Guyana open to partnership in drugs war -President

Guyana is willing to collaborate with the developed world in the war on drugs but only as a partner; not as a recipient of “lectures when there is no real assistance when we have to give and give and every time we ask even for assistance with prosecution they would constantly come up with excuses,” President Bharrat Jagdeo said yesterday.

Addressing the opening session of the Guyana Police Force’s annual officers’ conference at the Police Officers’ Mess, Eve Leary, the President, as he has done in the past, launched a broadside on developed countries, singling out the US for special mention, even though he was quick to add that Guyana has an excellent relationship with the US and has received tremendous help from it.

Jagdeo said that for years he has been agitating for the US Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) to have a presence in Guyana with no response from Washington, although this year’s US State Department report on drug trafficking here said there seemed to be a lack of commitment on the issue.

The President, in his hour-long speech, focused significantly on the global economic crisis. However, he made no mention of the recent guilty plea of Guyanese drug kingpin Roger Khan to, among other things, conspiring to export 150 kilogrammes of cocaine to the US, witness tampering and gun running.

According to the President many times he has rubbed some in the developed world “in the wrong way” on the drug issue as “some of them are not too happy with what I say and frankly that doesn’t bother me too much because I am elected to look after the interests of the people of this country not the interests of the developed world.”

Jagdeo said that what Guyana has done in polygraphing officers at the Customs Anti-Narcotics Unit (CANU) twice in the last six months very few countries in the world do with such frequency. Jagdeo said his administration is seeking to extend the polygraph test to other agencies and if employees fail the test then they lose their jobs as was the case with the CANU officers.

“We have limited resources in this country but we are spending our resources on these issues because we feel that drug trafficking has a pernicious influence.

It influences law enforcement. It influences the judiciary sometimes and the executive in many countries so we have to fight against that… But we would do so only in partnership not through lectures I am tired of the lectures,” Jagdeo said, something he has said on many occasions before.

And Jagdeo is hoping that the newly elected US President Barack Obama would change the dynamics and improve the relationships between many institutions in the US and their counterparts in the developing world and that he “would address the big issue of the failure of law enforcement in the United States of America. Many times they make our security forces and policing efforts seem inferior, we are lectured on how badly we are doing and how much assistance we need and we do need assistance in various aspects of our policing. But if you consider that most of the drugs produced in the world go into the United States of America… then they have… serious failure of law enforcement and they are the largest source of money laundering…

“So I am not interested in lectures we can trade tit for tat and the drug traffickers would be happy. I am interested in serious collaboration where there is real assistance, real commitment and resources to match what we say.”

Further, the President said the US and other countries have to help block the guns coming into Guyana because it is not a one-sided affair and as such they must investigate the source of guns that originate from their countries but are intercepted in Guyana.

“We would collaborate with any country or group of countries that want to bring criminality, global and national criminality to an end but we are here to protect our interests first and we would collaborate as equals. We are not inferior to anyone.”

Meanwhile, President Jagdeo congratulated the officers for the work they have done, especially in the last year, in the fight against crime and violence while singling out Commissioner Henry Greene for his leadership of the force.

“Commissioner your leadership in the changed environment in which we live is a signal one. You have given leadership to the force, you have rebuilt the shaky collaboration we had with the joint services, now that collaboration and operation and the way you integrate together is strong and because of the strength of that collaboration we can be much more effective in the fight against crime…” the President said to Greene.

He said the country is grateful to the force for the role it played in the past year in eliminating “the pernicious gang, a gang that has terrorised innocent people across our land for a long time.”

He also urged the officers to read beyond the sensational headlines in some newspapers which are just there to sell newspapers and analyse and understand issues.

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