Parliament’s largest Opposition, A Partnership for National Unity (APNU) is calling on President Donald Ramotar to do more than talk to reduce drug trafficking in Guyana.
“He must become personally involved in directing the war on illegal narcotics which, apparently, are now being exported on an ‘industrial scale,” the coalition said yesterday in a harsh statement on the situation.
APNU said that it finds the President’s response to last week’s discovery of a self-propelled semi-submersible (SPSS) marine vessel in the Barima-Waini, Region One area, deeply disturbing.
APNU pointed out that it was the President, according to the Government Information Agency (GINA), who stated: “We will spend whatever is necessary; I can’t say that we will spend unlimited amounts. We have limited resources, and we have competing areas that we want to put our money into.”
APNU described the President’s response as “weak”.
“It ignores the facts that, for two decades the People’s Progressive Party/Civic (PPP/C) has failed to curb trafficking in illegal narcotics.”
APNU demanded that the President immediately execute a credible national drug strategy master plan and establish an effective national enforcement structure.
There should also be vigorous enforcement of current legislation and a better equipped security forces with the assets to curb the trade.
”These tasks must not be left to the Minister of Home Affairs who has failed to curb the drug trade. It is clear that the PPP/C either has lost interest in ending the narco-trade or is untroubled by the damage that the trade is doing to this country and its people.”
The Opposition faction wants attention to be paid to the International Narcotics Control Strategy Report in which the US Department of State continues to warn that “Guyana is a trans-shipment point for South American cocaine on its way to North America and Europe.”
In terms of the National Drug Strategy Master Plan, APNU says it is clear that the ruling party has no effective counter-narcotics strategy.
“The last plan – National Drug Strategy Master Plan, 2005-2009 – was never fully implemented. It expired five years ago and was never replaced.”
Locally, the country’s two counter-narcotics agencies, Customs Anti-Narcotics Unit and Police Anti-Narcotics Unit, have never been provided with the surveillance aircraft, river and coastal patrol boats, all-terrain vehicles and trained personnel needed to secure the country’s international transit points, coasts and borders. “They are incapable of locating, identifying, investigating and prosecuting the major drug cartels.”
As a result, Guyana has essentially become a warehouse and an international emporium from which narco-traffickers export their merchandise to foreign markets.
“Hardly a month passes that cocaine is not discovered in shipments of fruit and vegetables such as achar; awara; boulanger, coconut milk, mango, pineapple, rice, ochro, pepper and star-apples, among many other commodities,” APNU noted.
The faction also stressed that in February, Guyanese were shocked to learn that US and Italian law-enforcement agencies had uncovered a trans-Atlantic mafia ring responsible for trafficking in cocaine exported from this country.
“This development has extremely serious security implications. The People’s Progressive Party/Civic (PPP/C) for over two decades has demonstrated a lack of ‘political will’ to eradicate narco-trafficking. The public is fed up with the PPP/C’s false promises, failed plans, the rate of ‘execution,’ murders and the bogus war on narcotics-trafficking.”
President Ramotar must accept responsibility for the failure of the PPP/C’s counter-narcotics campaign, APNU said.
“He must make more than ‘limited’ promises. He must commit his administration absolutely to effective performance.”
The concerns of APNU intensified following last week’s discovery of a camp in Waini, Region One where a semi-submersible vessel was found.
It was evident that the vessel was made to ship large quantities of illegal drugs, officials said.
The country has been long known as a trans-shipment point for drugs.
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