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

3735. Subject: Conversation With Foreign Minister Forde. Ref: State 316395.2

1. I had a lengthy conversation with Foreign Minister Forde December 18. He is under heavy fire over the navy facility (NAVFAC) closure and is keeping a low profile. Forde told me he probably will not make his statement to the Parliament on the NAVFAC closure until sometime next year. We maintain our close and cordial personal relationship but I did not consider it useful to raise with him the points contained in reftel. These points will be raised by DCM with Permanent Secretary Symmonds soon.3

2. I instead listened to Forde as he told me of his concern for the security of Barbados. The Alleyne invasion plot is very much on everyone’s mind.4 (To many of course, the threat of such an invasion makes another point for the utility of the NAVFAC to Barbados). Forde tells me he will soon go to Martinique to attempt to interest the French in contributing to Barbados’ security. He said the French warship in Bridgetown at the time the planned invasion was to have occurred was an encouraging sign. He believes that France would be interested in helping Barbados. While I personally doubt this will be the case, Forde’s security worries and grasping at straws are common to many in the upper levels of the Barbadian Government. Forde also told me that Barbados was attempting to interest Trinidad & Tobago, St. Lucia, and St. Vincent in joint security measures. He believes that Dominica and Antigua are points of political instability which threaten the welfare of the entire area.

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3. Forde makes a valid point. These weak island nations are vulnerable to even small bands of determined adventurers. Their concern for their security is an important element in demonstrating the advantages of regionalism and of the importance of having powerful friends. I mainly listened to Forde but did note the interest of the U.S. Virgin Island National Guard in maintaining professional contact with the Barbados Defence Force.

  1. Source: National Archives, RG 59, Central Foreign Policy File, D780527–0529. Confidential. Repeated for information to Martinique, Nassau, and Port of Spain.
  2. In telegram 316395 to Bridgetown, December 15, the Department transmitted instructions on how to inform the Government of Barbados that arrangements for the final payment of rent on the U.S. naval facility would be completed by December 31. (National Archives, RG 59, Central Foreign Policy File, D780518–0963) The facility closed on December 31.
  3. A record of the December 20 meeting is in telegram 3759 from Bridgetown, December 20. (National Archives, RG 59, Central Foreign Policy File, D780526–0643)
  4. In telegram 3509 from Bridgetown, December 1, Ortiz described Sydney Burnett-Alleyne as a “Barbadian radical of various political stances.” He reported that Prime Minister Adams had been told that Burnett-Alleyne might try to seize the island of Barbados with a force comprised of mercenaries. (National Archives, RG 59, Central Foreign Policy File, D780496–0666) The suspected invasion never occurred.