Feb 13, 1979 • 1839 • Georgetown-State • 0690

[Editor’s note: This text was released at https://wikileaks.org/plusd/cables/1979GEORGE00690_e.html.]

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P 131839Z FEB 79
FM AMEMBASSY GEORGETOWN
TO SECSTATE WASHDC PRIORITY 8982
INFO USICA WASHDC PRIORITY
LIMITED OFFICIAL USE SECTION 1 OF 2 GEORGETOWN 0690
FOR ICA/AR JOHN DENNIS.

E.O. 12PYT: NA
TAGS: PEPR, PINT, CASC(PEOPLES TEMPLE), GY
SUBJ: PRIME MINISTER BURNHAM’S BREAKFAST FOR GUYANESE MEDIA AT BELFIELD FEB. 11, 1979.

1. PRIMIN MIN FORBES BURNHAM HOSTED A SOMEWHAT UNUSUAL BREADKFAST FOR THE MEDIA ON SUNDAY, FEBRUARY 11 AT HIS COUNTRY RESIDENCE AT BELFIELD. THE BREAKFAST STARTED AT 7 A.M. ON SCHEDULE, BUT GUESTS DID NOT BEGIN TO LEAVE UNTIL 12:15 P.. AND SOME LINGEERED ON AS LATE AS 4 P.M. THE PRIMIN WAS IN A JOVIAL MOOD, TRADING JOKES WITH GUESTS, AND MINGLING FREELY WITH THEM. MRS. BURNHAM AND THE CHILDREN WERE ALSO ON HAND TO MAKE SURE THAT THE GUESTS HAD PLENTY TO EAT AND TO DRINK. MOST OF THE 60-ODD GUESTS CAME FROM THE LOCAL MEDIA (CHRONICLE, GBS, RADIO DEMERARA, GIS AND A FEW NON-GOVERNMENT JOURNALISTS), CABINET MEMBERS, GUYANESE DIPLOMATS AT HOME ON CONSULTATTION, A FEW FOREIGN OFFICIAL MEDIA AND INFORMATION REPRESENTATIVES(TASS, HSIN HUA, LA PRENSA LATINA, USICA). FOREIGN PRESSMAN WERE NOT INVITED.

2. KESTER ALVES, SPECIAL ASSISTANT TO THE PM, WAS

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MASTER OF CERMONIES FOR THE LONG SPEECHMAKING PROGRAM (FROM 9 AM. TO NOON) WHICH CONSISTED OF SPEECHES BY THE LEADERSHIP OF THE GUYANA PRESS ASSOCIATION, MEMBERS OF NON-GOVERNMENT MEDIA, GUYANESE DIPLOMATS, CABINET MEMBERS, AND MRS, BURNHAM WHO REFERRED TO HER HUSBAND AS “A SUPERIOR MAN.” THE PRIMIN HAD THE “LAST WORD” WHICH LASTED ABOUT ONE HOUR.

3. THE PRIMIN’S EXTEMPROANEOUS REMARKS FOCUSED ON TWO PRINCIPAL TOPICS, THE GOG’S PRIVATE INVESTMENT CODE, LAUNCHED THE DAY BEFORE, AND THE CONDUCT OF THE OFFICIAL AND NON-GOVERNMENT MEDIA IN GUYANA. THE PM MAINTANINED THAT THE INVESTMENT CODE WAS NOT A NEW CONCEPT, BUT A REAFFIRMATION AND CLARIFICATION OF THE LONG-STANDING INTENTION OF HIS GOVERNMENT TO MAINTAIN A TRISECTORAL ECONOMY (PUBLIC-COOPERATIVE-PRIVATE), AND THAT HE WAS NOT INTERESTED IN A MARXIST MODEL OF ECONOMIC DEVELOPMENT, BUT WANTED A GUYANESE APPROACH TO SOCIALISM AND DEVELOPMENT THAT WOULD BEST SERVE THE INTERESTS OF THE PEOPLE. THE PRIMIN POINTED TO PEPSI COLA IN MOSCOW, COCA-COLA IN PEKING, AND PRIVATE FARMS IN EASTERN EUROPE AS EVIDENCE THAT PRIVATE ENTERPRISES, AND FOREIGN INVESTIMENT CAN COEXIST WITH SOCIALISM.

4. ON THE MEDIA, THE PRIMIN SAID THAT THERE ARE TWO DISTINCT GROUPS IN GUYANA, OFFICIAL AND NON-GOVERNMENT. HE REMINDED THOSE WHO WORK FOR THE GOVERNMENT-OWNED PRESS THAT THEY MUST HAVE A CLEAR-CUT IDEA WHERE THEY STAND IN TERMS OF LOYALTY AND RESPONSIBILITY, AND THAT THEY SHOULD NOT ENTERTAIN ANY “UNREALISTIC IDEA ABOUT INDEPENDENCE OF THE PRESS.” HE CLAIMED THAT EVEN IN THE U.S., THE PRESS IS NOT TRULY INDEPENDENT AS

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EVIDENCED BY THE FALL OF RICHARD NIXON AS THE RESULT OF PRESSURE FROM OWNERS OF CERTAIN SECTIONS OF THE AMERICAN PRESS. HE FAULTED THE OFFICIAL MEDIA FOR THEIR POOR PERCEPTION AND JUDGEMENT AS TO WHAT IS IMPORTANT FOR GUYANA. TO ILLUSTRATE THE POINT, HE COMPLAINED THAT JONESTOWN WAS GIVEN EXCESSIVE COVERAGE AND PROMINENCE FOR TOO LONG BY THE OFFICIAL MEDIA WHEN “EVERYONE KNOWS THAT JONESTOWN WAS AN AMERICAN PROBLEM TRANSPORTED TO GUYANA, AND THEREFORE, CLEARLY NOT A GUYANESE PROBLEM.” HE POINTED OUT THAT JIM JONES CAME TO GUYANA WITH RECOMMENDATIONS, NOT FROM GUYANESE OFFICIALS, BUT FROM PROMINENT AMERICANS, NO LESS THAN MRS. CARTER AND VICE PRESIDENT MONDALE, AND THAT JONES CAME WITH CREDENTIALS, NOT FROM MAYOR CECIL PERSAUD OF GEORGETOWN, BUT FROM MAYOR MOSCONE OF SAN FRANCISCO. HE TOLD HIS GUESTS THAT WHEN DEPTUY PRIME MINISTER REID MET VP MONDALE IN WASHINGTON AT THE PANAMA TREATIES SIGNING CEREMONIES IN SEPTEMBER, 1977, THE VICE PRESIDENT HAD ASKED REID “HOW’S JIM?” THUS INDICATING A PERSONAL INTEREST IN THE PEOPLE’S TEMPLE LEADER. HE ALSO BROUGHT THE USSR INTO THE PICTURE BY REFERRING TO THE FACT THT THE PEOPLE’S TEMPLE BEQUEATHED ITS FOREIGN BANK ACCOUNTS, NOT TO PNC, BUT TO THE COMMUNIST PARTY OF THE USSR. THE USSR CAME UNDER INDIRECT FIRE IN ANOTHER PORTION OF THE PRIMIN’S REMARKS IN WHICH HE HYPOTHESIZED THAT IF THE PPP WERE TO COME INTO POWER TOMORROW, IT WOULD TAKE THAT PARTY SEVERAL YEARS TO UNDO THE DAMAGE DONE TO THE COUNTRY BY THE IRRESPONSIBLE CONDUCT OF THE PPP’S MIRROR.

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INFO OCT-01 ISO-00 PM-05 NSC-05 SP-02 SS-15 CIAE-00 DODE-00 INR-10 NSAE-00 PA-01 AID-05 OMB-01 TRSE-00 EB-08 XMB-02 /070 W
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P 131839Z FEB 79
FM AMEMBASSY GEORGETOWN
TO SECSTATE WASHDC PRIORITY 8983
INFO USICA WASHDC PRIORITY
LIMITED OFFICICAL USE SECTION 2 OF 2 GEORGETOWN 0690

5. COMMENT: ON THE RETURN TRIP TO GEORGETOWN A LONGTIME GUYANESE OBSERVER TOLD THE APAO THAT IN HIS VIEW THE PRIMIN’S REMARKS ON THE INVESTMENT CODE, COMING ON THE HEELS OF THE PRESS CONFRENCE HELD SATURDAY ON THE SUBJECT, SEEMED A CLEAR INDICATION THAT HE HAS DICIDED ON A CHANGE OF DIRECTION IN FAVOR OF INCREASED PRIVATE SECTIVES, AND FOREIGN INVESTMENT. THE APAO ALSO CAME AWAY WITH THE IMPRESSION THAT THE PRIMIN WANTED HIS DIPLOMATS, HIS MINISTERS, HIS MEDIA, AND PARTICULARLY THE BLOC PRESS ATTACHES PRESENT TO BE FULLY AWARE OF HIS INTENTION TO HAVE A MORE VIGOROUS PRIVATE SECTOR.

BURKE

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Originally posted on October 22nd, 2020.

Last modified on December 26th, 2020.
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