245. Telegram From the Department of State to the Embassy in the United Kingdom1

708. For Ambassador Bruce from Secretary. Due to extreme shortness of time I have today given Lord Hood a letter to Lord Home of which following is text:

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Dear Alex: There was one matter of deep concern to us which I find that I did not take up with you in Paris. This has to do with the forthcoming elections in British Guiana and the prospect that Jagan may have a working majority in the new government.

My colleague Ivan White went to London at the end of May to discuss this matter with your colleague Mr. McLeod and others. Although your and our information about Jagan seems to be much the same, as is to be expected from our close collaboration, I believe that our estimates may differ somewhat about the man himself and the implications of his future leadership in British Guiana. No doubt you would expect us to show considerable sensitivity about the prospect of Castroism in the Western Hemisphere and that we are not inclined to give people like Jagan the same benefit of the doubt which was given two or three years ago to Castro himself. However, we do believe that Jagan and his American wife are very far to the left indeed and that his accession to power in British Guiana would be a most troublesome setback in this Hemisphere.

Would you be willing to have this looked into urgently to see whether there is anything which you or we can do to forestall such an eventuality? Even if the electoral result was sufficiently confusing to lay the basis for another election, this could give us a little more time. But the difference in four or five seats in the new legislature might well be decisive.

Since this question is, as I understand it, largely one for the Colonial Office at this stage, I am taking the liberty of urging you to have a look because of the foreign policy ramifications of a Jagan victory. It would cause us acute embarrassments with inevitable irritations to AngloAmerican relations. I do not refer in this last point to official circles but to problems of public and Congressional opinion. Cordially yours, Dean Rusk.”

  1. Source: Kennedy Library, National Security Files, Countries Series, British Guiana, May 19-Aug. 23, 1961. Top Secret; Priority. Drafted by Rusk.