307. Telegram From the Embassy in Barbados to the Department of State1

2894. For the Secretary from Assistant Secretary Todman. Subj: Barbados Visit Highlights.

1. A three day working visit to Barbados has done much to get our relations with Prime Minister Adams and his government back on the tracks, though base negotiation and some other issues remain unresolved. Caribbean cooperation, bi-lateral aid, Belize, and the regional security situation also discussed.

2. Belize: ForMin Forde and others were unequivocal in their support for PM Price of Belize and his refusal to consider a territorial cession to Guatemala in order to achieve early independence.2 Forde said neither GOB nor the Caribbean governments would lean on Price to accept cession. Forde also said that the GOB has reliable information that Cuba does have possible ambitions in Belize, and wondered whether Price might not decide to accept Cuban military and security assistance as a desperation measure, though GOB and other Caribbean governments would continue to advise him against it. Forde and others also made plain that they believe USG influence in Guatemala is strong enough to force a solution without cession if we wish. I assured them we are in no position to force a solution on either party. Our only wish is to see a peaceful, negotiated settlement along lines that would permit Belize to enjoy fullness of independence without having to live in constant fear of attack. Proposed arrangement with small territorial cession seems best way to achieve this but final decision not for us to make.

3. Caribbean cooperation and bi-lateral assistance: In a three hour discussion on Caribbean cooperation I clarified our proposals and corrected some misconceptions. GOB stresses critical balance of payments problems in the region but recognizes attention must be given to long run development lest BOP problems perpetuate or repeat themselves. GOB will participate fully in the December IBRD meeting at the Ministerial level. GOB distress over the absence of any bi-lateral aid program in Barbados also emerged during discussions. Forde pointed out that per capita income in Barbados is about the same as Jamaica where we are assisting and, while BOP problem in Barbados is not so serious [Page 761]because of the careful management of their resources, they have other critical needs. Even a small US bi-lateral program would be greatly appreciated.3 He indicated belief that GOB is being discriminated against precisely because it is responsible. I reminded him of recent visit of AID teams and promised to look into the possibilities based on their findings.

4. Naval facility: GOB is not yet ready to settle for our offer of $750,000 annual rent. However, it has backed off from its earlier excessive demands, and in the course of our discussions, which were quite amicable, GOB agreed to allow the facility to continue operations for an additional year while we seek a solution.4 It was obvious they would settle tomorrow for $1 million annual rental. I made clear that this is more than the marginal value of the facility to DOD. However, I promised to look further into question in effort to find a solution to this thorny issue. Barbadians expressed interest in having US military presence continue but stressed that, as politicians, they must show there is reasonable return to the country.

5. Security. ForMin Forde expressed real alarm over the potential security problem in the Eastern Caribbean when the UK finally pulls out, given the recent tendency of Cuba to extend its influence in the region and the complete vulnerability of the small island states as they become independent. He said that his own government had repeatedly turned down requests from the USSR and the PRC to establish permanent missions in Barbados because they simply could not afford the resources to monitor those missions. He asked what we could do to help fill the security vacuum in the area, perhaps in cooperation with others, when the British leave. I told him this kind of issue was extremely tricky, but that I appreciated his concern. I said that I would hold consultations with other USG agencies on my return and eventually with other governments.

Ortiz
  1. Source: National Archives, RG 59, Central Foreign Policy File, D770441–1215. Confidential; Immediate.
  2. For documentation on the Belize-Guatemala border dispute, see Foreign Relations, 1977–1980, vol. XV, Central America.
  3. Barbados received $576,000 in bilateral economic aid in FY 1978, a drop from $730,000 in FY 1977. In FY 1979 and 1980, Barbados received $286,000 and $268,000 in bilateral economic aid, respectively. (USAID Greenbook)
  4. In a note dated January 5, 1978, Barbados agreed to a 12-month extension of the lease. (Telegram 33 from Bridgetown, January 6, 1978; National Archives, RG 59, Central Foreign Policy File, D780010–0858)