– ‘more walk, less talk’ needed from US, Luncheon says

Government has again criticized the US administration for what it termed a lack of sustained support in fighting drugs here saying through Cabinet Secretary Dr Roger Luncheon yesterday that the recent drug report out of the US needs to reflect a policy of “more walk, less talk”.

Guyana cannot continue to bear the brunt of “this one-sided burden” of fighting narco-trafficking, Luncheon said yesterday at his weekly post-Cabinet briefing. He said this country needs more assistance, specifically with regard to information flows, which would have to be less one-sided. He said too that technology transfer is also an issue, as well as greater collaboration at the bi-lateral and international level.

The 2010 US State Department International Narcotics Control Strategy Report (INCSR), which was released on Monday, said that Guyana remains a major transshipment point for cocaine destined for North America, Europe and West Africa and it posited that “the GOG [Government of Guyana] has neither identified nor confronted major drug traffickers and their organisations”. INCSR also contended that bribes and coercion see Guyana’s dons continuing to operate with impunity despite some strides made by local law agencies in investigating drug crimes.

But Luncheon slammed this saying that the fight against the drug trade can only be ratcheted up if recognition is given to the interventions made and sustained by the government here. He said expectations of the new US administration responding constructively to the widespread criticisms of the existing US anti-narcotic regime are dwindling.

According to him, government is concerned that no sustained support has been offered by the US administration to give maximum effect to the initiatives made by the government. He said the administration has complained bitterly about the “one-sided traffic of information” being uploaded to the North while requests at this end are not handled in a timely manner.

“We still feel that the Americans are harbouring a terrorist,” Luncheon charged. He said information has been provided to the US on a major player in the Ministry of Health fire within the context of mutual assistance bill in criminal matters. To date, he said, the US has indentified the person in addition to confirming that the individual was a deportee who had travelled back to the US under an assumed name. He said the US authorities have an address and phone numbers have also been provided, but still there has been no movement on the case. “We have not been able to move on the meat of the matter,” he said.

Luncheon also stated that the government had requested information about Roger Khan and it received much information from the Simels trial, which he said was representative of some movement in the flow of information, but still not enough.

When posed the question that government has not been forthcoming to the press and by extension the public with information regarding the alleged mastermind, he said, it was a judgment call. He added that treaty agreements with the US are primary “at this time”.

He continued that government has identified its unhappiness with the lack of reciprocity in keeping with treaty obligations. Luncheon said also that information has reached the government that persons wanted in connection with a Guyana Revenue Authority fraud are also in the US.

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