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403. Memorandum of Conversation1


  • Aid Program for British Guiana


  • Michael N. F. Stewart, Minister, British Embassy
  • Iain J. M. Sutherland, First Secretary, British Embassy
  • William R. Tyler, Assistant Secretary, EUR
  • J. Harold Shullaw, Director, BNA

In the absence of Lord Harlech, Mr. Stewart was asked to come in to see the Secretary today on the subject of British Guiana. Mr. Tyler explained that the Secretary had been obliged to go to the White House and had instructed him to convey his views to Mr. Stewart.

We believe that Burnham has not done badly since taking office and that he has adopted a moderate and constructive line in his public statements regarding racial conciliation. We are under no illusions about Burnhamʼs weaknesses and shortcomings. He is not ideal, but nevertheless he is the only alternative at present to Jagan and the PPP.

We have told Burnham that we would move ahead rapidly on an aid program immediately after the British Guiana elections. We are ready to do so and wish to send an AID official, Mr. Yoe, to Georgetown to work out details. Any delay, we are convinced, would have extremely adverse consequences. Such delay would destroy Burnhamʼs confidence in us and make his relations with Governor Luyt difficult.

We are asking, therefore, with great urgency that the Prime Minister and Foreign Secretary authorize our going ahead with the implementation of our aid program.2 We have had a formal request from Burnham dated December 29 which he states has been submitted with the agreement of the Governor.3 We have instructed our Embassy in London to give copies of the letter of request to the Colonial Office and the Ministry of Overseas Development. To get the program under way at the earliest date, we are proposing that Mr. Yoe and an engineer proceed to Georgetown on or about January 10.

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In response to Mr. Stewartʼs question, Mr. Shullaw said that we had outlined our proposed aid program during our talks with British officials in London on December 17 and 18. We had also at that time said that we would like to send Mr. Yoe to Georgetown at the beginning of January.

Mr. Stewart said that he would report immediately to London on this conversation and our request for clearance for Mr. Yoeʼs visit.4

  1. Source: National Archives and Records Administration, RG 59, Central Files 1964–66, AID (US) BR GU. Secret. Drafted by Shullaw. The meeting was held at the Department of State.
  2. At a January 8 meeting Stewart told Tyler that “HMG warmly welcomes the U.S. (aid) proposal.” (Memorandum of conversation, January 8; ibid., POL 2 BR GU)
  3. Not found.
  4. In a January 23 letter to Crockett, Harry W. Yoe (AID) reported that he had arrived in British Guiana on January 15 and met with Burnham and Finance Minister DʼAguiar, and was impressed that they and other figures in the government and the civil service had a “sincere desire to utilize the assistance given in the most efficient manner,” but that work on the roads and sea wall was hampered by a shortage of machinery and trucks. Yoe suggested that equipment could be obtained quickly from “ready stocks of the Navy.” (Johnson Library, National Security File, Country File, British Guiana, Vol. III, Memos, 12/64–11/65)