422. Telegram From the Ambassador to Guyana (Carlson) to the Department of State1
Following message for ARA/NC Cobb from Ambassador Carlson.
1. In course discussion with Prime Minister Burnham last night I raised subject coming elections and explained election mathematics at my disposal tended show that the PNC majority over the PPP and the U.F. would require at minimum 60,000 votes additional. Even Prime Minister Burnham does not consider that overseas vote can be blown up to that extent; even 50,000 figure used by him very hypothetically and 30,000 accepted as more realistic (Embassy finds in excess of 25,000 not believable). Earlier Prime Minister Burnham said that overseas vote figures could be manipulated pretty much as he wished and he tentatively had in mind say 25,000 for a new coalition government and 5,000 for the PPP. When pressed by these mathematics, Prime Minister Burnham said he “would not break his lance” over the PNC majority, meaning that if the U.S.G. made issue of it he would not pursue it. Clear however he intends to follow number of election tricks to add to the PNC totals and detract from the PPP votes. Accumulated total of these may well produce a surprisingly good showing for the PNC, though falling short of absolute majority. Adds that he well aware of need that these election tricks be done smoothly and without controversy.
2. Prime Minister Burnham appreciated point of view that motive behind his pining for majority lies in great part in difficulties doing business with Finance Minister Peter D'Aguiar. I suggested that solution this problem lay less in engineered majority than it did in arranging for D'Aguiar's honorable withdrawal from politics and government after the election is won and a new coalition government formed. [Page 936]Observed Burnham would have much less trouble with remaining U.F. officials. Burnham receptive to idea but saw no U.F. official on horizon who could take over. I suggested this would be an U.F. problem which could be arranged provided D'Aguiar withdrawal was affable and in constructive agreement with Prime Minister Burnham.
- Source: Department of State, INR/IL Historical Files, Carlson–Department Messages, Vol. 4, 1965–69. Secret. The date is handwritten on the bottom of page 1 of the telegram.↩