386. Memorandum for the Record1


  • British Guiana Meeting—July 27, 1964


  • William Tyler; Harold Shullaw; William Cobb; Richard Helms; [name not declassified]; McGeorge Bundy; Peter Jessup; Gordon Chase
The meeting was called to discuss the attached cable from Georgetown.2 The cable reported Consul General Carlsonʼs apprehension about telling Cheddi Jagan we are not ready to receive an envoy.
The group agreed that a visit to the U.S. by a Jagan emissary would be a bad thing. At worst, such a visit would be interpreted to mean that the U.S. supports Cheddi Jagan; at best it would be interpreted as a sign that we can live with him. The visit would hurt the opposition parties in BG and would not help us domestically.
The group then discussed whether it would be advisable to send a lower-level official down to BG to talk to Cheddi Jagan as well as to the two opposition leaders. The advantages of this would be that we would appear reasonable (“willing to listen”), and that it might allow us to stall for time and reduce the rate of violence in the months between now and the BG elections. The main disadvantage is that any talks with Jagan will probably be misinterpreted by the uncommitted voters in BG—which number about 10%; such talks might indicate to these voters that “perhaps the U.S. does not think Cheddi is so bad.”
The group agreed that Jaganʼs request to send an envoy to the U.S. should be turned down and that we should not offer to send someone down to BG. However, we should use more gentle wording than the flat assertion now under consideration—i.e. “This proposal has been informally discussed with the Americans and they see no useful purpose for it. Therefore, it would be better if the proposal were dropped.” Instead, a more flexible position should be adopted which offers a quid pro quo—i.e. when the violence stops, we will reconsider the proposal. The group decided that a cable should be drafted in this sense and sent to London,3 with an information copy to Georgetown (copy attached).4
  1. Source: Johnson Library, National Security File, Intelligence File, British Guiana, Special File. Secret; Eyes Only. Prepared by Chase on July 29.
  2. Telegram Georgetown IN 35522, July 24, from Carlson to Shullaw; attached but not printed. (Ibid.)
  3. An attached undated telegram to London requested the Embassy to ask the Colonial Office to modify its instructions to the Governor to the following: “This proposal has been informally discussed with the Americans who see no useful purpose in it at this time. The Americans are obviously influenced in this point of view by continuing pattern of violence in British Guiana and widespread belief in British Guiana, as elsewhere, that PPP as governing party bears heavy responsibility this state of affairs. Their subsequent attitude toward question of emissary naturally would be influenced by course of events in British Guiana.” (Ibid.)
  4. According to an August 1 telegram from Carlson to Shullaw, the Governor delivered the message to Jagan on July 30, but omitted the part suggesting that the PPP was responsible for the violence. Jagan made no objection, observing that “it means then that if things stay quiet emissary will be received” to which the Governor responded that he could not speculate beyond the wording of the message. (Department of State,INR/IL Historical Files, British Guiana 1964 [file name not declassified])