Foreign Affairs ‘deeply concerned’ with images of Guyana’s map without Essequibo

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In light of two instances on social media where the Guyana map was depicted without its 83,000 square miles of Essequibo land, the Foreign Affairs Ministry has expressed “deep concern” and asserted that they are “looking into the matter.”

File: Foreign Affairs Minister, Carl Greenidge gesturing to Guyana’s map

The first instance of this image surfacing was on the Facebook page of the American Home and Beauty Centre- a local company- which was posted on May 24, 2018, wishing Guyanese a “Happy Independence Day” while advertising a “Sale.”

However, the most shocking was when the ‘Essequibo-less map’ popped up on State-owned newspaper, the Guyana Chronicle on Independence morning.

After the images went viral, the two entities posted apologies.

“To our Guyanese People and Valued Customers, we are sincerely sorry for the Independence Ad which would have been published. The Page is usually managed internationally by our Marketing Department. The incident has caused great disrespect to the people of Guyana and we take full responsibility for the poor representation displayed. We wish to reassure the country that we would never intentionally do anything to disrespect the country and/or disgrace the Map,” the American Home and Beauty Centre said.

In addition, the State media blamed a possible hacker for the “mishap.”

“The Guyana Chronicle deeply apologises for the inexplicable publication of a map which annexed the Essequibo on our webpage this morning. Based on our internal checks such a map is not in our photograph database and it would seem that some mischievous person might have uploaded this distorted image of the Guyana map,” the entity explained while noting that an investigation has been launched internally.

In their press statement on Monday, the Ministry said “the shape of Guyana’s 83,000 square miles is unmistakable. From the dawn of our independence to this day, we have spared no effort to preserve our sovereignty and territorial integrity. This act which occurred on our 52nd Anniversary of Independence should serve as a sobering reminder that the threats to our territory remain real and dangerous.”

On March 29 2018, Guyana submitted its Application to the International Court of Justice (ICJ) requesting the Court to confirm the legal validity and binding effect of the 1899 Arbitral Award regarding the boundary between Guyana and Venezuela.

The Application follows the decision of UN Secretary General, Antonio Guterres, in choosing the ICJ as the next means of resolving the controversy that arose as a result of the Venezuelan contention that the Arbitral Award of 1899 about the frontier between British Guiana and Venezuela was null and void.

According to the Foreign Affairs Ministry, in its Application to the Court, “Guyana highlighted that Venezuela had, for more than 60 years, consistently recognized and respected the validity and binding force of the 1899 Award and the 1905 Map agreed by both sides in furtherance of the Award.”

Moreover, it was outlined that Venezuela had only changed its position formally in 1962 as the United Kingdom was making final preparations for the independence of British Guiana and had threatened not to recognize the new State, or its boundaries, unless the United Kingdom agreed to set aside the 1899 Award and cede to Venezuela all of the territory west of the Essequibo River, amounting to some two-thirds of Guyana’s territory.

Guyana’s Application, notes that while Venezuela has never produced any evidence to justify “its belated repudiation of the 1899 Award, it has used it as an excuse to occupy territory awarded to Guyana in 1899, to inhibit Guyana’s economic development and to violate Guyana’s sovereignty and sovereign rights.”

Sir Shridath Ramphal, who is Guyana’s Legal Adviser on the Guyana-Venezuela border controversy had earlier expressed his confidence in Guyana’s legal team, noting that “the case is in good hands. It is in the hands of the same team that won the judicial proceeding with Suriname. We’re going to work again to finish the job.” (Ramona Luthi)

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