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President Irfaan Ali has urged Guyanese to rely on official releases from the government and state entities regarding any information concerning the Guyana/Venezuela border controversy. Speaking at a press conference at the Arthur Chung Conference Centre on Saturday, Ali highlighted the harmful effects of sensational posting.
According to the president “We’ve had many instances of doctored videos, videos from 15 years ago, videos from some other part of Venezuela being circulated, claiming to be occurring on the borders.”
He noted a specific instance of fear mongering, where Guyanese have been made aware of the Civil Defence Commission (CDC) engaging with several communities, and this has been publicly misconstrued as impending disaster preparedness measures.
The government said its approach in addressing the issue is grounded on a commitment to maintaining a zone of peace and seeking out a lawful and peaceful resolution. Hence, heavy focus is placed on diplomacy and increasing public awareness.
But Shadow Attorney General and Minister of Legal Affairs, Senior Counsel Roysdale Forde has flayed the government for not having a coherent communication plan and messages considering Venezuela’s on-going aggression.
Writing in his column, ‘From the Desk of Roysdale Forde SC’ last Thursday the parliamentarian said where daily Guyanese are bombarded with announcements of multi-billion dollar contracts award for construction of roads and other infrastructural works, the government has failed to “announce an investment and invest in a national internal communication strategy that help citizens especially our young people, to understand the historical background to this illegal claim by Venezuela and the ‘nuts’ and ‘bolts’ of our arguments about our firm stance as a nation.”
The senior counsel expressed concern about government’s inaction to guide citizens, especially young people, along the path of understanding and truth about this massively important and critical issue. According to him “while it is true that almost all of what is being said in relation to Essequibo, by Venezuela is chaff (misinformation and falsehood) the sheer persistence and intensity of that country’s effort to instill this falsehood in the minds of its citizens, perpetually, and generationally, should, if nothing else, move the incumbent PPP/C regime to immediate action.”
Forde further contended that in spite of “weeks of meetings and discussions on this external threat, the nation has heard absolutely nothing about a clear and solid national internal communication strategy to raise awareness, educate, empower and develop a sense of community among our citizens.”
Guyana is yet to see any roll out of a national communication strategy. In this void Ali has appealed to the residents in border communities, to also rely on official channels of communication, responding to concerns raised about these persons being urged to move away from these areas. The president has blamed the flight of citizens to another instance of sensationalism and fear-mongering, and urged these residents to put their trust in his administration.
Meanwhile individuals such as former Guyana Defence Force Chief of Staff, Ret’d Rear Admiral Dr. Gary Best; Member of Parliament Amanza Walton-Desir; former University of Guyana dean, Dr. Mark Kirton; the University of Guyana; and organisations such as the Guyana Trades Union Congress are filling the void.