P R 0 f: C 0 N
THOUGHTS ON v'EST INDIAN FEDERATION
Bureau of Public Information, British Guiana, 1948.
& C 0 N
ON WEST INDIAN FEDERATION)
and the question
CLOSER ASSOCIATION OF
(A series of four broadcast talks
by H.R. HAREOCD, PUBLIC INFORMTATICN
Bureau of Public Information, British Guiana, 1948.
P R 0
3AMR. IC 72A
The four broadcasts which are reproduced in this
cyclostyled booklet were delivered on the "BPI Sunday
at Noon Programme" on dates between June 22, 1947 and
AJU 20, 1947. Mr. Creech Jones's memorandum on Closer
Association of the Caribbean Colonies (Command 7120) had
beon published in the Press on May 20. Editorial writers
and others had already bogun to express opinions on the
subject and it was though that an effort to present the
case, pro and con, as objectively as possible might as-
sist the t5itnatants of Dritish Guiana in considering
what their attitude should be.
-esides the insertion of side sub-heads as a visual
aid to the reader, there have been only such typographical
and minor changes in the original text as were thought
necessary for greater clarity.
PRO AND CON 1
oo000oo AS THE PR3SS* SEFS- IT oo0oo
(Broadcast on June 22, 1947)
I propose this morning to place on the record a digest
of the opinions that have been expressed in British Guiana
during the past three weeks on the question of b.est Indian
Federation, or Closer Union, or Closer Association or
what you will.
This record will be preliminary to an examination of
these three questions:
(1) \vWhat in these days of geopolitics should be the
attitude of any country anywhere towards that full
regional collaboration which is Federation?;
(2) What can British Guiana (with its ill-understood
*The daily newspapers of British Guiana at date of the
broadcast consisted of the Daily Chronicle, the Daily Argosy,
and the Guiana Graphic. All are strongly patriotic to the
British Empire and to the idea of the development of British
Guiana as a unit -of the Empire. Their views on Federation
have not changed since this broadcast...
slogan damus petimusque vicissim) give to a .'est
Indian FederaticnT; and
(3) What should British Guiana seek from a West Indian
Discussion of the question has of course been revived by
the publication, on May 28, of certain papers issued by the
Secretary of State for the Colonies. It is very important that
I should remind you exactly What those papers are, for although
they have been issued to the Press they have not yet been
published in full.
These papers comprise first, a despatch dated the 14th of
February 1047 from the Secretary of State for the Colonies to
the Governors of Barbados, British Guiana, British Honduras,
Jamaica, Leeward Islands, Trinidad and the ';indward Islands.
(You will note the absence of the Bahamas that colony saw no
useful purpose in entering the discussions. However a copy of
the papers has been sent there for information).
Secondly, the papers from the Secretary of State include
a memorandum which sets out with admirable balance some of the
elements in the problem and puts forward tentative ideas, in
order (I am quoting) to help in focussing attention upon the
considerations which any scheme for closer association must
The third paper is an Appendix an old despatch; dated
March 14, 1945, from Col. Stanley, the previous Secretary of
State for the Colonies and published at the time by the British
Guiana and West Indian press.
The Real Meat
And now, it is the fourth, the fifth, and the sixth of
the papers that contain what I consider to be the real neat of
th3 question. These are the papers that have not been pub-
lialaW.. I say it'in sorrow rather than in an-er! After all,
they are not newspaper stuff. I mean they may be important,
but they make somewhat dull reading to a peoplee who a;re
apparently not excited over the question of political -rowth.
Of what do these unpublished papers consist? First, a
compete comparison of the present constitutions of the British
West Indian colonies the powers of thevarious Governors,
the powers an" functions of the Executive Councils, the com-
position and powers of the Legislative bodies, the qualifi-
cations of members of the legislative bodies and the qualifi-
cation of voters. It is an extremely valuable comparison and
though I have promised to myself that I would avoid comment at
this stage, I'd like to suggest that the alleged dissimilarity
of constitutions seems to be more apparent than real and I
think you may be inclined to say after studying this comparison,
that no political upheaval would be necessary to find the
highest cormon factor or the greatest common measure, that is,
if it were at all necessary to find the H.C.F. or G.C.I'.
Then ve have a full statement, correct to dates in 1C46,
of the financial position of the different colonies. Could
anything be more important? Again, this may sound like a
comment but I'll mention it in passing the analysis shows
British Guiana to be leading in the public debt per head of
population:$GO per head; with Trinidad a poor second, just
under $50 per head.
Anyway, the next unpublished paper is a comparison of the
ways in which the powers of the Federal Government and the
powers of the state Sovernments are distributed in those great
federations of Australia, Canada,and India. I'll touch on all
these papers that have not, or should I say not yet, been pub-
lished in the Press. Perhaps I should give you some idea why I
thought that this last paper on the federal powers in other
dominions should be given the widest publicity. In Australia,
the very first of the states' powers as set out in the federal
constitution is that the constitution of each state, shall
subject to the federal constitution, continue as at the estab-
lishment of the Commonwealth or as at the admission or estab-
lish rdnt of the State, as the case may be, until altered in
accordance with the Constitution of the State. In Canada, I
see that each Province may amend from time to time its own
constitution; and as for India, well, I am fairly certain
that no one in the West Indies or British Guiana would seriously
suggest that it is more difficult to frame a federal constitu-
tion for the Caribbean colonies than for the Indian provinces.
Yes, the Government of India Act 1935 is also summarized for
you in this excellent group of papers.
S *. .
Well, those are the Federation papers, as I shall call them.
I think I have said enouSh to indicate that it would hardly be
correct to say these Federation papers have been carefully
studied in British Guiana. A limited number of copies arrived
in this country hence it is import-nt 'hat the Press or
those sections that have the space should publish every word
of them. The Chronicle and the Graphic have indeed begun. Let
us hope they pursue this enterprise to the end. The Graphic
thinks that the subject is one which our many debating societies
and clubs should study, but they can hardly do so when they have
not yet seen all the papers. It is usually a wise proceeding
to read up the papers on any subject before talking about it.
There are also other cognate papers that could be studied
with profit. Of these papers the most important is Dr. Benham's
memorandum on British West Indian Intercolonial trade. I
suggest to British Guianese businessmen that they pmrticubrly
could profit from a study of these figures, and their impli-
cations, especially the figures for our export trade in rice
and our import trade in petroleum products.
I suggest, too, that it might be useful to see whether
or not these figures point to the possibility of a Customs
Union preceding political federation.
Another relevant pp er is the report of the First West
Indian Conference at which I was Press Officer. I should like
to hear that more people have read what is written there on
industrialization within this region. The report of the
Second iest Indian Conference at St.. Thomas last year is
no less important.
However, I promised to place on record a digest of the
opinions that have recently been expressed on the subject and
I shall do so now.
When the report was first published the local dailies were
commendably dispassionate. The Chronicle conceded that there
was "room for profitable discussion" upon the centralization of
certain services but reserved comment on any suggestion that
"involved federation on a higher scale." It further alleged
that a "hint had been dropped in official circles that federa-
tion with the West Indies may be forced upon us from the Colonial
Office rather than bein3 a gradual growth from the bottom. Such
an imposition would be regrettable and we trust our delegates...
will make abundantly clear the misgivings such a project would
arouse in Guiana....A great deal is at stake."
In a further comment however, the Chronicle quoted "a
Colonial Office spokesman" as saying that although Dominion
status may not be achieved immediately, it is hoped the Colonies
will acquire it eventually. "This", the Chronicle, said "indi-
cated a genuine desire to see the West Indies elevated in status
and the people enjoying a higher standard of living. British
Guiana will play her full part in the union of West Indian
Colonies but will still pursue her continental destiny."
The ArGosy, too, had its eyes on this "continental destiny",
stressing that British Guiana has to remember that "while....
she is,not advantageously situated so f.r as present main trans-
port lanes are concerned, she has great po:2ibilities as an
entrepot in the future when the development of her resources
are undertaken, and she takes her rightful place in a continental
link-up of communications anc commercial and industrial enter-
prise." The Argosy considered that the groundwork for closer
association was there, but emphasized that "it would have to be
elastic to serve the requirements of various colonies." It went
onto say that some islands might prefer the economic and -
political union of the Leewards but "it might be more expedient
for a Colony such as British Guiana to participate in an Asso-
ciation of a looser nature such as obtains in the dindwards."
In its further comment, the Argosy declared that "most in-
teresting of all to British Guiana will be whether current de-
velopment planning will be classified as a central or a regional
service. It urged that no "bric-a-brac" be "brought out and
polished up' for the September Conference but that "there...be
a "bighearted effort" to create a constitution that can grow
as the colonies develop". It suggested that a Ministry of
State for the Caribbean may have to be created.
The Graphic said that in September "steps will be taken
to bring a matter which has been food for debate for over 50
years nearer actuality than it has ever been. Opinion in this
Colony is well divided over our inclusion in any Federated
Government of the B.W.I.", but British Guiana must now. make
up its mind whether she "should remain aloof from the federal
archipelago or be absorbed therein; whether, having faith in
our ultimate destiny as a potentially resat part of the American
continent, we should declare ourselves benevolent towards
federation and nothing else, or whether with an eye on the
possible advantages which inclusion might brin-, we should
Consulting "The People"
So much for the first guarded dispassionate comments.
Later, the idea seemed to have 'ot around that the people of
British Guiana would not be consulted and the Graphic and the
Chronicle waxed warmer.
"OQportunity", said the Graphic, "should be given the
people to state their wishes in the matter." "The people",
said the Chronicle, "are entitled to express an opinion. This
country (I quote the Chronicle) cannot enter lightheartedly
into political partnership with the West Indies, and delegates
to the Jamaica conference should be -iven definite instructions
on this point."
"The time fixed for the Conference is not propitious for
British Guiana", the Chronicle also stated, "as the General
Elections are scheduled for the same month and elected members
run a great risk in leavin- the colony at that crucial period.
But time apart, our representation at the Jamaica parley has a
doubtful value. The majority do not want federation and will
object to any pressure applied from outside."
Federation, the Chronicle was nov arguing with more self-
assuredness, "is likely to benefit small islands grouped to-
gether geographically and sharing a common destiny"...but "in
Bit~Lsh Guiana there are no apparent inducements to closer
association except the probable benefits of an economic union."
Finally, Guiana was "on the threshold of great economic develop-
ment" with "proposals to settle ?uropeans and best Indians."
Regarding the latter, the Chronicle welcomed""the surplus
population of the evst Indies but does not consider that closer
political union is the precursor to the settlement of "iest
Indians in our hospitable country or is a prerequisite.to
Mr. Carlos Gomes of Thomas Street not only saw in Federa-
tion the "death-knell of substantial development in British
Guiana" but wrote of world political trends from the licence
of Liberalism to the centralization of Socialism, on to the
tyranny of Communism. Federation, he wovtid up in the last
paragraph of his letter to the Argosy, will "arrest progress
in British Guiana in the maelstrom of its cataclysm".
A "College Boy" writing to the Chronicle was moved to
exclaim:"If British Guiana and the ,est Indies are federated,
God help us!" (In the same issue the dbronicle is found en-
thusing over the Colonial Office announcement of the new "Col-
onial Primary Products Committee". Said the Chronicle: "We
could easily supply the British Caribbean colonies with all
the fats and rice supplies that they could consume, for not
only is British Guiana the logical centre of Caribbean indus-
trialisation but it is the natural granary for the area.)
I think it is fair to say that in most of these comments
there was the evident assumption that the people would not be
consulted that the September conference would commit British
Guiana irrevocably. Yet from the first, this point had been
made absolutely clear. It was clear in Col. Stanley's 1945 des-
patch. It was clear in the debate in the British Guiana Legis-
lature, reports of which were published in the press; it was
clear in the BPI communique issued with these Federation papers;
it was clear in the Secretary of State's memorandum itself, the
first paragraph of which begins: "The possibility of closer ass-
ciation of the British colonies in the Ulest Indies, whether
in a federal system or otherwise, is primarily a matter for
examination by representatives of the people of those colonies,
and this was recognized in Col. Stanley's despatch of March 1945.''
This morning the Chronicle, reassured on a point on which
clearly no reassurances were ever necessary, was able to resume
its more dispassionate approach to the subject and agreed that
"some form of federation may be useful but we shall be careful
just how we federate". It is just there that the unpublished
parts of the Federation papers should be most helpful. Mr.
Jack Bayley, in yesterday's Argosy, urged that a 'White Paper
should be issued by the Government of British Guiana on the
subject. But these Federation Papers (taken with Dr. Benham's
survey the price of which is 10 cents in Barbados) constitute
the White Paper and it is to be hoped the Press will publish
them. In publishing them, the Press would be doing a great
service would be making a definite contribution to clear
thinking on this important subject.
PRO LAD GO1 2
000ooOoo H BIG IS BRITISH GUIANA? 0oOo0
broadcast t on July 6, 1947)
;n the first, talk of this series I sur1arized Press
opinion in Yritish -uiana, editorial and Ecntributed opinion,
on the question of a conference on Vest Indian I*edertion.
It was a record which showed no groet enthusiasm for the project;
but then, it also showed that the public had not been able to
make any careful study of tho Federation Papers since they
had not been published in full; and it is these Federation Papers
which are the iAmediate basis for evaluating the project.
However, I promised that that record would be preliminary to
an examination of three questions. These were the questions:
(1) What, in these days of geopolitics, should be the
attitude of any country anywhere towards that full
regional collaboration which is Federation?
(2) 7l'.at can :ritish Guiana give to a West Indian
(3) What should Lritish Guiana seek from a West Indian
Those were the questions I promised to examine and I want
to begin that examination with you today. They are questions
which I submit reduce to the most practical essentials Lritish
Guiana's interest in the forthcoming conference.
On the Chess Doard
The first question concerns geopolitics. It is a long
word. We heard a lot about it during the rise and fall of Adolf
Hitler and we shall hear even more about it during the rise and,
we hope, the fall of future world conquerors. What does it mean?
As simply as I can define it, geopolitics means the objective
application.of political geography. As such it takes in economics,
economic policies and their international interplay, comparisons
of social systems and so on.
In geopolitics, one ceases to think of separate countries:
the concept on which emphasis is placed is the region. And just
as in Chess you reduce the number of pieces on the board in order
to clarify the problem (without necessarily making it any easier
to solve), so the tendency in geopolitics is to consider the
power areas and the problem areas huge massses of the world's
surface subject to the same economic and consequently military
I wish I could illustrate this without entering the field
of international controversy. That is a field into which obviously
I cannot enter. Dut I can at least ask you to consider certain
questions based on premises which are accepted, premises which are
no longer regarded as controversial; and in considering these
questions, you will see at once what is involved in geopolitics,
and why the islands and mainland areas of the Caribbean must be
From the Caribbean, looking out --
In the last war three points rmorgod as plainly as could be
to every thinker looking out on th ..orld from any point in this
'irst, the surermacy and security of the United States in
North Azlerica and the Forthern Shores of South America are an
accepted fact and the maintenance of this supremacy and security
is of vital military importance to Great 1ritain and the Iritish
Aipire. It is sufficient merely to point to the existence
of the U.S. Dases in the Caribbean colonies.
Secondly, the United States has so great an economic
interest in trade with Europe that it is absolutely necessary
for her to continue to contribute towards securing the Yorth
Atlantic Routes against any power hostile to Britain and to
herself. (Of course the security of these routes is even more
important economically to Britain than to the United States
but remember we are viewing the world now with the eyes of one
looking out from the Caribbean).
The third point that struck Caribbean people during: the
war was that one of the backdoors of the U.S.A. is the Northern
Half of South America and that the United States could not
afford to leave that backdoor vulnerable. Er. Taussig, the
American Co-Chairman of the Caribbean Comminsion, said ht the
recent meeting of the Commission in Jamaica that he believed
"the complete figures of the submarine sinkings in the Caribbean
in 1942 would be of tremendous interest to the peoples of the
Caribbean and they would see how close they had been to the
precipice". :t that is not all: I have seen it stated with
authority, that in that year, 1942, iCaeri.iu submarines wore a-'le
(in spite of Anglo-Amor:Lcan superiority in seapower in the
Atlantic) to isolate tei.iorarily the two major reg..ons of :razil
from each other.
Combination with whom?
So you see what is involved when, from some point in the
Caribbean you take a geopolitical view of this world in which
we live. IFor small colonies, particularly small, underpopulated
colonies, the lesson of all lessons which 1942 suggests is that
if they the small places are to have any say at all in the
utilization of their strategic value, they should combine.
They should combine as early as possible and therefore
they should choose the most practical working combination.
It is 'a matter for the :ritish -uianose people to decide
which is for them the earliest effective combination likely
to ocnerge in this area. A conlominion embracing from Cuba
to the Colonial parts of South America? A Union of the three
Guianas? Or the practical application of the phrase Continental
Destiny which would be an independent Guiana of 375,000 people
in economic and military alliance with Venezucla's 4,200,000
and >razilts 45,500,000?
Or is it that national federation the federation of
::ritish nationals in this area is the best basis?
Whatever the choice the answer sugeZsted in these papers
is that we should combine, so th.t a Dominion or Commonwealth
of 2,000,000 people will speak in the world's councils on
behalf of a state of 375,000. In Colonel Stanloy's despatch
of 1945, it was pointed out that "Under modern conditions there
were serious difficulties in the way of small units maintaining
full and complete independence in all aspects of government".
1r. Creech Jonests memorandum two years later has forthrightly
mentioned the international asopct. This is the quotation.
It is at Paragraph 11 on Page 9 I am giving you chapter and
"Possibly," the Secretary of State says,"the most
important reason of all for the view that closer associa4
tion is necessary lies in the fact that it is clearly
impossible in the modern world for the present separate
communities, small and isolated as rost of them are, to
achieve and maintain full self-government on their own.
It is not, for example, practical politics to suppose
that communities of 200,000 souls or in some cases even
less should play an independent part in international
discussions. On the other hand a community of well over
two million people in the Caribbean Area, with much that
is homogeneous in their culture, could reasonably hope
to achieve real self-government and to be strong enough
to stand against economic and cultural pressure, and to
formulate and carry through a policy and way of life of
Youhave hoard it. Lost important, or ranking very
high on the list of important roosons why federation should at
least be discussed in conference is tha absurdity of thinking
that any one of these little countries (and British Guiana is not
a large country by -international comparison) that any one of these
little countries could expect to be able to speak for itself in
an international discussion in an international discussion on
which its very existence might depend.
I have tak.on up most of todayts tinr in drawing attention to
this paragraph in the memorandum but I nmst plead that I have not
yet seen anywhere in this country any tendency to pay special re-
gard to what the Socretary of State suggests may be .*.*"possibly
the most important reason for the view that closer association
is necessary" ..... ..... ay I earnestly ask Lritish Guianese,
while they are reading the foreign news every morning on their
front pagos, to give this thought some consideration?
I shall rest here my remarks on the first of the three
practical and essential grounds for Dritish Guiana's interest
in the forthcoming conference. The next talks will deal with
the questions: "What can Gritish Guiana Give and that should
Dritish Guiana seek from a federation?" u I have a couple
of minutes in h -anthis morning and I should like to take'the
opportunity to remove a misconception which seems to exist in
the minds of persons who have not yet read the Secretary of
States memorandum or who may not have read it in one peice but
by skipping along from one newspaper instalment to the next.
It does not appear to be appreciated that the Secretary of
State's memorandum is a short statement merely indicating the
nature of the problem which the forthcoming conference will
It is not an exhaustive treatise. It is not written to
give a lead--It is not written to persuade the conference
one gay or the other.
It is a factual review, objective and balanced presented
in the briefest compass, of the considerations which appear to
arise. Failure to appreciate this fact is leading to strange
suspicions in Eritish Guiana.
One of Four Courses
For example, it appears to be believed that the Secretary
of State in this memorandum is actively canvassing support for
a West Indian Council. (This West Indian Council would have no
legislative powers but would be merely a consultative and
correlat-.ng body, controlling those services which would be common
to the area and with the Chairman and his advisers resident in the
British West Indies and replacing the Comptroller for Development
and welfare e and his advisory staff).
Well, the belief is that the Secretary of State is actively
canvass..ng support for this body. Lut this West Indian Council
is not canvassed in this memorandum. It is not positively
thrust forward in the memorandum at all. It is merely put up -
with the pros and cons as one of four possible courses the
September* Conference may care to ta e; and indeed, after setting
forth the pros and the cons, the Secretary of State concludes
'On the whole therefore it may be thought that the expedient of
a British West Indian Council should not receive consideration
so long as the possibility remains opE-nof securing agreement
upon a federal constitution in some form'
No Bogey Man
So you see, there is no bogey man :n the background whipping
the British Guianese and other Dritish Caribbean people into a
conference they do not want or threatening to -drive them, at that
conference, into political adventures for which they have no taste.
The free legislatures of those colonies have all but Dahamas -
decided in favour of discussing the practical steps necessary to
implement the aim of closer association or federation. The
Secretary of State has outlined some of the elements in the problem.
He has even aired the view that bearing in mind these
many problems, the most practical course for the Septomber
conference might be if there is agreement on principle
- to assign the working out of details to a further and
smaller conference, or to select a sub-committee (with expert
assistance) for this task.
In short the memorandum is an exceedingly helpful
basis for discussion. That is all it is.
- 20 -
PRO AND CON 3
ooOoo "DAMUS PETIMU3SUE VICISSIM" ooOoo
-British Guiana's motto.
(Broadcast on July 13, 1947)
What should British Guiana give to a West Indian
'Ihat should British Gulina seek from a West Indian
Co-i: onwea lth?
I promised to begin a discussion of these related
Small groups of Guianese you and I and all of us -
must talk this thin: over together; and only reason and com-
monsense must guide our discussions. I want us to dismiss
from our minds the emotional thinking which can be aroused by
phrases like Dominion Status and Continental Destiny, and,
instead, place in their proper perspective the ideas, the
mental pictures, which such words arouse. i'e have for example,
to look dispassionately on the fact that the area held by,
say, the Rupununi Development Company is 1,000 square miles
more than the area of Trinidad. That is the sort of tcunt
many of us Guianese do love to fling at the inhabitants of
those little island colonies, particularly when we hear that
some of the inhabitants of some of those little island colon-
ies have used false statements to entice tourists from coming
on-to British Guiana.
- 21 -
We have to ask ourselves whether that sort of thing -
our own vainglory or our neighbours' false witness is tak-
ing either of us anywhere. die have to keep in our :inds facts
like these that the inhabitants of most of thoa little .ailand
colonies earn I rely on Dr. Benham- a na ;onal i.-nome per
head comparable with ours and in the aggregate eat more rice
than British Guiana can yet produce in excess of its own needs;
that Kaleteur is the logical terminus of the British iest In-
dian tourist trade and that in Trinidad itself there are many
wealthy people killing g to see for themselves this wonder of the
world, if British Guiana can find the capital to organize a
reasonably comfortable journey, and accommodation and amenities.
We Already Give
In facing the whole problem of political fusion in the
future we have also to learn to rid ourselves of that fear of
the unknown :rhich seems to be one of our Guianese failings, if
I am to judge from the attitude of the majority of us towards
our own interior towards investment, or employment, or even
excursions into the continental part of our o.~ country. Perhaps
it may help us to rid ourselves of this fear, if, before consider-
ing what Guianese should give to and seek from a ';est Indian
Commonwealth, we take into account what we already do in this
It has been very evident in the Press discussions of the
Federation papers that we Guianese lose sight of the fact that
we already make significant and substantial contributions tb-
wards the com-ion purposes of the Caribbean area.
- 22 -
I have in front of me a copy of British Guiana's esti-
mates of public expenditure as passedd by the Legislative Coun-
cil. Flipping over the pages, I see items like
Expenses West Indian Court of Appeal $ 1,200
Imperial College of Tfopical Agriculture,T'dad 5,760
Subsidy,Canadian National Steamships 40,800
Sugar Cane Investigation Committee,T'dad 96
Token contribution to the West India Committee's
tourist and general information.agency in Lon-
don which services it performs on behalf of
all these Caribbean Countries 51
(Our contribution to a tripartite agreement
with Trinidad and Barbados for joint represen-
tation in New York was suspended in error last
year). The expenditure was 7,000
Trade Commissioner Service for British WIest
Indies and British Guiana in Canada 551
Contributions towards establishment of Director
General of Civil Aviation for the fest
Contribution to University College of the
British Festt Indies 17,548
Cost of a Censug, which was conducted on a -fest
Indian basis 25,920
We are already over $100,000. And I have not yet men-
tioned the training schemes Training of Girl Guides, Lepro-
sarium Officer, Senior Sanitary Inspectors, Nurse-midwives,
Prison Officers and so on. To one .Vest Indian Colony or
- 23 -
another we have been sending officers for training and they
have been sending theirs to British Guiana. And here's
another interesting item -
Cost of attendance of Labour Officers in
I do not claim that I have made an exhaustive analysis
of our financial contributions to causes comrnon to the Carib-
bean area.(laave.not, for example, referred to he expenses of
delegates to the dest Indian Conference in St. Thomas). But it
is a list which shows that British Guiana, officially,
is already in ad hoc association with the neighboring West
Indian countries, and that the taxpayers' representatives are
willing to invest a tidy total in this rscociation,
Closer Association In Being
Could it be otherwise with a Development and -ielfare
Organization resident in the West Indies and with a staff of
experts from whose advice we are benefiting? Almost every other
week during the past two or three years there has been in this
area one conference or another on matters of common concern.
The most recent one was, I think, the Conference of Medical
Officers. Currently there is the Ship.ping Conference, and soon
we are to have the Conference to decide on designs of Nest
Indian coins, the federal principle or at least the bi-federal
- 24 -
principle having been fully accepted in the question of a
West Indian currency. These are the recent, the current, and
forthcoming conferences on particular questions. Behind them
there is a long list of examples of officials or unofficial
getting together for the common good.
There have been conferences of army Officers, Law Offi-
cers, Forestry Officers, Social Welfare and Probation Officers,
and Prison Officers. There have been conferences which includ-
ed both businessmen and officials on particular commodities like
oils and fats, and rice... And, there are the standing organi-
zations like the Incorporated Chambers of Commerce of the Bri-
tish Caribbean, the B.I.I. Sugar Technologists Association, the
Federation of the British Civil Service Associations in the
Caribbean; the B.W.I. Trades Union Congress, and the British
Guiana and .V.I.Teacherst Association, the B.'.I. Schooner
Owners Association, and others.
Barriers To Intercourse.
A young Guianese who has been absent from the area for
the period of the war told me he could see no upsurge of feel-
ing among the peoples themselves for any closer association
than this. But the question that is worthy of examination is
whether inter-colonial intercourse travel, exchange of ideas
in ne-wspa'ers and so on which is the ;re-requisite to this
up- :urge, is ever likely to precede closer political associa-
I have in mind noa that each of the Colonies has its
- 25 -
own deterrents to unrestricted immigration from the other.
Ve in British Guiana for example require a British West Indian
traveller intending to stay in British Guiana and likely in
the opinion of the authorities to become a change on public
funds, to deposit $o6. which may be retained by the authorities
for two years and applied to the cost ofhis relief or repatria-
tion(or returned to him if not so required). Generally, each
of the colonies in the area has barriers on the same lines
against the inhabitants of the other.
Another exam-le of insular bA'a'ler : A Guianese student
who has to change residence from British Guiana to Barbados or
Trinidad and vice-versa will almost certainly find himself
ineligible for the state scholarship of his new home. (This in
spite of the fact that the foundation stone of a University
College of the Jest Indies is about to be laid).
I am personally willing to be convinced that these and
other barriers to intercourse will be relioved before there is
a co-ionwealth parliament. Bub may I say I frankly doubt it?
Living Space And Industrial Potential
However, the point is that we enter the Federation Con-
ference in September with the knowledge that we already rive
to the Commonwealth and seek from it the benefit of consulta-
tion on common causes.
- 26 -
Now the paramount contributions that DBrtich Guiana has
to make to a dest Indian Commonwealth appear to be living space
and industrial potential, neither of which is an exportable
commodity. 4e have the living space not only in the largely
infertile areas of the Interior but also on the coast where -
we all tend to forget there are thousands and thousands of
acres lying idle.
In these nineteen forties we in this country have begun,
with Imperial assistance, schemes of drainage and irrigation
which will make it possible to cultivate, gainfully, very large
areas indeed areas which we may say (and in no spirit of
boastfulness now) will exceed in the aggregate the area of
most .est Indian colonies.
British Guianese in discussing this Federation question
will lose nothing by considering whether this country has the
population to make fully productive the 500 000 odd acres which
will benefit from these drainage and irrigation schemes. It
would be fair at the same time to consider whether our exist-
ing population has not proved to be inadequate to fulfil at
one and the same time the manpower needs of any two prosperous
It may be, that some Gulanese will come totte conclu-
sion that we have as much to gain as the West Indian from
making as easy as possible the inflow of West Indian Immigra-
tion. Perhaps even more Guianese will reflect that the main
crops of the newly drained and irrigated areas will be rice
and cattle, that a guaranteed market for our surplus is the
- 27 -
most important factor in considering the future, particularly
the future of our rice industry; that we can only look forthat
guaranteed market in the fest Indies; that the lest Indies,
eight years or so from now may be again offered Burman* rice;
that Bumman rice very likely will then still be cheaper than
The withdrawal of Burma from the Empire was not in 7
L prospect at the time of this broadcast. _
Whether a Guiana, isolated from a United West Indian
commonwealth, can maintain rice agreements in the face of such
competition, will be, I fancy, one of the crucial questions
for us in considering whether we should enter the commonwealth
now. And if you a-rea -:ith me that this may be the crucial
question, you will agree that it is essential to study Dr.
Benham's memoranda on Intercolonial West Indian Trade.
In those memoranda Dr. Behham presented statistical evi-
dence that in food items British Guiana stands to gain more
than any other Vest Indian Colony from a Customs Union; that
our chief loss in customs revenue would come from the removal
of import duties on petroleum products.
Bearing in mind what our rice exports mean to our coast-
al economy while Trinidad's economy would hardly be dislocated
if we bought our petroleum elsewhere, it does seem that a
guaranteed market for our rice must be high up on the list of
the things British Guianece may reasonably seek from a geast
Indian c omaonwealth.
,e may seek these benefits not only in return for our
industrial potential but also in return for the actual sacri-
faces whichh in common with all other units we would have to
make to a FedoralQ~ganization. Sacrifice, perhaps investment
is a better word, is inseparable from tho creation of any Fed-
oral Government in the division of powers and taxation as be-
tween the Comnbnwealth and the State Governments.
A Commonwealth's Borrowing Powers
A commonwealth of two million people hlioso finances,
we have no reason whatever for supposing, :ill be any less
prudently managed than the finances of any existing single
state should, it is to be assumed, co-.:_nd far greater borrowing
powers than a colony of 376,000. If that colony or state has
an industrial potential obviously greater than any of the others
in the commonwealth it might reasonably seek from the Common-
wealth that the common credit should be devoted to its full
development in the comnnon interest. It is'but right that
British Guiana should pay particular attention to the borrow-
ing capacity of the projected commonwealth, bearing min mind
that this country sketched a development plan of $108,000,000
and could not secure more than $12,000,000 out of the $576,000,000
of 'Development and welfare grants.
Many a British Guianese has told me that when our hinter-
- 2C -
land is fully developed we can do without the West Indies -
those little islands against Such British Guianese will doubt-
less prefer to continue to rely directly on the United Kingdom,
on an organization like the Colonial Development Corporation,
for the capital necessary to develop our hinterland areas. It
would be fair to ask them to consider whether the industrial
potential of our hinterland is not of such a character as to
make it unlikely that significant returns can be seen under a
generation. For let us make up our minds. The capital our
hinterland needs has no'.- magical qualities. Our hinterland
needs hard work the hard work of men and machines. In conse-
quence, the question that must be faced is: 'hat is to be our
interim policy while we are inching our wIay to El Dorado?
Today's time is up. I have begun the answer to the ques-
tion quae damus petimusque .Ihat do we give and seek? The
answer has been given in general terms w'e give living space
and industrial potential; we want guaranteed markets. In a
later talk summarizing this series, I hope you will allow me
to develop these points.
PRO AND CON 4
boUoo "CAPITAL" FOR DEVELOPMENT oo0oo
(Broadcast on July 20, 1947).
I have been putting forward in these broadcasts certain
points which I hope will assist British Guianese in deciding
whether, and on what conditions, they should be partners in a
West Indian commonwealth.
The first talk described the contents of the Federation
Papers, the Secretary f.Statets recent despatch, memorandum
and other papers; and I went on to summarize opinions which had
been expressed in the newspapers of British Guiana. The
symposium showed I repeat the phrase no great enthusiasm
for the project, but it also showed that the public had not
yet been able to study the papers.
The second talk dealt with the geopolitical factor and
drew special attention to the reason which the Secretary of
State regards as "possibly the most important of.all for the
view that closer association is necessary." That reason you
will remember, is that "it is clearly impossible in the modern
world for the present separate communities, small and isolated
as they are to achieve and maintain full self-governmet on their
own."(Ialso took the opportunity in that talk to show that there
was no ground whatever for regarding the nmorandum as a direc-
- 31 -
tive to the delegates to the conference. It is plainly just a
very helpful basis for discussion).
The third talk last Sunday outlined what British Gui-
ana should give to and seek from full association in a West In-
dian commonwealth, with some indication of the contributions
we already make to purposes of common Caribbean concern. It was
suggested in that last talk that the special contributions we
are in a position to offer to the Cor~onn'ealth arc living space
and industrial potential, and the special advantages we should
try to secure would be guaranteed markets for our rice and of
course for any of the products which may flow from the full
development of our industrial potential. For that full devel-
opment, the Guiana Province of the Cornmonwealth world expect to
avail itself of the Commonwealth's greater borrowing powers.
An effort has been made in this series to view the whole
question objectively and unemotionally,
It may be that I have too strongly urged Guianese to
justify their isolationism on more solid grounds than the phrase
"continental destiny". If so, there's nothing lost by an honest
distinction between our actual and our potential wealth and
a facing up to the question whether Federation will reduce the
one or increase the other.
- 32 -
It may be on the other hand that I have laid too much
emphasis on the anti-Federation sentiment expressed in the news-
papers a few weeks ago. If so, there is nothing lost by facing
squarely the fact that many a British Guianese is cautious,and
even suspicious, in any matter which savours of political con-
trol from outside,
Super-imposition is the phrase some Guianese uoe, and one
gentleman otherwise friendly to the Federal idea has assured me
that on this ground alone he would have none of it if British
Guiana were not allowed a very -wide measure of self-governnent -
'Tider than it enjoys at present.
Now in assessing the anti-Federation sentiment in this coun-
try we should remember that as recently as the early twenties of
this century, sentiment in favour of Federation was fairly strong
in Guiana. The Editor of the Chronicle under whom I served my
apprenticeship was at heart federalist. So was A.R.F.'Jebber
under whom he had seoved. And that was the day when Cipriani of
Trinidadj> Oryshow of Grenada and Wint of Jamaica all Feder-
alists to the point of fanaticism were far and away the most
popular political figures in the Caribbean.
How far has British Guiana swung from this earlier senti-
ment? The Press opinions which I summarized in the first broadcast
of this series, on June 22, would appear to indicate that the
answer is: very far irneedl But it is significant that 28 out of
40 persons who attended a Free Library Discussion Circle meeting
last Friday afternoon should have recorded their votes in favour of
Federation, 11 being neutral, and only one against. Whether
or not this is the beginning of a back- ard or should I say
forward. swing of the pendulum, the point that must be
appreciated is that opinion in this country has not been static.
The time factor is important in making our assessment.
If we look back over the last two or three decades and earlier
we find that there had even been books on the question and
they appear to hav6 had a moderate circulation locally. I
have read one by C.S. Salmon, sometime Prcsident (Administrator)
of Nevis, (published, I think in the nineties) and another by
Dr. Meikle, a Jamaican who settled in British Guiana and re-
sided here for many years and whose children are still in this
country. That was published in 1912.
Forcing the Pace?
One of the more recent Press comments has suggested that
there has been too little intercolonial enlightenment; that
there should have been far more positive canvassing of the
advantages of Closer Association a long course of propaganda.
But, surely such canvassing or propaganda could only be
undertaken by some single authority and by that very fact would
defeat its object, particularly in the countries farthest from
the centre Bahamas which holds itself aloof and Dritish Guiana
where we have seen opinion is divided and there is, without
benefit of propaganda, excessive caution and suspicion. It is
for precisely this reason that I have been at pains to stress
the objective nature of the Secretary of State's memorandum,
1ow balanced its tone and how careful its phrasing.
It is perhaps, the measure of this country's caution and
suspicion that the Secretary of State should be openly accused -
the accusation is implied in this Press comment of forcing
the pace, of thrusting something down the throats of Guianese
and West Indians alike. Yet the fact that the Bahamas colony
has been allowed to hold itself aloof from the Conference
should carry some weight. The Legislature of any colony in
the Area could have decided similarly.
May I suggest that the U.K. Government's pace in this
question of Closer West Indian Association is no different
from its pace in international and home affairs. It is a
Government that has never before held an independent majority.
It has held for years certain views on certain questions. One
of these questions was generally the political structure of
colonial dependencies and among particular aspects of that
general question theccpeation of larger political and admin-
istrative units in the West Indies. It is now in power and it
is now seeing how far its policies are practicable. Also it
is able to proceed in the assurance that the Opposition in
Parliament will not be unfriendly,-since there is on record
the despatch of the previous Secretary of State which is
indeed one of the appendices of these Federation papers.
What is possible without union?
Further, it is not easy to see how even an unofficial group -
let us call it A Society to Promote Closer Association could
effectively conduct pro-Federction propaganda in the absence of
certain conditions which can only coire into full and comprehen-
sive effect after Federation. If our friend recognizes that
the most modern media of intercolonial coLnunication (telephone,
telegraph, and air mail) are only now developing and that rates
and charges are beyond the lower income groups not only in the
use of these media but even in the us, of passenger ships, then
it would be fair- for him to ask whether unified services are
not a prior necessity for cheapening these rates and charges,
or relating them more closely to the needs of a unified '.ost
As to whether unified services are possible without a
single controlling authority, the point is fully dealt with in
the Secretary of State's memorandum. It may however be mentioned,
before leaving this part of the subject, thbt in spite of the
slow communications, Caribbean unofficial have made at least
one attempt at political intercourse. I rcaer to the attempt
to create a West Indian Political Party, and it will be re-
called that it presented candidates at elections held in the
Windward Islands and Trinidad.
Always the question "what can be achieved before, or
without, closer political association?" must be carefully
wei.hed. It is, as I have suggested in thase talks the
paramount question in considering such matters as a Customs
Union, a Unitied Administrative Service, Free and unrestricted
entrance of any West Indian "national" into any West Inddan
port and so on. This is the bus-nesslike give-and-take
attitude with which British Guiana should view the economic
benefits or Oisadvantages of closer association.
By a coincidence I received during the past three weeks
letters from two valued friends who reside abroad. Last week
I subconsciously used a phrase from one of these letters. I said
that the capital. our C-uiana hinterland needs has no magical
qualities. I'd 1.ke to quote the passage in full. (Hy friend
was ex'pressing regret that circ-umstances prevented him fror
meeting the ..G. Press Association before his departure).
"Had I been able to give an interview to the Press,"
he wrota, "I know I should have been -:sked about the ever-
green question of 'developing the interior'. I should have
liked the opportunity to put forward my viev; which is that
the whole matter really depends upon you yourselves, the
inhabitants of the Colony. The true wealth of any country
does not reside in its material resources be they animal,
vegetable or mineral, but rather in the hearts and minds
of its people. If ever the interior of British Guiana is
to be developed by which I mean opened up for permanent
human habitation, the work will have to be done by those
who already live in the country and are in a position to
know all about it. There seem to be a lot of people who
in their minds place reliance in a magic substance called
capital whichh in their imagination has all kinds of pro-
perties which it does hot in reality possess. This capital
of which we hear so much is merely the means of setting
the human machinery to work. There is no means by which
work can be avoided."
And again, the question for British Guianese to consider
is whether Closer Association -ith the West indies will assist
them in any way to obtain more of these units of human machinery.
It is but fair to mention that the performance of Viest Indians,
particularly St. Lucians and Barbadians, in getting some of the
soil of the interior to yield food crops, has impressed con-
petent observers. It is also but fair to mention that in
great engineering projects which call for the heavy manual
labour, West Indians have a Zood reputation as witness their
performance in the building of the Panama Canal.
Caribbean Industrial Plan
It may be, too, that we Guianese have in mind the develop-
ment of secondary industries in our interior, or from the
natural resources of our interior. Whether we do so with west
Indian or other units of human machinery, we may as well make
sure that the IndikhtriasOwe aretcreating are not in wasteful
competition with similar industries located in other countries
in the Caribbean area. The first West Indian Conference in
1944 paid much attention to this point which is of vital im-
portance to those colonies which have industrial potential.
This orderly allocation of industrial development between
colony and colony does seem to be essential, and it would be
only prudent for British Guiana to make sure whether such
industrial allocation is practicable without a central Government.
The First Goal
The other letter, from another sincere friend of Guiana,
is a full and sympathetic statement of the difficulties that
face Guiana in coming to a decision which is fair to herself
and her 3outh American connection and fair also to the British
West Indies. It refers to Britain's responsibility, and
anxiety, that Guiana should not suffer in comparison with
Venezuela and Brazil and should not provoke descriptions like
John Gunther's and Hendrik Van Loon's. You remember Gunther's
description: "the most wretched and miserable -reas in all Latin
America...Unbelievably poor, unbelievably filthy."
This letter shows the difference between the racial com-
position of Guiana and that of the islands and points out the
significance of this difference in considering? closer association.
It urges that the lesson of all lessons to be drawn from
Guiana's history and its present insignificant place in the
Pan-American sphere is that in this matter of Federation the
interests of Guianese must be regarded by Britain as above all
The focus of the writer's exposition was that the Imperial
interest justifies an extraordinary effort on Britain's part -
development on as generous a scale as possible and that the
first goal should be self-government in local affairs.
Now place this in relation to the Secretary of State's dictum
that small and isolated communities cannot hope to maintain self-
government on their own, and perhaps you may come to the
conclusion that for Dritish Guiana the compromise in this diffi-
cult question rests in insisting, if we enter a federation, that
there should be after an initial period say 30 years? the
easiest terms for withdrawal that are compatible with the dignity
of the new commonwealth....