Ambassador Joseph Mondello’s Remarks at Adolescent Drug Intervention Training

Remarks by Ambassador Joseph Mondello
Opening Ceremony for the Adolescent Drug Intervention Training
Monday, October 29, 2018, 8:30 – 9:30 a.m.
Hilton Trinidad & Conference Centre (Hibiscus Room)

Good morning!

I am delighted to be here today as the new U.S. Ambassador to the Republic of Trinidad and Tobago.

I am very pleased one of my first public events is to support this important training on adolescent drug intervention.

I want to thank Minister Stuart Young, the Ministry of National Security, and the National Drug Council of Trinidad and Tobago for leading this training.

I also want to acknowledge the role of the Inter-American Drug Abuse Control Commission of the Organization of American States in developing the content of this week’s workshop.

U.S. support for the workshop is reflective of our commitment, not only to Trinidad and Tobago, but also to the region under the Caribbean Basin Security Initiative, also known as CBSI.

Through CBSI, the U.S. government aims to strengthen the safety and security of all citizens of Trinidad and Tobago, including its young people.

Our security initiatives in Trinidad and Tobago often involve support for law enforcement agencies and criminal justice institutions to investigate and prosecute crime, reduce the flow of drugs, intercept illegal firearms, and increase border security.

But the Caribbean Basin Security Initiative is also about promoting social justice, including increased educational, economic and social opportunities for at-risk youth.

As someone who began his career as a probation officer, I am glad to see this training’s focus on providing the necessary tools to probation officers, police and prison officers, and others, to make those key interventions when they see a young person heading down a wrong path.

Drug abuse and addiction can challenge a person for a lifetime.  Research shows the adolescent years are a critical period for preventing the development of substance use disorders.

As anyone who has ever raised a teenager certainly knows, adolescents aren’t usually forthcoming about the need for help.  It can be difficult to identify teenagers who may be struggling with substance abuse, which is what makes this workshop so critical.

I stand here this morning to assure the people of Trinidad and Tobago – particularly the young people – the United States is committed to ensuring the youth of this beautiful country grow up in a safe and secure environment, where they can get the help they need and make the best of the gifts they have been granted.

I wish all participants a good week of training.