The Ambassadors and Representatives from seven Central American countries and the Dominican Republic met on last week to discuss the concept of a joint aviation security information center among their nations at a roundtable meeting hosted by Customs and Border Protection Commissioner Alan D. Bersin and Department of State Deputy Assistant Secretary Julissa Reynoso at CBP's D.C. headquarters.
To counter transnational criminal activities in the Western Hemisphere and facilitate lawful, secure travel, "all of our countries would form a center," explained Bersin during the May 9 meeting, "and representatives from each of our countries would work together to share law enforcement data."
Reynoso added that the Department of State supports projects like this that increase security in the region.
Panama's President Martinelli signed a joint information agreement with Secretary Napolitano last November and has agreed to work with the U.S. and Mexico on gathering and analyzing advance traveler information. The talks were to explore the value of closer collaboration among a wider group of nations, "a partnership in which we agree that we will cooperate on sharing information and the identification of high-risk passengers," said Bersin.
Julio Molto, director of Panama's National Security Council and Panama's Ambassador to the U.S. Mario Ernesto Jaramillo Castillo spoke in detail of the system's benefits. Bersin underscored the security of the data systems, adding that each participating government would retain complete sovereignty over its national data.
The meeting followed a tour last week by the Central American representatives of CBP's National Targeting Center. CBP is planning further discussions of the joint center concept during meetings to be held in Central America this summer.
U.S. Customs and Border Protection is the unified border agency within the Department of Homeland Security charged with the management, control and protection of our nation's borders at and between the official ports of entry. CBP is charged with keeping terrorists and terrorist weapons out of the country while enforcing hundreds of U.S. laws.