Prime Minister of St Vincent and the Grenadines, Dr. Ralph Gonsalves has called on government officials in the United States of America (USA) to do something about the easy access to guns, and the easy exportation of guns from the USA to Latin America and Caribbean (LAC) countries.
Speaking on Monday, January 9th on Star Radio’s Morning Scoop program, Dr. Ralph Gonsalves decried the proliferation of guns manufactured in the United States (US) and violence associated with the illicit drug trade as the main causes of a high murder rate in some Latin America and Caribbean (LAC) countries.
Noting that SVG has the fourth lowest suicide rate in the world, which currently stands at one per 100K, Dr. Gonsalves rubbished claims that murders in SVG are linked to increased frustration among Vincentians.
The Prime Minister said seven of the ten countries with highest homicide rates per 100K in the world are from the Latin America and Caribbean region, and the common factor that is consistent among them, he stated, is the “hundreds of fire arms, and they are connected to the drug trade, it’s not frustration its greed”, said Dr. Gonsalves, while calling for an all-society approach to stem the rise in all illegal and other criminal activities.
The Prime Minister, who is also Minister of National Security, also called on the local police service and the legal system to buttress their presence on the ground; to increase police visibility, to collect intelligence and to act on the intelligence they collect.
The Prime Minister further indicated that the majority of homicides in the country have occurred within a 20 square mile radius where 55K to 60K people reside, according to a geospatial mapping of mainland St. Vincent.
Dr. Gonsalves also cited a draft resolution by Mexico, titled “Special Declaration on the Fight Against Illicit Arms Trafficking”, for discussion at the next Community of Latin American and Caribbean States (CELAC) meeting in Buenos Aires, Argentina on January 24th, 2023.
Prime Minister Gonsalves said the efforts are not anti-American in stance but a pro-St Vincent and the Grenadines stance and that of the entire region. He also reiterated the need to inculcate the values of hard work and discipline; and not to turn to guns and criminality, in the homes, churches, schools and communities throughout SVG.