389. Memorandum for the Record1


  • British Guiana—Meeting on September 11, 1964


  • Messrs. William Tyler; Harold Shullaw; Delmar Carlson; William Cobb; [name not declassified]; McGeorge Bundy; Gordon Chase

The meeting was called so that Consul General Carlson could brief the group about the current situation in BG.


Election Prospects—Mr. Carlson said that the election prospects are good. The Justice Party seems to be doing surprisingly well and everyone, including Jagan, seems to think that the anti-PPP forces will win. At the same time, the PPP is likely to get a plurality.

The group agreed that something would have to be done if the PPP did win. The general feeling was that, despite his conciliatory noises, Jagan is the same unrehabilitated bad egg he has always been; he has not really been “educated” by the US/Cuban experience.

Security Situation—Mr. Carlson said that the security situation is fairly good these days. He added that this is the thing to watch before and after the elections. If the security situation gets very bad before elections, the Governor will be inclined to push for a PPP/PNC coalition. Assuming Burnham wins the election, a deteriorating and uncontrollable security situation could conceivably push Burnham and the Governor towards accepting the formation of a PPP/PNC coalition.
Burnham—Mr. Carlson made these points relating to Burnham: First, while Burnham is now getting on very well with the leaders of other opposition parties, we should not expect this to last forever. The anti-PPP forces are bound to have plenty of problems with one another in the future. Second, Mr. Carlson noted that Burnham and the British do not get along. The Governor does not like Burnham, who twists the lionʼs tail whenever he can. We can expect to see a growing British/Burnham problem. Third, Mr. Carlson said that while he is trying to build a relationship with Burnham, it is tough to do so. Burnham, a racist and probably anti-white, remembers slights and repays them; at the same time, he takes advantage of people who treat him softly. A recent frank exchange between Carlson and Burnham, however, proved at least partly satisfactory. Burnham said that if he gets into power he will not recognize the USSR and that he will have nothing to do with Cuba so long as he can find other people to buy British Guianaʼs rice.

Other—Mr. Carlson reported that Burnham had said that it would be helpful if, during his campaign, he could promise the voters something concrete (e.g. the East-West road and the airport terminal). The group agreed that we should go along with Burnham on this.

The group discussed briefly the future of Atkinson Field. Mr. Tyler agreed to call DODʼs JOHN McNaughton to get a reading on how important the facility is to us.2

  1. Source: Johnson Library, National Security File, Intelligence File, British Guiana, Special File. Secret; Eyes Only. Prepared by Chase on September 14.
  2. In a May 12, 1965, memorandum to Howard Meyers, Director of Operations for the Office of Politico-Military Affairs (G/PM), Shullaw reported that the Government of British Guiana wanted to resolve the status of Atkinson Field, and asked again for a reading from the Department of Defense regarding its retention. Shullaw stated that Carlson had reported that if the United States was prepared to agree to release the field unconditionally, the Government of British Guiana in return would probably be willing to agree to unrestricted authorization for the United States to use the field whenever it wished. (Department of State, INR/IL Historical Files, [file name not declassified] 1965)