Appendix I: The Problem in a Nutshell – July 1962


  1. Consider first that given the structure of political power in Guiana today the area of political consensus between the Government and Opposition is too small to permit positive Government. Moreover, the prevailing hostile mood of the contending parties threatens to reduce the country to disorder to the detriment of all.

  1. Consider further that for present purposes political power in the country can be regarded as being evenly divided between two culturally distinct groups. The one group, committed to the Opposition. is essentially urban, Negro, Christian, and in terms of the social ordering of colonial society, strongly middle class in culture and identification (as distinct from economic position).

The other group is essentially rural. Indian, Non-Christian, and again, in terms of colonial ordering, lower class in culture and identification.

It may be well to note that there is often a lag between the time when a group acquires the economic attributes of a certain class and the time when it identifies with that class.

  1. This equal division of power between the two main groups permits a third racial group, not a distinct and separate cultural or geographical entity but with a strong colour identification with the Imperial upper class, to emerge as an inordinately powerful Political force.
  1. The balance of electoral advantage endows the rural group with the formal power to govern but this power can only be exercised to the extent that the urban group which possesses a near-monopoly of the essential governing skills (military and bureaucratic) would allow.
  1. If the electoral advantage were reversed, the lack of consensus would continue to make positive government impossible.
  1. Underlying the antagonism and the differences between the two groups there is a large measure not only of shared, preferred values but also of common cultural traits deriving from the social organisation of the past (slavery, sugar, indenture, British rule and “uprootedness”).
  1. The broad base of shared values and aspirations, common culture and history make integration a real possibility.
  1. The sharp antagonism and the hostility of the current mood make unification an urgent necessity if the system is not completely to breakdown.
  1. Integration, however, cannot be achieved by a rapprochement between leaders. A programme designed to reform the basic social and economic institutions and to create a structure compatible with harmonious relations must be launched.