5. Suspension of the constitution and imposition of direct rule would
help defeat Jagan.
6. Direct British control over internal security, strengthening the
police, and a broad interpretation of the powers reserved to the UK in
foreign affairs to prevent entry of personnel and funds from Cuba would
help overcome the atmosphere of intimidation Jagan is trying to create.
Sir Alec will probably (1)
confirm the Macmillan/Kennedy
understanding; (2) endorse the importance of assuring Jagan's defeat; (3) question the feasibility of a
resumption of direct UK rule unless the grounds can be publicly shown to
be fully justified.
In a letter of July 18, 1963, to President Kennedy from Prime Minister Macmillan4A copy is in the National Archives, RG 59,
Presidential Correspondence: Lot 66 D 204, UK/Macmillan. the
British advised us of their decision “… to impose a system of
proportional representation without a referendum and then to hold
elections under a new system”. This letter also informed us of a British
expectation to “renew direct rule for a period of six months to a year
while a new constitution is introduced and new elections held under it”.
The latter assertion was made on a British assumption that Jagan would resign when informed of the
new electoral system at a Constitutional Conference held October 22–31.
He did not do so, but has repeatedly stated that he does not feel bound
to accept the British decisions.
Jagan seems uncertain and a
little desperate but he is unlikely to resign voluntarily. No occasion
has yet arisen to show whether he will obstruct the carrying out of the
decisions but probably he will try to hang on, temporizing and avoiding
flagrantly illegal acts. His regime has been organizing a protest march
on Georgetown as well as secretly promoting a rash of arson in the
countryside. The regime is likely to try to foster an atmosphere of
intimidation and potential terror in an effort to attract international
attention and more particularly to discourage opponents of the
While the UK agrees as to the importance of getting rid of Jagan, it is reluctant to impose direct
rule unless Jagan's actions so
clearly call for such a course as to pose no presentational problems for
the UK. In addition, the UK tends to put somewhat less weight than we do
on the advantages of such a step. The UK believes that Jagan would pose as a martyr and could
be more dangerous in opposition than as Premier.
In view of the above circumstances, we think it desirable that the UK
increase security and interpret its reserved powers in the foreign
affairs field broadly in order to frustrate communist aid to the
1Source: Department of State,
INR/IL Historical Files,
British Guiana Chronological File 1964. Top Secret. Drafted by
Burdett on February 5 and
forwarded to McGeorge Bundy
under cover of a February 7 memorandum in which Burnett assumed
Bundy would “wish to talk
to the President personally” about it.
2Documentation on the Kennedy administration's policies
toward British Guiana is in Foreign
Relations, 1961–1963, volume XII.
3Printed from a copy that bears this typed
4A copy is in the National Archives, RG 59,
Presidential Correspondence: Lot 66 D 204, UK/Macmillan.