIV prevalence rate has dropped by more than half.
These examples illustrate our collaboration with leaders and citizens of the Caribbean in shaping communities, improving livelihoods, and integrating our nations.
ROBERTA S. JACOBSON
US Assistant Secretary of State
Western Hemisphere Affairs