370. Editorial Note

During the Johnson administration, the U.S. Government continued the Kennedy administrationʼs policy of working with the British Government to offer encouragement and support to the pro-West leaders and political organizations of British Guiana as that limited self-governing colony moved toward total independence. The Special Group/303 Committee approved approximately $2.08 million for covert action programs between 1962 and 1968 in that country.

U.S. policy included covert opposition to Cheddi Jagan, the then pro-Marxist leader of British Guianaʼs East Indian population. A portion of the funds authorized by the Special Group/303 Committee for covert action programs was used between November 1962 and June 1963 to improve the election prospects of the opposition political parties to the government of Jaganʼs Peopleʼs Progressive Party. The U.S. Government successfully urged the British to impose a system of proportional representation in British Guiana (which favored the anti-Jagan forces) and to delay independence until the anti-Jagan forces could be strengthened. Through the Central Intelligence Agency, the United States provided Forbes Burnhamʼs and Peter DʼAguiarʼs political parties, which were in opposition to Jagan, with both money and campaign expertise as they prepared to contest the December 1964 parliamentary elections. The U.S. Governmentʼs covert funding and technical expertise were designed to play a decisive role in the registration of voters likely to vote against Jagan. Burnhamʼs and DʼAguiarʼs supporters were registered in large numbers, helping to elect an anti-Jagan coalition.

Special Group/303 Committee-approved funds again were used between July 1963 and April 1964 in connection with the 1964 general strike in British Guiana. When Jaganʼs and Burnhamʼs supporters clashed in labor strife in the sugar plantations that year, the United States joined with the British Government in urging Burnham not to retaliate with violence, but rather to commit to a mediated end to the conflict. At the same time, the United States provided training to certain of the anti-Jagan forces to enable them to defend themselves if attacked and to boost their morale.

Following the general strike, 303 Committee-approved funds were used to support the election of a coalition of Burnhamʼs Peopleʼs National Congress and DʼAguiarʼs United Force. After Burnham was elected Premier in December 1964, the U.S. Government, again through the CIA, continued to provide substantial funds to both Burnham and DʼAguiar and their parties. In 1967 and 1968, 303 Committee-approved [Page 852] funds were used to help the Burnham and DʼAguiar coalition contest and win the December 1968 general elections. When the U.S. Government learned that Burnham was going to use fraudulent absentee ballots to continue in power in the 1968 elections, it advised him against such a course of action, but did not try to stop him.