Jan 20, 1979 • 1730 • State-Port of Spain • 16429

[Editor’s note: This document was released both as a State Department cable as part of its 1981 FOIA release, and as Serial 1706 of the FBI’s RYMUR release. The text was released at https://wikileaks.org/plusd/cables/1979STATE016429_e.html.]

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STATE 016429
ORIGIN L-03
INFO OCT-01 ARA-11 ISO-00 JUSE-00 CIAE-00 INR-10 NSAE-00 FBIE-00 CA-01 SS-15 /041 R
DRAFTED BY L/T:LBAUMANN:KG
APPROVED BY L:LMMARKS
ARA – JBUSHNELL
JUSTICE – JHIRGIN
ARA/CAR – RMCCOY
——————016973 210214Z /62

R 201730Z JAN 79
FM SECSTATE WASHDC
TO AMEMBASSY PORT OF SPAIN
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E.O. 12065:
TAGS: N/A CASC, TD, GY, (PEOPLES TEMPLE)
SUBJECT: PROTECTION OF UNITED STATES INTERESTS VIS-A-VIS PEOPLES TEMPLE ASSETS IN TRINIDAD AND TOBAGO

1. DEPARTMENT, AFTER CONSULTATION WITH DEPARTMENT OF JUSTICE, HAS DETERMINED THAT EMBASSY SHOULD IMMEDIATELY LODGE WITH GOTT [Government of Trinidad and Tobago] A FORMAL STATEMENT OF USG INTEREST IN ANY PEOPLES TEMPLE (PT) ASSETS IN TRINIDAD AND TOBAGO.

2. DEPARTMENT IS OF THE VIEW THAT BECAUSE OF SUBSTANTIAL USG EXPENDITURES IN CONNECTION WITH JONESTOWN INCIDENT INCLUDING REPATRIATION AND DISPOSITION OF REMAINS OF PT MEMBERS, USG HAS A STRONG INTEREST IN CONSERVATION AND EVENTUAL DISPOSITION OF PT ASSETS IN TRINIDAD AND TOBAGO. DEPARTMENT OF JUSTICE IS EXPLORING POSSIBLE LEGAL MEANS THROUGH WHICH USG MIGHT RECOVER EXPENSES INCURRED. IN

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CONNECTION WITH THIS EFFORT, USG MAY WISH TO FILE A CLAIM AGAINST PT ASSETS IN TRINIDAD AND TOBAGO. WHILE NO FINAL DETERMINATION HAS BEEN MADE REGARDING WHETHER USG WILL ULTIMATELY ASSERT SUCH A CLAIM UNDER THE LAW OF TRINIDAD AND TOBAGO, DEPARTMENT BELIEVES THAT U.S. SHOULD MOVE PROMPTLY TO PRESERVE ANY RIGHTS IT MAY HAVE UNDER THE LAW OF TRINIDAD AND TOBAGO. UNLESS STRONG OBJECTIONS ARE PERCEIVED, EMBASSY IS ACCORDINGLY INSTRUCTED TO CONVEY TO GOTT THE FOLLOWING NOTE:

3. BEGIN TEXT. EXCELLENCY:

AS YOUR EXCELLENCY IS AWARE, SEVERAL HUNDRED UNITED STATES CITIZENS, MEMBERS OF THE PEOPLES TEMPLE, LOST THEIR LIVES UNDER TRAGIC CIRCUMSTANCES ON NOVEMBER 18, 1978 IN JONESTOWN, GUYANA. THE GOVERNMENT OF THE UNITED STATES EXPENDED A CONSIDERABLE SUM IN CONNECTION WITH THE INCIDENTS AT JONESTOWN AND INTENDS TO SEEK REIMBURSEMENT OF SUCH EXPENSES FROM ASSETS OF THE PEOPLES TEMPLE.

IT HAS COME TO THE ATTENTION OF THE UNITED STATES GOVERNMENT THAT THERE MAY BE FUNDS IN YOUR COUNTRY DERIVED FROM THE PEOPLES TEMPLE. MY GOVERNMENT HAS INFORMATION THAT CERTAIN PEOPLES TEMPLE ASSETS MAY HAVE BEEN FRAUDULENTLY OBTAINED OR IMPROPERLY DISTRIBUTED. SOME UNITED STATES CITIZENS MAY HAVE AN INTEREST IN THE DISPOSITION OF PEOPLES TEMPLE ASSETS. HOWEVER, MY GOVERNMENT ALSO HAS INFORMATION THAT CERTAIN INDIVIDUALS MAY NOW ATTEMPT TO IMPROPERLY OBTAIN THESE ASSETS. UNLESS THESE FUNDS ARE IMMOBILIZED UNTIL THEIR RIGHTFUL OWNERSHIP CAN BE DETERMINED, THE PEOPLES TEMPLE ASSETS IN YOUR COUNTRY MAY BE IMPROPERLY

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DISTRIBUTED. MY GOVERNMENT MAY HAVE SUBSTANTIAL CLAIMS AGAINST THE PEOPLES TEMPLE FOR COSTS INCURRED IN CONNECTION WITH THE JONESTOWN TRAGEDY INCLUDING REPATRIATING THE REMAINS AT THE REQUEST OF THE GOVERNMENT OF GUYANA. TO THAT END, I WISH TO INFORM YOUR EXCELLENCY THAT THE UNITED STATES RESERVES THE RIGHT TO SUBMIT SUCH A CLAIM IN TRINIDAD AND TOBAGO IN ACCORDANCE WITH APPLICABLE LAWS AND PROCEDURES.

A CIVIL LAWSUIT ON THIS MATTER IS UNDER ACTIVE CONSIDERATION IN THE UNITED STATES. THE PEOPLES TEMPLE ITSELF HAS FILED DISSOLUTION PROCEEDINGS IN THE STATE OF CALIFORNIA. A CRIMINAL INVESTIGATION IS ALSO PENDING IN THE UNITED STATES.

IN LIGHT OF THE FOREGOING, THE UNITED STATES GOVERNMENT WOULD LIKE TO REQUEST WHATEVER ASSISTANCE THE GOVERNMENT OF TRINIDAD AND TOBAGO CAN PROVIDE UNDER ITS LAW IN IDENTIFYING AND IMMOBILIZING ANY PEOPLES TEMPLE ASSETS IN TRINIDAD AND TOBAGO. MY GOVERNMENT IS WILLING TO PROVIDE WHATEVER ASSISTANCE MAY BE APPROPRIATE IN PROTECTING AND PRESERVING THE ASSETS. AT THE PRESENT TIME, THE UNITED STATES GOVERNMENT HAS THE FOLLOWING INFORMATION CONCERNING POSSIBLE PEOPLES TEMPLE ASSETS WITHIN TRINIDAD AND TOBAGO. THERE IS AN ACCOUNT AT BARCLAYS BANK OF TRINIDAD AND TOBAGO SAID TO BE IN THE NAME OF ASOCIACION E.D. CHARITIVABLE INTERNATIONALE EMPRESSA, S.A.; SIGNATORY SAID TO BE RICHARD JEANERO [Janaro] OR HELEN SWINNEY.

(COMPLIMENTARY CLOSE) END TEXT.

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4. PLEASE ADVISE DEPT OF GOTT RESPONSE ASAP.

5. PLEASE SLUG REPLY PASS JUSTICE, JIM HIRGIN [Hergen].

VANCE [Cyrus Vance, Secretary of State]

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NNN

Originally posted on October 21st, 2020.

Last modified on July 17th, 2022.
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