Crime is our problem

PM tells UN General Assembly

(Trinidad Express) The rising crime that is currently affecting Trinidad and Tobago and the Caribbean region has been caused by the loss of preferential markets for the export of bananas and sugar, Prime Minister Patrick Manning said on Saturday.

Manning was addressing the 64th Session of the United Nations General Assembly in New York City, New York, USA.

The lead Caricom Head of Government responsible for security matters, the T&T Prime Minister linked the deteriorating crime situation within the region to the impact of the global economic downturn and the loss of key avenues of international trade.

He told the General Assembly the Caribbean was particularly plagued by the illegal drug trade, with the region being used as a transhipment point for North America- and Europe-bound cargo.

Earlier this year, on June 22, as he pressed the case for regional unity. Manning had told the People’s National Movement membership that the worsening economic situations in other Caricom countries pose serious threats to T&T, that includes increased illegal immigration and narcotics trafficking, as well as a decline in local exports throughout the region.

On Saturday, he told the the General Assembly: “Mr President, the security situation has been aggravated by the deteriorating economic situation in many of our countries, weakened by the loss of preferential markets for bananas and sugar.

“The new paradigm of reciprocity in trade, and the fact that both the tourism industry and the financial services sector to which many have turned to supplement their economic development have not produced the anticipated returns.

“The economic situation of these countries has, therefore, become even more critical, with severe consequences for the security and prosperity of our region, given the inextricable link between security and socio-economic development.”

Although Trinidad and Tobago earns most of its revenue from oil and natural gas exports, it did also produce sugar for export until the closure of Caroni (1975) Ltd.

And despite its high energy sector earnings, T&T has seen record levels of crime, especially where homicides are concerned, with the murder toll currently at 398.

Manning told the UN General Assembly, as he has done in the Parliament, that the the Caribbean was particularly plagued by the illegal drug trade and that “this activity has a most corrosive effect on our small societies, fuelling, for example, trafficking in small arms and light weapons, with troubling consequences”.

He urged UN member states “to negotiate a legally binding Arms Trade Treaty to join the fold of states working to ensure that it becomes a reality.”

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