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cialis sovaldi sale times;”>“The Embassy’s security message issued to American Citizens last week has received quite a bit of attention, viagra generic ailment but I think it’s really important to share another message with you all and that is regarding the deep, broad, and cooperative relationship the United States enjoys with The Bahamas.  I’d like to take a moment this morning to highlight some of those areas of cooperation and then I will open the floor for your questions.” 


U.S. – Bahamas Relationship


•           The U.S. – Bahamas relationship is driven by geographic proximity and strong social, economic, and cultural ties that make The Bahamas one of our most enduring partners in the Western Hemisphere.  We share many of the same values and care deeply about things such as democracy, human rights, and the rule of law. 


•           We have been working very closely with the Bahamian government in areas of mutual interest such as citizen security, environmental protection and sustainability, and illegal migration. 


•           We also have been working closely with civil society organizations to make life better for groups of people that are sometimes marginalized by society, including women and girls, the disabled, people with HIV/AIDS, the LGBTI community, and the Haitian community in The Bahamas. 


•           Education is another priority.  We are proud that many of the top minds in The Bahamas were educated in the United States, and we encourage Bahamian youth to pursue their dreams by studying in the United States.  In 2015, the United States welcomed 1,744 Bahamian students, a 7% increase over 2014.  Our Education USA office in Town Centre Mall offers application assistance and information about accredited educational institutions in the United States.  Our American Corner located at the College of The Bahamas also serves as a resource center for Bahamian youth.    


•           We are committed to maintaining our partnerships with the Bahamian government and people far into the future.  As the newest tangible sign of this commitment is that we are moving forward with the construction of a new Embassy in downtown Nassau.  While it will be some time before construction begins, we are excited about this long-awaited project, which will ensure that the U.S. Embassy has a home downtown for decades to come.


Security/Crime/Illegal Migration


•           Just like every other U.S. Embassy worldwide, our single highest priority at Embassy Nassau is the protection and welfare of U.S. citizens.  The security of Bahamian citizens is also a top priority for the United States. 


  • Each and every day we work with the Bahamian government to make The Bahamas a safer place for Bahamians and Americans alike.  This is not an easy task, but it is one to which we are very much committed. 


•           Under the Caribbean Basic Security Initiative (or CBSI), the United States provides about $2 million a year (over $14 million since 2010) to assist Bahamian police, prosecutors, and judges with the training and equipment they need to fight crime and stop the criminals who commit it. 


o          For example, we recently sent front line RBPF officers to a homicide investigation course at the International Law Enforcement Academy.  We provided three separate trainings on forensic ballistics to help investigate and prosecute firearms cases.  And we conducted a Gang Investigation and Prosecution Workshop for more than 40 prosecutors, police investigators, and corrections officers in Nassau. 


o          Just last week, I accompanied Minister Nottage to Washington for meetings about how the United States can assist The Bahamas with gangs and gang-related violent crime.


o          We also are working with the Ministry of Legal Affairs and the judiciary to improve the speed and efficacy of the criminal justice system.  For example, implementing an electronic court records system for the Magistrate Courts and updating Supreme Court stenographer equipment.


o          Last week, we provided training to over 50 judges, magistrates, and registrars to enhance their ability to formulate clear, concise, and timely oral and written decisions with the goal of reducing the time needed to dispose of cases and issues for appeal.


  • So while the Embassy issues security messages from time to time, that doesn’t mean that we are not here working hand in hand with the government to address the crime situation in The Bahamas.  Despite what some may think, our intention is not to blacken The Bahamas’ good name or destroy your tourism industry.  We do however have an absolute responsibility to U.S. citizens to ensure they are aware of current conditions and trends affecting their safety and security. 


•           We appreciate Bahamian concerns with firearms trafficking from the United States, and we are talking significant steps to address this problem.  The Bureau of Alcohol, Firearms, Tobacco, and Explosives has established an enforcement group in Florida to investigate and prosecute firearms trafficking to the Caribbean, including The Bahamas – the first ATF task force established with a foreign focus.  In addition, last month an ATF agent took up his assignment to Embassy Nassau, where he will work directly with Bahamian law enforcement officials on firearms trafficking cases.  Both of these developments were the direct result of discussions that ATF officials had with Minister Nottage and other regional leaders at the U.S.-Caribbean High Level Citizen Security Meeting held last June in Nassau.


•           We will continue to provide robust citizen security assistance to The Bahamas.  So far in 2016, we have over 25 distinct training opportunities scheduled for the RBPF, RBDF, and Department of Corrections on topics such as: small arms trafficking, anti-gang operations, port and harbor security, homicide investigations, trafficking in persons, and first responder safety.  


•           Another area of concern in which we have had successful cooperation is illegal migration.  Haitian migration during FY15 was slightly down from previous years; though Cuban migration was higher.  This trend appears to be continuing thus far in FY16.


•           Operation Bahamas Turks and Caicos (OPBAT) which you all are familiar with, interdicted 2,008 Haitians and 251 Cubans in FY15, and interdicted 718 migrants from October to December 2015:  591 Haitians and 85 Cubans.