(MENAFN- Caribbean News Global) By Caribbean News Global contributor
CASTRIES, St Lucia – In contemporary history, Saint Lucia's location to Martinique – fable – in the narrative form“strategically located in the context of Europe and South America,” can be considered perceptible that the Royal Saint Lucia Police Force [RSLPF] are not ready to fight its own battles, but instead, are relying on the Regional Security System (RSS), foreign governments and their taxpayers' resource.
Saint Lucia's strategic location – in the backyard of the Americas – has also been paramount in the context of Vieux Fort as a former us airforce base .
The variance and/or contending views of Saint Lucia's vicinity to Europe and the Americas, at this time, is not up for disagreement in the context of the drug trade, human trafficking, trading in illicit goods and services, backdoor migration, and the fishing industry. The triangle of Saint Lucia, St Vincent and the Grenadines, and Martinique ranks prominent.
Saint Lucia is also a direct transshipment point from Venezuela, Columbia, and South America to the shores of Vieux Fort, onward to Europe. Again, all of this is well-known to all and sundry.
In a press release March 22, 2023, the Office of the Prime Minister (OPM), announced that the minister for finance, economic development, and the youth economy and minister for justice and national security, Philip J Pierre will be attending the Regional Security System [RSS] council of ministers meeting in Grenada from Wednesday, March 22, 2023.
In forward guidance, the press release said that the“meeting is expected to be productive and will provide a platform for leaders to exchange ideas and discuss best practices for enhancing security in the region.”
In addition, said the OPM:“ The prime minister will discuss the importance of regional leaders working together to address common challenges such as illegal arms trade, drug trafficking, and intelligence gathering. The meeting will also provide an opportunity for the prime minister to reaffirm Saint Lucia's commitment to strengthening partnerships with neighbouring countries to promote peace and stability in the region .”
It is paramount to observe the many protocols and formulations relevant to the Americas, European, and regional security cooperation that should not be difficult to agree on – in the interest of“ taking a strong stand against criminals .”
At a sitting of the House of Assembly Tuesday, March 22, 2023, the Extradition (Amendment) Bill; Mutual Assistance in Criminal Matters (Amendment) Bill; Companies (Amendment) Bill, and Anti-Terrorism (Amendment) Bill – (previously circulated) went through the various provisions of parliament .
The validity of these Bills are noteworthy in the relevance to Saint Lucia's compliance and obligation to international law; part of the global architecture to access security, social and economic resources.
The timing of these Bills for international compliance is relevant to the daunting challenges faced by Saint Lucia, as expressed by the OPM:
“ The prime minister's attendance at this meeting is part of a broader effort by Saint Lucia to strengthen relationships with neighbouring countries and promote regional stability, especially as it grapples with the illegal arms trade.”
Noting the differences between strategic (ally), geography, and geographic magnitudes, on March 20, 2023, prime minister Pierre designated Vieux Fort (South) as an 'escalated crime area,' until May 16, 2023.
This means that Vieux Fort (South) will be under 'escalated crime area ,' control and authority by security forces, during 2023/24 budget deliberations and Jazz Festival May 5 -14, 2023.
The OPM further explained that,“the RSS troops are in Saint Lucia for three weeks in the first instance, to arrest the proliferation of gang-related gun violence, particularly in the town of Vieux Fort.”
On the account of transparency and accountability, many await the RSS operational cost on taxpayers and the number of troops on the island.
This should not be too difficult in keeping with the 2023/2024 budget to be tabled in parliament next week,“ that will show a primary surplus for the first time in years ,” said a government source, with knowledge of the budget details.
Meantime, the OPM announced,“the disbursement of outstanding back-pay for the period 2019 – 2022 which totals XCD 11.5 million for both active and non-active public servants is scheduled to commence on March 23, 2023. Moreover, public servants currently benefit from a 1 percent wage and salary increase which took effect in April 2022. And, in December 2022, active and non-active public servants collectively received XCD 6.8 million in back pay from the government .”
Besides multiple facts to consider post-RSS that are tangible to the RSLPF, in other words: Where is the strategic plan to counter 23 homicides as of March 22? And 74 homicides last year?
In addition: What is the national security/police budget? Is there a ballistic lab attached to the Saint Lucia Forensic laboratory? Will the RSS be given intelligence relative to campaign financing, the true source of funds fuelling gun violence, the drug industry, and human trafficking?
Other inquiries may comprise the context of“ dons ” operating freely in business and politics in Saint Lucia. Many are aware, absent the hypocrisy, and in the interest of political convenience of who does what, when, and why?
On the other hand, in the foremost essentials of policing, meaning: police operations, training, intelligence, and equipment (not degrees, papers, credentials, and affiliations) the RSLPF is in no shape, way, or form, near compatibility to protecting citizens and itself on the battlefields in Saint Lucia.
Recently, the prime minister and minister for national security commented:
“I said before that there would be some inconvenience. We have to make a choice. We cannot allow criminals – we cannot allow two or three or four or five or ten people to create economic instability in the country, social deprivation and put the country in chaos. We cannot allow it and I will not allow it,” Pierre declared.
Attempts to shift legal, financial, and legislative responsibility to foreign powers elude the immediate focus to deal with the intrinsic and systemic criminality that has engulfed Saint Lucia for reasons of social and economic power.
Meanwhile, more glaring is the priority of supremacy to“protect the victory,” at all costs, Saint Lucia's national security is an embarrassment, that needs a complete (conscript) overhaul.