364a. Editorial Note.

The administration of President Richard M. Nixon continued the Johnson administration’s policy of covert opposition to Cheddi Jagan, the Marxist leader of British Guyana’s People’s Progressive Party (PPP). The U.S. Government had attempted, through covert means, to prevent Jagan from coming to power since 1962 by providing covert assistance to Jagan’s political opponent, the People’s National Congress (PNC, headed by Forbes Burnham) from 1964 to 1968. After Burnham’s election in 1968, U.S. covert assistance continued.

In June 1969, the 303 Committee approved a proposal that Burnham and the PNC be provided with $5,000 per month in covert funding for another two years. Funding was set to begin in July 1969. After one year, the program would be evaluated to determine if its existence was necessary. The covert support funded a small group of paid PNC organizers, essential sections of the PNC’s central office, and dissemination of party information. Ultimately, the U.S. Government hoped the PNC would use the covert support to become a well-organized political party, which could effectively compete in future national elections.

In June 1970, the 40 Committee (the successor to the 303 Committee) decided to extend covert assistance to Burnham’s political party at the same $5,000 per month level for another year. Previous covert support had helped the PNC build a well-funded, effective, smooth-running political machine. However, the 40 Committee concluded that despite U.S. funding, Burnham and the PNC had not made any significant inroads into the East Indian community, the vast majority of which supported the PPP. The Committee believed that continued secret funding for the PNC was necessary to accomplish this goal.

In June 1971, the 40 Committee concluded that the covert assistance had helped Burnham develop the PNC into an effective political entity. As scheduled, covert assistance was terminated.

In late 1972, the 40 Committee re-visited the idea of giving covert assistance to Burnham, but decided against it.