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

6512. Eyes only Ambassador Bruce. Following is text of letter to President from Macmillan dated May 30:

Dear Friend: When we met in Washington last month we did not find time for any full discussion of the problems of Colonial policy. I am [Page 570] however conscious that Colonial problems can be so presented as to weaken the Western position generally, both at the United Nations and with neutral opinion elsewhere. In the course of our discussion you referred briefly to this, and said you were thinking of taking steps to secure closer coordination on this question between the various agencies of your Government, both in Washington and in New York. You also said that you would be glad to have fuller information on some of our own Colonial problems. I agree that there is room here for closer consultation between our two Governments; and, if you should decide to establish a single focus of coordination for this in Washington, we should be very glad to feed into it fuller information on our own Colonial problems and our views on the Colonial problems of our Allies. On these questions it seems best that Anglo-American consultation should be centered in Washington; and, if you would care to tell our Ambassador what arrangements you have in mind for this purpose, I will see that he is kept fully supplied with the necessary information and views from this end.

Meanwhile, there is the rather separate question of British Guiana on which, at your suggestion, representatives of the State Department had some talk with the official advisers who accompanied me to Washington. The suggestions then made on behalf of the State Department were partly general and partly particular. Their general request was that we should keep you more fully informed of the probable course of political and constitutional developments in British Guiana. [3 lines of source text not declassified]

Since my return to London I have considered these requests in consultation with the Ministers concerned. We all recognise that developments in British Guiana—and, for that matter, in British Honduras—are of special concern to the United States Government. When these territories become independent, as they must before very long, they may well be of more direct concern to you than to us. We hope that you will continue to interest yourself in their future: indeed, in the case of British Guiana, we have been pressing you to contribute towards the cost of economic development. In these circumstances we fully agree that, in these last stages of their advance to independence, you should have full opportunity of expressing your views on the shaping of their future.

We are therefore ready to make special arrangements for consultation with you on the affairs of British Guiana and British Honduras. In this case, as we shall be going into greater detail, I think it would be better that the consultations should be held in London. I envisage a series of informal meetings which, though held at the Foreign Office, would include representatives of the Colonial Office, and also, when necessary, the [less than 1 line of source text not declassified] other Departments concerned. If you agree that this would be helpful, perhaps you will arrange for your Ambassador here to nominate the representatives who would [Page 571] regularly attend these meetings. I know you will feel, as I do, that we ought to keep these meetings secret.

[1 paragraph (16-1/2 lines of source text) not declassified]

Finally, you may like to have an indication of our latest thinking on the course of constitutional development in British Guiana. Previously, we had been thinking in terms of an Independence Conference in May, to be followed by independence within a few months. We have now decided to postpone the Conference until July, and we intend to try to persuade the leaders of the political Parties to agree that elections should be held before the territory becomes independent. This will give us a little more time and also, perhaps, a further opportunity to establish whether, under a democratic system, there is any alternative to Dr. Jagan’s Government. If, however, it becomes clear, by a further expression of electoral opinion, that Dr. Jagan’s Party is the choice of the people, I hope we shall be able to persuade you that the best line for both our Governments to follow is to do our best to keep that Government on the side of the West by cooperating fully with it and giving it the economic support which it requires.”

  1. Source: Kennedy Library, National Security Files, Countries Series, British Guiana II. Top Secret; Verbatim Text. Drafted and approved by Burdett.