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GAO: We’re Not Sure $560 Million Caribbean Basin Security Initiative Is Working

SAN JUAN — A federal report released Wednesday said the U.S. government spent more than $560 million to boost security across the Caribbean during this decade but doesn’t know whether its efforts have worked.

The U.S. Government Accountability Office said that the collection and maintenance of data for the Caribbean Basin Security Initiative varies by country and that there is no centralized data storage system. It also said the U.S. State Department hasn’t created a plan to assess overall progress.

“They cannot attest to the initiative’s success or failure,” the report said.

The initiative began in 2010 and aims to reduce drug trafficking and improve public safety in 13 nations, most of them Caribbean islands, along with Guyana and Suriname in South America. The report noted the nations have long coastlines that are difficult to patrol and have limited air and sea capabilities to fight drug trafficking.

The GAO said it conducted its audit from November 2017 to February 2019 and focused on Barbados, Jamaica and the Dominican Republic, in part because they receive the highest amount of U.S. funding. The initiative has provided boats, aircraft and other equipment as well as trained prosecutors in places like the Dominican Republic.

The GAO said the State Department agrees with its recommendations to create a mechanism to monitor, evaluate and report all results and implement a data management system to centrally collect data, saying it is already working on those goals.

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The Author

John McCarthy

John McCarthy

John McCarthy has been reporting on the U.S. Virgin Islands and the Caribbean region since 1989. John's articles have appeared in the BVI Beacon, St. Croix Avis, San Juan Star and Virgin Islands Daily News. He is originally from Detroit, Michigan.

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