By Dennis Adonis
GEORGETOWN, Guyana -- For several weeks now, people apparently bent on making mischief have been posting bogus and Photoshopped news extracts on social media that purport to show that Guyanese no longer require a visa to travel to the United States.
These postings have been taking various forms and even had the photograph of US deputy chief of mission Terry Steers-Gonzalez attached to a bogus screenshot of a purported New York Times article, which was intended to mislead observers into believing that the US ambassador himself had confirmed visa-free travel to the US for Guyanese.
Another image was altered to appear as if Guyana’s minister of foreign affairs, Carl Greenidge, had confirmed this as true in a screenshot article that was supposedly published by the UK Guardian.
However, an editor from the British publication told the Guyana Guardian that the circulated image was fraudulent and was intended to mislead the public, since the UK Guardian has no record of an interview with Greenidge or had ever published such an article.
A reliable source at the US Department of State also indicated that there was never any order to remove the visa requirements for Guyanese desirous of entering the United States. He stressed that any such order would first have to be considered by the US Senate Committee on Foreign Relations, the Department of State, and a number of other stakeholders before such an amendment could be made to the US visa policy for Guyanese citizens.
And since no such policy change was ever discussed, he is sure that any statements to the contrary would have been fraudulent.
While most people in Guyana were guided by their ability to debunk that story via simple research, dozens of others (especially older folks) seemed to have been duped into believing that, as a Guyanese national, they will no longer require a visa to visit the United States.
A leading local travel agency was also able to confirm that at least half a dozen persons had made ticketing arrangements with them, only to discover later that the ticket holders had no US visa and were instead relying on the bogus no-visa travel story.
Many have since suggested that the US embassy in Georgetown should have issued a notice or a warning since thousands of Guyanese in mostly far-flung areas are still adamant that they can actually now travel to the United States without a visa.
Republished with permission of the Guyana Guardian