What happened to the plan to house Hmong refugees at Jonestown?

Members of a Laotian tribe called the Hmong – who fought on behalf of the United States during its secret war against North Vietnam in the mid-1960s, and who found themselves unable to return to their homeland after the U.S. withdrew from Southeast Asia – were slated to move en masse to the empty Jonestown site in the early 1980s, with as many as 10,000 of the 35,000 refugees making plans to move.

The plan was controversial from the start, and ultimately failed. Noting that the Jonestown site was in a disputed frontier area, Venezuela warned the government of Guyana not to proceed with the plan. In addition, the Peoples Progressive Party – the political opposition to Forbes Burnham’s government – suggested that the Guyanese government might be tempted to use the Hmong to battle any popular uprising in Guyana. The controversy eventually led the Guyanese government to drop the plan, and the Hmong never moved to Jonestown.

Sources for this answer include a page on “Mass Murder, Secret Plots and Political Assassinations in Guyana (1978-1980)” (search for Hmong), and an archived article from the April 16, 1980 edition of The Stanford Daily.

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