Our Readers' Opinions
June 21, 2016
Caribbean states must take terrorism seriously

Editor: Terrorism has become a major challenge which confronts the world in this 21st century. September 11, 2001 was a wake-up call for most countries and it was the turning point, since it changed the way we do business around the world. There are more checks and balances at our main ports of entry, to the frustration of many at times. It would be better to have everyone checked properly than to regret in the end.{{more}}

However, we in the Caribbean do not appear to take this issue seriously. It would appear that we think we are safe and such acts would never come to our shores. The reason I say this is because I have not seen any serious effort to train or to prepare our forces to deal with any act of terrorism. We are seeing more persons from the Caribbean joining terrorist groups such as ISIS, yet we seem to be very laid back on this issue. Shouldn’t this be a worrying factor for all Caribbean nations? Well, I think it should. The islands of the Caribbean are too vulnerable; therefore, the time has come for more attention to be paid to this issue.

As president of the Caribbean Federation of Police Welfare Associations (CFPWA), I have made several calls for Caricom heads and members of the Association of Caribbean Commissioners of Police (ACCP) to take the issue of terrorism seriously. The attack in France and the most recent attack on the club in Orlando, Florida, where approximately 49 persons were killed and over 50 persons were injured, re-emphasize the need for our Caribbean Governments to begin to put measures in place to prevent or detect any such acts. Can you imagine this happening in any of our Caribbean islands? No developed or developing nation should have to undergo any such situations. It would be difficult for any Caribbean island to recover from a catastrophe such as this. The effects include injuries, deaths, psychological trauma of immediate victims, anxiety, major depression and short and long-term impact on the economy. The economy will suffer immediate impact due to building and infrastructure damage, trauma to the financial market and a rise in security and defence. The reputation of the Caribbean islands will be tarnished, since we market our islands based on the peace and tranquility we experience. The high murder rate we experience is already bad enough to hamper our economy, much more for us to deal with terrorist attacks. I am therefore making the call once more.

The time is now for us to put the relevant training in place to counter terrorism. I recommend that greater collaboration be made between the United States of America, England and Canada to assist in training and in getting us ready to deal with acts of terror.

We must be able to detect and to prevent any more persons from the Caribbean in joining such groups and to monitor those who would have already made their way to Syria. Let us not wait until it is too late!

Brenton Smith