SOUTH 2008 carried a strong message during its first day of public sessions--everyone here has a drug problem. In fact, all of the Americas has a drug problem. Countering that problem is a matter of national and international importance and security, especially because the drug trade has finance links to terrorism. Speeches and presentations mainly focused on cocaine and its growth and effects. Lt. Gen. Glenn F. Spears, USAF, deputy commander, U.S. Southern Command, stated in his welcome address and featured speaker introduction that, "The scourge of illegal drug trafficking...unfortunately is alive and flourishing in the Americas today."
The star-studded presentations continued here in Miami, with the second combatant command commander speaking in as many days. Adm. James Stavridis, USN, commander, U.S. Southern Command, gave the last address of SOUTH telling the luncheon audience that the Americas are not the United States' backyard or front porch. "It's a home that we share together," he said. The admiral went on to emphasize that the fundamental problem in the area is poverty, and that drugs and terrorism are symptoms of that problem.