523. Action Memorandum From the Assistant Secretary of State for European and Canadian Affairs (Tyler) to Secretary of State Rusk1


  • Venezuela’s Interest in British Guiana

A reliable controlled American source reports that Venezuela’s Foreign Minister Ignacio Irribaren Borges wishes to talk with you privately during the Latin American Foreign Ministers Conference about British Guiana. He is expected to tell you that Venezuela is prepared to support the overthrow of Cheddi Jagan, and to seek our support for this venture.

Our Ambassador in Caracas has learned from the Minister of the Interior that Venezuela is ready to provide financial support for Forbes Burnham when the time is ripe for Jagan’s overthrow.

A report from Georgetown advises that a person with good contacts in Venezuela is urging Burnham and D’Aguiar to form a “Revolutionary Government”; attempt a coup with the assistance of 100 trained men who will have had 30 days special training in Venezuela, and at the same time Cheddi and Janet Jagan will be kidnapped and taken to Venezuela.

You may wish to urge restraint on the Venezuelans, pointing out that plans are underway to seek a political resolution in BG through the democratic process of a Proportional Representation election. We hope that nothing will happen to impede this plan and we cannot support the Venezuelans even though we share their hope that someone other than Jagan will reach the top in British Guiana.2

  1. Source: National Archives and Records Administration, RG 59, Central Files 1964–66, POL 3 IA. Secret. Drafted by William B. Cobb, Jr. (EUR/BNA), on July 8. A copy was sent to Ball. A notation on the memorandum indicates Rusk saw it.
  2. According to the Secretary’s Appointment Book Rusk met Iribarren on July 16 and 20. (Johnson Library) Memoranda of conversation, confined to discussion of the OAS resolution on Cuba, are in the National Archives and Records Administration, RG 59, Central Files 1964–66, POL 3 IA. No evidence has been found to indicate whether Iribarren raised the Venezuelan proposal to intervene in British Guiana.