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Strategic Briefing: The ‘Pivot’ to Paradise

By Yousuf Malik, Defence IQ

This summer we saw a succession of maritime disputes involving China, Japan, South Korea, Vietnam, Taiwan and the Philippines over a few scattered uninhabited rocks in the South and East China Sea. On the surface these little rocks have little to offer, but whoever controls sovereignty over these rocks also controls a 200 mile radius exclusive economic zone. The reason for all this hostility, experts say, is vast reserves of oil in those waters.

cabsec picture 1More than 10,000 miles east of the South China Sea or 18 hours non-stop by plane lies the Caribbean Basin. Think Barbados, Jamaica, St. Lucia, and what comes to mind is idyllic white sandy beaches, cocktails and time spent doing as little as possible. What almost no one knows is that this sleepy part of the world is about to receive a lot of attention from the United States, Canada, the European Union and an increasingly powerful Brazil, not to mention, China which has been quietly buying influence in the region. Analysts say it’s because of oil. This doesn’t sound as far-fetched as we know there is oil in the Gulf of Mexico (remember the BP oil spill?) and vast reserves just off the coast of Venezuela. Oil has replaced tourism as the largest contributor of GDP in nearby Trinidad & Tobago. Brazil, further down south, has huge oil reserves rivalling the Middle East about which Brazil’s president, Dilma Rousseff, remarked that this just proves that “God is Brazilian”.

If you’re in the business of surveillance, whether it’s fixed wing, rotary or coastal sensors, AIS based maritimecabsec picture 2 information systems, secure data and communication networks that can pull and push information from US, NATO and Latin American sources. Or interdiction through fast patrol craft, small OPVs, etc. – or maritime security in general – there is there is a bonanza coming up in the 24 nations that comprise the Caribbean Basin. As there is no regional consensus on how to approach common surveillance and security problems, there are also opportunities for companies that can provide related advice, counsel and training. The ‘pivot’ to paradise has just begun.

There are other reasons for this. The Panama Canal is about to undergo an unprecedented expansion that will double its capacity allowing for a huge increase in sea trade that passes through the Americas spelling a massive increase in trans-shipments. In the backdrop of increased sea trade, and heightened pressure on the powerful criminal networks of the drug trade, they could lash out in revenge and could be disruptive and so must be controlled.  This is why senior military experts, heads of navies and coast guards, ambassadors from the United States and the European Union are meeting in Curaçao from the 12th to 14th of March 2013 at Defence IQ’s CABSEC 2013 summit.

The event is focused on the coastal surveillance and Counter-Narcotics and Illicit Trafficking (CNIT) requirements of the Caribbean Basin and features a Focus Day on counter-narcotics. There is also a visit to the nerve centre at Parera Naval Base where information from the a vast surveillance network is monitored and disseminated, and a world-class 2-day conference that will enable you to get to know the decision-makers and influencers in the region while getting current with the geography and relationships in preparation for upcoming requirements.

If you’re interested in attending, you can download the agenda here

If being a sponsor or exhibitor is more up your street, you can send us an email at


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