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On July 16th the Dominican Republic signed three agreements on drug-trafficking, security and human trafficking with the US. The accords, which also include aviation security and global supply chain security, are part of a joint effort between the US and members of the Caribbean Basin Security Initiative (CBSI), aimed at enhancing border and maritime safety and addressing the rising drug trade in the region.
The agreements were signed after a visit to the Dominican Republic by the US secretary of homeland security, Janet Napolitano, and followed the revelation that the US would begin to deploy unmanned drone aircraft over the Caribbean Sea and the Gulf of Mexico to monitor the presence of drug traffickers. The Dominican Republic, which has become a regional hub for drug smuggling-owing to its geographic position, land border with Haiti and lax law enforcement-has seen a dramatic rise in both drug-related and other crime in recent years. According to the World Bank's Global Competitiveness Report for 2012, crime and violence are among the main deterrents for business in the country. In the report, the country slipped in the rankings for the categories of "Business Cost of Crime and Violence", "Organised Crime" and "Reliability of Police Service". In addition, the World Economic Forum's 2012 Global Enabling Trade Report ranked the country 122nd out of 132 countries in terms of physical security.
Although there have been some high-profile arrests of drug traffickers, measures to counter the rise in crime more effectively have been stymied by corruption within the government and the military. Mr Fernandez undertook new initiatives under the Plan de Seguridad Democratica (Democratic Security Strategy), which included the purchase of eight Brazilian-made Super Tucano aircraft in 2008, but the problem remains constant. This will be one of the main challenges facing the president-elect, Danilo Medina, after he takes office on August 16th. Mr Medina's proposed "Pais Seguro, Poblacion Protegida" plan (Safe Country, Protected Population) aims to focus on tackling corruption and promoting stronger institutions.