Inspecteur Michel, Inspecteur Divisionnaire Charles, members of the media, I am pleased to be here today to visit the Haitian Coast Guard base in Les Cayes and to see how the counternarcotics unit (BLTS) of the Haitian National Police (HNP) and the Haitian Coast Guard are working together to combat maritime narcotics trafficking.
The United States is proud of its partnership with Haiti’s National Police and we expect to continue our cooperation with the HNP and the government of Haiti for many years to come.
This includes our partnership in Les Cayes, where the State Department’s INL Bureau has invested approximately $1.5 million and is working closely with the HNP’s counternarcotics unit (BLTS) and the Haitian Coast Guard through the HNP’s Maritime Counter Narcotics Joint-Task Force.
The Joint Task Force is an important initiative in securing Haiti’s maritime borders and combatting transnational crime.
I am truly pleased to see this model of inter-agency cooperation taking shape to serve both the security needs of the Haitian people as well as the ships that transit Haiti’s waters at this important crossroads of commerce in the region.
We cannot wait for an incident to occur to begin preparing our response; it is ongoing efforts, such as those carried out daily here at Les Cayes, by our partners within the HNP that will save the lives of those in distress who depend on someone to answer their call for help. Beyond law enforcement, these efforts demonstrate the Government of Haiti’s commitment to improving disaster response capabilities throughout the country and a commitment to the conventions of the International Maritime Organization (IMO).”
I look forward to seeing the two Boston Whalers that INL contributed to BLTS to support the work of the Joint Task Force, as well as other resources on the base to help the HNP establish an effective counternarcotics mission in Les Cayes.
We are also pleased to establish a K-9 unit on the base soon. This will assist BLTS carry out its mission in the South Department.
This is also a great opportunity for me to see INL’s partner, Virginia Electronic Systems (VES), conducting training here on boat maintenance with the Coast Guard and BLTS personnel.
Finally, INL and the U.S. Coast Guard have also partnered to conduct regular training with the Haitian Coast Guard and BLTS on maritime operations.
I encourage you to take advantage of these opportunities and I look forward to working closely with BLTS and the Haitian Coast Guard in the future.
Thank you again for your support today.