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Henfield Outlines Merits of Regional Security Strategy

ST. GEORGE’S, GRENADA — Discussions on the way forward with regard to the establishment of a fully functioning regional security strategy could have profound effect on the entire Caribbean Community, Minister of Foreign Affairs Darren Henfield said Thursday at the 38th Regular Meeting of the Conference of CARICOM Heads of Government.

Minister Henfield further said it is in the best interests of the Commonwealth of The Bahamas to continue to dialogue with those regional neighbours with whom the country has shared borders.

“No country, no matter how wealthy, no matter how well disposed can completely protect itself from outside incursions particularly where there are shared borders,” Minister Henfield said.

“We share borders with Haiti. We share borders with Cuba, the Dominican Republic, the Turks and Caicos and we share borders with the United States of America right to the north of us; and only through collaboration are we able to keep our country safe,” Minister Henfield added.

A former Naval Officer with the Royal Bahamas Defence Force, Minister Henfield highlighted Exercise TRADEWINDS as an example of what regional cooperation on security and other matters can accomplish.

Exercise TRADEWINDS is a multinational maritime interdiction, ground security and inter-agency exercise led by the United States Southern Command (USSOUTHCOM).

It focuses on countering transnational organized crime and practicing humanitarian assistance and disaster relief (HA/DR) in order to promote regional security cooperation.

The exercise is designed to promote regional security and cooperation initiatives, such as the Caribbean Basin Security Initiative, and offers both Canada and the United States a unique activity to build and synchronize national initiatives in the region.

“I know in the region that a regional security system is important to the region which gave us things like TRADEWINDS where we exercised together (collaborated on Operations) to create synergy and inter-operability between our forces — not only to protect ourselves from a defensive perspective, but also from natural disasters such as hurricanes,” Minister Henfield said.

“When our troops are able to work together, our forces are able to coordinate together, the mitigation and the responses to natural disasters become more natural for all of us.”

Minister Henfield, who retired as a Lieutenant Commander of the Royal Bahamas Defence Force, said it is his belief that his experiences as a Naval Officer, and his other experiences in other areas of public service, will add value to his role as the new foreign minister of the Commonwealth of The Bahamas.

Minister Henfield is the first naval officer to sit as Minister of Foreign Affairs in the Cabinet of The Bahamas and in the House of Assembly.

“I have seen — at an operational level — some of the things that we need to put into policy and into strategy now at a Cabinet level,” Minister Henfield said.

“As the minister of foreign affairs, I have seen the enforcement side of illegal immigration. I have seen drug smuggling. I have seen arms smuggling and so I appreciate what it is for our sailors to board a vessel in the median between ourselves and Cuba, where the ghost of Flamingo still lives, and so it is very important that we come together with our neighbours and work out strategies where we can together coordinate our efforts to avoid mishaps or instances in the future where it ends detrimentally for us.

“It is important that we speak to the Dominican Republic who are not at this meeting because they are not a member of CARICOM, but who poach regularly in our water and say to them that we need to find a way to ameliorate these circumstances.

“It is important that we speak to Cuba to say that we share a common border, that we have an agreement which delimits our boundaries (and therefore) we have a responsibility to protect each other’s resources as part of that agreement and in the future, (can possibly) look to establish the types of relationships where perhaps we can look at comprehensive maritime agreements – as we do with the United States — which will allow us to operate with more ease in the region of the southeastern Bahamas.

“It is important that we consider such agreements with the government of the Republic of Haiti which will lend to saving the lives of Haitian nationals trying to find a better way of life in The Bahamas and points further north,” Minister Henfield added.


Written by Jones Bahamas

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