Guyana wants the San Francisco-based technology giant, Google, to erase certain place names in Essequibo that indicate that they are part of Venezuela.
“We have to get technical advice as to get Google to remedy it apart from writing them. We have to see how Google can be made to be responsible; maybe they are not aware,” Foreign Affairs Minister Carl Greenidge told reporters.
Greenidge says he has learnt that Venezuela has a satellite system that allows them to feed information to Google.
The issue was recently brought to the limelight by Alfred Bhulai in letters to two of Guyana’s daily newspapers, pointing out that based on this link to Google Maps https://firstname.lastname@example.org,-58.4804829,709m/data=!3m1!1e3 , the Essequibo Coast Public Road has been renamed Av. 100 Bolivar and a street has been named Calle 100 Guayana. Simon Bolivar was a Venezuelan military and political figure who played a key role in chasing out Spanish colonizers and establishing an independent nation.
“We have to get technical advice as to get Google to remedy it apart from writing them. We have to see how Google can be made to be responsible; maybe they are not aware,” he told reporters.
Greenidge said Guyana was willing to seek a Court Order to have Google change those inaccurate references. He said the inaccurate naming of the road and street on the Essequibo Coast adversely impacts on Guyana’s sovereignty. “It has implications for more than Guyana because if a country’s leadership can wake up one morning and decide that their borders run from Alaska to the Cape of Good Hope, for example, and they can simply just tell Google this and anybody and those people will implement, then it’s a recipe for chaos,” he said.
The seeming relationship between those names and Venezuela is not dissimilar to stated plans by that Spanish-speaking neighbour to give Venezuela national identification cards to persons born in Essequibo.
Venezuela’s President Nicolas Maduro has already issued two decrees unilaterally extending his country’s maritime boundary to include the Atlantic sea off the Essequibo coast , less than two months after a huge oil find was made there.
Guyana’s President, David Granger and Maduro are likely to meet with United Nations Secretary General, Ban Ki Moon on the sidelines of the United Nations (UN) General Assembly later this month.
Georgetown is pushing hard for the controversy over the 1899 Arbitral Tribunal Award to be taken to the World Court, while Caracas wants to retain the Secretary General’s mediation ‘Good Officer’ process- something Granger says has not worked for the past 23 years.
“Guyana is of the firm belief that this controversy, arising out of the Venezuelan claim that the Arbitral Award of 1899 is null and void can only be settled once and for all through the judicial process. Before there could be any adjustment to the demarcations of our territorial and maritime boundaries the ICJ must first rule on whether the Arbitral Award of 1899 is null and void. It is Guyana’s firm view that that Award is legally binding and that the existing boundaries must remain intact,” Greenidge told a luncheon at the Florida Conference on Current Caribbean issues put on by the Institute of Caribbean Studies (ICS) and the Greater Caribbean American Chamber of Commerce. That event was attended by diplomats, elected officials, business executives and community leaders.