State Dept Declassified (1973): PNC rigging gets “out of hand”; US not...

State Dept Declassified (1973): PNC rigging gets “out of hand”; US not “too disturbed”

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3. In attempting its forecast of this election (Ref A), Embassy had not really expected PNC to abandon all pretense of honest election. In event, however, this is what appears to have happened. Whether out of fear, confusion, inefficiency, exuberance or sheer lack of coordination, rigging does seem to have gotten out of hand. From all reports, ballot boxes were delivered by variety of means Monday night to Guyana Defense Force (GDF) headquarters in Georgetown where they remained under armed guard for upwards of 10 hours before vote counting began. PPP evidently succeeded only too well in alarming PNC by its last minute exhortations to its followers to prevent removal of ballot boxes to three central counting locations. Evidently, plans to engage in ballot box stuffing and switching while boxes being delivered, as had apparently been the original intention, were abandoned and stuffing and switching seems to have taken place while the boxes held at GDF headquarters before delivery to three counting locations. 4. Announced results district by district (which will be reported by airgram) so clearly padded that little can be learned by comparison with 1968 results which themselves suspect. We will really never know what true vote was in any of the districts, how successful PNC campaign might have been. Or how great Liberator Party’s appeal was. About all that can be said at this point is that Burnham has retained power and that he will be able to amend the constitution as he sees fit. As U.S. had in past devoted much time, effort and treasure to keeping Jagan out, we should perhaps not be too disturbed at results this election. Jagan is still out, and Burnham still in.

363. Telegram 1062 From the Embassy in Guyana to the Department of State Georgetown, July 19, 1973, 1539Z

 

“He obviously had grounds for optimism, about his followers if not about how the election would be conducted, since he and his party had deliberately inflamed racial antagonisms and campaigned on the time-tested racial appeals of Apanjat—“stand together” and “vote for one of us.” His party used its old brutal tactics of intimidation, reprisal and violence to keep East Indians in line, apparently with considerable success….

Jagan reacted to the election results by saying his party could never accept them, just as he did in 1968. He has been cruising through the East Indian strongholds in Berbice and the Corentyne, reportedly ordering attacks on those suspected of deserting to Burnham and laying plans for industrial strife and, perhaps, more acts of violence. He has refused to provide the elections commission the names of fourteen party members to occupy the seats in Parliament allotted to him, and Parliament will probably be convened Thursday without a PPP presence…..”

364. Telegram 1097 From the Embassy in Guyana to the Department of State Georgetown, July 25, 1973, 1150Z.

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