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18th Apr 13Managed by Chatham House
Financed by DEFRA
Africa Command deputy in Cape Verde to discuss counter-drugs, maritime security
Praia, Cape VerdeYates is meeting with a range of officials to discuss how regional militaries can cooperate in partnership with police and other security organizations to address the growing trend of illegal narcotics, illegal fishing, and other criminal maritime activities.
Nations must work together regionally to combat narcotics flow and illegal trafficking, Cape Verde's Minister of Defense Maria Christina Fontes Lima told reporters February 28 in a joint news conference with Yates.
International cooperation to counter illegal maritime activities benefits the entire region, Yates told Cape Verdean reporters. "This will be positive I think for building more economic prosperity and to assist these nations in developing their societies," she said. Yates is U.S. AFRICOM's deputy to the commander for civil-military activities, which includes coordinating U.S. military support to non-Defense Department agencies working in Africa.
Yates also met with Cape Verde's Minister of Foreign Affairs Jose Brito. In addition, Yates and her staff held roundtable discussions with officials from numerous Cape Verdean government agencies as well as representatives of other nations working on maritime security issues in Cape Verde.
Cape Verde is a chain of Portuguese-speaking islands about 450 kilometers off the west coast of the African continent. Fontes Lima, the defense minister, said Cape Verde lies on a major mid-Atlantic corridor connecting South and Central America with West Africa and Europe. For this reason, she said, her nation must work closely with other African and European and American nations on maritime security issues.
Yates said she was just returning a visit to Miami, Florida, where she and other senior U.S. Africa Command officials visited U.S. Southern Command (SOUTHCOM), the headquarters that coordinates U.S. military relationships with Latin America. For more than two decades, U.S. SOUTHCOM has worked closely with other U.S. government agencies to address the flow of illegal drugs into the United States. In recent years, illegal trafficking and drugs have increased across the mid-Atlantic into West Africa and into Europe, propelling in part by the strength of the European currency compared to the U.S. dollar.
Yates said the United States has found that countering the flow of narcotics and other criminal activity requires close cooperation between different branches and agencies of the government, as well as partnerships and coordination with other governments.
About 500,000 people live in Cape Verde, and another 500,000 Cape Verdeans live in other nations, with a large population in the United States. Because of Cape Verde's small size and population, Cape Verdean officials told Yates that they already have close cooperation between the different ministries of their government.
In 2008, U.S. Africa Command coordinated visits by two U.S. Coast Guard cutters that assisted the Cape Verdean Coast Guard in conducting patrols against illegal trafficking and illegal fishing.
The United States is funding the refurbishment of two Cape Verde Coast Guard vessels, and all four Cape Verde Coast Guard vessels are receiving communications upgrades. The United States also has funded Portuguese-language training for the Cape Verde Judicial Police. U.S. military legal officials are working with Cape Verde to strengthen maritime laws with regard to illegal fishing and trafficking in Cape Verdean waters. In addition the United States is providing funds for Cape Verdean personnel to travel to Ghana to attend maritime security training provided by the U.S. Navy and Coast Guard.
In a project coordinated by the U.S. Embassy, the United States and Cape Verdean governments are building a Praia-based Counternarcotics Maritime Security and Interagency Fusion Center (CMIC), to be run by Cape Verde personnel to better coordinate maritime security and law enforcement.
Yates departed Cape Verde on February 28 for the next country on her itinerary, Ghana. — U.S. and Cape Verdean government officials met February 27, 2009 to discuss international cooperation in counter-narcotics, illegal fishing, and illegal trafficking as U.S. Africa Command's civilian deputy, Ambassador Mary C. Yates, began a four-nation visit of West Africa.
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Issues/Monitoring, control and surveillance