Jamaica soft on drugs - Cuba
Mark Beckford, Online Content Coordinator
Minister of National Security, Senator Dwight Nelson, has come out in sharp defence of Jamaica's reputation after a leaked United States Embassy cable painted the Government as enablers of drug traffickers.
The cable, which is among more than 200,000 obtained by whistle-blower website WikiLeaks, stated that Cuban anti-drug officials were frustrated with Jamaica's efforts to battle drug trafficking in the region.
The cable, which was written on August 11, 2009 by Jonathan Farrar, the US chief of mission in Havana, stated: "A prevailing concern and significant frustration on the Cuban side is the reportedly complete lack of cooperation afforded them by the GOJ when it comes to CD (Counter-Drug) information sharing."
In hitting back, however, an incensed Nelson declared yesterday that the claims within the document were "absolute rubbish".
"For the last three years, the efforts of the army in seeking to combat drug trafficking have been immense, and prior to that. That is absolute rubbish and nonsense," he told The Gleaner.
The document lists Cuba's frustration over Jamaica's lack of effort to stop the flow of illicit drugs to the US and The Bahamas.
Using in cuban airspace
The cable stated that Cuban Ministry of Interior officials contend that smugglers from Jamaica are using Cuban airspace and water to transport drugs destined for the US.
The cable went on to detail an incident where 13 bales of marijuana from Jamaica, destined for The Bahamas, were dropped off in a field in Cuba because the plane the smugglers were using developed engine problems.
Nelson, who initially did not want to comment on the document because he had not read it, said he was surprised at its content because of the work that the US and Jamaica have done to fight drug and gun smuggling. He admitted that even if officials linked to the Government or security forces are involved in the illegal drug trade, it is not indicative of the overall crime effort.
"We have been fighting it like hell, pouring resources into it. We even have sat down with the US to work this out," he said.
Jamaicans did nothing
The document, which stressed the frustration of Cuban officials with their Jamaican counterparts, described a meeting on-board a ship in the Port of Havana, which was organised to "quash" tensions between the two. The cable stated that after the meeting, Cuban officials complained that the two Jamaican officers "just sat there and didn't say anything".
It also went on to say that "MININT (Ministry Interior) officers mention that Jamaican officials commonly agree to greater information sharing in person; however, that is the extent of their efforts."
The report also said that Cuban officials appeared resigned that they would not see greater cooperation from Jamaican officials. The report also said that Cuban officials ultimately blamed high demand for illegal drugs from US consumers for the problems they were facing.