US official pushes to maintain funds for Caribbean outreach
U.S. foreign assistance request for the Western Hemisphere totals US$1.98 billion for financial year 2012.
WASHINGTON DC, United States, Wednesday April 13, 2011 – Even as Republicans and Democrats continue their struggle over the national budget, the federal Bureau of Western Hemisphere Affairs is pushing to retain its funding for interventions into Latin America and the Caribbean.
Arturo Valenzuela, Assistant Secretary, Bureau of Western Hemisphere Affairs, put his case before the House Committee on Foreign Affairs’ Subcommittee on the Western Hemisphere this morning as he testified on the Department of State’s budget priorities in Washington.
Valenzuela put forward a U.S. foreign assistance request for the Western Hemisphere totaling US$1.98 billion for financial year 2012, which he described as “lean” noting that it responded to the “fiscal constraints that we all recognize”.
Contained within that is a US$73 million funding request to support the Caribbean Basin Security Initiative (CBSI), which Valenzuela said reflected the Obama administration’s effort to establish a sustainable security partnership with Caribbean countries.
Pointing out that the Caribbean region comprises half of the southern border of the United States, Valenzuela said this support was necessary in order to ensure that traffickers and transnational criminal elements did not simply shift routes.
He added that the funding was necessary to promote regional security cooperation throughout the Caribbean.
“Rising crime and violence, largely related to the drug trade, threatens regional security and stability. Individual Caribbean nations are ill-equipped to handle these issues on their own, and we have agreed on a partnership to develop national and regional capacities to address the myriad of transnational criminal issues throughout the region. This funding is essential to build on the work that we have begun with our regional partners,” he said.
“Full funding of the FY 2012 request for these initiatives is vital to ensure continued progress against rule of law challenges to these regions that threaten U.S. national interests,” he added.
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