CROSSCURRENTS IN BRITISH GUIANA

Created: 12/6/1963

OCR scan of the original document, errors are possible

6 December

CROSSCURRENTS IN BRITISH GUIANA

In an effort to curb tlie extension of Communist influence in British Guiana and to establishiable, democratic regime, Britain hasto require new electionsystem of proportional representation before giving the colony its independence. This decision, reached during the October constitutional talks in London with Guianese political leaders, has badly shaken Cheddi Jagan's governing People's Progressive Partyhich later "categorically rejected it." Faced byin its own ranks, however, the PPP is still undecided on what "rejection" implies and seems to be grasping for sone way to prevent the elections from being held.

The two opposition partios, the People's National Council (PNC) and the United Force ave been slow to capitalize on their improved chances ofto power, and their efforts to join forces havo been at best tenuous. It is possible, moreover, that the emergence of several new parties, which the new electoral law was intended to encourage,will undercut the opposition as well as Jagan.

Thus, it is far from certain that London'shave provided the means for ousting the pro-Communist Jagan or for creating an effective post-Jagan government.

of the London Settlement

The prospectiveof proportionalis of particularbecause of theof Guianese to vote along racial lines. Thelargely by Easl Indians, who constitute nearly Ualf of theproi'itodfrom the present simple majority system (see chart). The other parties, whose combined votestho PPP'save

therefore long pressed for proportional representation.

The three party leaders (Jagan, Forbes Burnham of tho PNC, and Peter D'Aguiar of thenable forear to agreeostlndcpondence electoral system, finallyBritish ColonialDuncan Sandys toompromise when they met with him in London in Octobor. Under the election systom Sandys

RACIAL BREAKDOWN

f Total

Popu

^tlmo'cc1)

WHITE AND CHINESE

NATIVE AMERINDIAN

BRITISH GUIANA

NEGRO0

AND POLITICAL MAKEUP

POLITICAL BREAKDOWN

(According1 Eleclion Result*)

PERCENI SEATSLEGISLATIVE

Lecdei: Petit O'Aoviot Influential Mcmbci': Ar.ri Jcr-Jin KitRandolph Cheeki Lionel Lucxhoo

TOTAL VOTE ASSEMBLY

UNITED FORCE

.

8

Lynaon Forbes Burnham Influential Meiroeis; Winifred Gaikin Neville Biisember C. AA. L. John Rud/ Kendall Eugene CoitkioMeiiimnn

PEOPLE'S NATIONAL CONGRESS

.o

INDIAN

APPROX.

OSLEM

Leader: Choadi Jagan Influential Mcmben: Mrane'oisy Bnnn Athlon CKom Fonto* Rawsohoyc Momi Bhagwanhan Hon/ Loll C. V. Nviwt

I I ll

Ronji Chondiilngh

PEOPLE'S PROGRESSIVE6 I ! 20

CLASSIFIED MATERIAL ON REVERSE OF PAGE

SEGSET

decreed, tlie colony will heingleandeatseed among the parties according to tlieof votes won. Totlie formationrlia-1, Sandys sotutnircumtagc for parliamentary representation.

The governormpowered to set tho date of the election, which, hecm.se of the time needed for registration and other preparations, probably will noi be held beforet the earliest. After the elections, anotherconference will be convened to settle issues still unresolved and to fix the dalej ndependence. In the meaii-time, constituti onal safeguards will bit drafted aimed at,s , preservl ng basic human rights, andan impartial judiciary, police, ano civil service.

1 . L1

racial, nonpoli'vicslhe created under the regular police

Under these arrangements, Britain has the option ofsubstantial influence forear, but thoto which it will use it to restrict pro-Communistis uncertain. The governor, for instance, has tended to make rulings advantageous to Jagan. tho sharp criticism that the Labor Party in Britain is

leveling against the Sandys program may make it difficult for London to take astand with Jagan as that pro-Krai, now envisages. Thus, while British officials have talked ot. suspend! igny's constitution andng direct rule if such action were required to implement their plan, it is doubtful whether they will.

Strains in the PPP

The response in British Guiana to London's decree has been confused and relatively restrained; the general public is apathetic. Tho PPP'shave seemed uncertain what impact Sandy's decrees may have on their future. Theto Jagan appears toccentuated tho long-slanding strains within his party.

These strains began as far backhen Burnham and his Negro following split off from the PPP. Since then, tho PPP has boen ruledlique which is dominated by persons having Communist The average Bast Indian who votes for the PPP, however, is more influenced by what Jagan has done to improve the position of his race than by ideological considerations. Thus, although the largest party, the PPP has abase and depends very much on Jagan's charismatic personal appeal.

During the past year, the PPP's open flirtation with the

SEGRJZT

Communist bloc and tho rising popular discontent overdifficulties produced by tho governmunt'e ineptitude have accentuated thowithin the partyaction on tho left includes such extremists as partyBrindley Bonn, bis wife Patricia, Jagan's wife Janet, and Moses Bhagwan, leader of the PPP's youth corps. The moderates include such non as Attorney Gunoral Kamsahyoye and parliamentary secretary Lawrence Mann who have both thought of dofacting In the past. Thoso individuals are unhappy with the PPP'spolicy, but theirare so dopondont on their party posts that they refrain from taking lndopondont action.

Jagan apparently stands somewhere in betweon, Hatho extremists on the question of ties with Cuba and the bloc. Ho has personally asked for Soviot aid, and, as recentlyovember,his support of the Castro reglno and what it is doing in Cuba. On tho other hand, he has boon noticeably less vehement than some of his lieutenants when lt comes to attacking tho US.

Although lt is Jagan's personal hold on tho Bastthat haB mado tho PPP the leading party, the extent to which he will be able to control lt is thus open to some quostlon--ospocially in the period now opening when the party is racing olectlons which

are woightod against lt. Thero have been reports of uponbetween Jagan and Bonn andolitical as well as personal rift botweon Jagan and his wife. Jagan himself has recently Implied that he does not oxorclso complete authority over his supporters, particularly when it comes to restraining thorn from violence. It is therefore unclear to what extent he personally hastho blatant racialism und Intimidation to which the PPP has in soma instancesslnco tho London

Economic Problems

The PPP's politicalmayonsiderablehinge on future development In tho country's noweconony. This year's crop ofof the colony's principalbe much smaller than normalesult of planting delays caused by lastday general strike and drought. Hardest hit sill be areas which the PPP carried In the last elections byerymargin. Horoover, unless next spring's crop Is anlargo one.ibo colony will be unablo to moot4 export commitments.

Although sugar prices are unusually high this year, sugar workers havo rucontlyertain coolnessthe PPP. One indication of this was theecent massive PPP

campaign toew of thoseaway from thoir present antl-Jagan union into oneby tho PPP.

The govornmont,is clone to bankruptcy although It has so far this by variousipu-lations. This docoptior.canuv>t bo maintained much longer, and London is unwilling to go on covering deficitsassuming supervision of the

finance ministry. And thelevol of economicwill of course reduce lax revenues.

Sconowic Links to the Bloc

So far, the Jagan regime's efforts to ease Its economic problems by soliciting foreign aid have not boon successful. Jagan's hopjs for bloc aid nave moved no closer to realization thin the negotiating table, .tor has private foreignbeen forthcoming oxcept in ninimal amounts because of uncertain conditions and t'la regipie's basic hostility to foreign eapl tal.

Tha PPP, nevertheless, has gone quite far in trying to supplant private trading and distributing facilities in order to naVo tho economy evar more dependent on bloc goods. During the strike, for example, tho government imported and distributed fuol andfrom Cuba and the bloc and tried to curb private sates until these imports were sold.

Another link to the bloc is Guyana Import ExportPP firm which has burome tho colony's trading agency with tho bloc as wel1hannel for foreign Communist financial mpport of the part* itsolf. In registeringrivate company last August, GIHPKX Listed its functionsorrowerurcu of funds abroad in addition Lo buying and selling all manner of goods, includingunpowder, anduban funds, paid to GIUPKX, were loaned both to tbeand tho PPP's publishing firm. According to another report, funds for PPP salaries and oxponses are tunneled to Janet Jagan from GIMPS via this publishing company.

The Opposition Parties

Forbes Burnhaip's caapulgn-ing since his return fromhas been based on his claim that he stands first among the country's nationalist!.. This approach has not gono over very well, and he contlnuss to have difficulty in Inspiring confidence outside his regular Hogro following. Furthermore, ho ton faces dissension within his PNC. Two influentialdisgruntled at being excluded from the Londonare talking oftho party and taking thoir supporters with them.

Now, however, Burnham is seeking some form ofwith the UF, afterdiscouraging UF overtures.

ecommendedeeting with tho UF executiveonovember that the two parties work together covertly in order to defeat Jagan. Although the UF is on record as favoring an end to mudsllnglng, party loader D'Aguiar lias given no clear indication of how ho proposes to proceed.

Now Political Alignments

In the last several months, Hindu and Moslem groups among the East Indians have tended to polarize into pro- and antl-Jagan factions. Thereearth of suitable leadership, however, and those available are hesitant to proceed so long as Jagan remains in power andosition to harass them.

Whether tho preliminary moves which antl-Jagan East Indiana have made toward tho formationow political party will havo any success is therefore very uncertain. Dr. Balwant Singh, head of the largest Hindu organization and an organizer for the new party, is vavorlng and Balram Singhindu former PPP nlnister, has toyed with the idea ofow Bast Indian party, and last monthooperation agrooment with PNC leador Burnham. Ral, little follow-

up effort and now would prefer to join the UF, provided this consorvativo party's platform were amendedumber of East Indians included in its executive. Both Singh and Rai have felt in the past they could obtain substantial supportew party, particularly if proportional representation were Introduced and directcontrol temporarily restored. However, they have been thrown into confusion by the Sandys settlement which left Jagan in control of the governmentthe election period andosition to harass opposition political efforts.

The Moslems havebeen more politicallyand there has been some talkeparate Bast Indian Moslem party. Thoir efforts may have been discouraged,by tho disorderlyby PPP activists of thectober meeting of the colony's largo Moslem organization.

Among the Negro population,nion leader named Andrew Jackson Is lobbyingrade union party. Burnham Is trying to block this effort, however, because he fearsarty would cut into his With the exception of the sugarworkers, most trade unionists are Negro.

Outlook

It Is far too early to discern what results this political and economic ferment is likely to produce. Racial antagonisms are sufficiently strong that racial appeals could result in violence which would neceasltato postponement of elections. Although lt seems unlikely at this stage, it is possible that the new strains which have been placed

i upon the PPP could split the parly. In their reaction thus far to the opportunity London has given them, nolther the existing nor tbe potential opponents to Jagan havo as yet Inspired much confidence In iholr ability to wrest control from the PPP. Nor, lt should bo added, in their ability to govorn the country t. heron ft or. (SECRET NO FOREIGN DISSEM)

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