BRITISH GUIANA MOVES TOWARD INDEPENDENCE

Created: 10/29/1965

OCR scan of the original document, errors are possible

CENTRAL INTELLIGENCE AOEHCgBJ LIBRARY

OFFICE OF KAraKALReview

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SPECIAL KEHCRAIGXM SO.

SUBJECT: British Guiana Moves Tcvord Independence

SUMMARY

onatitutional conference in London will once again take rrp tbe question of independence for British Guiana. This time an affirmative decision seems likely, and British Guiana will probably become Independent beforen independent Guiana will turn increasingly to tie US foraid and other support.

An independent Guiana will still be plagued by racial Although Cheddi Jagan, the leader of the People's Progressive Partyenchant for Marxist thinking, his political strength lies in his racial appeal to his fellow East Indiana. These will soonlear majority of the country's population and they look to the PPP foragainst the Negroes. Unless Prime Kinieter Forbes Burthen: lo unexpectedly successful In reassuring the East Indians,ccnmunal violence is likely.

Excluded from automatic downgrading and declassification

GROUP 1

Approved forate 5

now appears likely that tha Independence of

British Guiana Inill be agreed to atoveaber

Constitutional Congress lo London. Tho governing coalition

baa eettled on teniaraft ccnout-iUcn, and toe lilted

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^HaBBBasB lae when it could leave with

a reasonably stable* non-canmunist giwerriMnt in control. Welle Britalt

vlU continue to assist in the training end supervision of security

forces and tho proposed amy, it has eesuoed that tha United

States wouldarger role in the overall developsaent of

tha former colony.

opulation ofoseercent East Indian and Ik percent Negro and part Negro, de East Indiana are Hindu or Mcelec; they live largely in rural areas, excepthopowner class In Georgetown, and work sainly in the rice and sugar fields. The Negroes are Christian; they live calnly In urban areas and work cainly in sugar factories, bauxite nines, and tha civil service.

relative tranquillity of the paat yeardlaappear with the stresses and atralna ofrjcdaaental fact of Guiaaeae political life la thebetween the Negroes who support Prime MinisterPeopled National Congressnd the Easteonutitute Cheddi Jagan's People's Progressive Party (PPP).*

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Jagan remains the champion of the rapidly growing Indian

population primarily for racial reasons rather than for eny widespread adherence to his Marxist ideology. Meet East Indians distrust and fear Bumham and his Hegrc party, and some are sufficiently fearful toartition of Guiana after independence.

3- Partly because of the inactivity of the PPP, Burnhsa's government has managed to prevent the violent clashes which occured frequently during Cheddl Jagan's meat recent tenure of Bcrnham has cade seme concessions to the

task of holding together his coalition with the small, conservative United Force Party (UP)which is Bade upof wealthy white buslnccaaaa, plantation owners,and other minority groups,ew Kegroea and Bast Indians. The PHC-UF coalition is held together mainly by mutual apprehension of Jagan's return to power.

-*. Burnham haa cade substantial compromises with his coalition ally in order to obtain agreement on the conditions for independence. However, once Independence is granted and the

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This distrust ess been manifested In d'-tguiar'sthatetain some aspectsritishmonarchy system (similar to Canada) as opposedepublic which Burnhaa has advocated. This issue has assumed symbolic overtones far greater than lta actual effect on the Culaceae political system. Burntan has made some concessions. The Joint draft now provides that general elections be held not later than three and one-half yeara after independence; until then, British Guiana Is toelf-governing dominionulaceoe governor general. Changeepublic cocld then he acccmpliohed by an act of the assembly. The Joint draft will come under criticism frcm various quarters at the conference but the coalition's general desire toplit that could postpone independence will probably prevail.

the short rim, the prospects for stability inGuiana hinge on Burnham's ability to compromisefiscally conservative d'Agular, as well as his sbllltythe auspicious Indian majority. Often these twoconflicting. The Indians want developmental projectsareas and subsidies for their onsold ricealanced budget and protection for his wealthybackers. Furthermore, d'Agular realises how dependent

Burcham is on OF votes and Is determined to squeeze out every advantage ha can.* While frictions between the participants in the coalition will become stare intense after Independence, we believe it will hold together, at leasthile, since both parties realise that the alternative would almost certainly hereturn to power.

and his PFP eraifficult tactical After years of pressing for independence, Jagan,election defeat, baa opposed Independence so long asgovernment remained in power and the proportional

Assembly Seats

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representation system remained in effect.* ore radical faction within the PPP la clamoring for immediate independence in tha belief that once the British had left, it could set control of the goverrnient one way or another, ttosee Bhagwan, an Eaat Indian extremist leader recently expelled from the PPP, has formed bio own "Committee for national Reconstruction" and has indicated that he would be willing to go to London.

8. Although Jagan has stated that he would boycott the

conference unless Burnham capitulated to his demands, he probably will attend after all. In the past he has taken similar firm stands only to back down later* Hie current outburst is probably an attempt to squeeze concessions out of Burnham or merely to harass him on the eve of the conference* Some Indian groups within the PPP are anxioua that their party be represented In

Proportional representation was Introduced by the British3 for the purpose of denying the PPP an absoluteInU general election. Jagan has naturally opposed thiB and has also campaigned for the lowering of the voting age from Provisions retaining the proportional representation system and the present voting age have been written into the draft. Jagan will continue to campaign against these provisions but has recently been concentrating on pressing Burnham to lift the current state of emergency and to release prominent PPP leaders held in detention.

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London and have been urging Jagan to attend. Tee conference could serve as an excellent sounding board for Jagan to rally bis somewhat demoralized party. However, if be stayed away, Jagan would risk weakening bis party and give Burnham tieto upstage him by taking along some members of the PPP who are willing to participate.

9. The British Colonial Office is optimistic over the prospectsuccessful conference end ia stepping up its efforts to train indigenous security forces. It feels that the UP and the PNC will agree iable constitution end that Cheddl Jagan will have no choice but to attend.

jwe believe that it is largely justified and that independence will be granted.*

y-product of granting early independence would be to give the UK and British Guiana soma psychologicalin scheduled talks with Venezuela over tieborder dispute, which involves soma two-thirds of Gulanese territory.'

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Longer Range Frogpects

Vhile Burxhon con never secure tie full confidence of the East Indians, he sust at leasteasure offree then if he is to stay In power for long. If he does not gain soce acceptance, racial bostllitieB are sura to flare up again. Inter-racial hostility would probably take the form of sporadic but serious violence rather than civil war orinsurgency.

the East Indians have shown little inclination for organized violence, and Jagan has always been sore ideologist than Nevertheless, even sporadic violence couldin Burnhaa's having to call for help from the UK or US in order to keep the peace. There mightlight or better educated and wealthy Gulanese which would lead to aof economic conditions, whleh have been steadily improving since the inauguration of the coalition.

U. Ultimately, not even the artificial barrier ofrepresentation can prevent the Indians from becoming the predominant political force. Their population is increasing

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a more rapid rate than the Negro population. Almoat all the Seat Indiana remain thorou^ily tied to the PPP and, in spiteav dissident groups, accept Jagan as their leader. VersFSC coalition to fall apart, Cheddi Jagan would be back in pewor,

urnham'e best hope to win the acceptance of the East Trifllnnflto back more developmental projects in their areas

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and to facilitate their integration Into the civil service (especially into the police and the proposed defenseow the alxoost exclusive bailiwick of the Negro. Theseprojects vould require greater amounts of foreign aid, and for it, he will Increasingly turn to the US as the main source. (He vill also look to the UK end possibly Canada for some In addition to these problems, Burnham must face the constant threat of reneved violence and cope with his strong willed coalition partner. To handle all of these conflicting

^and the coalition mora cohesion than it presently enjoys.

FOR THE BOARD OF NATIONAL ESTIMATES:

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