378. Memorandum From the Ambassador to Guyana (King) to the Assistant Secretary of State for Inter-American Affairs (Meyer), Washington, September 20, 1971.1 2

[Page 1]

Memorandum

TO: ARA - Mr. Meyer
FROM: Ambassador Spencer M. King [SMK initialed]
DATE: September 20, 1971

SUBJECT: Guyana

Although we foresaw well over a year ago that Prime Minister Burnham and his ruling party would swing to the left, the pace at which this now seems to be occurring is a bit surprising. A Communist Chinese trade delegation visited Georgetown last month and Burnham has indicated that diplomatic relations will be established in due course. He hopes for economic assistance. A Romanian trade delegation is due shortly. This will be followed by an East German group. Overtures are being made to open trading relations with Cuba. Diplomatic relations have been established recently with Peru and Chile.

When I saw Burnham to take my leave on September 6 I mentioned among the matters I would pursue in Washington Guyana’s long-pending application for a highway loan. He said he was relieved to know it was still alive since it had become the unanimous view of his cabinet that the United States would not grant this or any other loan to Guyana “for political reasons”. He claimed to have opposed the desire of some of his more radical colleagues to embark on an openly anti-American policy and to have argued that Guyana would have to turn to alternative sources for assistance or, lacking these, to get along without it.

I believe that an important factor in the development of these attitudes was the abstention by the United States representative when the World Bank considered an application for a sea-defense loan in mid-June. You will recall that Burnham’s opening gambit in his conversation with you on June 22 was “Are you going to kill us?” and that he then discussed that abstention. Guyanese do not appreciate that the United States did not oppose the granting of the World Bank loan but only abstained on the basis that its consideration was premature pending a settlement of the ALCAN nationalization. In [Page 2] Guyanese minds, we opposed it. And this frightened them. They became skeptical of U.S. policies and motives, especially as nothing happened on the highway loan application. Hence their somewhat feverish search for new friends, new trading partners, and possible new sources of economic assistance.

  1. Source: National Archives, Nixon Presidential Materials, NSC Files, Box 785, Country Files, Latin America, Guyana, Vol. 1. Confidential. On October 7, Eliot sent a copy to Kissinger. (Ibid.) Meyer discussed the negative ramifications of the U.S. abstention on the World Bank loan in Document 375.
  2. Ambassador King reported that U.S. abstention on a World Bank loan for Guyana helped cause Guyana to reach out to leftist countries.