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News | June 13, 2023

Caribbean Leaders Meet in Jamaica for CANSEC to Discuss Security Issues

By Steven McLoud, SOUTHCOM Public Affairs SOUTHCOM

“Strengthening Regional Security Through Informed Action” was this year’s theme as the Jamaican Defence Force (JDF) and the United States Southern Command jointly hosted Caribbean Nations Security Conference 2023 (CANSEC 23) welcoming defense and public-security leaders from the United States and the Caribbean from June 6 - 8.

Celebrating 25 years, the conference has a strong history of promoting regional and hemispheric security cooperation in the Caribbean basin, as well as other important global networks of cooperation.


{CANSEC 2023DoD Fact Sheet highlighting U.S. military engagement with Caribbean partners}


“The security threats we collectively face have increased in scope and intensity since we were together in Barbados during last year's conference,” said U.S. Army Gen. Laura Richardson, commander of U.S. Southern Command. “Vital elements of democracy such as free and fair elections, plurality and separation of powers are still under attack. Climate change and environmental degradation remain threat multipliers and pose a significant risk to our security.”

Sixteen nations participated with security leaders and delegations from Antigua and Barbuda, Bahamas, Barbados, Belize, Dominica, Grenada, Guyana, Haiti, Jamaica, Mexico, St. Kitts and Nevis, St. Lucia, St. Vincent and the Grenadines, Suriname, Trinidad and Tobago, and the United States.

Jamaican Prime Minister the Most Hon. Andrew Holness, who addressed the conference virtually, emphasized that “security is one of the greatest challenges affecting the lives of our people and the development prospects of our individual states”.

“It is a reality. That our region, Latin America and the Caribbean, is a high violence region. It is for this reason that we require a strengthened, more informed approach to combat crime and violence in the region and improve regional security,” he said. “CANSEC represents an important opportunity for regional security practitioners, bilateral partners and partners from regional organizations and academia to have frank discussions on the actions required to change our present reality from a high violence region to one that is safe and secure.”

Echoing the Prime Minister’s comments was Rear Admiral Wemyss-Gorman, Chief of the Defense Staff of the JDF who summarized that many countries across the region are threatened with the rising negative impact of transnational organized crimes.

“It has always been our position within the Caribbean that, given our shared geographic space and shared challenges, a cohesive and coordinated approach is necessary to ensure our security and our development prospects. This remains true even more so today,” she said. “This year’s theme deliberately captures what is required of us as security and defense officials. We must strengthen our approach to longstanding, new and emerging threats impacting our region.”

Richardson arrived in Jamaica June 5 for bilateral meetings with senior Jamaican government leaders and also announced the donation of three state-of-the-art multifunction printers and three advanced-technology interactive whiteboards to Jamaica’s Ministry of Education.