KINGSTON: April 9, 2015*: Trinidad and Tobago’s Prime Minister, Kamla Persad-Bissessar, says she is very concerned of the threat of terrorism, not only for her country, but for the entire Caribbean region.
Speaking ahead of today’s meeting of CARICOM leaders and the United States President, Barack Obama, at the Mona Campus of the University of the West Indies, Mrs. Persad-Bissessar said it was Trinidad and Tobago and Jamaica who co-sponsored the United Nations resolution last September in New York, to deal with threats in the Middle East.
As lead Prime Minister on crime and security in the region, Mrs. Persad-Bissessar said the terrorism threat is one matter she intends to raise at the meeting with the US President, beginning at midday (Jamaica time). She leads a delegation which includes Minister of Energy and Energy Affairs, Senator Kevin Ramnarine. Energy is another topic on today’s agenda. Mrs. Persad-Bissessar stated:
“We are very concerned and we will do all we can to work in partnerships to deal with narco trafficking, transnational organized crime, which is human trafficking and trafficking in arms, and trafficking in drugs. Now there is another serious threat to the region and that has to do with the threats coming from the terrorist groups in the Middle East.
“You may have seen the latest UN report and others reports coming in where Trinidad and Tobago, and the region, are being identified as an area from which persons are moving to fight in those terrorist areas.
“For those of us who signed on to the resolution, it gives us great benefits and help in the fight against terrorism, because one, nationals may be leaving to go, there are others who are coming from other parts of the region and passing through Trinidad and Tobago as a trans-shipment, if you like.
“One part is that people are actually going, the more dangerous and equally dangerous is if they are returning, having been there, and having been training and exposed.
“Having signed on to that resolution, we have a little more protection, because of the cooperation and partnership that would have taken place relating to the sharing of information, sharing of intelligence, that comes on a global scale. Should such persons attempt to re-enter, we may have greater knowledge or forewarning of such re-entries.
“I am most concerned not just for Trinidad and Tobago, but for the region, and at the last CARICOM Heads, I raised the issue very seriously. Heads did take it on, some may feel it is not for their specific country at this time, but that is a threat…..it is facing the world.
“And who are we, as small nation states, where are borders are porous, that is why narco trafficking happens so often in our region. It is important that we band together, and CARICOM has made those decisions that we would work and partner together.
“President Obama’s visit at this time is also very vital and important as we cement those partnerships and I am looking forward to that. Yes, I am concerned but it is not something we cannot overcome once we commit to working together, once we commit to share information and intelligence from any one of the islands to the nation states.”
Last evening, CARICOM Heads met in caucus to discuss today’s meeting with President Obama.