385. 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

The following message for you was received from William R. Tyler, Assistant Secretary of State for European Affairs, [less than 1 line of source text not declassified] on 17 July 1964: [Page 873]

  • “1. The US/UK talks on British Guiana on 16 July2 chaired by Sir Hilton Poynton, Permanent Undersecretary of the Colonial Office, produced basic agreement on an assessment of the security situation, electoral prospects, and the need to proceed on course with elections in late November or early December. There was agreement on both sides that, although results might be close, registration figures indicated that Premier Cheddi Jagan, at best, could get no more than 48 per cent and probably would not get more than 46 per cent of the vote. This calculation did not presume that an alternative East Indian party would have any strength, and both sides agreed every effort should be made to keep them from falling by the wayside.
  • “2. The British maintained that the principal threat to elections comes from the deteriorating security situation. They suggested that even with one division peace and order could not be guaranteed. The situation in Georgetown is particularly critical in that violence there could force the postponement of elections. The British urged that Forbes Burnham, leader of the Peopleʼs National Congress (PNC), be counselled to exercise all possible restraint on his supporters in Georgetown. They noted that the London papers played up the killing of Indian children, omitting African deaths and arson.
  • “3. The British said the Governor had suggested he be authorized to try to obtain a PNC/Peopleʼs Progressive Party coalition as a means of reducing tension in the pre-electoral period. They acknowledged that assurances of success were limited, but thought that failure might be attributed to Jagan and serve to discredit him. We explained the bases of our opposition and found that the British did not take issue with them.
  • “4. On the assumption a non-Jagan government could be formed, we said we would be prepared to extend the same financial assistance we agreed last October. The British suggested the formation of a US/UK/Canada joint development commission to work out a long term plan. We made it clear that US aid was predicated on Jaganʼs not being included in the post election government.
  • “5. When the British inquired what policy might be should Jagan win, we reiterated that such a situation would be politically intolerable in the United States.
  • “6. On the question of the envoy to the United States the British said they could not oppose if Jagan came in a private capacity and expressed hope he would be received. We said we had made no plans to receive him or any other emissary and hoped the situation would not arise.
  • “7. The question of possible steps to assist in the security problem were discussed at length and the British agreed to explore with the Governor, who will be recalled for consultation soon:
    • “a. the possibility of establishing under the emergency regulations communal peace committees, seeking to obtain the public support of Jagan and Burnham for same.
    • “b. announcing the date of elections at this time as an indication of their firmness of intention to proceed.
    • “c. the formation of a national government in which all three parties would participate.
  • “8. Both sides agreed that little leverage existed to force Jagan to cooperate in the elections since he had everything to lose and nothing to gain.
  • “9. An agreed minute is being prepared.”

  1. Source: Johnson Library, National Security File, Intelligence File, British Guiana, Special File. Secret; Eyes Only. A marginal note in Bundyʼs handwriting indicates the memorandum was sent to Gordon Chase for information.
  2. In a July 11 memorandum to Ball, Tyler reported that he and Shullaw intended “to discuss tactics” with the British and that “our objective continues to be the holding of elections later this year under a system of proportional representation which hopefully will result in the formation of a new Government replacing the Jagan regime.” Tyler added that the threat to this objective “arises from the deteriorating security situation and from Jaganʼs efforts to exploit a situation for which he and his followers are primarily responsible, so as to secure a postponement of the elections.” (Ibid., Country File, British Guiana, Vol. I, Memos, 12/63–7/64)