The Dutch Caribbean Coast Guard seized 1453 kg of cocaine this week following the pursuit of a "go-fast" boat on the Caribbean high seas. An operational success for the Coast Guard, but the incident also underscores the Caribbean Basin’s growing drug smuggling problem. Against the backdrop of the unprecedented expansion of the Panama Canal, which is due to be completed next year, port authorities and governments in the region should be cautious about the anticipated increase in sea trade as a result.
Next week the commanders of navies and coast guards in the Caribbean Basin, together with international organizations, and ambassadors from the US and Europe will meet at the CABSEC 13 conference in Curaçao. The Prime Minister of Curaçao, the Hon. D. Hodge will give an opening address, on behalf of the Curaçao government who have been instrumental in their support to CABSEC 13. On Tuesday 12th March the Dutch Caribbean Coast Guard will be conducting a live demonstration for the conference guests with an exercise anticipating a fast boat carrying illicit contraband, similar to the Coast Guard’s recent seizure.
CABSEC 13 aims to energise the wider collective effort to promote regional and hemispheric maritime security through enhanced cooperation, and improved reconnaissance and surveillance capabilities of partner nations in the Caribbean Basin. With the Organization of American State’s small island strategy, the Treaty of San Jose and the new Joint EU-Caribbean strategy all under discussion, the conference promises to foster interest and increase momentum for addressing the regional maritime challenges that are shaping the region’s future.