Map with­out Esse­quibo

Stabroek News Sunday - - LETTERS... -

On Fri­day, the man­age­ment of the Amer­i­can Home and Beauty Cen­tre on Robb and Welling­ton apol­o­gised for a Face­book advertisement of a sale which car­ried a map of Guyana sans its largest county, Esse­quibo.

Gen­eral Man­ager of the store, Es­sam Ajouri told this news­pa­per that the busi­ness’ Face­book page is man­aged by a rep­re­sen­ta­tive in New Jersey, who made the mis­take of in­clud­ing the in­cor­rect map.

He fur­ther ex­plained that the per­son was given a direc­tive to cre­ate an ad for an In­de­pen­dence Day sale and to in­clude the map of the coun­try. He said that the per­son searched on Google for a map and the one that was used for the ad is what they found.

Mr Ajouri em­pha­sised that the ac­tion was not de­lib­er­ate and that it would not make any sense for him to do some­thing that is “anti-Guyanese” given that his busi­ness is in the heart of the coun­try’s cap­i­tal. Two apolo­gies were sub­se­quently posted on the store’s Face­book page yes­ter­day.

While Mr Ajouri has of­fered a plau­si­ble ex­pla­na­tion for what tran­spired it must be stated that any rep­re­sen­ta­tion of the Guyana map with any­thing less than its in­ter­na­tion­ally rec­og­nized di­men­sions is an abom­i­na­tion and should not be ap­pear­ing in any medium and cer­tainly not on be­half of a store based in the city.

This is moreso as Guyana has en­tered a crit­i­cal phase of its bor­der con­tro­versy with Venezuela by ap­proach­ing the In­ter­na­tional Court of Jus­tice (ICJ) for a ju­ridi­cal set­tle­ment. There should be no hint at all of the com­pro­mis­ing here of the map of Guyana. Fur­ther, the wide avail­abil­ity of Face­book en­ables even greater dam­age to be done to the coun­try’s in­ter­ests by the cir­cu­lat­ing of the in­cor­rect map on this plat­form and its pick­ing up by third par­ties up to no good. One of these groups, MiMa­paDeVenezue­laIn­cluyeNue­stroEse­quibo has al­ready glee­fully up­loaded the mu­ti­lated map to its Face­book page. Amer­i­can Home and Beauty Cen­tre must take all nec­es­sary ac­tions to have this advertisement with the in­cor­rect map re­moved from Face­book and wher­ever else it may have mi­grated to.

For many years now, gov­ern­ments here have been warned to be aware of at­tempts by both Venezuela and Suri­name and groups act­ing on their be­half to present il­le­git­i­mate maps of Guyana. Even at in­ter­na­tional fora, Ge­orge­town has had to fight off the machi­na­tions of both Cara­cas and Para­maribo in the use of these fake maps.

The point is that the Guyana Gov­ern­ment has to wage an un­re­lent­ing bat­tle to pre­serve the in­tegrity of the coun­try’s map from the on­slaught that is aimed at it par­tic­u­larly now in cy­berspace. Its diplo­mats must lodge strong ob­jec­tions when­ever

ei­ther of Guyana’s two neigh­bours or other coun­tries utilise these maps. It mustn’t stop there. Ge­orge­town must en­sure that it tar­gets for re­moval as many of the im­proper rep­re­sen­ta­tions of the maps on the in­ter­net as pos­si­ble. Web­sites util­is­ing these maps must be cor­re­sponded with and supplied with cor­rect ver­sions of the map and asked to re­move the of­fend­ing ones.

Even though Guyana has el­e­vated the bor­der con­tro­versy to a new plane by ad­vanc­ing to the ICJ, the Guyana Gov­ern­ment has not em­barked on the req­ui­site cam­paign to en­able the av­er­age Guyanese ci­ti­zen to un­der­stand the de­tails of the case and the just­ness of Guyana’s cause. Var­i­ous parts of the me­dia and cy­berspace con­tin­u­ally and dan­ger­ously re­fer to the Guyana-Venezuela bor­der con­tro­versy as a “dis­pute” which it is clearly not. Takuba Lodge has not be­gun to do the type of work that is nec­es­sary to bring the whole coun­try up to speed on Guyana’s case.

There is no sign of the ed­u­ca­tion sys­tem or the Univer­sity of Guyana be­ing in­volved in spread­ing the word though they have ac­cess to thou­sands - and in the case of the lat­ter - heav­ily present on so­cial me­dia and in a po­si­tion to counter much of the pro­pa­ganda sur­round­ing this case.

The gov­ern­ment and the Min­istry of For­eign Af­fairs must take ur­gent steps to re­dress this sit­u­a­tion to avoid any fur­ther out­rage like the one that Amer­i­can Home and Beauty Cen­tre found it­self a part of.

In­ter­est­ingly, the re­cently ap­pointed US Sec­re­tary of State, Mike Pom­peo in his in­de­pen­dence mes­sage to Guyana on be­half of the US gov­ern­ment re­ferred to the bound­aries of the coun­try which would be taken as a sig­nal by Wash­ing­ton on be­half of ExxonMo­bil and a likely ar­range­ment with another US oil ma­jor, Chevron. Ev­ery lit­tle bit of sup­port counts. It’s now for the Gov­ern­ment of Guyana to take its role se­ri­ously.

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