323. Telegram From the Department of State to the Embassy in Barbados1
156239. Subject: Pastor Conversations With Forde, Fletcher and Coard.
1. (S) Entire text.
2. NSC member Pastor met with Barbadian Foreign Minister Forde, Jamaican Finance Minister Fletcher and Grenadian Finance Minister Coard on June 7. The following is the text of his conversations with these gentlemen:
3. Minister of Foreign Affairs of Barbados, Henry Forde
A. Grenada—Forde was very concerned about the direction of the new government, believing that it was definitely moving toward Cuba. He suggested that we be patient with the government, and distant and cool. He said we should not do anything that makes it look as if we were rewarding the Bishop government. On the other hand, he agreed that we should not discriminate against Grenada at this time.
B. Cuba—He was extremely concerned about the expansion of Cuban influence in the Caribbean. He called in the Cuban non-resident Ambassador to Barbados, Martinez, right after the Grenadian coup for a stern lecture. He rejected Martinez’s request to establish an Embassy in Barbados three times. Forde amusingly recalled that he asked the Cuban whether he would be interested in having Barbados help Cuba to find ways to reduce its dependence on the Soviet Union. Martinez replied: “Are you serious?” He has no intention of letting the Cubans set up an Embassy because he believes it would be a jumping-off point for intelligence operations into the small islands.
C. He said that the Cubans are all over the place in the Caribbean. At a recent Caribbean Foreign Ministers’ Conference in Jamaica, he said that the Cubans took out a large number of rooms in the hotel where all the Foreign Ministers were staying and they even went so far as trying to date the secretaries as a way to get information. They sought interviews with all the Foreign Ministers. In contrast the U.S. was nowhere to be found. Similarly, they used small amounts of money through friendly professors in the University of the West Indies and other institutions to help their groups on each island. Cheddi Jagan, [Page 793]the Marxist leader of the Guyanese opposition, often brings money to different groups on his trips to the Caribbean.
He said that the Cuban Ambassador at one point said that Burnham and Manley were “not socialists.” By this he meant that Cuba viewed only Jagan and Trevor Munroe (of Jamaica) as the real socialists in the Caribbean, and they intended to support these two at the appropriate time.
Forde said that he intends to give a speech at the end of the month, and he would like to stress Cuba’s expansionism in the Caribbean. When I volunteered some information on the expansion of Cuban military facilities and armaments in Cuba, he asked whether I would forward some information along those lines to him. I said I would try. He is also interested in working with the Mexicans on the arms restraint initiatives throughout Latin America,2 and would like to highlight the Cuban arms build-up within that context.
D. Trinidad—He said that in his recent discussions with Prime Minister Eric Williams of Trinidad, he noted that Williams is interested for the first time in playing a much more active role in the Caribbean. Trinidad is giving $1 million to Saint Vincent, and also money to Saint Lucia. He also intends to cut off aid to Guyana because of its involvement with Grenada. Prime Minister Adams of Barbados has also written a stern letter to Burnham, and he believes that Burnham has been “burned” because of his help for Grenada. For the moment, however, Trinidad’s policy is to try to keep its distance from Grenada.
E. The United States—He said he would very much hope that the United States will assist in establishment of a regional coast guard, and he put me in touch with Lee Moore, who is Premier of Saint Kitts-Nevis-Anguilla, and is particularly interested in such a coast guard. Both would like the coast guard to be a regional strike force to prevent a repetition of the Grenada coup. I told him that we would try to be very responsive to this and intended to work very closely with him in the future.
He said he hoped that the United States would increase its presence in the area, perhaps sending naval ships from time to time for exercises to work with the Barbadians. He also was concerned that our political intelligence was deficient, and he expressed hope that it would be improved.
Forde was concerned about the outcome of the naval facilities negotiations, and would like it if we could find some political face-[Page 794]saving way to help him and the Barbadian Government out. He suggested, for example, that we try to make it appear that some of our aid to Barbados (through the Caribbean Development Bank) has been given as a settlement for the naval base. I said that we would be very happy to look into this plus any other alternatives. He said that he believes that the previous Ambassador, Frank Ortiz, had totally misjudged the Barbadian Cabinet’s position, but he is hopeful that new Ambassador Sally Shelton will do better. I assured him that she will be very good.
He expressed concern that certain U.S. organizations were unintentionally giving money to “human rights groups” which were front organizations for leftist groups in the Caribbean. In particular, he pointed to the Inter-American Foundation, and I told him that I would follow up with the IAF, and asked him to convey any information on other organizations to Amb. Shelton.
F. Dominica—We both agreed that Dominica was in trouble, and I was encouraged to learn that he intends to go there within a week to try to convince Prime Minister Patrick John to call for elections in the next three months. He thinks that would solve many of their problems.3
G. Non-Aligned Movement—He said that Yugoslavia was pushing Barbados to play a much more active role in the Non-Aligned Movement, and while he was in favor of that, the Cabinet was significantly divided, and he didn’t expect that Barbados would play very much of a role in the near future.
4. Jamaican Minister of Finance Richard Fletcher said that he is encouraged by the economic progress Jamaica has made since its agreement with the IMF, but he has been extremely concerned over the political setbacks brought on by the attacks on Prime Minister Manley by the Daily Gleaner.4 He said he believed that the attacks from the Gleaner had the effect of pushing Manley to the left, and much closer to Trevor Munroe and D.K. Duncan. However, he said that he believes that Manley now is improving in his public standing. He fears, however, that in order to attract more public support in Jamaica, he would have to shift more and more to the left.
5. Deputy Prime Minister Bernard Coard of Grenada is a chubby, bearded man in his mid-thirties. Fletcher introduced him to me, and gently and in a friendly manner chided me for the unfriendly actions the U.S. has taken towards Grenada. Fletcher said that he thought Frank Ortiz’s message was a stupid one,5 but he also asked me not to [Page 795]comment on that point. I didn’t. I, in turn, criticized remarks made by Prime Minister Bishop about U.S. destabilization efforts in Grenada,6 and turning to Fletcher, asked how such statements could be made. Both he and Coard felt that the CIA is a rogue elephant, and Carter has no control over it. I spent some time trying to disabuse them of that notion, and also tried to explain the origins and the directions of U.S. policy under the Carter administration to the Caribbean.
6. Coard tried to justify everything that was going on in Grenada as a reaction to the harsh repression and corruption and violence that was perpetrated by Eric Gairy. I suggested he turn to the future, rather than blame the past. They asked me why Secretary Vance considers the Eastern Caribbean a “hotbed” of problems for U.S. foreign policy. I said I was not familiar with the use of that word, but we were frankly discouraged about the interruption of the parliamentary and democratic process in Grenada and hopeful that example will not be repeated elsewhere.
Coard laughed at the thought that democracy had existed under Gairy. He described in great detail the election fraud perpetrated by Gairy in 1976, and I said that it was interesting that his opposition group was able to get 48 percent of the vote during such an election. Coard said that Gairy was very subtle. I, in turn, suggested that if the new government were to devote even a small fraction of the resources and energy it has devoted to building up the People’s Revolutionary Army in Grenada, to moving toward free elections, that they probably would have occurred by now. Coard said that I did not understand Grenada, and how terrible Gairy had left it.
Coard asked why we didn’t kick Gairy out of the United States, when we had prohibited the Shah from coming to the U.S. He was obviously extremely obsessed with Gairy’s continued presence in the U.S.
7. Coard did almost all of the talking in a 20-minute conversation, explaining in great detail Gairy’s monstrous behavior as Prime Minister. It was not a pleasant monologue to listen to. Coard came across as arrogant, and somewhat immature, obviously enjoying his new power as one of the rulers of a country and not unhappy that the U.S. was “concerned.”
Robert A. Pastor.
- Source: National Archives, RG 59, Central Foreign Policy File, D790274–1126. Secret. Drafted by McCoy; approved by Hewitt. Repeated for information to Caracas, Georgetown, Kingston, Port of Spain, and Martinique.↩
- On June 23, 1978, at the OAS General Assembly session, the Mexican Government circulated a draft resolution to establish a commission to study measures to inventory and reduce the number of conventional weapons across Latin America. (Telegram 171332 to all American Republic diplomatic posts, July 7, 1978; National Archives, RG 59, Central Foreign Policy File, D780279–0377)↩
- See Document 322.↩
- See Document 189 and footnote 2 thereto.↩
- See Document 317.↩
- Presumably a reference to Bishop’s April 13 speech in which he criticized the United States and Ortiz. See footnote 6, Document 317.↩