The Report on the Drug Problem in the Americas, a recent document published by the Organization of American States, presented during its forty-third annual General Assembly in June, is being revisited by several Caribbean countries in examining their role in the transshipment of narcotics to North America and Europe. Trinidad & Tobago notes that, like Jamaica and other island nations in the region, it has shifted from the trafficking of cocaine to that of marijuana. Belize, on the other hand, because of its unique geographic location as the only mainland Caribbean country in Central America, is at the center of the delivery route. While five percent of all cocaine shipment destined for the United States is said to flow through the islands, a higher proportion makes its way continentally. Foreign Affairs Minister Wilfred Elrington addressed the gathering on the issue as it affects Belize.
Wilfred Elrington, Minister of Foreign Affairs [File: June 6th, 2013]
“The empirical data which informed the papers leave no doubt that the biggest impact which the drug problem has in our hemisphere result direct from the passage or transit of the drugs through our region, en route to their final destinations which are principally North America and Europe. In these two destinations the demand for illicit drugs is seemingly insatiable and unstoppable as the wealth which the two destinations derive from the distribution and sale of the drugs seem irresistible even while they appear to be mind boggling. I have read the report and I have seen the scenarios and we have discussed them briefly and I am not convinced that we are on the right track and I said as much in a meeting because the record shows really that seventy-seven percent of the consumption of the drugs takes place between the United States and the European Union. Fatality from the use of drugs, cocaine and marijuana, in our region is really nominal, perhaps less than two percent, three percent. It’s very minimal. The problem that is affecting us is the violence associated with the transshipment of the drugs but that is nothing that we can stop because demand in Europe and the United States is so great that no matter what we do we will not be able to stop people who are bent on earning fast money and very good money from the trade. And it is not only the guys on the street but the bankers, the businesspeople in high places are all involved in trade because it is so lucrative and so, unless in my view there’s a demand reduction, I don’t think we are going to make a dent in it based on the policies which I’ve seen advocated here at this meeting.”