271. Memorandum From Acting Secretary of State Ball to President Kennedy1


  • British Guiana

The British Ambassador is bringing Hugh Fraser, Parliamentary Under Secretary at the Colonial Office, to call on you at 5:00 P.M., March 16, to discuss British Guiana.

The press quotes Mr. Fraser as stating in Georgetown: (1) racialism is a greater danger than political differences; (2) all political parties must accept the inevitability of independence; (3) Britain was not aware of any Communist threat to British Guiana.

In his talk with the Secretary in Geneva about British Guiana, Lord Home seemed ready to accept a continuation of British responsibility for a period.” The Secretary reported that he did not believe covert action with or without British participation was indicated for the present. He added it was clear [1-1/2 lines of source text not declassified]. The Secretary’s report on this conversation is enclosed (Tab A).2 There may be differences between the Foreign Office and the Colonial Office about British Guiana.

In seeking Mr. Fraser’s assessment you may wish to inquire about: (1) the extent of Communist association on the part of Jagan and his colleagues; (2) alternative leaders to Jagan; (3) the probable outcome of any new election; (4) how long might independence be delayed; and, (5) what might be done prior to independence to alter the difficult situation we now face. Unless steps are taken Jagan and the PPP are likely to remain in power.

You may wish to say: (1) the Secretary’s talk with Lord Home was reassuring, particularly the indication the British are ready to accept a postponement of independence; (2) the British are well aware of our views on Jagan and his colleagues; (3) we should jointly examine in detail the possibilities open to us and the repercussions of alternative courses.

Staff papers are enclosed giving a chronology of events (Tab B) and comments on possible courses of action (Tab C).

George W. Ball
  1. Source: Kennedy Library, National Security Files, William H. Brubeck Series, British Guiana, Jan. 1961-April 1962. Secret; Eyes Only.
  2. None of the tabs is printed.