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Cablegate: Embassy Nassau

Paul I Jukic 03/20/2008 03:12:13 PM From DB/Inbox: Search Results

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UNCLAS NASSAU 00094

SIPDIS
CXNASSAU:
ACTION: NAS
INFO: FBI MLO CGLO OPBAT AMB DCM DEA POL

DISSEMINATION: NAS
CHARGE: PROG

APPROVED: CDA: DBHARDT
DRAFTED: NAS: DFORAN
CLEARED: CGLO: MFREDIE

VZCZCBHI446
RR RUEHC RUEHDG RUEHPU RUEHWN RUEHKG RUEHSP
RUEHLO RUEHUB RUCOWCV RUCOWCV RHMFISS RUCOWCZ RUEABND RUEABND
RHEHOND RHMFISS RUEABND RUEAWJA RHMFIUU RHMFISS RHEHNSC RHEFDIA
RUEKJCS RUWDQAC RUMIAAA RUEAORD RHEHAAA
DE RUEHBH #0094/01 0321218
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
R 011218Z FEB 08
FM AMEMBASSY NASSAU
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC 5167
RUEHDG/AMEMBASSY SANTO DOMINGO 2886
RUEHPU/AMEMBASSY PORT AU PRINCE 3595
INFO RUEHWN/AMEMBASSY BRIDGETOWN 5660
RUEHKG/AMEMBASSY KINGSTON 8583
RUEHSP/AMEMBASSY PORT OF SPAIN 4751
RUEHLO/AMEMBASSY LONDON 0167
RUEHUB/USINT HAVANA 0544
RUCOWCV/CCGDSEVEN MIAMI FL//D/DRE/DR//
RUCOWCV/COGARD AIRSTA CLEARWATER FL
RHMFISS/COMDT COGARD WASHINGTON DC//CG-ACO-I//
RUCOWCZ/COMLANTAREA COGARD PORTSMOUTH VA//A/AOOI//
RUEABND/DEA DISTRICT OFFICE FT LAUDERDALE
RUEABND/DEA DIVISION OFFICE MIAMI FL
RHEHOND/DIRONDCP WASHINGTON DC//PASS TO USCG//
RHMFISS/DIRJIATF SOUTH
RUEABND/DEA HQS WASHDC
RUEAWJA/DEPT OF JUSTICE WASHDC
RHMFIUU/HQ USNORTHCOM
RHMFISS/HQ USSOUTHCOM MIAMI FL
RHEHNSC/NSC WASHDC
RHEFDIA/DIA WASHDC
RUEKJCS/SECDEF WASHDC
RUWDQAC/US INTERDICTION COORD WASHINGTON DC
RUMIAAA/USCINCSO MIAMI FL
RUEAORD/USCS AIRBRANCH MIAMI FL
RHEHAAA/WHITEHOUSE WASHDC 0096

UNCLAS SECTION 01 OF 04 NASSAU 000094

SIPDIS

SENSITIVE

INL/LP FOR KEVIN BROWN
WHA/CAR FOR JOSEPH TILGHMAN

E.O. 12958
TAGS: SNAR PGOV PREL TK UK BF
SUBJ: AMBASSADOR REVIEWS DRUG AND MIGRANT STRATEGIES IN TRI-LATERAL
MEETINGS IN TURKS AND CAICOS ISLANDS

-------
SUMMARY
-------

1. (U) On December 11-12, 2007, the Ambassador and the Bahamian
Minister of State for Immigration traveled to the Turks and Caicos
Islands (TCI) at the invitation of its Governor to discuss illegal
migration and narcotics smuggling. The trip coincided with the
first port call by U.S. Coast Guard cutters in TCI. During a series
of bilateral and trilateral meetings, the U.S. The Bahamas, and the
TCI discussed the need to engage with the government of Haiti, ways
to improve the exchange of information and intelligence concerning
drug and migrant trafficking, agreeing to form a task force to
develop protocols for the real time exchange of information and
intelligence. They also agreed to cooperate in exchanging
information concerning potential terrorist threats and in disaster
preparation. The Ambassador offered to host a subsequent round of
trilateral discussions in March 2008. Embassy Nassau would welcome
the participation of representatives from U.S. Embassies in
Port-au-Prince and Santo Domingo in this effort to improve
information and intelligence sharing on drugs and migrants. End
Summary.

----------
BACKGROUND
----------

2. (U) On December 11, 2007, the Ambassador accompanied by the DEA
Country Attach, Narcotics Affairs Officer (NAO), Operations
Bahamas, Turks and Caicos Operations Center Commander and Coast
Guard Liaison Officer (CGLO) traveled to Grand Turk, Turks and
Caicos Island (TCI) at the invitation of TCI Governor, Richard
Tauwhare to discuss drug and migrant issues. Governor Tauwhare also
invited representatives of the Bahamian government. Minister of
State for Immigration, Elma Campbell, and the Ministry of Foreign
Affairs Drugs and Crime Officer, Godfrey Rolle, represented the
government of The Bahamas. The meeting was scheduled to coincide
with the first port call by the U.S. Coast Guard in the Turks and
Caicos. U.S. Coast Guard District Seven Commander, Admiral David
Kunkel, his Operations Officer and Adjunct traveled to TCI to mark
this first port visit and participate in the discussions.

3. (SBU) The Ambassador, Admiral Kunkel and their staffs first held
a series of bilateral meetings with representatives from TCI
followed by a trilateral meeting with representatives from TCI and
The Bahamas. TCI Governor Richard Tauwhare, The U.K. Law
Enforcement Advisor to the Caribbean, Larry Covington, the U.K.
Consul General in Miami, Keith Allen, the U.K. Military Attach, TCI
Premier, Michael Misick, Deputy Premier Floyd Hall, Minister of Home
Affairs, Gelmo Williams, Attorney General, the Director of
Immigration and the Commissioner and Deputy Commissioner of Police
participated in these meetings. (Note: TCI is a British territory
with a Governor appointed by the British government. The Premier
and his Cabinet are elected locally. End Note).

--------------------------------------------- ------
TCI: BRITISH OUTPOST ON PATH OF DRUGS AND MIGRANTS
--------------------------------------------- ------
4. (SBU) During the bilateral meeting with TCI Governor Tauwhare,
the Governor provided an overview of TCI's relations with Great
Britain. He noted that when Great Britain granted independence to
The Bahamas, TCI was given the choice of joining The Bahamas,
becoming independent or remaining a territory, but chose to remain
part of Great Britain. Over the years, the British have given the
local government as much autonomy as possible. The British remain
responsible for security, both internal and external, ensuring good
government and maintaining international standards required by
treaty and other obligations.

5. (SBU) The Governor said that the Premier would like TCI to become
independent and that that the British government did not oppose
independence, but would only grant it after a popular referendum.
He mentioned the tensions that exist with the current governing
arrangement. The Governor relies on the Premier for funding. Great
Britain formerly provided financial assistance to TCI, but this
ended in 2005, when TCI became a middle income country. The
European Union provides limited support for infrastructure
improvements. Tauwhare described the TCI economy, noting that it
has enjoyed fifteen percent plus growth rates over the past ten
years. It seeks to attract high-end tourism and has recently
undergone a building boom in luxury homes and condominiums. He
mentioned that a small financial services industry exists and noted
that the opposition complained of corruption on the part of the
local government. The Governor stated that there was to date no
substantiation of corruption and that if there was evidence of
corruption, Britain would investigate.

--------------------------
TCI Preoccupied with Haiti
--------------------------

6. (SBU) In the bilateral meeting with the local government, Premier
Misick expressed concern about the stability of Haiti, noting that
TCI has suffered an onslaught of illegal Haitian immigrants. He
said that Haiti needed investment, not aid, to provide opportunities
for its people. In the wake of an incident in March 2006, during
which sixty Haitians lost their lives when their sloop overturned
while being towed by TCI police, TCI had engaged a team of outside
experts to review its Marine Branch. Misick said the team will be
making recommendations for improving the Marine Branch's operations.
He noted that TCI lacked equipment to patrol its waters and
training for its police force. Misick emphasized that his goal was
to ensure the safety of TCI, and he pledged to fight drugs, crime
and money laundering. He hoped that TCI would be seen as the "Monte
Carlo of the Caribbean."

7. (SBU) The Premier said his government had committed to purchasing
a radar system which will be able to detect vessels as soon as they
leave Haitian waters. He stated that the government would equip its
forces within its means. He plans to invest millions of dollars in
a closed circuit television system in order to prevent crime and
mentioned that the legislature is considering laws allowing
wiretaps, something the DEA indicates would greatly expand drug
related intelligence gathering capabilities. He mentioned that the
government had banned wooden-hulled sailing sloops from ports in
TCI, as U.S. law enforcement authorities had recommended in recent
Joint Task Force meetings, but lacked the assets to fully enforce
this ban. He expressed concern about the possibility of a mass
migration from Haiti and noted that disaster preparation was an item
high on his agenda. He asked for U.S. assistance with revamping the
Marine Branch, suggestions about suitable vessels for the upgrades,
as well as appropriate equipment and training.

--------------------------------------------- ---------
WORKING TOGETHER TO COMBAT ILLEGAL DRUGS AND MIGRATION
--------------------------------------------- ---------

8. (SBU) At the trilateral meeting, the Governor reviewed the issues
facing TCI, including the threat of crime, illegal migration and
narcotics smuggling. In discussing illegal migration, the Governor
commented that there are an estimated 35,000 people living in TCI,
only 10,000 of whom are "belongers," the local term for citizens.
He added that TCI planned to expand its Police Force, upgrade its
detention center, and was negotiating an MOU with the government of
Haiti to address issues surrounding illegal Haitian migrants in TCI.
Tauwhare explained that TCI has only twenty-five police officers.
He mentioned that the review of the Marine Branch would recommend
that it merge with Fisheries, increasing manpower to eighty-two
officers. He stated that the Marine Branch currently has only two
vessels. Bahamian Minister Campbell observed that The Bahamas faces
challenges similar to those confronting TCI, and said the GCOB
remained committed to working with the U.S. and TCI to overcome
these common challenges. She pointed out that the GCOB was in the
process of upgrading the capabilities of the Royal Bahamas Police
Force (RBPF) and Royal Bahamas Defense Force (RBDF) through
increased resources and additional assets.

9. (SBU) The Ambassador noted the importance of engaging Haiti more
effectively to combat its increased role in migrant and narcotics
trafficking. He said the U.S. sought to enhance the integration and
coordination of assets from OPBAT, the U.S.C.G., RBDF, RBPF and the
TCI Police so as to fully cover the sea lanes and make it more
difficult for smugglers to use these areas to move their illicit
cargos. He discussed the need for all of the law enforcement
agencies that work in the area to have common communications systems
so they can immediately pass along information and intelligence to
their counterparts. He suggested that future meetings might
usefully include representatives from the governments of Haiti and
the Dominican Republic so that all countries in the region can
develop common strategies and enhance cooperation in combating the
flows of illegal drugs and migrants from Hispaniola through the
Bahamas and Turks territories.

10. (SBU) All the parties recognized the need for better
intelligence concerning migrant and drug trafficking through the
region and shared ideas about how to do so. Other areas of
discussion included the threats of terrorism in the region, disaster
preparation, and a possible mass migration from Haiti or Cuba. The
GTCI reiterated its intention to purchase an over-the-horizon radar
system that will be able to detect vessels as they leave Haitian
waters, and the parties discussed how information from this radar
could be shared in real time and how placement of each country's
assets in the area could be better coordinated.

11. (SBU) In concluding the meeting, the three parties -- who meet
together biannually as part of the Joint Task Force of Operation
Bahamas Turks and Caicos (OPBAT) -- committed themselves to
continuing to work together in a close, co-operative spirit and to
strengthen their individual and collective efforts to ensure the
security of their borders. In particular, they agreed to: regular,
real time exchanges of information on migration and drug flows in
the region; exchanges of information on potential terrorist threats;
developing mutual co-operation in preparing for and responding to
disasters; exploring possible engagement with the Governments of
Haiti and the Dominican Republic in future discussions; encouraging
legitimate trade with Haiti while also tightening measures to
prevent illegal activities. The parties to the OPBAT agreement
agreed to work within the existing Joint Task Force process to
develop protocols for the exchange of operational information; take
forward areas of mutual assistance and co-operation including
requests for training; integration of operations, and improvement of
Bahamian and TCI law enforcement capabilities. Finally, the parties
agreed to meet again in three months to continue to exchange
information in preparation for the June Joint Task Force meeting.
The Ambassador offered to host the next meeting and expressed an
interest in inviting representatives from U.S. Embassies in Santo
Domingo and Port-au-Prince to participate in the discussions.

-------
COMMENT
-------

12. (SBU) The meetings in TCI were the most substantive and in-depth
discussions we have had to date with the GTCI within the framework
of their participation in OPBAT. Both the British representatives
and local government officials expressed genuine concern that crime
and illegal Haitian migration could threaten the luxury tourism that
has become the backbone of the territory's recent economic growth.
The Bahamas shares similar concerns. A strong spirit of cooperation
and a willingness to share information and intelligence pervaded the
discussions, and we look to the March follow-on meeting to maintain
the momentum and strengthen the involvement of TCI in the
consultative process we maintain with them and the GCOB through our
semi-annual Joint Task Force meetings. All parties agreed that the
participation of Embassies Santo Domingo and Port-au-Prince in this
dialogue would be useful and could serve as a prelude to engaging
the governments of Haiti and the Dominican Republic more directly in
a broader regional effort to combat the narcotics and migrant
trafficking originating in Hispaniola. Embassy Nassau would welcome
the participation of Embassies Santo Domingo and Port-au-Prince,
including NAS officers, DEA Country Attach, and Coast Guard Liaison
Officers, in the follow-up meeting tentatively scheduled for March
in Nassau. We will coordinate with your offices to assess interest
and availability.

HARDT

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