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412. Paper Prepared in the Department of State1


The United States Government has studied with interest the brief on British policy in British Guiana which was received July 23, 1965.

The United States welcomes the intention of the British Government to convene the constitutional conference in November which will, among other tasks, fix the date for independence.

The United States shares with the British Government the view that Jagan and his party would attend the Burnham and Mr. DʼAguiar represented their Jaganʼs behavior since the election in December gives rise to the question whether he [Page 912]appreciates the responsibilities of the role incumbent upon him as leader of the opposition. His failure to resign the office of Premier, his failure to meet jointly with the Colonial Secretary and present Premier to discuss racial imbalances, his announced intention to refuse to cooperate with the Commission of Inquiry of the International Commission of Jurists, and his erratic pattern of attendance at sessions of the House of Assembly may indicate that no matter what steps are taken he will find some pretext to refuse to attend the Conference. We therefore suggest that consideration should now be given to the possibility that other persons in the Indian community in B.G. may have to be invited in order to assure that this important section of the community be represented at the conference.2

The United States also shares the British view of the importance of allaying Indian fears for the future, and hopes that the report of the ICJ Commission will contribute toward this objective. We have noted that the British Government is anxious that Dr. Jaganʼs party cooperate with the Commission in order that the report not be open to criticism that evidence was tendered from one side only. Should Dr. Jaganʼs party fail to avail itself of the opportunity offered by the ICJ Commission it would seem to bear out the view that the leaders of the party are not genuinely interested in alleviating alleged imbalances and discrimination but have used this charge as a smoke screen for their political objectives.

The United States Government believes that the racial fears in B.G. will be difficult to assuage, based as they are on deep racial cleaveages. These are not easily susceptible to rapid transformation and several generations may be required to effect more than marginal progress toward this objective. While efforts of government make a contribution toward this task, it should not be assumed that any government, no matter how well intentioned, will be able to eradicate long standing suspicions. Only years of education, association and understanding can break down the wall of segregation on which racial fears rest. Nevertheless there is a major role for the security forces in B.G. to play in the task of seeking stable conditions. The presence of British troops in British Guiana during the past year provides ample evidence for this conclusion. If British troops can remain after independence until adequate local forces are recruited and trained and equipped to meet the security requirements of the area, this would contribute substantially to allaying Indian fears.

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Since the maintenance of internal security and stability will be no small task, the nature, composition and objectives of the B.G. security forces will not, we hope, have to take into account the possibility of a foreign threat. The United States hopes that problems arising from the Venezuelan boundary claim can be resolved amicably between two such good friends as Her Majestyʼs Government and the Government of Venezuela. It would be unfortunate if a continuation of this claim were to be used as the pretext for establishing an Army in B.G. or for recruiting security forces in excess of the Governmentʼs domestic requirements and of a nature not suitable to the countriesʼ needs, thereby imposing a possibly excessive burden on the developing economy.

The United States welcomes this opportunity to exchange views on B.G. and looks forward to receiving additional briefing on British policy in the Colony.

  1. Source: National Archives and Records Administration, RG 59, Central Files 1964–66, POL 1 UK–US. Secret. Drafted by Cobb on July 30. Transmitted as enclosure 2 of airgram CA–1173 to Georgetown, August 2, in which the Department reported receipt of a brief on British policy in British Guiana on July 23 from the British Embassy in Washington in preparation for the first of a series of “periodic discussions on policy toward British Guiana as it approaches independence.” The British brief was enclosure 1 to the airgram. The first meeting was held on July 30 between representatives of the British Embassy in Washington and Department of State officers led by Deputy Assistant Secretary Richard H. Davis, during which this paper was given to the British.
  2. In a brief on British policy in British Guiana, September 3, the British doubted whether they could invite other persons to represent the Indian community if the PPP refused to attend, since these special invitees could hardly claim to be democratically elected representatives. (Ibid., POL 32–1 BR GU–VEN)