273. Telegram From the Embassy in Guyana to the Department of State1

137. From Charge. ARA for Deputy Assistant Secretary Luers. Department pass Assistant Secretary-designate Todman. ARA/CAR for Blacken/Heavner. Subject: US–GOG Relations in 1977. Ref: Georgetown 136.2

1. Following information was forthcoming during lengthy meeting between Charge and FonMin January 19. FonMin Wills began discussion of US–GOG relations by apologizing to me about Ambassador Mann’s late departure to Washington. Wills assured me Mann had left today (Jan. 19 instead of the 18th as he had previously said) and indicated the delay was simply due to Mann’s own slowness in arranging his departure.3 Wills said he wanted Ambassador Mann to be in Washington for the inauguration and had instructed him to resume contact and discussion of our relations with the appropriate officials upon his arrival. The official GOG statement regarding Mann’s return would be that he was simply called home for consultations and was now returning to his post.

2. Wills said that by his meeting me in his office he hoped that he was beginning a dialogue with the U.S. that would grow when the Carter administration takes office. He hoped that he would have the opportunity in the near future of meeting with Secretary-designate Vance to get to know him and to have substantive talks about issues of mutual concern. Wills said it was important for him and the Secretary-designate to get to know one another. Wills continued that there were bound to be points of conflict between the U.S. and Guyana. However, if matters can be discussed freely and frankly then he for his part was certain that any major problems that would arise would be resolved without relations deteriorating into impasse with the recall of our Charge as happened last October. I pointed out to the Foreign Minister that he was aware that USG decision to recall our Charge was because of strong insinuations and half-truths by the Prime Minister in his [Page 660] speech on Oct. 17 accusing us of involvement in the Cubana air crash.4 The recall of our Charge reflected Washington’s anger after repeated assurances by USG that we were in no way involved in that terrorist act. Wills replied that he was aware of this but at that time he was convinced the Prime Minister did not believe our protestations. On his part, he initially also thought we were involved but later concluded that USG had unfortunately created a Frankenstein monster in the Cuban exile movement which now causes people in area (read Guyana and Burnham) to be deeply suspicious of the U.S. Government. However, Wills said, we must put all this behind us.

3. I then asked what, if any, policy decisions had been made at the recent Chiefs of Mission conference pertaining to future US–GOG relations.5 Wills answered that Guyanese foreign policy toward the United States would be one of peace and pluralism. Wills continued that Guyana hopes to have constructive relations with the United States and would inform the United States of any changes in its foreign policy to insure that the USG would never consider Guyana because of its relations with Cuba and the Soviet Union to be a threat to its security. However, the United States Government must be aware that at the present time the Prime Minister was conducting a policy both domestic and foreign of establishing close ties with the socialist world in order to preempt Jagan. As such, Guyana would identify to a certain extent with Cuba. However, as Wills pointed out, the big difference was that Cuba was a client state of the Soviet Union and Guyana would never permit itself to become a client state of any power—East or West.

4. Wills thought it was important that Guyana and the United States establish credibility toward one another. He said he knew that we were deeply concerned about the rhetoric appearing in the local press, and the direction in which Guyana is moving. He reiterated that Guyana is building its own brand of socialism and under no circumstances would it ever permit itself to be dominated by any country. He continued though that there were radicals within the government who were deeply suspicious of the United States because of its interventionist policy in the last 20 years. Wills mentioned our roles in Chile, the Dominican Republic, Cambodia, Cuba (Bay of Pigs), and Vietnam as instances when the U.S. Government intervened politically or militarily to achieve its own policy ends. Therefore, some Guyanese suspect our intentions and that is why a constructive dialogue must [Page 661] be established to put these suspicions to rest. Wills indicated though that GOG would proceed cautiously in relations with the U.S. at least in the near future. At the same time, it was up to Guyana to assure the United States our relations need not be hostile and that while Guyana may have close ties with the socialist world, this does not necessarily mean that Guyana would always be opposed to the U.S. and U.S. interests.

5. Comment: I can only assume from this conversation that Wills was indicating that Guyana intends to establish closer relations with the Soviets and if possible the Cubans. [less than 1 line not declassified] has reported on this purported shift from the basis of comments made by the Foreign Minister at the recent Chiefs of Missions conference.6 It is indicative that from Wills’ comments concerning future US–GOG relations and Guyana’s relations with Cuba reported septel7 that he was at pains to make himself very clear about our future relationship.

  1. Source: National Archives, RG 59, Central Foreign Policy File, [no film number]. Secret; Exdis. Repeated for information to Brasilia, Bridgetown, Caracas, Kingston, Paramaribo, Port of Spain, and USUN.
  2. In telegram 136 from Georgetown, January 20, McCoy summarized Foreign Minister Wills’s discussion of Central America, Peru, and the Caribbean. (National Archives, RG 59, Central Foreign Policy File, D770033–0925)
  3. Telegram 51 from Georgetown, January 10, reported that Wills told McCoy that he wished Mann to return to Washington in time for President Carter’s inauguration on January 20. (National Archives, RG 59, Central Foreign Policy File, D770009–0364)
  4. See footnote 3, Document 272. In response to Burnham’s speech, the Department of State recalled Chargé Blacken on October 20, 1976. See Foreign Relations, 1969–1976, vol. E–11, Part 1, Documents on Mexico; Central America; and the Caribbean, 1973–1976, Documents 387 and 388.
  5. See footnote 5, Document 272.
  6. Not further identified.
  7. Telegram 138 from Georgetown, January 20. (National Archives, RG 59, Central Foreign Policy File, D770022–0023)