Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Foreign Affairs the Hon. BrentSymonette, left, responds to questions from reporters as Charge d’Affaires U.S. Embassy Brent Hardt looks on during the signing ceremony of the Letter of Agreement on Counter Narcotics at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs on Friday, October 19, 2007. (BIS Photo/ Tim Aylen)
By: Lindsay Thompson
NASSAU, Bahamas – An amendment to the Letter of Agreement on Counter Narcotics (LOA) between The Bahamas and the United States was signed Friday, October 19, signalling a continued commitment to fight the war on drug trafficking in both countries.
Under the LOA, the United States provides $100,000 in new funding to assist Bahamian counter narcotics efforts. This brings the total amount provided by the United States to The Bahamas to $4.2 million since the original LOA and its amendments were signed on September 25, 2001.
Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Foreign Affairs the Hon. Brent Symonette signed the amendment on behalf of The Bahamas, and Chargé d’Affaires of the U.S. Embassy Dr. Brent Hardt signed on behalf of the United States during a ceremony at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs.
Mr. Symonette thanked the U.S. Government for the additional funding in the war against drug trafficking.
“The drug trade has had its devastating effects on many persons’ lives. We, as both countries, have to assist in making sure that the scourge of drugs is not only not here in The Bahamas but not in the United States,” Mr. Symonette said.
He added that The Bahamas was “delighted” that the United States has assisted in such a way and continues to show appreciation for the working relationship between both countries.
Dr. Hardt said, “The funds would be administered by the United States Embassy Narcotics Affairs Section and it will provide equipment, training and other items for the Royal Bahamas Police Force, particularly the Drug Enforcement Unit.”
He noted that since 2001, the U.S. State Department has provided $4.1 million to The Bahamas as part of the long-standing and outstanding law enforcement cooperation between both countries.
The funds have purchased go-fast boats, computer equipment, security and safety equipment for the DEU Strike Force, vehicles as well as other essential equipment, Dr Hardt said.
Additionally, the U.S. Southern Command, through Operation Enduring Friendship, will provide over $4 million in boats, equipment and training to the Royal Bahamas Defence Force this fiscal year, he said. Over the past three years, the Embassy has provided more than 175,000 man-hours of training for over 1,100 Bahamian law-enforcement officials at a cost of nearly $5 million.
“We really welcome the opportunity that this office provides for exchanges of personnel for cooperation. All of this is a reflection of the great trust that we have and all of the support that we have received from the Government of The Bahamas in these efforts in preventing the scourge of drugs from entering the United States from passing through The Bahamas,” Dr Hardt said.