By: Melissa D. Goolsarran Ramnauth, Esq.
El Dorado is a myth about gold treasure and the name of a rum produced in Guyana. The gold and rum are a blessing and a curse.
El Dorado as a tale about gold: There are several versions about the mythical El Dorado. Some versions involve a king cloaked in gold. Other versions describe a golden city. There are many theories regarding the location of the gold in South America. A prominent version is based on an account that placed a city of gold in Guyana. The famous British explorer, Sir Walter Raleigh, led four excursions to the treacherous Guyana jungles in hopes of finding this city of gold.
Raleigh came across a written account of a captured Spaniard while Raleigh was in Trinidad. The Spaniard claimed that he was taken by a Guyanese Amerindian tribe deep into the jungle. The tribe led him to what seemed like a bustling site in the middle of an uncharted frontier. It was as if the tribe created a city made entirely of gold. The Spaniard escaped but the only reference point that he could relay was that there was supposedly a large lake nearby. (A few believe that the seasonal flooding of Rupununi Savannah might have been misidentified as this “lake”). Raleigh never found El Dorado and he lost many years, and even his son, in his quest to find it.
El Dorado as a rum: El Dorado is a rum produced by Demerara Distillers Ltd., headquartered in Georgetown, Guyana. The rum’s unique formula is a result of the mixing of the wood, spirit, and tropical climate. It is one of the most successful businesses in Guyana. Prior to the recent oil discoveries and corresponding investments, it might have been considered the most recognized business in Guyana.
The international success of El Dorado also parallels the unfortunate rate of alcohol dependency in Guyana, stemming from colonization. Indian indentured servants and enslaved Africans in Guyana were forced into hard labour cultivating sugar, cocoa, and rice. The perils of being forced to work in inhumane conditions, oceans away from the India and Africa they once knew, were likely contributing factors that led to alcoholism. Accounts even claim that the British overseers knowingly offered alcohol to the workers to create a dependency on the colonial system.
In conclusion: The gold and the rum are prized possessions of Guyana. Taking a strong interest in either comes with a risk that can lead to dangerous consequences. Raleigh’s obsession to find the golden city cost him his son. Similarly, some Guyanese nowadays face an uphill battle to escape reliance on alcohol- a foe ever present and embedded in our culture since the 1800s.
The new government is encouraged to protect the El Dorado brand from being taken advantage of by foreign investors looking to profit off of the recent oil finds. Most importantly, the new government should offer resources to help some Guyanese escape dependency on alcohol and minimize vestiges of colonialism that should have been eliminated centuries ago. Moderation of both in order to preserve the longevity of the treasured Guyanese people.
MDGR Law, P.A.
The Law Office of Melissa D. Goolsarran Ramnauth
Trademark and Business Law
PO Box 101794
Fort Lauderdale, FL 33310-1794