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Espaillat-Rooney Bill Boosts Funding and Cooperation in the Caribbean

November 24, 2020 by Sean Trambley
Caribbean Basin Security Initiative's Technical Assist Field Team. (Photo by Lt.Cmdr. Ryan P Kelley, U.S. Coast Guard District 7)

WASHINGTON – Last week, the U.S. House of Representatives passed a bipartisan measure increasing funding to the Caribbean Basin Security Initiative to help combat corruption and illicit drug trafficking between the United States and Caribbean nations.

Introduced by Reps. Adriano Espaillat, D-N.Y., and Francis Rooney, R-Fla., the Caribbean Basin Security Initiative Authorization Act, would allocate nearly $75,000,000 per year from 2021 through 2025. 

Specifically, the bill seeks to improve security cooperation with Caribbean nations and combat illicit drug trafficking, supports justice sector reform, strengthens the rule of law, and addresses instability caused by natural disasters.

The thirteen CBSI countries are Antigua and Barbuda, The Bahamas, Barbados, Dominica, the Dominican Republic, Grenada, Guyana, Jamaica, Saint Lucia, St. Kitts and Nevis, St. Vincent and the Grenadines, Suriname, and Trinidad and Tobago.

“I’m delighted to have the support of my House colleagues to pass critical legislation to combat drug trafficking, promoting good governance and independent justice sectors, and empowering civil society in the Caribbean,” Espaillat said. “Too often the Caribbean is ignored, and we must correct this by deepening our partnerships and cooperation with some of our closest allies. Working together, we can help increase citizen security, build resilience to natural disasters caused by climate change, and improve strategies to reduce illegal narcotics trafficking.”

Earlier this year, Espaillat successfully secured a $14.8 million increase for the CBSI in the House Appropriations Committee legislation, and has worked over the past few years to boost the program’s funding by nearly 30%. 

This new bill would codify these funding increases and improve the efficacy and focus of CBSI to address continuing concerns in the region. 

Also included is a change that will incorporate efforts to promote disaster resiliency given increasing and worsening hurricanes in the region that threaten long-term security for Caribbean nations.

Full text of the legislation can be found here.

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