Guyana has rich Amazonian heritage-Minister Insanally
-To develop closer economic, social links to Southern neighbours

Kaieteur News
December 7, 2006

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Guyana possesses a rich blend of forests and magnificent waterfalls that is part of its Amazonian heritage.

This is according to Minister of Foreign Affairs, Rudolph Insanally who was speaking at the opening ceremony of the Third Meeting of the Permanent National Commission of the Amazon Cooperation Treaty (ACTO) held in Georgetown last Thursday.

Minister Insanally said Guyana's name, derived from an Amerindian word meaning ‘Land of many waters', presents no doubt of the abundant natural resources.

“For much of our colonial past and prior to our independence in the 60's most Guyanese were largely oblivious of the linkage to the Amazon as a coastal people we look mainly to the Caribbean Sea, the Atlantic and to the northern metropoles,” the Minister said.

He disclosed that his first vision of the Amazon was formed from reading the magical tale ‘Green Mansions' a novel by W.H Hudson set amidst the steamy forest of Guyana's hinterland.

Minister Insanally noted that it was only later that he was able to visit neighbouring Brazil and grasp the impact of Guyana 's Amazonian identity.

“Flying over a seemingly endless canopy of forest and seeing the convergence of our magnificent rivers and waterfalls, I was able finally to appreciate our shared Amazonian heritage. Unfortunately, the Amazon remains a terra incognito (unknown territory) for most Guyanese,” the Minister lamented.

He said a closer link with Guyana 's southern neighbours will certainly impress on citizens that the Amazon is the gateway between the Caribbean and South America .

While Guyana is an Amazonian country it is somewhat difference in some respects.

Minister Insanally said Guyana is part of the geographical region known as the ‘Guiana Shield' - one of the oldest land formations in the world that lies between the Atlantic Ocean to the north, the Orinoco and Rio Negro to the west and the Amazon River to the south.

“A remarkable feature of the Guianas is the unusual diversity of languages and the population spread which the region contributes to this northern part of the South American continent - a result of the erstwhile division of the Guianas among British, Dutch, French, Portuguese and Spanish seaborne empires,” Minister Insanally said.

He added that Guyana has developed a close relationship with the Amazon Cooperation Treaty Organisation throughout its evolution from the signature of the Amazon Treaty in 1978 to the establishment of a Permanent Secretariat in Brasilia in 2002.

“However, it must be acknowledged that our interaction could have been closer and that some of the barriers of culture, history and geography that have traditionally separated us from our sister states in South America still remain to be overcome. I can assure you however, that it is now fully recognised that Guyana 's Amazonian identity is integral to the economic and social development of our nation and that progress on ACTO issues is a priority on Guyana 's national agenda,” the Minister said.