Gonsalves calls on US to curb export of guns to the Caribbean

Kingstown – The St Vincent and the Grenadines government on Monday called on the United States to do more to curb the easy access of illegal weapons and their easy exportation to Latin America and the Caribbean.

Gonsalves, speaking on a radio programme here, decried the proliferation of guns manufactured in the United States and violence associated with the illegal drugs trade as the main cause for the high rate of murders in some Latin American and Caribbean countries.

“The United States of America had to do something about not having the easy access to guns and the easy exportation of guns. They have the resources to help us with that,” he said noting that Mexico has circulated a draft resolution to be discussed at the January 24 meeting in Argentina of the  Community of Latin American and Caribbean States (CELAC)  “on this very matter”.

The draft notes that the CELAC members meeting in Bueno Aires for their seventh summit “acknowledges that while the region represents eight per cent of the world population, it experiences 37 per cent of the world’s homicide mostly caused by firearms that have been manufactured or distributed in the United States and the trafficked in the region”.

Gonsalves said the draft also states as a result, CELAC is urging the strengthening of national efforts to reinforce mechanisms to control the legal trade and transfer of firearms in order to “combat illegal flows which generate situation of violence and put at risk the security and integrity of the civilian population, especially women, youth and adolescent”.

Mexico is also urging that the arms industry in the United States implement disciplinary measures that will prevent those dealers with irregular behaviour controlling the illegal arms trade in the region, as well as requiring gun dealers to step up to ensure that there are no sales to straw buyers through reasonable identity checks.

He said the draft resolution is also urging the gun industry to incorporate technology so as to make it much easier to track illegal weapons.

In his interview, Gonsalves told radio listeners that St Vincent and the Grenadines has the fourth lowest suicide rate in the world, which currently stands at one per 100 000 and rubbished claims that increased murders here are due to increased frustration among the population.

Gonsalves said seven of the 10 countries with the highest homicide rate per 100 000 in the world are from Latin America and the Caribbean and includes Jamaica.

He said the common factor was the “hundreds of firearms, and they are connected to the drug trade”, adding “it’s not frustration, its greed”.

Gonsalves called for an all-society approach to stem the rise in illegal and other criminal activities. He told radio listeners that the police and the legal system need to buttress their presence on the ground.

According to Gonsalves, the majority of homicides here have occurred within a 20 square mile radius, where an estimated 60 000 people reside. (CMC)

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