U.S. Intervention in British Guiana: A Cold War Story

Guyana (formerly the colony British Guiana) gained its independence in the 1960’s. The U.S. government saw in this move the possibility of another communist state in Latin America, this one under the leadership of Marxist Cheddi Jagan. In U.S. Intervention, Rabe suggests that the CIA was responsible for funding the labor unrest, race riots, and general chaos that forced Jagan from office in 1964. The U.S.-supported leader Forbes Burnham gained power and went on to lead a twenty-year dictatorship in which he persecuted the majority Indian population.

This is the first published account of the operation and, though the CIA refuses to confirm or deny involvement, Rabe is highly critical of what he argues was their action. With U.S. Intervention, Rabe creates what the University of North Carolina Press calls, “a needed corrective to interpretations that depict the Cold War as an unsullied U.S. triumph.”

Stephen G. Rabe is a professor of history at the University of Texas at Dallas and has written extensively on the United States and its anticommunist involvements in Latin America since World War II.

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