381. Memorandum From the Deputy Director for Plans of the Central Intelligence Agency (Helms) to the Presidentʼs Special Assistant for National Security Affairs (Bundy)1


  • British Guiana
On 3 June 1964 Linden Forbes Burnham, leader of the Peopleʼs National Congress (PNC), proposed in the Legislative Assembly that a three-party coalition government be formed to run British Guiana until elections are held under proportional representation (PR) later this year. Burnhamʼs reasoning for suggesting a coalition now with the Peopleʼs Progressive Party (PPP) and the United Force (UF) was that it would lessen tensions and allow for more vigorous police action to control the situation. He further believed that acceptance of an interim coalition would mean that Premier Cheddi Jagan had acknowledged PR as the voting system. Burnham, however, indicated that he would go no further with this idea unless it was accepted by Peter DʼAguiar, leader of the UF.
DʼAguiar refused to join the coalition. Meanwhile, Jagan was preparing a counter proposal for a coalition of the PPP and PNC, excluding the UF. Jaganʼs proposal was contained in a letter sent to Burnham on 6 June. His coalition would last for from two to four years before new elections are held; these elections would be held under a combination of PR and the old voting system of first-past-the-post. Jagan proposed that the ministries be equally divided between the two parties, with Jagan as Prime Minister and Burnham as Deputy Prime Minister. Jagan suggested that the coalition continue after independence when the Ministries of Home Affairs and Defense would be divided between the two parties. Between now and independence Jagan asked that a United Nations presence be introduced in British Guiana and that the UF and Commonwealth nations be asked to aid in the creation of security and defense forces.

In reporting the above, Consul General Carlson [less than 1 line of source text not declassified] in Georgetown said that [less than 1 line of source text not declassified] Jagan found this to be the expedient moment to propose such a coalition government: G.W.Y. Hucks, British electoral commissioner, had announced publicly on 4 June that voter registration had been very high in the Corentyne, a Jagan stronghold, and low in Georgetown, where Burnham is strongest. [less than 1 line of source [Page 867] text not declassified] Jagan may have been encouraged over his chances in the coming election or simply believes that now is psychologically an opportune time to press ostensibly reasonable terms of a coalition government on Burnham, hoping that he will panic into settling for half now rather than risk losing it all later on.

[3 paragraphs (14½ lines of source text) not declassified]

A copy of this memorandum is being sent to Mr. J. Harold Shullaw of the Department of State.
  1. Source: Johnson Library, National Security File, Intelligence File, British Guiana, Special File. Secret; Eyes Only.