PROSPECTS FOR BRITISH GUIANA

Created: 3/21/1961

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LoJ LIBRARY

NATIONAL INTELLIGENCE ESTIMATE

NUMBER

PROSPECTS FOR BRITISH GUIANA

Submitted by the DIRECTOR OF CENTRAL INTELLIGENCE

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PROSPECTS FOR BRITISH GUIANA

THE PROBLEM

To estimate the political situation and prospects in British Guiana, with particular reference to the coming elections and Communist potential in the colony.

THE ESTIMATE

Guianamall outpostopulation of overillion, about half East Indian in origin andhird of African descent. The remainder of Ihe population includes small numbers of British, Portuguese, native Indian, andresidents. Partially self-governing since electionshe colony Ls scheduled to assume increased responsibilities for its own affairs following new elections on1 and, if all goes well, to gain fulltwo or three years thereafter.

The politics of British Ouiana isby the Communist-led People'sParty (PPP) of Cheddl Jagan. Jagan Ls an East Indian, and his party draws itsost entirely from East Indians,not only poverty-stricken rural and urban workers, butonsiderableof small businessmen in Georgetown and other centers Jagan's US-bom wife, whovery strong influence over him, is an acknowledged Communist. She shares with Jagan control of the PPP. and is aminister. Several other PPP leaders are believed to be Communists. Jagan himself is not an acknowledged Communist, but his statements and actions over the years bear the marks of the indoctrination and advice the Communists have given him. While there is no Communist party per se in Britishumber of the leaders in the PPP have been members of. or associated with. Communist parties or their front groups in the US and the UK.

Moreover, these individual leaderssporadic courier and liaison contacts with the British and US Communists and with Communist Bloc missions in London. Both Jagans have visited Cuba in the past year and have since chosen to identify the PPP with Castro's cause. However, neither the Communist Bloc nor Castro has made anyeffort to exploit the British Guiana situation.

The principal opposition to Jagan's party is the People's National Congressocialist party made up largely of city negroes. It is under the ineffectual leadership of ForbesegrooctrinaireLike most British Guiana politicians he was at one time allied with Jagan, and indeed was second to Jagan in leadership of the PPP. The United Forcearty made up largely from businessmen of various ethnic groups, was recently organized and has not demonstrated any wide popular appeal Neither It nor the PNC ls disposed to work

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the other to present Jagannited opposition; previous efforts at coalition have failed.

The elections scheduled for1 will be one of the last steps preparatory to Independence, which the British have agreed to grant approximatelyonths after The West Indies achieves independence2ith the next elections not due for another five years, the winning party in this year's contest will carry the government through independence. During theperiod, the local British officials willultimate authority for external affairs (includingut their presentveto power will be narrowed to theseAfter the elections, the localwill assume full control of the police.

The election seems likely to hinge mainly on personalities and to be decided by voting along ethnicracialhave not been deliberately stirred up. Social and economic problems, though they will certainly be issues in the election, have not yet made as much popular Impact inGuiana as they have in most of the Latin American area. The PPP has promised to put through various schemes of economicbut has been ineffectual in fulfilling its promises, partly through lack of technicians and funds. It wants to get more money out of the US-developed bauxite resources of the country. The good rice crop of the past year has made the economic situation seemand for the time being has tended not only to obscure PPP shortcomings, but even to redound to the party's credit. The PNC stands for anticommunism and theof joining The West Indies (in contrast to Jagan's antlfederatlonut these are not popular Issues. The UF's appeal against communism andusinessman's government ls even less effective.

Of theistricts from which members of the Legislative Council will be elected next August, the PPP appears certain of victoryhe PNC, inhus, control of the government will be determined by theoutcomealf dozen or so of theistricts.NC-UF coalition could take enough of these to assureajority in the Legislative Council; but it is unlikely thatoalition will be formed.such cooperation between the opposition parties, Jagan is almost certain to win in most of the pivotal districts. Accordingly, wethat Jagan's PPP will probably succeed in winning the right to form the next

From time to time Jagan has threatened to boycott the elections, on the groundsedrawing of the boundaries of electoral districts, carried outritish-appointed commissioner, was adverse to PPP interests. We think it highly unlikely that he will carry out his threat; and certainly he will not do so unless he believes his party is going to lose the elections.

Jagan's election as Chief Minister in the preindependence phase would not be likely to resultramatic and sudden shift to the left, since he would probably seek to avoid action which would discourage the granting of independence by the British and recognizes that he would lack sufficient supportevolutionary attempt to force the British out. He is almost certainly mindful of the effectiveness with which the British moved in with forcehen they feared he might try to setommunist regime.

However,ew electoral mandate. Jagan will probablyore determined effort to improve economic conditions than he has heretofore. This will entail pressure on thetheeconomicconsiderably above present levels. If he feels that economic aid from the West ls not adequate to fulfill requirements forhe will go elsewhere being careful not to provoke the British. He has alreadyinterest In an alleged Cuban offer of5 million low-interest loan. At the same time, he may threaten nationalization orof foreign and local businesses to extract additional revenues and benefits.

Howagan government might go after eventual achievement of independence is obscured by uncertainty about the nature and extent of his actual commitment to Com-

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discipline and about the tactical alms of the Bloc with respect to British Guiana. We believe that British Guiana will obtain membership In the UN upon Independence, and that it will align itself under Jagan with Afro-Asian neutralism and antlcolonlallsm.inimum, we would expect histo be assertively nationalistic,to Cuba, and prepared to enter intoand diplomatic relations with the Bloc, althoughovernment would probably still be influenced by tbe desire to obtainhelp from the UK and theood deal will depend on how far the spirit ofrevolution has spread in nearby areas of Latin America. We think it unlikely that Jagan would give up his opposition to joining the federation of The West Indieshich would offer few economic rewards and would subordinate his regime to outside and predominantly conservative influences.

t is possible that Jagan, once heree hand, would proceed forthwith with an effort to establish an avowed CommunistHowever, we believe that he wouldthis undesirable, even if he were fully committed to eventual establishment oftate. In view of the lack of trained cadres in British Guiana, the territory's primitive state of political and social development, and the likelihood of adverse internationalWe consider it more likely that an independent Jagan government would seek to portray itself as an instrument of reformist nationalism which would gradually move in the direction of Castro's Cuba. Such awould almost certainly be stronglyand supported by Castro and the Bloc.

efore independence, the attitude andof the British wiU bear heavily on the situation in British Guiana. Thus far the British seem to have been motivated chieflyesire to see British Guiana independent. They have tried to get along with Jagan and to overlook his Communist associationshe has seemed to them the only man capable of running the country. Since their Intervention3 to halt Jagan's first bid for power, they have refrained from actions which would antagonize him; the Governor's veto power has never been used. Even though they retain the capability for controlling Jagan, we believe they will do little towith political developments in British Guiana.

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