Serial 1808

January 30, 1979

Assistant Attorney General
Civil Division
Attention: Mr. James Hergen
Donald W. Moore, Jr.
Assistant Director
Criminal Investigative Division
People’s Temple

Enclosed is the December 26, 1978, issue of “La Republica” newspaper written in Spanish which you provided to this Bureau. Also enclosed is a translation from Spanish to English of the pertinent portions of that newspaper which you have requested.

[Page 2]

Translation from Spanish

La Republica, December 24, 1978, p. 1A
They Have Four Accounts and a Safety Deposit Box
Jones’ Sect Asked to Be Registered In Panama
Exclusive

It is estimated that the “People’s Temple”, the organization responsible for the assassination of Congressman Leo J. Ryan and the subsequent mass suicide of more than 900 members of the religious sect, has the sum of 15 thousand balboas deposited in Panama.

Our reporters have learned that the funds were deposited in the Union Bank of Switzerland and the Swiss Banking Corporation, both of which are located in the city of Panama. The Temple also has a safety deposit box in the Union Bank of Switzerland. The number of this box is 146-75 HUK.

“La Republica” has also determined that last September to members of the organization, Mrs. Teresa Gean [Jean] Buford and Carolyn Leyton [Layton], used the services of a law firm on 31st St. East in the capital, to register an organization named “Pro San Pedro S.A.”

The “People’s Temple” has four accounts in these banks. We have not been able to determine the amount openly in these accounts, but we do know that their members are 222-00042, 220-11760 J, 121-135A and 100-468-1.

The authorities in Georgetown, Guyana, have revealed that the funds belonging to the “People’s Temple” were deposited in Panama and Venezuela. This money has been left to the Communist Party of the Soviet Union. We have not been able to determine whether or not it has made any withdrawals from these accounts. The future of these accounts is uncertain. They have especially been left to the Soviets, but according to reports, the United States government is taking steps to obtain this money for itself. The sum total is estimated to be 15 million dollars.

Picture:

Jimmy Jones, the director of the religious sect the “People’s Temple”, and the man responsible for the horrible tragedy in Guyana which cost the lives of some 900 people, was here in Panama and appeared in front of a large group of followers at the “Gimnasio Nuevo de Panama” on which occasion a number of songs were sung. Jones appears in the photograph above being decorated by Dario Gonzales Pitty, who was then

[Page 3 of serial; page 2 of article]

President of the “Asamblea Nacional de Representantes de Corregimientos.” This trip was made by Jones and his followers to continue the support the “People’s Temple” had offered from the very beginning to Panama’s struggle for free exercise of authority in the area known as the Canal Zone. (Photograph by Rogelko Achurra)

[Page 4]

Translation from Spanish

La Republica, December 26, 1978, p. 1A
Jones’ Organization Registered in Panama
Secrecy About Funds Belonging to People’s Temple
Local San Pedro S.A. Officials Resign

by Franklyn Bosquez D’Giovanni

The “Asociacion Religiosa Pro San Pedro, S.A.” has been linked to the name of Jim Jones, the person responsible for the deaths of more than 900 people in Guyana. One of the provisions of this organization states that if the organization is dissolved, “Its remaining assets after payment of all debts and liabilities should be allotted to the “People’s Temple of the Disciples of Christ, a corporation in the State of California, United States of America.”[“]

This morning “La Republica” studied the microfilm records on this organization which are held in the “Registro de la Propriedad”. We found the“Asociacion Religiosa Pro San Pedro, S.A.” listed in document number 1881 for March 4, 1977. This is In the Fifth Circuit Notary’s office, whose Notary Public is Pablo L. Arosemena.

Our last edition revealed that last September Mrs. Teresa Gean Buford and Carolyn Leyton, two members of the People’s Temple headed by the late Jim Jones, used the services of the law firm “Bufete Tapia”, located on 31st Street in Panama City. We contacted this firm to register the “Asociacion Religiosa Pro San Pedro, S.A.”

Felipe Santiago Tapia Carrillo is the president of “San Pedro”, Eloy Alfaro is vice president and treasurer, and Rodolofo Evaristo Mendoza Almanza is secretary.

The principal goal of “San Pedro” is described as the implementation of the following measures within the Republic of Panama or abroad:

1. To finance religious programs in general and recruit and train personnel necessary for these programs in Central and South America;

[Page 5 of serial; page 2 of article]

2. To receive requests and donations in accordance with the laws governing the transfer of assets through wills. To acquire and maintain in any other manner any type of property, including but not limited to stocks, bonds, or other securities belonging to other companies;

3. To dispose of any type of property in accordance with the goal and purposes of the organization by selling, ceding, transferring, exchanging, leasing, mortgaging, etc. any of the property.

The same documents notes that “San Pedro’s” capital stock amounts to 10,000 US dollars. This amount is divided into 100 shares of stock each having a value of 100 dollars. The document points out, however, that “the amount of capital could be increased”. “Bufete Tapia” is named as the resident agent of the organization in the Republic of Panama.

We also learned today that “San Pedro’s” directors (Tapia, Alfaro and Mendoza) have resigned their posts because “they no longer were satisfied with them.”

Daniel Jacinto-Fuentes

None of the international banks in our capital which were mentioned by international news agencies as possible holders of funds belonging to the “People’s Temple” have agreed to provide any information about their numbered accounts. (The “People’s Temple” is the organization involved in the assassinations and suicides in Guyana.)

“La Republica” interviewed directors or representatives of these banks. They noted that the National Banking Law (No. 18, January 28, 1959) does not allow them to provide any information. This law sets prison terms and fines for violating bank secrecy. It was therefore not possible to determine whether or not these funds exist in this country. These funds are reputed to amount to 14 million balboas.

The Director of the National Banking Commission

We interviewed Mr. Mario de Diego, Jr., the Executive Director of the National Banking Commission, who was kind enough to interrupt a conference to speak to us. He informed us, “I am sorry to say that I, neither personally, nor as Director of the National Banking Commission, have official or unofficial information on these deposits. Neither do the other members of the commission. We are therefore not able to give you any information. We know as much about this as you and the general public.”

[Page 6 of serial; page 3 of article]

The director continued by saying, “In any case, banking law in our country expressly, categorically and absolutely prohibits us from supplying any information on bank deposits. Panama’s credit as an international financial center rests on strict and constant observance of banking secrecy and other principal of confidentiality”.

We then asked Mr. de Diego, “Does this mean that your commission cannot conduct an investigation to determine whether or not these deposits exist?”

Mr. de Diego replied, “That’s right. We have absolutely no authority to take such action. This would be a violation of the principle of banking secrecy”.

We then asked him, “Would you be able to take action to protect these deposits if someone tried to appropriate these funds without a legal right to them?”

Mr. de Diego answered, “We could not take action even in that case. The only way the real owners or those who claim to be the owners could gain access to information on possible deposits would be through the courts. Only in this way could any action be taken. Banking law is clear on this point. Since action has been taken in the past to recover funds held in the banks in this country”.

An Official Statement

When we met with Mr. de Diego, the Director of the National Banking Commission, he informed us that he was willing to make a statement on the subject to answer some questions and clear up some misconceptions on this matter. He noted that the government might issue an official statement on this matter.

[Page 7]

Translation from Spanish

La Republica, December 24, 1978, p. 8D

Jim Jones Assassinated

Georgetown, December 23, 1978

A jury here has declared the Jim Jones, the leader of the sect the “People’s Temple”, was assassinated. Jim Jones ordered more than 900 of his followers to commit suicide in his community in Guyana.

The jury announced its verdict after conducting six days of hearings with the people of Matthews Ridge, which is close to the community of Jonestown. It also declared that Jones was responsible before the law for the death of 912 members of the sect.

The jury, which was made up of four men and one woman, affirmed that Jones was assassinated despite the fact that a scientist had determined that Jones had committed suicide.

The jury did not explain its decision or reveal the evidence that led to the conclusion that Jones had been assassinated.

Most of Jones’ followers committed suicide on November 18 at Jones’ orders. They did this by drinking a beverage poisoned with cyanide. That same evening a group of Temple members assassinated US Congressman Leo Ryan and for other people who were trying to live with a woman who wanted to leave the sect.

Jones’ cadaver was found with a bullet wound behind one ear.

[Page 8]

Translation from Spanish

La Republica, December 24, 1978, p. 2G

Picture: Reverend Jones, the executioner, and his victims: Brown, a cameraman, Dan [Don] Harris, a newspaperman, and Congressman Leo Ryan.

Tragedy in Guyana
Mankind, the Worshiping [Worshipping] Animal

by Ricardo Soto Paredes

Voltaire said that if God did not exist the man would have invented him. When men did not understand the mysteries and phenomena of the universe, of the moon and the sun, of lightning, thunder and fire, he attributed supernatural powers to them. He has continued to do this to these days. It is possible to find churches or at least traces of ancient cults in every American or European town.

In primitive societies we can still find people worshiping ancient gods side-by-side with the great modern religions. In New Guinea there is the “cargo cult” which arose from the worship of cargo planes which dropped their loads over this area during the Second World War. Along with these simple, though absurd cults we also find white magic, black magic, sorcery and witchcraft (almost intentional in our environment) devil worship, etc., etc.

Christianity split up into various groups, Protestantism arose, and a number of sects developed within Protestantism. These sects were all a variation on the same theme. Most of them appeared in the United States where they seemed to be a marvelous business protected and aided by the government through splendid Solomonic laws.

A modern country cannot consider itself “in” (if you will forgive the expression) unless there is a paragraph in its constitution proclaiming “freedom of religion” even though more necessary types of freedom for the “kingdom of this world” are ignored or omitted. There is a disquieting need which could very well be called the “cult of cult” in that amazing northern country from which all that we have, all that we do and all that we should do comes. This phenomenon is damaging to its inhabitants’ well-being. It is very strange that a government that has the best paid employees in the world on its payroll could fail to see that this trend poses a serious threat to the emotional and mental balance of its citizens.

After the tragicomedy in Guyana it is hard for anyone to doubt the danger in this “gringo cultomania.” The Mason [Manson] family had already provided us with a magnificent example of freedom of cult.

[Page 9 of serial; page 2 of article]

Their hair-raising crimes would have been followed by a speedy trial and fast and hard punishment in any other country. In the United States, however, an incredible legal battle was necessary to make it possible to punish them.

This “redeemer mania” goes back to the time of Cromwell. The men of this time brought a magnificent idea of freedom with them on the Mayflower. They also brought with him, however, the seeds of religious intolerance, the same intolerance which they had fled from when they boarded ship in Plymouth to come to America. Though it may seem paradoxical, this intolerance is tied to a large dose of childish credibility which is made possible for sects and cults of all kinds to develop alongside Christianity and Protestantism.

They made incredible advances in science but in religion they have turned to devil worship, to witchcraft and to personality worship of any maniac who thinks he is a Messiah. Legions of preachers and evangelists run all over the country speaking against the sins of the times and making vast fortunes for speaking against a society whose system makes it possible to “speak of the pear and eat it”.

One of the United States’ most serious mistakes was to officially acknowledge the existence of more than 500 churches, knowing that there are more than 3000 cults. Most of these cults present a very serious danger to the American family as its children are the covenant prey of cult fanaticism. One of the most powerful and dangerous cults is that of the Korean, Moon. This man uses the pretext of uniting all the religions of the world to order young people of both sexes to collect money for him (a $250 a week quota) and forces them to work at great sacrifice. He himself, however, lives in a luxurious home whose cost has been estimated at more than $600,000.00.

What is alarming about this is that for some time now this has been infiltrating our weak, trusting and undefended America. This has been possible first of all because of our proverbial indifference. These people have furthermore been aided by our constitutions and by the goodwill of the many influential madmen among us.

It is true that freedom of religion is an inalienable right of man. However, it is also true that abuse of this liberty (as of many others) should be stopped instantly at the moment that it threatens the mental health and the shaking mental stability of a modern society.

Our part of the world must avoid the slaughter that took place in Europe during the Middle Ages. We must avoid incidents such as the St. Bartholomew’s Day Massacre ordered by Catherine De Medici against

[Page 10 of serial; page 3 of article]

the French Protestants in Paris in 1572. We must avoid shameful situations such as that of Ireland, where Catholics and Protestants are presently battling. The nations of Latin America must prevent the infiltration of more religions. Laws and constitutions are not needed to do this; they have been pushed aside whenever the political situation has required it. As a last resort we can turn to the famous response made by the Spaniard to an English evangelist who try to preach to him, “Look here English man, I don’t believe in mine so how am I going to believe in yours?”

Now that the Guyana tragedy has shocked the world they will try to do something. The Department of Justice, however, might refuse to investigate this matter because it could violate constitutional guarantees of religious freedom. Mr. Robert Hay, a spokesman for the department, mentioned this point to the press during the Guyana tragedy.

Meanwhile a third tragedy is brewing somewhere else. We can only hope that this aspect of democracy does not reach us as our problems are already serious and worrisome. We hope that this tragedy will serve as a warning to our political directors and to the Catholic Church which at one time had the power to excommunicate and now watches the “dances of the sects” with seeming indifference.

Originally posted on August 3rd, 2020.

Last modified on December 30th, 2020.
Skip to main content