The Caribbean may be a great place to vacation, but is it safe? The Caribbean is known for its relaxed atmosphere and beautiful landscape, but countries in the region are poor and getting poorer and becoming increasingly unsafe. The region depends for its livelihood on entertaining people who want carefree holidays to escape the harsh realities of life (Canute, 2002). Because of poverty, inequality, and social marginalization (Canute, 2002) countries in the Caribbean are subject to massive crime that affects their economies. In addition, they are the unfortunate victims of their geographic location. Prime Minister of the Bahamas, Perry Christie, states, We straddle the sea lanes and flight paths between producer countries in South America and the vast consumer markets to the north of us. We are caught in the middle (Canute, 2002). Drug trafficking is particularly affecting the Dominican Republic, Jamaica, Puerto Rico, and Trinidad where large crime organizations set up operations.
The Caribbean countries are not taking this lightly. Fortunately they are bringing together intelligence and police forces as well as customs experts in order to combat the problem. However, the article goes on to mention that these are impoverished countries battling against wealthy crime organizations. Who has more power? Along those same lines, an additional cause for concern is the possibility that these same crime organizations may seek political positions or strong-arm Caribbean country governments so that they can effectively operation without much interference.Many members of these crime organizations have been educated in crime in the north and have been deported back to their homelands. This makes for far more sophisticated criminals than their local counterparts. Jamaican authorities say that a great deal of their criminal activity and high per capita murder rate is solely attributed to the problem of deportees.
Approximately 100 metric tons of cocaine passes through Jamaican shores every year (Jamaica: Army to assist police in fighting crime, drugs, 2002). With the U.S. focusing their efforts on protecting the home front, the Caribbean has become more fertile for an increase in crime. However, it appears that this region is relying heavily on itself to pave the way for positive change. During a three-day summit, a regional task force established by Caribbean governments will implement certain initiatives to decrease crime in the immediate future as well as long-term plans to alleviate poverty, inequality and social marginalization (Jamaica: Army to assist police in fighting crime, drugs, 2002). Issues such as trade liberalization which renders the region more vulnerable to crime because of freer movement of products and people, are also being discussed. However, these initiatives should be set in motion quickly. Tourists have complained about the crime in many of the islands, but in particular St. Croix. In an unprecedented move, Carnival Cruises have cancelled their stops to St. Croix, the largest of the Virgin Islands, after repeatedly complaining to officials of incidents of crime occurring on the island. St. Croix will now stand to lose $40 million in revenues this year (Guzman, 2002). Antigua and Barbada’s Prime Minister Lester Bird said on the matter of crime that “The concepts are there, the ideas are there, the decisions are there, it is now for those who have the capacity to put it together for them to tell us how exactly it will work. But there is the political will that if we don’t do this we won’t be in a position to deal with the crime that is taking place,” said Bird (Caricom summit: Progress made on crime, regional court, stabilization fund, 2002).
Poor countries are especially vulnerable to and at the mercy of crime. These struggling countries cannot compete until their borders are wide open to trade and tourism without the impediment of crime. However, they need the backing of larger governments with the resources already in place to help get them on their feet. Drug and illegal arm trafficking as well as money laundering hurt the global economy as well as these local economies. Since Caribbean countries have already shown solidarity and a willingness to alleviate criminal activity in order to save and strengthen their fragile economies, then governments worldwide with the resources to assist Caribbean countries in their efforts should offer their help freely. Although the Caribbean may feel the effects of crime more readily, nations such as the U.S. are ultimately the recipients of the contraband that passes through the region.
Canute, J. (2002, July 19). Crime engulfs Caribbean economies. Financial Times: London Edition. 3. Retrieved from the World Wide Web July 19, 2002 http://proquest.umi.com.
Caricom summit: Progress made on crime, regional court, stabilization fund. (2002, July 7). BBC Monitoring Americas – Political; London; 1. Retrieved from the World Wide Web July 19, 2002 http://proquest.umi.com.1
Guzman, R. (2002, July 12). Takeoffs ; Landings. Wall Street Journal; New York, N.Y12, 2002; W.6 Retrieved from the World Wide Web July 19, 2002 http://proquest.umi.com.
Jamaica to assist police in fighting crime, drugs. (2002, July 7). BBC Monitoring Americas Political; London; 1. Retrieved from the World Wide Web July 19, 2002 http://proquest.umi.com.