256. Memorandum From the Deputy Under Secretary of State for Political Affairs (Johnson) to the President’s Special Assistant (Schlesinger)1


  • British Guiana

I have spoken to Bill Burdett about your memorandum of September 7, 19612 commenting on our telegram to David Bruce for his talks with the British on British Guiana. Burdett is leaving for London on Sunday to assist the Ambassador in these discussions, and I have asked him to keep your points very much in mind and to make sure David Bruce is under no misapprehension regarding the President’s thinking.

As guidance to David Bruce, we sent to him three documents: the action program for British Guiana as transmitted to the President under the Secretary’s memorandum of August 30, 1961;3 a telegram containing a letter of instructions for the talks from the Secretary;4 and the telegram to which you refer intended to supplement the Secretary’s letter.5 We intended the three documents to be parts of one package. While read in isolation the telegram you mention could be misconstrued, I hope you will agree that read in conjunction with the other two documents it will not mislead David Bruce.

Regarding your specific points, the Secretary’s letter to David Bruce, particularly his third paragraph, states explicitly what we are trying to achieve. Before submitting our recommendations to the President, we considered carefully the possibility that Jagan, having in mind what happened in 1953 when he acted too openly, is now deliberately masking his real intentions. We do not think it is prudent to dismiss the possibility that he is dissembling. Given the British inclination to brush aside reports of Jagan’s communist connections, we thought it advisable to flag this aspect for David Bruce. Our point 2 is, as you suggest, in large part tactical. We want to tread warily both to avoid making Jagan personally more difficult to work with and to prevent adverse repercussions in the Federation of the West Indies.

I can assure you that Burdett will emphasize to David Bruce that basic to our entire program is the determination to make a college try to tie Jagan to the West.


[Page 533]

P.S. As of possible interest, I am enclosing two papers on the situation in French Guiana and Surinam which I asked to have prepared. I would appreciate their return.6

  1. Source: Kennedy Library, Papers of Arthur M. Schlesinger, Jr., British Guiana—Jagan. Secret.
  2. Document 255.
  3. For a summary of this paper, see Documents 249 and 250.
  4. Document 253.
  5. Document 254.
  6. Not printed.