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Censorship of websites lifted

Fortunately, Guyana is acting against the spirit of the times. While access to certain web content is often blocked for various reasons, the filters are now being removed again, as Moses Nagamootoo, Guyana’s Minister of Information, announced. Otherwise, we are happy to keep what we have already introduced.

In 1995 Cheddi Jagan, the then president of the South American country, had the censorship of websites with pornographic, racist, terrorist and criminal content and hacker programs blocked when local companies began to offer access to the Internet. The government feared, among other things, that the reputation of the country, where one third of the revenues of the Guyanese telecom already came from international telephone sex offers, would continue to suffer. At least the new medium of the time was to be kept clean. In order to bypass the filter and gain access to websites containing words like bomb or sex, you had to get permission. However, as is always the case, the filters also blocked access to websites containing information about AIDS or sex education or from anti-racist groups. Even highly political information such as the Starr report on Clinton’s sexual practices in the White House was not accessible to the people of Guyana.

“Since the advent of the Internet,” according to the Guyana Chronicle of 10 January, “we have looked at the arguments in the newspapers and in the public debate on how to understand the Internet as a means of communication”. There had been a good and vibrant discussion in the government corridors, and the conclusion had been to lift the restrictions because of the obligation to freedom of expression and access to information. But he also built on the idea of renewed censorship when he said: “We did not think that a misguided use of the proxy at this time was advisable”.

About Guyana

Guyana is located in the north of South America. It borders Brazil, Venezuela, Suriname and the Atlantic Ocean. The area changed hands several times until 1815 between the colonial powers of the Netherlands, the Kingdom of Great Britain and France. After the defeat of Napoléon Bonaparte, these three colonies were officially transferred to the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland at the Congress of Vienna in 1815. In 1831, these territories were merged into British Guiana. In 1966 Guyana became independent.

Guyana is one of the countries in the South American Caribbean region that will be particularly hard hit by rising sea levels as a result of climate change. A sea level rise of only 1 m would flood an area in Guyana where 70% of the population lives and where 40% of the country’s agricultural land is located.

The climate is tropical with rainfall of up to 3000 mm per year; average annual temperatures 27 °C, maximum temperatures around 34 °C, minimum temperatures around 20 °C; humidity 73-88 %. There are two rainy periods: strong from April to August, weaker from September to November, stronger again until the end of January, then dry until early April.

The origin of the country name is unclear. It is suspected that it goes back to the Indian tribe Guainazes; the word means “honourable people”.