Security in the Caribbean Basin: The Challenge of Regional Cooperation

By Joseph S. Tulchin; Ralph H. Espach | Go to book overview

6
The Fear of Illegal Aliens:
Caribbean Migration as a National
and Regional Security Threat
Jorge Duany

The end of the Cold War between the United States and the former Soviet Union has promoted a major shift in thinking about national and regional security. The disappearance of the “communist threat” has reduced the need for military defense from an outside enemy in the Western Hemisphere. At the same time, the post-Cold War era has weakened the geopolitical significance of the Caribbean region for the United States and other metropolitan powers, such as Great Britain, France, and the Netherlands. Even though the Cuban government continues to have antagonistic relations with the United States, the island's strategic importance has also diminished greatly. From the U. S. perspective, the Caribbean Basin has moved from being a potential source of ideological subversion and political instability to a transit zone for illegal drugs, alien smuggling, laundered money, contrabanded weapons, and other “transnational threats. ” Current debates on security issues consistently identify narcotrafficking and undocumented migration as the two key concerns for the U. S. government, both highly focused on Mexico, Central America, and the Caribbean islands. 1

U. S. foreign policy after the Cold War so far has concentrated primarily on preventing and controlling the illegal flow of drugs from Latin America to the United States. In this context, the Caribbean has emerged as the major transshipment point for controlled substances from South to North America. As one U. S. drug enforcement official recently put it, regardless of how one defines the Caribbean Basin, it is a leading source and traffic area for illegal drugs, money, and aliens. 2 The islands' strategic position—particularly that of the smaller countries of the Eastern Caribbean—provides an easy access route between the main drug-producing countries of South America (Colombia, Peru, and Bolivia) and the largest consumer market in

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