Army Generals along with Defense and Public Security Leaders from across the Caribbean Region and beyond are currently meeting in Guyana for the annual high-level Caribbean Nations Security Conference (CANSEC).
The Conference, now in its 16th year, will seek to examine threats to the region’s stability, share information about operations and strategies, and define avenues for better collaboration to strengthen security in the Caribbean.
But although it has a clearly defined agenda, participants of the conference were charged on Wednesday to explore new initiatives which will keep the region clean and secure from criminal elements who continue to encourage money laundering, terrorism, piracy and other crimes.
The charge came directly from Guyana’s Prime Minister Moses Nagamootoo, who is currently performing the functions of the President.
During brief remarks at the opening, Prime Minister Nagamootoo focussed his presentation on how Guyana has sought to deal with domestic criminality while also contributing to the regional fight.
He told the gathering that the governing coalition, since coming to office in 2015, has moved swiftly to smash the system where the government was compromised by drug lords and where security forces were on the threshold of being compromised.
The Prime Minister said this has resulted in some of the largest interceptions in recent months but explained that those interceptions were not without networking with external security agencies.
He reiterated the Guyana government’s resolve to support intelligence sharing and networking.
The theme of this year’s CANSEC is “unifying regional action to counter transregional and transnational threat networks.”
Guyana is serving as host-country to CANSEC for the first time and will co-host the discussions, making it the first South American nation to do so.
Chief of Staff of the Guyana Defence Force, Brigadier Patrick West, said he is optimistic that the conference will be successful in doing what it has set out to do which includes addressing regional security challenges and the growing threats from non-military sources.
He was in high praise of the United States and Canada’s presence at the conference which he believes is proof of their support to help the region combat its security threats.
Commander of U.S. Southern Command (SOUTHCOM), Kurt Tidd, is also co-hosting this year’s CANSEC discussions and panels. He told the gathering that he is proud of the evolution of the region’s security cooperation.
He said security cooperation in the region is now a system and network that binds together nations of the western hemisphere and partners from across the Atlantic.
Tidd believes the conference must now look to foster greater cooperation and inclusive integration, not just within the Caribbean but transnationally.
Nations invited to participate alongside Guyana and the U.S. during this year’s conference include: Antigua and Barbuda, the Bahamas, Barbados, Belize, Dominica, the Dominican Republic, Grenada, Haiti, Jamaica, St. Kitts and Nevis, St. Lucia, St. Vincent and the Grenadines, Suriname, and Trinidad and Tobago. Nations participating as observers include Brazil, Canada, France, Mexico, the Royal Netherlands, Spain, and the United Kingdom.