129. National Security Council Report1

NSC 6002/1



1. Free World orientation of The West Indies including (a) cooperation with the United States in world affairs, (b) economic development conducive to the maintenance of political stability, pro-Western orientation and free democratic institutions, (c) cooperation with the Free World defense efforts, and (d) preservation of freedom from Communist influence.

2. Orderly progress toward independence and subsequent maintenance of a stable and democratic government.

3. U.S. access to such military rights and facilities as may be required by U.S. national security interests.

Policy Guidance


4. Both before and after independence, to the extent feasible rely on the United Kingdom to influence and support The West Indies in recognition of acknowledged U.K. responsibilities, and at the same [Page 434] time recognize that geographic propinquity and U.S. interests in the federation will result in close relations with the United States and in an increasing identity of federation interests with the United States.


5. Without weakening its ties with the Commonwealth, encourage The West Indies to establish a constructive relationship with other nations of the Western Hemisphere and with OAS and other hemispheric organizations.

6. Continue to support the Caribbean Commission and its successor, the Caribbean Organization, and to encourage participation of The West Indies in it.

7. To the extent feasible encourage efforts of The West Indies to establish a strong central government.

8. Be prepared as appropriate to encourage British Guiana to join the federation.

9. Promote, through information and educational exchange programs and other appropriate means, (a) understanding of and friendship with the United States and (b) appreciation by The West Indies of the role it can play in over-all Western Hemispheric defense by permitting U.S. retention of its military facilities in the area.


10. As The West Indies achieves independence, encourage it (a) to make the maximum contribution to its own economic development, (b) to eliminate barriers to trade and investment, particularly those which discriminate against the United States, (c) to take measures capable of attracting maximum amounts of external private capital, (d) to look essentially to the British Commonwealth, to the Free World international financial institutions, and to private investment to meet its needs for external capital, and (e) to avoid unrealistic expectations of U.S. assistance both before and after independence.

11. Urge the United Kingdom to continue, both before and after independence, to assume the basic responsibility of assuring that the needs of The West Indies for external capital are met.

12. While relying on the United Kingdom, Canada and other Commonwealth countries, Free World international financial institutions and private sources to meet the requirements of The West Indies for external capital, provide technical assistance and modest economic assistance on a grant or loan basis as may be required to demonstrate U.S. interest in The West Indies which, together with the entire Latin American area, is of vital significance to the United States and also to support over-all U.S. efforts to maintain continued U.S. access to required military facilities.

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13. Encourage U.S. private foundations to undertake activities in The West Indies particularly in the field of education.

14. Encourage the strengthening of democratic trade unionism, and an appreciation on the part of the West Indian trade union movement of U.S. foreign policy and defense objectives. Encourage American firms having interests in the federation to support free trade unionism as a bulwark against extremist movements (e.g., Communist and ultra-nationalist).


15. Encourage acceptance by The West Indies of the concept that, when independent, its contribution to the defense of the hemisphere and of the Commonwealth will consist of (a) ensuring its own internal security and (b) continuing to make available those base rights and facilities in The West Indies which are essential to the fulfillment of the U.S. primary responsibility for hemispheric military operations. Toward this end, make an early effort to associate The West Indies with agreements between the United States and the United Kingdom concerning base rights and facilities in The West Indies, if possible, before The West Indies obtains independence.

16. Utilize appropriate U.S. programs to assist in maintaining a climate within The West Indies which will be conducive to the retention of U.S. base rights and facilities. Urge the United Kingdom and Canada to use their influence in the maintenance of such a climate.

17. With a view to placing maximum U.S. effort on the retention, after The West Indies become independent, of required areas and on obtaining the right to acquire new areas which may be required, be prepared to negotiate for the extension of present rights to these important areas and facilities, offering to release outright certain other leased areas which are clearly no longer required.

18. Should it become necessary for the United States to make financial or other arrangements for the maintenance of required U.S. base rights and facilities in the area, be prepared to offer additional assistance or other appropriate quid pro quo, commensurate with the value of these rights and facilities to the United States.2

19. Make clear to the United Kingdom and to The West Indies that we expect the United Kingdom to provide such external military assistance as may be required for the federation’s internal security forces. However, if this approach fails and if required to achieve U.S. objectives [Page 436] in The West Indies, consider, after consultation with the United Kingdom, providing U.S. assistance to meet the federation’s minimum legitimate internal security requirements.



General Considerations

1. The West Indies, a new federation, officially came into existence on January 3, 1958. It consists of ten island territories: Jamaica, Trinidad and Tobago, Barbados, Antigua, Dominica, Grenada, Montserrat, St. Christopher-Nevis and Anguilla, St. Lucia, and St. Vincent. (The Bahamas, the British Virgin Islands, British Honduras and British Guiana are not in the federation.) These islands in the Caribbean Sea extend in an arc of about 1500 miles from Jamaica in the northwest to Trinidad in the southeast. Their total land area is about 8000 square miles and the total population about 3,000,000. Approximately 80% of the land area and 75% of the population are on the three largest territories—Jamaica, Barbados, and Trinidad and Tobago.

2. About 88% of the population is of African or mixed origin with a large East Indian minority on Trinidad. Population density is already very high and a rapid population increase is continuing. The islands are generally under-developed and technical skills are lacking. There is substantial unemployment and under employment. Living standards on the small islands, which have approximately one-fourth of the population of The West Indies, are very low, although the average per capita income for The West Indies as a whole is higher than that of the great majority of the less-developed nations and exceeds the average for all Latin America. Although illiteracy is common, it is not as widespread as in many other less-developed nations and there is a substantial educated leadership.


3. Although no specific date was set when the federation was established in 1958, it was widely believed that it would receive independence (dominion status within the Commonwealth) within five years (by 1963). Independence may come, however, by the end of 1960 or early 1961. The present constitution of the federation gives the central government only weak powers over the governments of the unit territories. There is conflict among the territories about steps to be taken to strengthen the authority of the central government and to strengthen the cohesion of the units. During the period prior to independence, [Page 437] the United Kingdom government will continue to have authority in the fields of foreign affairs, defense, and financial stability. In the exercise of this authority, however, it is already clearly evident that the United Kingdom takes fully into account the wishes of the federal and unit governments and is not disposed to act without their concurrence.

4. The structure of the governments, both unit and federal, is modeled after the British cabinet system. The Crown is represented on the federal level by a Governor-General and on the unit level by Governors in the three large territories and Administrators in the other units.

5. The Federal Labor Party (FLP) has a narrow margin in the federal parliament and has formed the first government of The West Indies. It and the opposition, the Democratic Labor Party (DLP), are amalgamations of allied parties within the unit territories. The FLP is mildly socialist in orientation, rather like the British Labor Party, and is inclined to be more pro-federation than the DLP. On neither of these issues, however, or on other major issues facing the federation, are the two parties far apart. Although the political parties in the federation are moving away from groupings formed around personalities rather than around issues, the personalities of the leaders continue to play a large part in party structure.

6. There has so far been no significant political or economic infiltration of the federation by international Communism. There are a few indigenous Communists but their influence is negligible. Practically all trade unions, with the exception of the Bustamante Industrial Trade Union, Jamaica, and a few minor unions, are members of the ICFTU. There is no Communist union of any significance. However, as is true in any less-developed country, there are conditions in the federation which could be exploited by the Communists should the Soviet Union undertake a concerted drive in the federation or should economic conditions seriously deteriorate.


7. The West Indies possesses modest resources, including petroleum in Trinidad and, in Jamaica, the Free World’s largest reserves of bauxite, but agriculture continues to provide the principal sources of livelihood for the people. A rapidly growing tourist industry provides a significant foreign exchange income and promises to be of increasing importance to the federation’s economy in the future.3

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8. Economically, The West Indies is closely tied to the United Kingdom for historical reasons and also because the United Kingdom buys certain West Indian agricultural products at higher than world market prices and gives West Indian imports preferential tariff treatment. British investors have invested heavily in the islands. In 1958 about 39% of The West Indies’ trade was with the United Kingdom. In recent years, the United States has become the second trading partner, and in 1958 accounted for about 18% of The West Indies’ trade. Canada was third with about 9%. With the recent relaxation upon dollar imports there is little doubt but that the U.S. and Canadian share of trade with the area will increase. U.S. investors have supplied $300–500 million in private capital, particularly for petroleum, bauxite and tourist development. Canadian investors have provided about one-half the capital for the exploitation of Jamaican bauxite.

9. Since World War II, the United Kingdom has provided direct financial assistance to The West Indies at a higher rate, on a per capita basis, than to almost any other British dependent territory. Because of its interest in keeping the federation within the Commonwealth and basically oriented toward the United Kingdom, it is probable that the United Kingdom will seek to ensure that the federation is able to maintain economic stability even after it becomes fully independent. The British have already committed themselves to make a block grant through the federation government for budgetary support of some of the smaller territories during the first ten years after establishment of the federation and invited the federation to continue to turn to the United Kingdom for help in planning and financing its economic development. Nevertheless, it is likely that the United Kingdom would encourage the assumption by the United States of a part of the burden of public assistance to the federation but would seek to retain, so far as practicable, the present orientation of The West Indies toward the United Kingdom and the Commonwealth. The West Indies, anxious to speed economic development, may be expected to press for U.S. aid even though the Commonwealth continues to provide substantial assistance.

10. Very few other countries are currently receiving as much external public and private capital, on a per capita basis, as The West Indies. In 1959, the amounts received appear to be roughly equivalent to 13% of the GNP. In 1959 the U.K. Government provided a total of $17 million in grants and loans to The West Indies for budget support and economic development. The sum of $25 million has been allocated for development purposes (in addition to budgetary support) for the period 1960 to 1964. Canada has provided technical assistance and aid to $10 million for a five-year period, most of which will be spent on two ships. The U.S. Government has provided technical assistance to Jamaica at a rate of $200–300 thousand per year since 1955 and in [Page 439] FY 1959 provided technical assistance totalling $200 thousand to the federation and special assistance totalling $400 thousand. It is estimated the private capital is flowing into the area, primarily to Jamaica and Trinidad, at a rate of roughly $100 million per year.


11. The colonial status of The West Indies has naturally influenced the development of its limited military forces. These forces, under British supervision, have served internal security purposes and have provided a means for showing the flag. In the entire Caribbean area, U.K. forces total about 900 troops. This includes a central headquarters at Kingston, Jamaica, and the 1st Battalion, Worcestershire Regiment (about 660 men), which is garrisoned not only in The West Indies (Jamaica), but also in British Guiana, British Honduras and at Nassau in the Bahamas. In addition, The West Indian Regiment (Battalion), which is composed of native troops (515 men), is stationed at Kingston, Jamaica. Plans are now being made concerning the future of these units when The West Indies achieves independence. However, nothing firm is known concerning the details of these plans.

12. At present the United States has arrangements with the United Kingdom which allow for U.S. use of more than two dozen different locations for the conduct of specified military activities. It is extremely doubtful that, in international law, U.S. rights to these facilities will continue upon the achievement of independence by the federation without the specific consent of the federation. Accordingly, the United States plans to negotiate with the British and The West Indies in the pre-independence period concerning the continuation of these rights. The status of these U.S. installations is as follows. The United States presently has four military facilities in the federation which are leased for 99 years under the “Destroyer-Bases” agreement. These are the Chaquamaras Naval Station on Trinidad (including a prototype BMEWS station), an active missile-tracking station on Antigua, an inactive missile-tracking station on St. Lucia, and a specialized military installation on Antigua. Under shorter-term agreements, the United States has one specialized military installation on Barbados and another on Grand Turk Island. We have had informal talks with the British about replacing this latter station with a site on Jamaica. The United States also has 16 de-activated base areas of varying size which it is prepared to relinquish immediately. In addition, there are three de-activated Air Force bases (Waller and Carlson in Trinidad and Vernam in Jamaica) as well as a few smaller installations, the relinquishment of which, in whole or part, is currently under review in the light of existing or potential military requirements.

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Importance of The West Indies to the United States

13. The formation of this new nation, which at its nearest point will be only about 500 miles from southern Florida, will be of significance to the United States for several reasons:

It will be the first new nation to come into existence in the Latin American area since Panama became independent in 1903. (Although its land area is small, the federation has a population larger than that of most of the present independent nations in Central America and the Caribbean.)
Because of their Afro-Asian background, the people of the federation will be likely to have a greater affinity for the Afro-Asian nations than the peoples of other Western Hemisphere nations. Hence the federation may be tempted to give support to Afro-Asian interests.
With the relatively strong democratic political tradition which it developed under British leadership, the federation could become an example of stable democracy in an area which sorely needs such an example.
The strategic location of the islands has caused the United States to establish on them certain military installations which contribute to the air and sea defenses of the Western Hemisphere. Some of the U.S. peacetime facilities on the islands are important as tracking stations for essential missile development work, while others are important to military training activities. In the event of war, certain of these installations will be important to the defense of the Panama Canal, the southern approaches to the United States, and the shipping routes between Latin and North America. Additionally, these facilities are important to the initial and continuing defenses of the continental United States.
U.S. economic interests in the federation are sizeable. For example, in 1959, estimated U.S. imports included about 4.5 million tons of bauxite from Jamaica and 15 million barrels of oil from Trinidad.

Obstacles to the Attainment of U.S. Objectives

14. Fragmentation of governmental authority is an obstacle to coherent political development of the federation. At present, the British exercise political authority in some fields, the unit territory governments in others, and the federal government in still others. There is probably general agreement within the federation that as it moves closer to independence, the federal government must be given increased authority, but there is by no means agreement as to the manner or time in which such authority will be given, or as to the degree of centralization acceptable.

15. Separatism within the federation is an obstacle to political and economic stability and growth. Jamaica, the largest unit, is currently opposed to surrendering to the central government those powers which the federation needs to function effectively. A major problem, for example, concerns the bases of political representation in and sources of revenue for the central government. Free movement of [Page 441] persons and of goods (customs union) among the islands of the federation would seem to be essential to its development, but conflicts among the units are making this difficult of achievement. There exists on Jamaica a large body of opinion in favor of Jamaican withdrawal from the federation. Such withdrawal is unlikely, but should it occur it would greatly weaken the federation.

16. Population Pressure. Most of the islands comprising the federation are overpopulated. Barbados, to take the extreme example, has one of the highest population densities in the world—about 1400 persons per square mile. On the other hand, two British dependencies outside the federation, British Guiana and British Honduras, have large land areas and small populations. If those two territories joined the federation they could furnish something of a “frontier” which would be of considerable psychological importance to the new nation and might have some economic importance. Jamaicans, particularly, would tend to support federation with more enthusiasm if these “escape valves” for surplus population existed. Neither British Guiana nor British Honduras appears at present disposed to join the federation, however. It is not likely that British Honduras will ever join. British Guiana may join if it can see a clear advantage in doing so. Such an advantage will probably not become apparent, however, until some time after the federation acquires independence.

17. Rising nationalism in the area, although it may contribute to a sense of national pride in the federation and ultimately to cohesion of the units, tends at present to be a divisive factor because it is oriented to the individual units. This orientation is gradually changing. Nationalism, however, also brings with it some hazard of political unrest for, if political leaders promise substantially more than they can achieve through democratic processes, a climate favorable to totalitarian solutions may develop. Development of a militant West Indies nationalism with concomitant rejection of foreign influence and intrusions on the national territory would make the retention of U.S. bases and other interests in the federation increasingly difficult.

18. Anti-white sentiment exists in the federation now and it can be expected to continue to be a problem. Such sentiment could be directed externally toward countries with predominantly white populations (including the United States). Moreover, the West Indians are aware that racial discrimination exists in the United States and some individuals have suffered indignities during visits here. The resulting antagonism creates difficulties for us in retaining the friendship of the new country and in retaining our installations there.

19. Our immigration legislation which provides non-quota status for immigrants from the present independent countries of the Western Hemisphere, but establishes restricted subquotas for The West Indies, occasions considerable resentment in the area. It should be noted that [Page 442] any action taken by the United States with respect to immigration from The West Indies will have a pronounced effect on all aspects of U.S. relations with The West Indies. (At present each of the ten units of the federation has a subquota of 100, giving the federation as a whole an effective quota of 1,000. As the law now stands, when the federation becomes a new nation, it will be allocated the minimum quota of 100. The Executive Branch is supporting legislation before the Congress which will (a) raise the subquotas to 200 and (b) permit new nations to retain the quotas to which they were entitled prior to independence. If both provisions are enacted into law, the quota of the federation after independence would thus be 2,000.)

20. Opposition to U.S. Bases. There does not appear to be substantial opposition to a U.S. military presence in the area. There exists among some officials of the federation and among the people of Trinidad, however, a strong desire that the United States withdraw from the naval base at Chaquaramas in order to make it available as a capitol site. Our refusal to release this base has created a political problem and has directed attention to the over-all base question. There has also been some dissatisfaction concerning the U.S. failure to release unused areas. On the other hand, there is no reason to believe that there is any particular desire to have active bases other than Chaquaramas relinquished. There is a desire for revision of the present U.S.–U.K. Leased Bases Agreement and for release of inactive areas.

21. Inadequate Understanding of U.S. Defense Interests. There is an absence of real awareness on the part of the population as a whole of any mutuality of interest between their government and that of the United States in U.S. military facilities in The West Indies or of the economic benefits which accrue to the federation from these military facilities.

22. Poverty. Despite higher living standards than in most less-developed nations, poverty in some parts of the federation, particularly the Leeward and Windward Islands, constitutes a continuing hazard for the development of democratic institutions. Unless political leaders in the area can find some means of alleviating poverty, support for extremist solutions to local problems could rapidly develop. There is a conspicuous inability among West Indians, even those who are well-educated, to comprehend why the United States, with its presumably limitless resources and extensive international aid program, cannot provide greater assistance to the new neighboring unit.

23. Dependence upon Agriculture. Agriculture constitutes the main source of livelihood for the people of the federation, and the federation faces the familiar economic hazards of most nations which are producers of a few raw materials. [Page 443] 24. Absence of Ties with Other Countries in the Western Hemisphere. Heretofore the primary orientation of the federation has been toward the United Kingdom, and to a lesser degree toward Canada and the United States. Otherwise there has been little contact with other nations in the Western Hemisphere or with hemispheric organizations. The federation will participate in the activities of the Caribbean Commission,4 soon to be known as the Caribbean Organization, but this is a local organization of other dependencies and involves little contact with independent nations of the hemisphere. Conversely, Latin American nations have evinced little interest in the federation. This makes difficult the development in the federation of an interest in hemispheric cooperation and defense.

25. Opportunistic leadership presently exists in The West Indies, particularly on Trinidad, and thrives on its efforts to make maximum political capital from the grievances against the United States which are indicated earlier in this section.

[Here follows a Financial Appendix comprising two parts: Part A entitled “Cost Implications of Existing Policies” and Part B entitled “Cost Implications of Proposed Policies.”]

  1. Source: Department of State, S/PNSC Files: Lot 62 D 1, NSC 6002 Series. Secret. A cover sheet and transmittal memorandum are not printed. In the memorandum, March 21, Lay informed recipients that the President had that day approved NSC 6002/ 1 and designated the Operations Coordinating Board as the coordinating agency for its implementation.
  2. The Department of Defense has been directed to undertake in consultation with the Department of State an over-all study of the feasibility and desirability of utilizing direct rental payments as quid por quo for the maintenance of military rights and facilities in various foreign countries. [Footnote in the source text.]
  3. U.S. tourists are estimated to have spent $36 million in The West Indies in 1958. [Footnote in the source text.]
  4. The Caribbean Commission, made up of representatives of the four governments with dependencies in the Caribbean (the United States, the United Kingdom, France, and the Netherlands) was a post-war outgrowth of the Anglo-American Caribbean Commission which operated during World War II. Its activities have included technical assistance, exchange of information among the dependencies, and the maintenance of a library. Its headquarters were in Port of Spain. Following the desires of the people in the area, the Caribbean Organization is being established to supplant the Commission. It will be made up of representatives of the dependencies themselves rather than of the metropolitan powers. It will carry on essentially the same work as the predecessor organization, but the headquarters will be moved to Puerto Rico. [Footnote in the source text.]