Guyana to ask Google to remove street names in disputed border region

September 15, 2015
Guyana wants the names of some streets near its disputed shared border with Venezuela changed on Google Maps
Guyana wants the names of some streets near its disputed shared border with Venezuela changed on Google Maps

Guyana intends to ask Google to remove certain street names near its disputed shared border with Venezuela, the foreign minister said.

The names, in Spanish, seem to suggest they are part of Venezuela, Carl Greenidge said Monday.

"We have to get technical advice to get Google to remedy it. We have to see how Google can be made to be responsible. Maybe they are not aware," he told reporters.

Greenidge noted that Google Maps has labeled a major road in the disputed coastal region of Essequibo Av. 100 Bolivar rather than Essequibo Coast Public Road or Anna Regina Public Road, as Guyanese call it. A perpendicular was labeled Calle 100 Guyana.

Streets have English names in Guyana, a former British colony, as opposed to those in neighboring Spanish-speaking Venezuela.

Greenidge said Guyana would pursue a court order if necessary.

"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...those people will implement it, then it's a recipe for chaos," he said.

Venezuela has long had claims on the Essequibo region.

Earlier this year, its President Nicolas Maduro issued decrees extending Venezuelan maritime boundaries to include the seas off the Essequibo region, which include oil reserves currently being explored by US oil giant ExxonMobil.

The Essequibo makes up two thirds of the territory of Guyana. South America's only English-speaking nation maintains that valid land borders were set in 1899 by an arbitration court decision, a decision Venezuela has never recognized.

Last month, Maduro met with UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon to seek UN support for mediation.

But Guyana claims the longstanding UN-led mediation process meant to resolve the dispute has yielded little results and that its neighbor is using the delays to its advantage.

Guyana's President David Granger instead called for a definitive legal settlement of the dispute in the Hague.

Ban has since dispatched a fact-finding mission to Caracas and Georgetown.

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