July 6, 1969, The New York Times, page 17, Governor Hears Burnham, by H.J. Maidenberg,
July 6, 1969, New York Times, Governor Rockefeller Hears Burnham, by H.J. Maidenberg, Special to The New York Times [Blog]
GEORGETOWN, Guyana, July 5---Prime Minister Forbes Burnham told Governor Rockefeller's fact-finding mission here last evening that his nation's development if not its existence was being hobbled by what he described as the threat of an invasion from neighboring Venezuela.
Venezuela claims two-thirds of Guyana and is accused by Guyana of fomenting subversion and border incidents.
Speaking as a midnight news conference, Prime Minister Burnham said Guyana was forced to spend 20 per cent of her $66-million annual budget on defense
Among other subjects that are being discussed during Governor Rockefeller's 19-hour stopover here are United States help to develop and populate the uninhabited interior of Guyana and aid for a Caribbean common market and regional development bank.
Knowledgeable sources believe that Venezuela fears an electoral victory by Guyana's People's Progressive
(Communist) party of former Prime Minister Cheddi Jagan, who is now in Moscow.
They attribute the quiet reception accorded the Rockefeller mission to the absence of the opposition leader.
"A leaderless army ends up in confusion," Mr. Burnham said.
Governor Rockefeller and his 20-member mission spent a similarly uneventful 19 hours in Jamaica before arriving here.
Asked what Guyana expected from the Rockefeller mission's attempt to learn of Latin America's problems, the Prime Minister wryly answered,
"A report from the Governor to President Nixon."
Mr. Jagan's largely East Indian followers, who number half the population, maintain that Mr. Burnham's forces plan to use foreign funds to bring Negroes from the West Indies to populate the interior. Negroes represent the principal support of Mr. Burnham's government.
About 90 per cent of Guyanese population of 700,000 live on 4 per cent of the land, mostly along the coast.
Problem for Rockefeller
But the Prime Minister, a Negro, told a questioner that his Government planned to populate the interior with people from the coast as well as the West Indies.
He scoffed at Venezuela's offer of a joint development of the disputed region.
The territory in question was formally awarded to then British Guiana in 1899 following a study by representatives of the United States, Russia, Britain and Venezuela.
In 1962, when British Guiana was starting on the road to independence as Guyana, Venezuela announced that she considered the 1899 treaty null and void.
Venezuela, which along with Peru and Chile has barred the Rockefeller group, presents Mr. Rockefeller with a personal problem, another questioner noted at the news conference at Parliament House. The Governor's family has large petroleum interests in Venezuela as well as ranch properties.
"What politician in Guyana is not aware of Mr. Rockefeller's interest in Venezuela," the Prime Minister agreed. But he noted that any that any conflict with Venezuela would encompass other lands.