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

1165. Eyes only Ambassador Bruce. Following letter from Secretary contains instructions for talks with UK on British Guiana:

Dear David:

We have now completed a review of our policy towards British Guiana, and the enclosed action program, in its general outline, has been approved by the President. Specific steps under the program, of course, are subject to subsequent decisions.

As the first move in executing the program, I am asking you to undertake with the British Government the discussions mentioned in my letter of August 26 to Lord Home. I realize the delicate relationships [Page 529] involved but hope that you will find a way to bring Lord Home and the Foreign Office into these talks. As you know, we believe the ramifications of this problem extend far beyond British Guiana as a colony.

You will see from the program that we are prepared to accept as a working premise the British thesis that we should try to ‘educate’ Cheddi Jagan. We have carefully studied the various reports of Communist connections on the part of Jagan and his People’s Progressive Party and are fully aware of the pitfalls of proceeding along this path. However, it is our judgment that an across-the-board effort to ‘salvage’ Jagan is worth attempting. A factor in our conclusion is the unattractiveness of the available alternatives.

At the same time, it is only prudent to put out certain anchors to windward. Thus, our program also calls for [1 line of source text not declassified] discussion with the British of the feasibility of another election prior to independence, and reassurances from the British regarding their willingness to use their reserve powers” as a last resort. We envisage these various components as parts of an interrelated package. Officers from the Department, ICA, [less than 1 line of source text not declassified] assigned to assist you in the talks will be in a position to elaborate on our thinking.

Clearly, the closest Anglo-American cooperation is essential. We also hope to bring in the Canadians and possibly others.

We would like to see the following emerge from your talks with the British: (1) A brief, agreed intelligence assessment; (2) British acceptance of the general concept of our action program; (3) Agreement ad referendum on a coordinated aid program; (4) [1-1/2 lines of source text not declassified]. The covert program described in the enclosure is only a basis for planning and discussions at this time [less than 1 line of source text not declassified]. Specific actions under the program would be subject to further high-level U.S. Government consideration and approval. (5) Agreement on tactics.

I leave to your discretion the manner of presenting our ideas to the British, taking into account the importance of moving rapidly. If, during your discussions, you believe we could be of assistance to you from Washington, please let me know.

Cordially yours, Dean Rusk

Paper setting forth action program pouched Ambassador September 2.2

  1. Source: Kennedy Library, National Security Files, Countries Series, British Guiana, Aug. 24-Sept. 6, 1961. Top Secret; Priority; Verbatim Text. Drafted by Burdett and approved by Johnson (S/S).
  2. Not found.