A July 11 article in the Nation newspaper, “Chastanet Blames U.S.,” reported that Saint Lucia Prime Minister Allen Chastanet said that the United States government was slashing funding for security assistance in the region and contributing to regional crime by deporting criminals back to their countries of origin. He was also quoted as stating that 800 criminals were deported to St. Lucia in one year.
In fact, the United States, in partnership with Eastern Caribbean governments, is committed to strengthening security in the region. As evidence of this commitment, the United States government steadily increased funding for regional security since President Obama launched the Caribbean Basin Security Initiative in 2009. Funding from the State Department’s Bureau of International Narcotics and Law Enforcement (INL) alone increased 31 percent between fiscal year 2015 and fiscal year 2016. In 2016, INL plans to spend approximately USD$3.94 million on equipment, infrastructure upgrades and law enforcement training to combat trafficking, enhance security, and strengthen justice systems in the Eastern Caribbean. The United States is also contributing USD$8.25 million to a joint U.S.-Canadian project to refurbish the Regional Security System (RSS) Air Wing, which will improve RSS interdiction and search-and-rescue capabilities.
It is the view of the United States that each country has an international obligation to accept the return of its nationals who are not eligible to remain in the United States or any other country. United States government statistics indicate that the total number of deportees returned to St. Lucia in the last five years was less than 100. In 2015, there were only eight such cases.
The United States government has never wavered in its security commitment to the Eastern Caribbean, and continues to invest heavily in building the capacity of our partner nations to make the region more safe and secure.