376. Research Memorandum From the Deputy Director of Intelligence and Research (Denney) to Acting Secretary of State Ball1



  • Outlook for More Violence in British Guiana
[Page 859]


In an effort to prevent the holding of a UK-imposed proportional representation election, expected to be held late this year, the Jagan regime has been resorting to intimidation and violence. What began some 12 weeks ago as a strike by the pro-Jagan sugar workersʼ union has developed into a campaign of beatings, bombings, and arson in which 19 persons have been killed and more than a million dollarsʼ worth of property and sugar cane have been burned. This violence has exacerbated the racial tensions between the majority East Indians and the minority Negroes to such an extent that some officials fear that the situation may get out of hand.

Contributing to this concern has been the agitation of activists in the Jagan regime, who have attacked not only members of the competing sugar workersʼ union but also the opposition parties, which are composed mainly of Negroes and other non-Indians. Local police have uncovered arms buried by members of Jaganʼs youth organization. [3 lines of source text not declassified]

As the proportional representation election which threatens to oust him from office draws nearer-registration began on May 8–Jaganʼs despair is deepening. In the hope that the election may be postponed, he has invited Prime Minister Williams of Trinidad to try to mediate the differences between him and the leaders of the opposition parties. It seems unlikely, however, that the opposition parties, hopeful of victory in a proportional representation election, will agree to Williamsʼ proposals. As the Jagan regime grows more desperate, its extremist elements may well be tempted to undertake more ambitious acts of terrorism. Such acts could provoke the threatened Negro minority into large-scale retaliation.

[Omitted here is the remainder of the memorandum.]

  1. Source: Johnson Library, National Security File, Country File, British Guiana, Vol. 1, Memos, 12/63–7/64. Secret; No Foreign Dissem; Limited Distribution; Controlled Dissem.