368. Telegram 557 From the Embassy in Guyana to the Department of State, May 28, 1970, 1615Z.1 2

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TELEGRAM
Department of State
GEORGETOWN 557

R 281615Z MAY 70

FM AMEMBASSY GEORGETOWN
TO SECSTATE WASHDC 4521

GEORGETOWN 557

SUBJECT: WHITHER GUYANA UNDER BURNHAM: IMPLICATIONS FOR US.

FOR ASST SEC MEYER

SUMMARY: RECENT DEVELOPMENTS AND TRENDS IN GUYANA POSE FUNDAMENTAL QUESTIONS FOR THE USG. IN CONSIDERING THEM, IT MUST BE REMEMBERED THAT GUYANA IS MORE LIKELY TO FOLLOW AFRICAN EXAMPLES THAN IT IS TO ACT LIKE A LATIN AMERICAN STATE, THAT THINGS IN GUYANA TODAY ARE OFTEN NOT WHAT THEY SEEM, THAT THE BASIC INTERESTS OF THE US IN GUYANA ARE ESSENTIALLY LIMITED TO DENYING IT TO INTERNATIONAL COMMUNISM, AND THAT GUYANA’S POLITICAL LIFE FOR TWO DECADES HAS BEEN DOMINATED BY TWO PERSONALITIES -- BURNHAM AND JAGAN -- AND WILL CONTINUE TO BE SO DOMINATED UNTIL ONE OR THE OTHER PASSES FROM THE SCENE. JAGAN’S SUBSERVIENCE TO MOSCOW HAS BEEN ESTABLISHED. THIS LEAVES BURNHAM. HE IS PROUD, COMPLEX, DIFFICULT, DETERMINED, IMPULSIVE, AND SENSITIVE. HE IS AN ACCOMPLISHED POLITICIAN, SENSITIVE TO SIGNIFICANT CURRENTS AND PRESSURES. HE IS A SOCIALIST, BUT A NON-COMMUNIST SOCIALIST. HE HAS ATTACKED FOREIGN AID AND AID DONORS, BUT KNOWS HE WILL CONTINUE TO NEED HELP. HE IS LEADING GUYANA INTO THE THIRD WORLD AND LAUNCHING AN ECONOMIC REVOLUTION IN SEARCH OF ECONOMIC INDEPENDENCE TO GO WITH POLITICAL INDEPENDENCE AND A RESTRUCTURING OF THE ECONOMY TO GAIN CONTROL OF THE COUNTRY’S RESOURCES SO THEY CAN BE EXPLOITED BY GUYANESE FOR GUYANESE. HIS CHOSEN INSTRUMENT IS THE COOPERATIVE, WITH GOVERNMENT CONTROL. TO HIM, HIS REVOLUTION IS THE ANSWER TO BLACK POWER, AND THE SACRIFICES IT DEMANDS ARE THE PRICE OF “AVOIDING ANOTHER TRINIDAD”. THERE IS A TREND TOWARD INCREASED AUTHORITARIANISM. THE USG WILL NOT LIKE MUCH OF WHAT BURNHAM WILL DO AND HOW HE WILL DO IT, BUT THERE IS NO FEASIBLE ALTERNATIVE TO BURNHAM. IT MUST CONTINUE TO HELP HIM. IN THE PROCESS IT [Page 2] HAS AN OPPORTUNITY TO SHOW WHETHER IT CAN SUPPORT CHANGE, WHICH IS INEVITABLE, AND IDENTIFY ITSELF WITH A GOVERNMENT THAT IS SEEKING ITS OWN SOLUTIONS IN THE INTERESTS OF THE MASSES OF THE PEOPLE. END SUMMARY.

1. THERE ARE FOUR THINGS TO BE KEPT IN MIND IN ASSESSING RECENT DEVELOPMENTS IN GUYANA:

A. DESPITE ITS LARGE INDIAN POPULATION GUYANA IS, UNDER THE PRESENT PNC GOVERNMENT, MORE AKIN TO THE BLACK COUNTRIES OF AFRICA SOUTH OF THE SAHARA THAN IT IS TO THE LATIN COUNTRIES OF THIS HEMISPHERE. INDEPENDENT FOR ONLY FOUR YEARS, GUYANA IS MORE LIKELY TO FOLLOW THE PATTERN OF DEVELOPMENT OF THE NEW STATES OF AFRICA THAN IT IS TO PARALLEL THAT OF THE LONG-ESTABLISHED INDEPENDENT COUNTRIES OF LATIN AMERICA.

B. THERE IS A CERTAIN ALICE-IN-WONDERLAND QUALITY TO LIFE IN GUYANA TODAY. THINGS ARE OFTEN NOT WHAT THEY SEEM TO BE. THUS THE MINISTER OF FINANCE, TWO DAYS AFTER HAVING PUBLICLY ATTACKED FOREIGN AID AS “TIED TO POLITICAL OR EXPECTED POLITICAL ALIGNMENT TO THE DONOR COUNTRIES” AND PARTICIPANT TRAINING AS POLITICALLY-MOTIVATED INDOCTRINATION TO MAKE THE RECIPIENTS “SYMPATHETIC TO THE WAY OF LIFE AND THINKING OF THE DONOR COUNTRIES”, FOUND NO INCONSISTENCY IN ASKING THE USAID DIRECTOR TO ARRANGE AN ORIENTATION TRIP FOR A SENIOR CIVIL SERVANT SO HE COULD “SEE THOSE THINGS IN THE US YOU THINK HE SHOULD SEE.” WHILE FOREIGN ASSISTANCE AND INFLUENCE WERE BEING DENOUNCED AT ALL LEVELS OF THE GOVERNMENT, THE MINISTER OF AGRICULTURE AS HE SIGNED DOCUMENTS FOR A GRANT OF MORE THAN $300,000 FROM THE US COULD SMILE AND SAY “DON’T BELIEVE EVERYTHING YOU HEAR.” DESPITE THE PRIME MINISTER’S “REJECTION” OF A $4.3 MILLION IBRD/IDA LOAN FOR MULTILATERAL SCHOOLS IN HIS SPEECH OF APRIL 5, THE PROJECT HAS QUIETLY MOVED AHEAD AND INVITATIONS TO BID HAVE BEEN PUBLISHED ABROAD AS WELL AS AT HOME. (THIS “REJECTION” WAS OMITTED FROM THE EDITED VERSION OF THE SPEECH SUBSEQUENTLY PUBLISHED.) THE PRIME MINISTER’S OFFICE TWO WEEKS AGO REQUESTED TRAINING FOR GUYANA DEFENSE FORCE OFFICERS AT A US ARMY INTELLIGENCE SCHOOL, AND THE PRIME MINISTER LAST WEEK RENEWED HIS LONG-STANDING REQUEST THAT THE USG PROVIDE HIM AN ECONOMIC ADVISER AND ASKED THE AMBASSADOR TO SUPPORT A $6 MILLION LOAN FOR HIGHWAY CONSTRUCTION AROUND GEORGETOWN. MANY OTHER EXAMPLES COULD BE CITED.

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C. AS STATED IN THE CASP FOR GUYANA APPROVED IN MARCH, 1970, THE FUNDAMENTAL US INTEREST HERE IS “TO DENY CONTROL OF THE COUNTRY TO COMMUNISTS OR OTHER GROUPS WHICH ARE SYSTEMATICALLY HOSTILE TO THE US AND OTHER FRIENDLY GOVERNMENTS IN THE HEMISPHERE.” ASIDE FROM PEACEFUL SETTLEMENT OF GUYANA’S DISPUTES WITH ITS NEIGHBORS, THE US HAS FEW OTHER BASIC INTERESTS OR OBJECTIVES IN GUYANA. US COMMERCIAL INTERESTS AND INVESTMENTS ARE RELATIVELY SMALL AND GUYANA’S INTERNATIONAL POWER AND INFLUENCE ARE NEGLIGIBLE.

D. GUYANA’S POLITICAL LIFE HAS BEEN DOMINATED FOR TWO DECADES BY TWO TOWERING PERSONALITIES -- BURNHAM AND JAGAN -- AND WILL CONTINUE TO BE SO DOMINATED UNTIL ONE OR THE OTHER PASSES FROM THE SCENE. US POLICY DECISIONS THEREFORE MUST BE BASED LARGELY ON ITS ASSESSMENT OF THE TWO MEN AND OF HOW EACH WOULD AFFECT BASIC US INTERESTS.

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CORRECTED COPY (TEXT)

2. THERE IS NO NEED HERE TO DISCUSS JAGAN AT ANY LENGTH. HIS SUBSERVIENCE TO MOSCOW HAS BEEN ESTABLISHED. HE REPEATEDLY CALLS FOR ECONOMIC AND POLITICAL TIES WITH THE SOVIET BLOC AND CUBA, AN END TO WESTERN DOMINATION OF THE COUNTRY AND IMMEDIATE NATIONALIZATION OF THE MEANS OF PRODUCTION. JAGAN IN POWER WOULD POSE A REAL AND IMMEDIATE THREAT TO THE BASIC US INTEREST IN GUYANA AS OUTLINED ABOVE.

3. WE ARE LEFT WITH BURNHAM. HE HAS CONSOLIDATED HIS CONTROL OVER THE GOVERNMENT AND ITS SECURITY FORCES AND RULES UNCHALLENGED AS THE LEADER OF THE GOVERNING PARTY, THE PNC, WHICH HE HAS GREATLY STRENGTHENED. HE IS CHARTING GUYANA’S FUTURE COURSE AND FEW DARE ADVISE HIM OR DISAGREE. WHAT MAKES BURNHAM TICK AND WHERE HE IS HEADING ARE THUS THE KEYS TO GUYANA’S FUTURE.

A. BURNHAM THE MAN: BURNHAM IS A COMPLEX AND DIFFICULT PERSONALITY. HE IS INTENSELY PROUD AND DOES NOT LIKE ASKING FOR ANYTHING, ESPECIALLY AID FROM WHITE PEOPLE. HE IS SHARPLY CONSCIOUS OF HIS COLOR AND OF THE INFERIOR POSITION OF BLACK PEOPLE AND BLACK NATIONS AROUND THE WORLD. HE IS ALSO IMBUED WITH IDEAS OF INTERNATIONAL SOCIAL JUSTICE AND BELIEVES THAT THE RICH NATIONS HAVE A MORAL RESPONSIBILITY, WHICH THEY ARE SHIRKING, TO HELP THE POOR NATIONS JUST AS THOSE WHO HAVE SUCCEEDED, WHICH BY HIS DEFINITION IS “AT THE EXPENSE OF THE PEOPLE”, HAVE A MORAL OBLIGATION TO MAKE SACRIFICES IN THE COMMON GOOD. THE RICH NATIONS AND THE WHITE MAN ALSO BEAR MORAL RESPONSIBILITY FOR THE INJUSTICES AND EVILS OF THE PAST, ESPECIALLY SLAVERY AND [Page 5] COLONIALISM. THUS, WHATEVER THEY DO IN LESS DEVELOPED COUNTRIES IN THEIR OWN SELF-INTEREST IS EVIL. BURNHAM IS AN AVOWED SOCIALIST WITH A SOCIALIST’S ATTITUDE TOWARD CAPITALISM AND PRIVATE INVESTMENT. SINCE THESE ARE PREDOMINANTLY WHITE, HE PROBABLY ALSO CONSIDERS THEM EVIL, ESPECIALLY AS THEY CONTROL THE ECONOMIC LIFE OF HIS OWN COUNTRY. BURNHAM IS INTENSELY AMBITIOUS AND RESTLESS, AND HE IS FRUSTRATED. GUYANA IS PROBABLY TOO SMALL FOR HIS AMBITIONS, AND HIS PEOPLE, INCLUDING HIS CABINET, ARE TOO SLOW FOR HIS RESTLESS ENERGY. WE HAVE SEEN EVIDENCE OF HIS EFFORTS TO ASSUME LEADERSHIP IN THE CARIBBEAN. HE IS NOT DOUBT ALSO CONCERNED WITH HIS IMAGE AMONG THE LEADERS OF THE THIRD WORLD, WHERE HE WOULD LIKE TO PLAY A ROLE. HE IS KNOWN TO ADMIRE SUCH MEN AS TITO, JULIUS NYRERE, AND KENNETH KAUNDA (AND NKRUMAH EXCEPT THAT HE FAILED.) LASTLY, BURNHAM IS EXCEEDINGLY SENSITIVE. HE DOES NOT TAKE ADVICE EASILY, EVEN FROM THOSE CLOSE TO HIM. ON SEVERAL OCCASIONS RECENTLY HE HAS OVERRIDDEN MEMBERS OF HIS CABINET, OR ACTED CONTRARY TO THEIR ADVICE. THEY TELL US “HE IS BEING MISLED” OR “HE IS GETTING WRONG INFORMATION”, BUT NONE DARES APPROACH HIM TO ARGUE. (AND WE’RE NOW SEEING SIGNS OF EMERGING RIVALRIES AND CONFLICTS WITHIN THE CABINET ITSELF). BURNHAM IS IMPULSIVE, AND WHEN HIS SENSITIVITIES ARE TOUCHED HE IS CAPABLE OF LASHING OUT IN DIRECTIONS CONTRARY TO WHAT HIS OWN BETTER JUDGMENT WOULD DICTATE. HIS WELL-ADVERTISED PRAGMATISM OF EARLIER YEARS, WHICH KEPT HIM ON A RELATIVELY STEADY COURSE, IS MUCH LESS IN EVIDENCE TODAY.

B. BURNHAM THE POLITICIAN: BURNHAM IS AN EXPERIENCED AND CONSUMMATE POLITICIAN, EXPERT IN THE WAYS OF MANIPULATING HIS PEOPLE, INDIVIDUALLY AND COLLECTIVELY, AND QUICK TO IDENTIFY AND RESPOND TO SIGNIFICANT CURRENTS AND PRESSURES. HE IS A PLUNGER WHO WILL TAKE GREAT RISKS IF HE SEES A LONG-TERM ADVANTAGE. HIS DETERMINATION TO “MAKE THE SMALL MAN A REAL MAN”AND TO“SEIZE CONTROL OF THE COMMANDING HEIGHTS OF THE ECONOMY” CAN THUS BE SEEN IN THE CONTEXT OF EFFORTS TO UNDERCUT THE APPEAL OF JAGAN’S CALLS FOR NATIONALIZATION OF THE MEANS OR PRODUCTION FOR THE BENEFIT OF THE WORKING CLASS IN ADDITION TO BE REFLECTIONS OF HIS OWN SOCIALIST PHILOSOPHIES. BURNHAM IS ALSO UNDOUBTEDLY NETTLED BY JAGAN’S CONSTANT CHARGES THAT HE IS A PUPPET OF US IMPERIALISM AND FEELS HE MUST PROVE HIS INDEPENDENCE TO HIS OWN PEOPLE. HIS DENOUNCEMENTS OF FOREIGN AID DONORS AND OF FOREIGN ASSISTANCE IN GENERAL, HIS DEMANDS FOR MEANINGFUL PARTICIPATION IN THE EXPLOITATION OF GUYANA’S RESOURCES AND HIS CALLS ON GUYANESE TO [Page 6] DEVELOP GUYANA FOR THEMSELVES CAN THUS BE VIEWED IN THIS POLITICAL FRAMEWORK. HIS SPEECH TO THE PARTY CONGRESS, IN PARTICULAR, WAS CLEARLY AIMED AT A DOMESTIC AUDIENCE IN AN EFFORT TO AROUSE HIS CABINET AND HIS PARTY TO GREATER EFFORTS. HE IS PERFECTLY AWARE THAT HE WILL NEED CONTINUED ECONOMIC ASSISTANCE FROM THE INTERNATIONAL LENDING AGENCIES AND INDIVIDUAL AID DONORS, BUT HE WANTS HIS DEVELOPMENT PROGRAM TO CARRY A “MADE IN GUYANA” STAMP AND NOT APPEAR TO DEPEND EXCESSIVELY ON ASSISTANCE FROM ABROAD. HE IS TRYING TO DESTROY THE “COLONIAL MENTALITY” WHICH CAUSES SO MANY GUYANESE TO HAVE FATALISTIC VIEW THAT IT MAKES LITTLE DIFFERENCE WHAT THEY DO THEMSELVES BECAUSE THE QUALITY OF THEIR LIVES WILL IN ANY EVENT BE DETERMINED BY THE IMPERIALIST POWERS. HENCE HIS STRESS ON SELF-HELP. PSYCHOLOGICALLY, THIS DICTATED THE CHANGE TO REPUBLIC STATUS.

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C. BURNHAM AND BLACK POWER: BLACK POWER FOR BURNHAM IN THE CARIBBEAN MEANS BLACK ECONOMIC POWER TO REPLACE THE WHITE EXPATRIATES AND THEIR LACKEYS WHO NOW CONTROL THE REGION’S ECONOMIC LIFE. HE BELIEVES WILLIAMS LOST TOUCH WITH THE REALITIES OF LIFE IN TRINIDAD AND TOBAGO AND THAT SHEARER IS DOOMED TO FAILURE IF HE CONTINUES RIGIDLY TO RESIST POPULAR PRESSURES FOR CHANGE. BURNHAM IS KEENLY CONSCIOUS OF THESE PRESSURES AND, IN PUSHING HIS REVOLUTION IN GUYANA, IS TRYING TO STAY OUT IN FRONT OF THEM. HE SAID THE OTHER DAY “EITHER WE HELP THE REVOLUTION OR THE REVOLUTION WILL CONSUME US” AND HE HAS REPEATED BEFORE THAT IN GUYANA “BLACK POWER AS AN OPPOSITION IS SELF-DEFEATING”. DESPITE HIS PAST PROTESTATIONS THAT HE IS THE LEADER OF A MULTI-RACIAL PARTY OUT TO CREATE A MULTI-RACIAL STATE, WHICH HE REITERATED YESTERDAY IN HIS INDEPENDENCE DAY SPEECH AS A PARTIAL ANSWER TO STOKELY CARMICHAEL’S RECENT VISIT, HE AT LEAST TOLERATES RACIAL DISCRIMINATION AND FAVORITISM WITHIN THE GOVERNMENT, PERHAPS AS A MEANS OF KEEPING THE BLACK POWER MILITANTS REASONABLY QUIET. THERE ARE MANY HERE WHO SEE IN EUSI KWAYANA BURNHAM’S PRINCIPLE RIVAL FOR POWER IN THE LONG RUN. PERHAPS HE SHARES THIS VIEW, ALTHOUGH HE HAS NOT SAID SO. CERTAINLY HE IS DOING ALL HE CAN TO AVOID A CONFRONTATION. HE PERMITTED STOKELY CARMICHAEL TO COME HERE, FEELING THE RISKS INHERENT IN HIS VISIT WOULD BE A LESSER DANGER THAN BRINGING ON A CONFRONTATION. IN A PRIVATE CONVERSATION YESTERDAY HE IMPLIED HE WAS RESISTING EFFORTS TO HAVE THE BLACK POWER CONFERENCE BARBADOS HAS BANNED HELD HERE. BUT HE IS SAYING “WE DON’T HAVE THE NECESSARY HOTELS AND OTHER FACILITIES” AND, IN THE END, PROBABLY WILL LET THEM COME RATHER THAN PRECIPITATE A CONFRONTATION BY BANNING THE MEETING.

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D. BURNHAM AND FOREIGN POLICY: WHILE MINISTER OF STATE RAMPHAL HAS A CERTAIN AMOUNT OF LEEWAY IN CONDUCTING GUYANA’S DAY-TO-DAY FOREIGN RELATIONS, BURNHAM HIMSELF HOLDS THE FOREIGN AFFAIRS PORTFOLIO. IN LINE WITH HIS DESIRES TO SHOW MORE INDEPENDENCE, IT CAN BE EXPECTED THAT GUYANA WILL INCREASINGLY ACT MORE LIKE THE NON-ALIGNED COUNTRY IT HAS CLAIMED TO BE. THIS OF COURSE WILL FIT NEATLY INTO BURNHAM’S AMBITION TO DEAL ON A MORE EQUAL FOOTING WITH NYRERE, KAUNDA, OBOTE, KENYATTA AND PERHAPS ABOVE ALL TITO, ALL OF WHOM HE EXPECTS TO VISIT IN THE NEXT NINE MONTHS. HE WILL, OF COURSE, PARTICIPATE IN THE NON-ALIGNED SUMMIT IN LUSAKA THIS FALL. WHILE HE IS NOT UNAWARE OF THE RISKS INVOLVED, BURNHAM IS ALSO A BIT INTRIGUED BY THE SUPPOSED BENEFITS THAT WOULD DERIVE FROM INCREASED TRADE AND CONTACTS WITH THE SOVIET BLOC. HE ENTERTAINED A CZECHOSLOVAK TRADE MISSION IN 1968 AND WAS DISAPPOINTED THAT NOTHING MATERIALIZED FROM IT. MORE RECENTLY, HE HAS PUT OUT FEELERS TO EAST GERMANY AND AN EAST GERMAN TRADE REPRESENTATIVE IS EXPECTED HERE IN THE NEXT FEW DAYS. UNDOUBTEDLY GUYANA WILL BE LESS PRONE IN THE FUTURE TO SUPPORT AUTOMATICALLY WESTERN INITIATIVES IN INTERNATIONAL FORUMS AND IT MAY WELL OPPOSE THE WEST ON SOME KEY ISSUES, INCLUDING CUBA GIVEN THE RIGHT CIRCUMSTANCES. YET BURNHAM IS SMART ENOUGH AND REALISTIC ENOUGH TO KNOW THE PERILS OF GOING TOO FAR AND WILL ATTEMPT TO STEER A THOROUGHLY UNCOMMITTED COURSE. HE WILL ALSO, OF COURSE, ATTEMPT TO LEAD THE COUNTRIES OF THE ENGLISH-SPEAKING CARIBBEAN ALONG A SIMILAR ROUTE.

E. BURNHAM AND ECONOMIC NATIONALISM: FOR THE LAST SIX MONTHS OR SO, THE EMBASSY HAS REPORTED GROWING SIGNS OF ECONOMIC NATIONALISM IN GUYANA, INCLUDING SHARPLY INCREASED TAXES, INTERVENTION IN BUSINESS DECISIONS, DEMANDS FOR GOVERNMENT PARTICIPATION IN ECONOMIC ACTIVITIES AND INCREASED CONTROLS TO ASSURE THE PEOPLE “A BIGGER PIECE OF THE CAKE.” THIS IS NOT A NEW DEPARTURE IN TERMS OF BURNHAM’S BASIC PHILOSOPHIES AND THOSE OF THE PARTY HE LEADS. IT CAN BE TRACED BACK TO THE ORIGINS OF THE PARTY. THE TREND HAS BEEN ACCELERATED, HOWEVER, SINCE THE IC WAS FREED OF THE CONSTRAINTS IMPOSED BY ITS NEED TO GOVERN IN COALITION WITH THE CONSERVATIVE UNITED FORCE UNTIL THE ELECTIONS IN DECEMBER 1968. BURNHAM HAS UNDOUBTEDLY READ AND REREAD THE ARUSHA DECLARATION. HIS MOUTH MUST WATER WHEN HE THINKS OF WHAT KAUNDA GETS OUT OF THE ZAMBIAN GOVERNMENT’S SHARE OF THE COPPER MINES. HE PROBABLY [Page 9] ADMIRES THE DECISION ANNOUNCED ON MAY 1 BY OBOTE TO ACQUIRE FOR THE GOVERNMENT OF UGANDA A 60 PERCENT SHARE IN THE PRIVATE COMPANIES ENGAGED IN MANUFACTURING, TRANSPORTATION, BANKING, COPPER MINING, “OTHER ECONOMIC ACTIVITIES”, TO BE PAID FOR OUT OF FUTURE PROFITS. WHILE BURNHAM PROFESSES, SINCERELY WE BELIEVE, A DESIRE TO FIND A UNIQUELY GUYANESE FRAMEWORK WITHIN WHICH TO REACTIVATE THE ECONOMY OF THE COUNTRY, HE MOST CERTAINLY IS INFLUENCED BY THE EXAMPLES OF HIS AFRICAN BROTHERS. BURNHAM’S CHOSEN INSTRUMENT IS THE COOPERATIVE. THERE HAS BEEN MUCH RHETORIC, MOST OF IT MEANINGLESS, TO THE EFFECT THAT COOPERATIVES HAVE TRADITIONALLY BEEN GUYANESE AND THAT THEY THEREFORE PROVIDE A “GUYANESE SOLUTION.”

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IT IS FAIRLY CLEAR THAT WHAT BURNHAM HAS IN MIND IS A FORM OF COOPERATIVE ORGANIZATION LARGELY IMPOSED FROM THE TOP AND GUIDED AND CONTROLLED BY THE GOVERNMENT (PARTY?) RATHER THAN THE VOLUNTARY ASSOCIATIONS OF GROUPS OF INDIVIDUALS WITH COMMON INTERESTS AND OBJECTIVES WHICH HAVE EXISTED IN THE PAST. HE SETS HIS GOALS AS ENDING UNEMPLOYMENT, ENDING POVERTY AND VESTING CONTROL OF THE ECONOMY IN GUYANESE HANDS. HE SEEKS ECONOMIC INDEPENDENCE TO GO WITH THE POLITICAL INDEPENDENCE ATTAINED FOUR YEARS AGO. HE ALSO AIMS TO BUILD A HOMEGROWN IDEOLOGY TO COUNTER CHEDDI JAGAN’S MARXISM. BUT WHAT BURNHAM REALLY WANTS IS FOR THE GOVERNMENT (AND HIS PARTY) TO HAVE ACCESS TO THE ALLEGEDLY VAST PROFITS BEING MADE BY THE PRODUCERS OF BAUXITE AND SUGAR AND THE PRIVATE INTERESTS THAT NOW CONTROL IMPORTS. ONLY THEN WILL HE “CONTROL THE COMMANDING HEIGHTS OF THE ECONOMY.” HE HAS HAD PRELIMINARY DISCUSSIONS WITH THE TWO PRODUCERS OF BAUXITE TO WARN THEM THAT THE GOVERNMENT WILL OPEN NEGOTIATIONS WITH A VIEW TO ACHIEVING MEANINGFUL PARTICIPATION IN THEIR ENTERPRISES. JUST WHAT FORM THIS PARTICIPATION WILL TAKE HAS NOT YET EMERGED AND WILL BE THE SUBJECT OF THE CONTEMPLATED NEGOTIATIONS, BUT HE MADE CLEAR TO THE AMBASSADOR THAT HE WANTS EQUITY PARTICIPATION IN ORDER TO HAVE A VOICE IN MANAGEMENT DECISIONS RATHER THAN SIMPLY A BIGGER SHARE OF THE PROFITS THROUGH INCREASED TAXES OR ROYALTIES. TO OUR KNOWLEDGE THE SUGAR INDUSTRY HAS NOT YET BEEN APPROACHED BUT BURNHAM HAS SAID IT IS NEXT IN LINE. HE HAS ALREADY REVEALED PRIVATELY HIS PLANS TO ESTABLISH A GOVERNMENT IMPORT AGENCY TO TAKE OVER IMPORTS OF BASIC FOOD ITEMS AND AGRICULTURE AND LAND CLEARING MACHINERY AND THE GOVERNMENT [Page 11] RECENTLY ACQUIRED A CONTROLLING INTEREST IN A LOCAL BUSINESS FIRM WHICH GIVES IT A PLATFORM FROM WHICH TO LAUNCH ITS NEW SCHEME. BURNHAM SAYS HE WILL PERMIT PRIVATE INTERESTS TO CONTINUE IN WHOLESALE AND RETAIL TRADE BUT WITH THEIR MARKUPS CONTROLLED. HIS OBJECTIVE, AS HE EXPLAINED IT, IS TO REDUCE THE COSTS OF THOSE ITEMS WHICH ARE IMPORTANT IN THE LIVES OF THE MASSES OF THE PEOPLE. HE IS CONVINCED THAT IMPORTERS ARE MAKING VAST PROFITS BY IMPOSING MARKUPS OF UP TO AND EVEN MORE THAN 100 PER CENT. SOME OF HIS ADVISERS ARE CAUTIONING HIM TO MOVE SLOWLY SINCE THE GOVERNMENTS ADMINISTRATIVE MACHINERY ALREADY IS OVERTAXED, BUT OTHERS MORE IDEOLOGICALLY INCLINED ARE PRESSING HIM TO CHARGE AHEAD. BURNHAM HAS MADE IT CLEAR THAT HE WILL DEAL HARSHLY WITH THOSE WHO OPPOSE HIM IN HIS ECONOMIC REVOLUTION AND AUTHORITARIANISM WILL PROBABLY INCREASE HERE. HE HAS WARNED THAT “IT IS BETTER TO YIELD SOME THAN TO LOSE ALL” AND HAS SAID THAT THE SACRIFICES HE WILL DEMAND OF THE PRIVATE SECTOR ARE THE PRICE THAT MUST BE PAID “TO AVOID ANOTHER TRINIDAD”. BURNHAM UNDERSTANDS PARLIAMENTARY DEMOCRACY, PERHAPS BETTER THAN MOST OF HIS COLLEAGUES, AND HE PROBABLY VALUES THE ESTEEM OF THE DEMOCRATIC LEADERS OF THE COMMONWEALTH ENOUGH TO RETAIN AT LEAST A SEMBLANCE OF A DEMOCRATIC SYSTEM. BUT HE IS TOUCHY, DOES NOT RELISH CRITICISM, DOES NOT FACE A RESPONSIBLE OPPOSITION AND IS DETERMINED TO PUSH AHEAD WITH HIS REVOLUTION. HE WILL CRUSH THOSE WHO STAND IN HIS WAY. IN THIS ATMOSPHERE IT IS NOT SURPRISING THAT THERE HAS BEEN LITTLE PRIVATE INVESTMENT, DOMESTIC OR FOREIGN, IN RECENT MONTHS. IN FACT, BANK MANAGERS TELL US THERE ARE SIGNS OF DISINVESTMENT AND FLIGHT OF CAPITAL. CERTAINLY THE PROSPECTS FOR LARGE-SCALE PRIVATE INVESTMENT IN THE FUTURE ARE NOT BRIGHT, AND THE GOVERNMENT ITSELF DOES NOT HAVE AND WILL NOT HAVE THE RESOURCES TO DEVELOP THE COUNTRY ON ITS OWN, BURNHAM’S EXPECTATIONS OF WHAT HE CAN EXTRACT FROM THE PRIVATE SECTOR TO THE CONTRARY NOT WITHSTANDING. FOREIGN ASSISTANCE WILL BE NEEDED AND WILL BE REQUESTED, ALTHOUGH EFFORTS WILL BE MADE TO SOFTEN ITS MORE ONEROUS TERMS.

6. CONCLUSIONS: WHILE THE IMMEDIATE FUTURE IN GUYANA THUS DOES NOT LOOK BRIGHT, THE VITAL INTERESTS OF THE UNITED STATES ARE HARDLY THREATENED (EXCEPT OF COURSE FOR THE INVESTMENT OF REYNOLDS METALS). THE REAL PROBLEM TO BE FACED IS THAT BURNHAM MUST NOT FALL SO FLAT ON HIS FACE AS TO MAKE JAGAN A MORE ATTRACTIVE ALTERNATIVE FOR THE GUYANESE PEOPLE. THE UNITED STATES, WHILE IT WILL NOT LIKE MUCH OF WHAT HE MAY DO, WILL THUS HAVE [Page 12] TO CONTINUE TO HELP BURNHAM, OFTEN DESPITE BURNHAM, FOR THERE IS NO ACCEPTABLE ALTERNATIVE TO BURNHAM IN SIGHT. AND THE HELP WILL HAVE TO BE IN TUNE WITH WHERE BURNHAM THINKS HE WANTS GUYANA TO GO. THIS CONCLUSION MAY BE DEPRESSING TO SOME, BUT IT HAS A POSITIVE SIDE AS WELL. THE SITUATION DEVELOPING HERE PROVIDES OPPORTUNITIES, PARTICULARLY IN THE ADMINISTRATION OF ECONOMIC ASSISTANCE ACTIVITIES, FOR THE USG TO DEMONSTRATE WHETHER IT HAS THE CAPACITY AND FLEXIBILITY TO MEET THE CHALLENGE OF CHANGE. CAN IT FACE AND REACT POSITIVELY TO THE RISING EXPECTATIONS OF THE AWAKENING PEOPLES OF A DEVELOPING NATION SEEKING ITS OWN SOLUTIONS? IN THESE TIMES, AS EVENTS AT HOME AND ABROAD ARE PROVING, CHANGE CANNOT BE STAYED. IF OPPOSED, IT WILL COME VIOLENTLY, IN GUYANA AS WELL AS ELSEWHERE. BURNHAM IS KEENLY AWARE OF THIS, AND HIS WAY MAY PROVIDE AN ANSWER. THE METHODS OF THE PAST, POLICIES, RULES AND REGULATIONS, ARE PROVING INADEQUATE. MUST THE US INEVITABLY SIT BY AND WATCH REPETITIONS OF WHAT HAPPENED IN TRINIDAD AND TOBAGO SWEEP THROUGH THE ENGLISH-SPEAKING CARIBBEAN? IS IT IMPOSSIBLE FOR THE USG TO IDENTIFY ITSELF WITH THE FORCES SEEKING CHANGE AND IMPROVEMENT IN THE LOT OF THE COMMON MAN, ESPECIALLY THE BLACK MAN? WE THINK NOT AND SHALL BE DEVELOPING RECOMMENDATIONS ON WAYS IN WHICH WE CAN HELP BURNHAM AND IN THE PROCESS, PERHAPS, MODERATE HIS PACE.
KING

  1. Source: National Archives, Nixon Presidential Materials, NSC Files, Box 785, Country Files, Latin America, Guyana, Vol. 1. Secret.
  2. Ambassador Burns provided a comprehensive review of Prime Minister Burnham’s foreign policy and concluded that the United States had no alternative but to support Burnham.