Plans are afoot to expand the reach of Guyana’s state-owned television via satellite to propagate messages about the country’s border controversy with neighbouring Venezuela, according to Prime Minister Moses Nagamootoo.
“In view of the Venezuelan threat to Guyana, what has now turned out to be a trade and economic embargo against our country, for a country that had condemned a trade and economic embargo against their other friends, we feel that we need to take our message and education about our sovereignty to all parts of Guyana,” he said.
Venezuela has stopped buying Guyana’s rice in exchange for the supply of oil under the PetroCaribe agreeement and has, instead, turned to Suriname for its rice supplies under a similar deal.
Venezuela as well as most of Latin America and the Caribbean had for decades vigorously opposed the United States (US) trade and economic embargo against Cuba. While, by US Presidential Executive Order, trade in services and movement of people and some goods have been relaxed, the embargo still officially remains in effect.
Ever since American oil giant, ExxonMobil, announced in late May, 2015 that it had found a huge oil deposit offshore Guyana, Venezuela has been ratcheting up its decades-old claim to the Essequibo Region and has even unilaterally sought to annex the Atlantic sea off the Essequibo Region. The United Nations is to decide whether to accede to Guyana’s demands that the controversy over the 1899 Arbitral Tribunal Award be taken to the International Court of Justice.
Nagamootoo was at the time weighing on the fact that millions of dollars in satellite uplink equipment has been left idle for years at the National Communications Network (NCN), the state’s radio and television broadcaster.
The Prime Minister said he was told that the satellite uplink equipment could help relay television programming to at least 13 different locations across the mountainous and thickly forested regions of Guyana.
He said no one had initially told government that the equipment had been packed away at NCN, and so Cabinet went ahead and approved GUY$23 million to buy new equipment.
Guyana’s radio stations are hardly ever heard beyond the coastal boundaries of the country and NCN is not seen in the vast interior.
The previous governmenthad contracted the satellite uplink facilities of Guyana Television, a subsdiary of Queen’s Atlantic Investments, to relay programming from the Education Channel being run by the Ministry of Education.