243. Memorandum From the Executive Secretary of the Department of State (Battle) to the President’s Special Assistant for National Security Affairs (Bundy)1


  • British Guiana

The draft record of actions at the NSC meeting of May 5, 1961 contains the following:

[Page 518]

“5. U.S. Policy Toward British Guiana

Agreed that the Task Force on Cuba would consider what can be done in cooperation with the British to forestall a communist takeover in that country.”

The Department of State has been actively working with the British on this question for some weeks. In the discussion between Secretary Rusk and Lord Home at which the Acting Secretary was present on April 6, the following interchange occurred on British Guiana.

Mr. White reported that at the present time a joint appraisal of the situation in British Guiana is taking place in London. Later in the month Sir Ralph Grey, the Governor, and Mr. MacKintosh, of the Colonial Office, are passing through Washington. At that time we are to consider possible programs. Sir Frederick frankly conceded that the UK does not know what to do about the U.S. concerns about British Guiana. Lord Home thought they could give us a note on the problem. Mr. White commented we were familiar with the Colonial Office’s views and that the UK is committed to a date for British Guiana’s independence. Mr. Kohler observed a fixed independence date was all right assuming there will be a reasonable government at that date. Isn’t there some way we could encourage the moderates? Ambassador Caccia felt the Jagans provided the most responsible leadership in the country and they would be difficult to supplant. Mr. White stressed that we ought to work in the direction of getting the people in British Guiana interested in British Guiana’s joining the Federation. Lord Home agreed and said the UK would like to see British Guiana in the Federation and would be willing to consult with us to further them in this direction.”

Subsequent to that discussion arrangements were made for a high level meeting in London between Colonial Secretary MacLeod and Under Secretary Fraser on the British side and Ambassador Bruce aided by Ivan White and Jack Bell on the American side. This conference is to be held on May 26 and 27. In addition to discussing federation matters it is planned to examine the situation in British Guiana with a view to coming up with a jointly approved program. [5 lines of source text not declassified]

The Acting Secretary agrees with the Bureau of European Affairs’ request that the responsibility for the preparation of recommendations on British Guiana be transferred from the Task Force on Cuba to the committee on which you both serve.

Melvin L. Manfull2
  1. Source: Kennedy Library, National Security Files, Countries Series, British Guiana, May 19-Aug. 23, 1961. Secret. Two typed notes by Bromley Smith appear at the bottom of the source text: Mr Battle: I have not yet tied up this loose end. Before I do, has time altered your recommendation? 7/17 “and 8/1 Mr. Goodwin: Where is this subject now being discussed—in the Task Force?”
  2. Printed from a copy that indicates Manfull signed above Battle’s typed signature.