Military and security forces from around the Caribbean have joined the United States and Canada for maritime security and disaster response training as part of Exercise Tradewinds 2014, which began on Sunday June 1,” a release from the US Embassy in Barbados stated.
The exercise, according to the statement, is being conducted in two main phases: Phase I, the maritime phase, which will be held in Antigua and Barbuda June 1 through June 10, and Phase II, the land portion, which will be held in the in the Dominican Republic June 16-25. The exercise supports the Caribbean Basin Security Initiative (CBSI), a regional security partnership between CARICOM member states, the Dominican Republic, and the United States of America.
The Embassy then went on to release the names of those taking part including units from the host nation, Antigua and Barbuda Defence Force (ABDF). The other units named are the national police and coast guard units from The Bahamas, Belize, Dominica, Grenada, Guyana, Jamaica, St. Kitts and Nevis, St. Vincent and the Grenadines, Suriname, and Trinidad and Tobago.
No surprise that Saint Lucia was not named in that statement. In the STAR’s Wednesday May 28 issue we pointed out that the Royal Saint Lucia Police Force had not been invited to participate in the exercise, following a decision by the United States to cease all funding to the RSLPF through the CBSI programe.
The move was prompted by provisions in the United States “Leahy Law” which prohibits that country from sponsoring nations where Human Rights Violations have been identified. In Saint Lucia’s case, several police killings between 2010 and 2012 had prompted the move by the US.
During this year’s Tradewinds exercise there will be number of participating vessels including interceptors and patrol boats provided to partner nations as part of CBSI’s “Secure Seas” program.
“The crews of these vessels will train alongside members of the United States Coast Guard and the Royal Canadian Navy, which is also providing a fleet diving team and the Kingston-class maritime patrol vessel, HMCS Summerside,” the Embassy release stated.
Further, the training during Phase I will focus primarily on maritime security and countering transnational organized criminal groups on the high seas, as well as training to improve the ability to respond to natural disasters and provide humanitarian relief.
The exercise will provide realistic simulated disaster events to test the Antigua and Barbuda National Office of Disaster Services (NODS) as well as the Caribbean Disaster Emergency Management Agency (CDEMA).”
“Tradewinds is vital to the nations of the Caribbean, Canada, and the United States in order to collaborate against common threats to our peoples and the way we live our lives, as well as to sharpen our collective responses to deal with humanitarian crises, natural disasters, and pandemics,” said Gen. John Kelly, Commander of the United States Southern Command (SOUTHCOM), which administers the event.
“The United States is one of many equal partners in the Caribbean, and SOUTHCOM is interested as much in human rights, developing deep and lasting partnerships across a large range of issues, diplomacy, economic development, and environmental matters, as it is in military topics. Like the other nations participating in Tradewinds, we place a very high value on this training and the understanding and cooperation it fosters.”
There has been no official word yet from Justice Minister Philip La Corbiniere about Saint Lucia’s loss of training in the Tradewinds exercise.
The Minister has also yet to gain public confidence about expediting the investigations into the police killings as mandated by the prime minister last year.
The investigation and pending report it should be noted, has been one of the reccomendations by the United States, if confidence is to be restored in the RSLPF.
To date there has been no definite timeline as to the conclusion of an investigation by the Jamaican police into the local police and the Vieux Fort killings.