Speaking at the High-Level U.S-Caribbean Conference in Montego Bay, Jamaica, U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton reaffirmed the United States' commitment to improving security and quality of life for the people of the Caribbean islands.
The United States and nations of the Caribbean are partnering to address a number of common challenges. "Three of our highest shared priorities [are] citizen security, energy and climate change, and economic cooperation," said Secretary of State Clinton, "and I am pleased to report that we are making tangible progress in each of these areas."
Undoubtedly one of the most serious issues facing Caribbean countries today is that of security and the threat to the safety of local populations from narco-traffickers and criminal gangs. This threat requires a comprehensive regional approach, as a piecemeal effort would merely push violence from one region to another. To help mitigate these threats, the United States has increased the budget for the Caribbean Basin Security Initiative by 70 percent.
Through this Initiative, the United States and its partners are working together to eliminate corruption, improve security in high-crime areas, train police officers, improve maritime security, and assist at-risk-youth with job skills and training.
The question of climate change and the availability of energy supplies is another key issue—one that will disproportionately affect small island nations, said Secretary Clinton. For that reason, the United States, through a grant to the Organization of American States for the ECPA Caribbean Sustainable Energy Initiative, will disburse grants to six countries. These grants will support pilot projects in efficient and renewable energy sources.
At the same time, the newly introduced Caribbean Climate Change Adaptation Initiative will connect the University of the West Indies with American universities, allowing researchers and policy makers to work together on the impacts of climate change specific to the Caribbean.
And finally, the U.S. State Department has launched the Caribbean IdEA Marketplace, which will foster collaboration between local entrepreneurs and members of the Caribbean diaspora. IdEA, the International Diaspora Engagement Aliance, supports the development of diaspora-centered partnerships that promote trade and investment, volunteerism, philanthropy, diplomacy, entrepreneurship, and innovation in countries of origin.
"This marketplace will offer diaspora communities access to capital as well as technical assistance to help them get started if they are committed to invest in their country of origin," said Secretary Clinton.
"Both the President and I," she said, "are committed to our relationship and our collaboration."