414. Telegram From the Consulate General in British Guiana to the Department of State1
Ref: Message dated 15 September 1965.2 Following message for Shullaw (info Brubeck) from Carlson:
Had long and useful discussion with Burnham evening September 15 lasting until well after midnight, after which he still planned to do some work at his office. He is not looking as well as he should, probably due to overwork and possibly because of recent crash dieting program which took off about 30 pounds. At moment he also has what seems to be painful sacro-iliac condition.
Opportunity arose early in conversation to seek determine how he views central problem of assuring re-election in 1968. It is clear that he prefers to hope that significant fraction Indians can be won over to his party or to one he can work with. If, however, it appears that such development not occurring he then strongly favors program for importation West Indian Negroes and while conceding there would be practical problems, believes they could be overcome. If such program not possible, I gather he would be willing consider such ideas as unitary statehood with Barbados or, conceivably, disenfranchisement of illiterates. [Page 916]He finds such thoughts very distasteful but believe he would do so if convinced there is no other way to survive politically against PPP.
This topic enabled me to raise matter of anxiety in some quarters, such as UF, regarding his ultimate intentions and to talk to him along following lines. Impression is that there is increasing anxiety within UF that Burnham might establish police state. This is undoubtedly having effect on D'Aguiar but apparently that is only one aspect of what is bothering him. Indications are that he is becoming dissatisfied again and while situation has not reached stage of crisis comparable to weekend when coalition was in danger of collapse, time to do something about this reviving potential danger is now. It is essential to seek to improve relations with D'Aguiar and to try to go to London in general accord.
In addition to concern over Burnham's intentions, D'Aguiar apparently feels that he is not being consulted sufficiently, is too often overridden in cabinet on fiscal matters, that expenditures higher than should be and sometimes include unnecessary items, as well as projecting increased expenses next year. His concern is understandable. It is natural for there to be anxiety about intentions in period of great uncertainty when country is emerging as independent. Such apprehension should be recognized and steps taken to cope with it. One must remember that UF regards itself not as junior partner but as key. On fiscal side, D'Aguiar's services are needed. It is not easy task to look after the purse when needs are legion and ministers are in hurry to achieve success, but somebody must do it. He is probably more inflexible than necessary on occasion,3 but perhaps Burnham is too much the other way. In any event, substantive points should be talked out and cultivating D'Aguiar, in my opinion, would have great effect in facilitation agreement on substantive matters. D'Aguiar is man who needs to be appreciated. Complimenting him is effective. I realize this course of action may be disagreeable but politicians—and diplomats—sometimes have disagreeable tasks. Burnham can do this job. I suggested that he might wish consider some of the following approaches: consult D'Aguiar much more frequently; reassure him at appropriate stage soon about intentions; be frank and genuine on this subject; perhaps have him to dinner or other private meeting weekly until London [Page 917]conference; seek his opinion and advice on various subjects, even if your mind is already made up; compliment him privately and perhaps publicly in press conference just before leaving for London, in course reviewing accomplishments your administration; consider asking him to visit United States and talk to business groups (I told Burnham that if this useful I will be prepared give D'Aguiar invitation at USG expense); refrain, at least for present, from raising items involving expenditures which D'Aguiar most likely regard as unnecessary.
Burnham agreed with my analysis and prescription and indicated intention begin this operation soonest.
Plan to see D'Aguiar if possible today.
- Source: Department of State, INR/IL Historical Files, Telegrams and Reports, 1965. Secret; Priority.↩
- Not found.↩
- In a September 16 telegram for Shullaw, sent earlier in the day, Carlson reported that D'Aguiar had told him that morning that he was generally concerned by Burnham's tentative 1966 expenditure plans, and that “there would be a balanced budget for 1966 ‘or else’.” (Ibid., Carlson—Department Messages, Vol. 4, 7/7/65–2/14/69)↩