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Cablegate: Embassy Nassau

VZCZCXYZ0000
RR RUEHWEB

DE RUEHBH #0398/01 1421818
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
R 211818Z MAY 08
FM AMEMBASSY NASSAU
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC 5469
RUEHPU/AMEMBASSY PORT AU PRINCE 3605
RUEHDG/AMEMBASSY SANTO DOMINGO 2900
INFO RUEHWN/AMEMBASSY BRIDGETOWN 5674
RUEHKG/AMEMBASSY KINGSTON 8593
RUEHSP/AMEMBASSY PORT OF SPAIN 4761
RUEHLO/AMEMBASSY LONDON 0177
RUEHBR/AMEMBASSY BRASILIA 0089
RUEHMN/AMEMBASSY MONTEVIDEO 0081
RUEHUB/USINT HAVANA 0583
RUEHDG/HAITI COLLECTIVE
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 0106
RUCNDT/USMISSION USUN NEW YORK 0087

UNCLAS NASSAU 000398


SENSITIVE
SIPDIS

INL/LP FOR KEVIN BROWN
WHA/CAR FOR JOSEPH TILGHMAN AND TIM RYAN
WHA/CAR PLEASE PASS TO USOAS
SOUTHCOM FOR POLAD
INR/IAA

E.O. 12958
TAGS: SNAR PGOV PREL TK UK BF DR HA
SUBJ: SECOND TRIPARTITE CONFERENCE DISCUSSES DRUG AND MIGRANT
TRAFFICKING AND ASSISTANCE FOR HAITI

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

1. (SBU) On May 9, the Ambassador hosted the Second Tripartite
Conference between representatives of the governments of The Bahamas
(GCOB), Turks and Caicos Islands (TCI) along with representatives
from Embassies Nassau, Santo Domingo and Port-au-Prince. The
conference followed a December 11, 2007 meeting in Turks and Caicos
(Reftel) and continued discussions on how best to coordinate each
countries' law enforcement efforts to interdict drug and migrant
traffickers in the region, intelligence sharing and assisting the
government of Haiti. The conference heard presentations from law
enforcement officials from Embassies Port-au-Prince and Santo
Domingo on drug and migrant trafficking in Haiti and the Dominican
Republic, along with suggestions about how The Bahamas and Turks and
Caicos might best assist Haiti and the Dominican Republic. The
Bahamian Commissioner of Police raised the idea of expanding
Operations Bahamas Turks and Caicos (OPBAT) to include Haiti and the
Dominican Republic. It remains to be seen whether or not The
Bahamas will formally ask to enlarge OPBAT. The Governor of TCI
suggested expanding the scope of OPBAT to include migrant smuggling
in addition to drug trafficking. A working group was empowered to
follow-up on issues raised during the conference. The GCOB offered
to host the next Tripartite Conference in September. End Summary.

----------------------------------------
A REGIONAL APPROACH TO REGIONAL PROBLEMS
----------------------------------------


2. (U) The Second Tripartite Conference, hosted by the Ambassador in
Nassau on May 9, 2008 included a delegation from the government of
The Bahamas led by Minister of National Security Tommy Turnquest, a
delegation from the Turks and Caicos Islands (TCI) led by Governor
Richard Tauwhare and Minister of Home Affairs, Gelmo Williams.
(Note: TCI is a British territory headed by a Governor appointed by
the Queen. The British are responsible for internal and external
security, international obligations and foreign policy. The local
government raises revenue and maintains responsibility for other
governing matters. End Note). Rear Admiral Steve Branham from USCG
District-Seven, as well as the DEA Country Attach and Coast Guard
Liaison Officer (CGLO) from Embassy Santo Domingo, the Narcotics
Affairs Director from Embassy Port-au-Prince along with the British
Ambassador to Haiti and the Dominican Republic participated in the
conference.

3. (SBU) After brief introductory remarks by delegation heads,
Governor Tauwhare discussed TCI's three-pronged approach to stopping
illegal migration from Haiti. This includes efforts to assist the


GOH with trade and investment opportunities, warning Haitians who
might consider trying to migrate of the dangers associated with
illegal migration and engaging in dialogue with Haitian officials
about how best to deter migration. He noted that a delegation from
TCI had been scheduled to visit Haiti to sign a Memorandum of
Understanding (MOU) related to these issues, but the recent unrest
and forced resignation of the Prime Minister and his government
caused postponement of the trip. Tauwhare indicated that TCI has
tightened its laws against illegal migration to insure that illegal
migrants can not find employment on the local economy. He mentioned
the recent ban on wooden-hulled commercial sailing sloops from TCI
ports, noting that the government hoped to expand this ban to cover
all of TCI's territorial waters. He reported that a contract had
been signed to install a land-based radar system that would be able
to track vessels at sea as far away as fifteen miles from the shore.
He hoped the radar would be fully operational by year's end. The
Governor stated that TCI was in the process of reorganizing its
police branch and would soon be hiring someone from the outside to
oversee the revamped police force.

4. (SBU) Governor Tauwhare stated that he hoped the Tripartite
Conference would allow for operational exchanges of information
between the parties and more joint exercises. He noted that more
needed to be done to identify the leaders of drug and migrant
trafficking organizations. He hoped TCI authorities could work more
closely with the Haitian National Police (HNP). He proposed
expanding the scope of Operations Bahamas Turks and Caicos (OPBAT)
to include migrant trafficking along with its current emphasis on
drug trafficking. He asked the U.S. Coast Guard to negotiate a
Comprehensive Maritime Agreement (CMA) similar to the one now
existing between the U.S. and The Bahamas.

5. (SBU) The Santo Domingo DEA Country Attach gave a grim view of
the drug problems facing the Dominican Republic. He noted that even
when air and maritime trafficking is identified, the GODR lacks the
air and sea assets required to interdict traffickers. He stated
that a regional strategy to combat drug trafficking had the greatest
potential for success. NAS Port-au-Prince noted that all of the
challenges faced by the DR were also true in Haiti, but often
multiplied due to the level of poverty and GOH capacity. She
reviewed the current situation in Haiti and remarked that combating
drug trafficking is a priority for President Preval. While noting
that Haiti had taken a step back in recent weeks, it was making
strides. She opined that CARICOM had a bigger role to play in Haiti
and encouraged the GCOB to use its influence in CARICOM on behalf of
Haiti. She suggested three strategies for Haiti: interdiction of
drugs and migrants so as to make clear that these avenues do not
pay; assistance to improve living conditions in Haiti focusing on
agriculture and tourism; and capacity building and increasing
resources for the HNP.

6. (SBU) Rear Admiral Branham noted that all of the participants
were committed to take action against drug and migrant traffickers.
He stated that the USCG strategy was to maintain a persistent
presence in the region. He remarked that upgrading the
infrastructure in Great Inagua would allow the Coast Guard to better
maintain its presence in the Windward Passage. (Note: Great Inagua
(G.I.) is the southeastern most island in The Bahamas chain. It
houses one of the three OPBAT bases and under Bahamian law, vessels
traveling from the south into The Bahamas are required to stop and
clear customs and immigration in G.I. End Note). He encouraged
strategic communications to spread the word about the risks of
migration and the downside of the drug culture. He pledged to
continue joint operations with Bahamian and TCI maritime law
enforcement and looked forward to making progress in the sharing of
intelligence. He noted that the USG would be donating five vessels
and returning a sixth refurbished GOH vessel (a joint NAS, DOD, USCG
project) to the Haitian Coast Guard in the coming weeks and hoped
these assets would be supplemented with additional assets in the
future. In response to the RBPF, he mentioned that law enforcement
needed to demonstrate that it was fully utilizing existing resources
before asking for additional ones.

7. (SBU) Minister Turnquest noted that the RBPF Training College
had provided mid-level training for eight HNP members over the past
few years. He pledged to continue training the HNP and offered
additional training slots to members of the Royal Turks and Caicos
Island Police Force. RBPF Commissioner Ferguson raised the
possibility of expanding OPBAT into the Dominican Republic and
Haiti. He warned against establishing parallel organizations,
noting that with the resources of Joint Interagency Task Force-South
(JIATF-S) and the OPBAT Operations Center in the Embassy in Nassau a
framework existed that could be expanded. He mentioned the
importance of CARICOM in working with Haiti. NAS Port-au-Prince
agreed with the Commissioner, noting that CARICOM can work with
Haiti in ways the U.S. can not. The Commissioner asked about the
mechanism for sharing intelligence, agreeing that we all need to
work closer together.

8. (SBU) The Ambassador agreed that expanding OPBAT would be a
great idea, noting that if we do not consolidate our assets and use
them more efficiently, we could lose them. After a brief discussion
about the mechanism for enlarging OPBAT, the parties agreed that the
governments of The Bahamas and TCI would discuss expansion
internally and, if a consensus developed, make a written request
asking to renegotiate the OPBAT agreement to the Embassy. Governor
Tauwhare echoed his earlier remarks calling for expanding OPBAT to
include migrant interdiction and pledged to provide a written
request to do so. He asked if OPBAT could somehow share information
with the UN forces currently in Haiti as well as with the HNP and
Haitian Coast Guard. The parties agreed to have a working group
follow-up on these issues.


9. (SBU) NAS Port-au-Prince noted that Haiti has an Intelligence
Sharing Center and Embassy Port-au-Prince would explore the
possibility of the Center sharing information with OPBAT. She
indicated that Embassy Port-au-Prince would encourage the GOH to
sign the pending MOU with TCI, if that was deemed useful. She
encouraged the GCOB to consider banning wooden-hulled sailing sloops
from Bahamian waters and the GTCI to extend the port ban on these
vessels to include all its territorial waters. She noted that these
vessels are a hazard to migrants who use them as well as a threat to
the region and any measures that would keep them from international
waters should be supported. Director of Bahamian Immigration
Burrows responded that the Bahamian government was reviewing draft
legislation that would effectively ban wooden-hulled sailing sloops
from Bahamian waters.

10. (SBU) CGLO Santo Domingo shared information on the biometric
identification methods employed by USCG vessels in the Mona Passage.
This information allows the Coast Guard to identify passengers and
crew on suspected migrant smuggling vessels stopped in the Mona
Passage and has succeeded in identifying a number of criminals
wanted in the U.S. as well as those suspected of arranging these
illegal voyages. Both the GCOB and GTCI expressed interest in
having biometric identification information available to their law
enforcement agencies to enhance enforcement efforts in this region.
Rear Admiral Branham indicated the success of the biometric
initiative in the Mona Passage has resulted in District Seven
expanding these efforts to the Florida Straits and Windward Passage.
District Seven cutters are gradually being outfitted with the
necessary equipment to carry this out.

-----------
CONCLUSIONS
-----------

11. (SBU) In concluding the meeting, the parties agreed to empower
the Working Group created at the December 11, 2007 meeting to
continued discussions concerning coordinating available assets and
sharing intelligence, standing-up an Operations Center in TCI,
planning for future joint operations, determining how to share
intelligence/information with the Haitian and Dominican Intelligence
Centers and the UN in Haiti, improving security at sea and airports
and following-up on the draft legislation that would ban
wooden-hulled commercial freighters in The Bahamas and from the
territorial waters of TCI. The parties agreed that the Working
Group be expanded to include representatives from Embassies Santo
Domingo and Port-au-Prince. Finally, Embassy Nassau indicated that
it would await formal requests from the GCOB and GTCI to expand
OPBAT before taking any further steps. The GCOB offered to host the
next Tripartite Meeting in September 2008.


--------
COMMENTS
--------

12. (SBU) The Second Tripartite Meeting continued the momentum
generated by the first meeting last December in Grand Turk. The
parties were pleased to hear the perspective of officials from the
U.S. and British Embassies in Haiti and the Dominican Republic.
Absent a commitment of significant additional USG resources to
OPBAT, it is unlikely that the GCOB will seriously push to expand
it. The RBPF Commissioner's proposed expansion of OPBAT appeared to
be off the cuff and not a result of internal discussions within the
GCOB. Governor Tauwhare's idea to expand OPBAT to include migrant
interdiction is more likely to result in a formal request for
consideration from the GTCI. Should the USG decide to move forward
with a "Mini Merida" for the Caribbean, expanding OPBAT to Haiti and
the Dominican Republic and upgrading the infrastructure in Great
Inagua would be excellent uses for additional funding. Post will
discuss septel the requirements and benefits of upgrading Great
Inagua. End Comment.

13. (U) Embassies Santo Domingo and Port-au-Prince cleared this
cable.

Elmo

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