April 27, 1979 • 1304 • Georgetown-State • 1903

[Editor’s note: This text was released at https://wikileaks.org/plusd/cables/1979GEORGE01903_e.html.]

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R 271304Z APR 79
FM AMEMBASSY GEORGETOWN
TO SECSTATE 9541
INFO AMEMBASSY CARACAS
AMEMBASSY SEOUL
S E C R E T GEORGETOWN 1903
LIMDIS

E.O. 12065: GDS 4/26/87 (BURKE, JOHN R.) OR-M
TAGS: PINR, KN, GY
SUBJ: REPORTED SECURITY DEFENSE TREATY BEFORE GUYANA AND NORTH KOREA.

1. (S-ENTIRE TEXT)

2. FROM AN EXTREMELY RELIABLE GUYANESE PRESS SOURCE, AN INDIVIDUAL WHO HAS PROVIDED THE MISSION WITH MUCH VALUABLE MATERIAL FOR THE LAST SERVERAL YEARS, WE HAVE BEEN INFORMED OF THE EXISTENCE OF A SECURITY DEFENSE TREATY BETWEEN GUYANA AND NORTH KOREA WHICH APPARENTLY WAS ENTERED INTO DURING PRIME MINISTER BURNHAM’S VISIT TO PYONGYANG IN APRIL 1978. EMBASSY HAS NOT HEARD OF THE EXISTENCE OF THIS ALLEGED AGREEMENT FROM ANY OTHER SOURCE BUT BECAUSE OF THE PAST RELIABILITY OF THE INDIVIDUAL WHO GAVE US THE INFORMATION, WE ARE INCLINED TO TAKE THE REPORT SERIOUSLY.

3. IN ESSENCE THE UNDERSTANDING BETWEEN THE GOVERNMENT OF GUYANA AND THE DEMCRATIC PEOPLE’S REPUBLIC OF KOREA PROVIDES FOR A NORTH KOREAN PRESENCE IN THE DISPUTED AREA BETWEEN GUYANA AND VENEZUELA. AT PRIME MINISTER

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BURNHAM’S INSISTENCE A TEAM OF 12 NORTH KOREANS HAS BEEN SENT TO THE MATTHEWS RIDGE AREA TO UNDERTAKE A PROJECT INVOLVING LAND RECLAMATION IN TERRACE FARMING. THE TEAM IS TO PREPARE AN APPROPRIATE FEASIBILITY STUDY WHICH, IT IS HOPED, WILL DEMONSTRATE THAT SUCH A PROJECT IS VIABLE. TEAM’S PRESENCE FOR THAT PURPOSE, HOWEVER, IS PRIMARILY A “COVER” FOR SUCH A NORTH KOREAN PRESENCE IN THE DISPUTED REGION. BURNHAM’S FEELING IS THAT THE VENEZUELAN GOVERNMENT MAY BE PLANNING SOME MILITARY ACTION AGAINST GUYANA IN THE FUTURE WHICH WILL BE DETERRED ONCE THE NORTH KOREAN PRESENCE BECOMES KNOW IN CARACAS. HOWEVER, SHOULD IT OCCUR, BURNHAM WILL INVOKE THE DEFENSE UNDERSTANDING WITH PYONGYANG UNDER THE TERMS OF WHICH NORTH KOREA WILL BECOME ACTIVELY INVOLVED IN THE DEFENSE OF GUYANA AGAINST VENEZUELA.

4. OUR SOURCE INDICATES THAT BURNHAM’S PRESSURE FOR THE DISPATCH OF KOREANS INTO THE DISPUTED AREA HAS DEVELOPED SUBSEQUENT TO THE ELIMINATION OF PEOPLES TEMPLE COMMUNITY AT JONESTOWN. (IT HAS BEEN GENERALLY UNDERSTOOD FOR SOME TIME THAT THE REASON THE PEOPLES TEMPLE COMMUNITY WAS LOCATED NEAR PORT KAITUMA IN THE AREA DISPUTED WITH VENEZUELA WAS TO PROVIDE AN AMERICAN “TRIP WIRE” SHOULD VENEZUELA ATTEMPT TO SEIZE ALL OR PART OF THE DISPUTED TERRITORY IN THE NORTHWEST. GOG RATIONALE WAS THAT THE VENEZUELANS WOULD BE INHIBITED FROM SEIZING ANY OF THIS TERRITORY IF THERE WAS THE RIST THAT VENEZUELAN FORCES MIGHT BE BROUGHT INTO CONTACT WITH AMERICAN CITIZENS.)

5. IT IS GENERAL KNOWLEGE [KNOWLEDGE] THAT A SHIPMENT OF KOREAN PATROL BOATS AS WELL AS ARTILLERY AND AMMUNITION ARRIVED

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IN GUYANA ON MARCH 10. THE MILITARY MATERIAL WAS OFFLOADED FROM THE TRANSPORTING VESSEL UNDER HEAVY SECURITY BY THE GDF. THERE IS ALSO AN UNCONFIRMED REPORT THAT SOME OF THIS MATERIAL HAS NOW BEEN TRANSPORTED TO ANKOKO ISLAND ON THE VENEZUELAN BORDER. THE EMBASSY FINDS IT EXTREMELY INTERESTING THAT THE KOREAN ARMS SHIPMENT, CONTAINING AS IT DID, ARTILLERY PIECES WHICH HAVE LITTLE RELEVANCE TO GUYANA’S INTERNAL DEFENSE, WOULD HAVE BEEN PROVIDED TO THE GOG BY PYONGYANG.

6. COMMENT: AS THE DEPARTMENT WILL HAVE NOTED FROM THE EMBASSY’S REPORTING, THE TIES BETWEEN NORTH KOREA AND GUYANA HAVE BECOME VERY CLOSE AND CORDIAL, PARTICULARLY OVER THE LAST YEAR. WE KNOW FOR A FACT THAT THE RESIDENT KOREAN MISSION HAS GROWN DRAMATICALLY IN NUMBERS IN THE LAST EIGHTEEN MONTHS. THERE ARE ALSO INDICATIONS THAT THIS MISSION MAY INDEED BE THE MOST IMPORTANT NORTH KOREAN MISSION IN THE WESTERN HEMISPHERE. IT IS ENGAGED INTENSIVELY IN PROPAGANDA EFFORTS IN GEORGETOWN FAR BEYOND THE NORMAL WHICH MIGHT BE EXPECTED OF A PURELY BILATERAL MISSION. IT SPONSORED FOR EXAMPLE A LARGE MEETING ON KOREAN UNIFICATION IN JANUARY WHICH DELEGATIONS FROM ALL OVER LATIN AMERICA. (GEORGETOWN 506) THERE IS EVERY INDICATION THAT THE NORTH KOREAN MISSION IS HIGHLY REGARDED BY THE GOG, PERHAPS TO AN EXTENT WELL BEYOND THE REGARD THE RESIDENT CUBAN OR RUSSIAN MISSIONS ENJOY. IT IS ALSO KNOWN FROM RELIABLE SOURCES THAT PRIME MINISTER BURNHAM WAS MOST FAVORABLY IMPRESSED BY HIS RECEPTION IN KNORTH KOREA DURING HIS APRIL-MAY TRIP OF 1978, RATING IT FAR ABOVE THE OTHER STOPS: MOSCOW, EAST BERLING AND LONDON. FINALLY, IT SHOULD BE NOTED THAT OUR SOURCE ON THE ALLEGED SECRET UNDERSTANDING DESCRIBED ABOVE HAS HAD CONTACT WITH THE RESIDENT NOTHR KOREAN AMBASSADOR WITHIN THE LAST FEW DAYS

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DURING WHICH THE AMBSSADOR CONFIRMED PRIVATELY THE ARRIVAL IN GUYANA OF THE NORTH KOREAN ARMS SHIPMENT.

BURKE

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Originally posted on October 23rd, 2020.

Last modified on December 30th, 2020.
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