[The text for this document was released in 2014 by the now-defunct Wikileaks website at https://wikileaks.org/plusd/cables/1979GEORGE02498_e.html.]
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R 061840Z JUN 79
FM AMEMBASSY GEORGETOWN
TO SECSTATE WASHDC 9823
INFO AMEMBASSY BRIDGETOWN
AMEMBASSY PORT OF SPAIN
LIMITED OFFICIAL USE GEORGETOWN 2498
E.O. 12065: NA
TAGS: OREP (RYAN, LEO) GY
SUBJ: LOCAL PRESS COMMENTARY ON CONGRESSIONAL REPORT ON JONESTOWN.
1. The June 1 government-owned daily Guyana Chronicle contained the first comprehensive coverage on the subject report, consisting of a factual presis [precis] of the document with only indirect editorializing. Portions referring to Deputy Prime Minister Ptolemy Reid’s involvement, the exchange of letters requesting permission for congressional staff members to interview Guyanese officials, the actions of both U.S. and Guyanese customs officials, and the performance of the Embassy were liberally cited. Allegations of misconduct by Guyanese officials in their handling of Peoples Temple, including sexual relationships, were also cited.
2. The June 3 issue of the Chronicle, however, carries a commentary on the report describing it as “an interesting document for a number of reasons – but for two in particular. To begin with, the 782-page document highlights how attempts are often made to trample on the dignity of small developing countries like Guyana. And, secondly, it beings to the fore the well-founded maxim that it is much easire [easier] to be wise after the event.”
3. Commentary is unsigned but its author is believed to be the political assistant to the Prime Minister, Kester Alves. At outset he quotes those portions of the congressional report that mention circumstances that invvvvverceptions [interceptions] of the Peoples Temple, such as the conflicting statements by the pro and con Peoples Temple factions, the shows staged-managed by Jones “proven beyond doubt” and characterization of Jones as a “master of mind control” — in short the “complicated matriz [matrix] one was dealing with” (author’s phrase). He adds, “since November 18, however, everybody is bubbling over with hind-sight.”
4. Alves next deals with the government of Guyana’s involvement with the Peoples Temple, pointing out that it is true that Deputy Prime Minister Reid’s support was “born of an ideological compatibility with and endorsement of the Peoples Temple’s socialist pholosophy [philosophy],” but says that what is overlooked, perhaps deliberately, is that other governments of socialist persuasion were also impressed by Jim Jones and the Peoples Temple. (an obvious reference to Cuba and the USSR.)
5. Turning to his original point that the congressional document reveals an attempt to “trample on the dignity of Guyana,” Alves cites the two letters from Chairman [Clement] Zablocki to the prime minister asking that HFAC [House Foreign Affairs Committee] staffers be allowed to take testimony from GOG officials up to and including the prime minister. According to the author, this was “serious breach of protocol.” pointing out that Mr. Zablocki is the equivalent of a chairman of a parliamentary committee in Guyana, he questions the correctness of his writing directly to the prime minister.
6. The commentary concludes with the statement that : quote those who know anything about how international diplomacy is conducted would verify that Guyana’s stand was the correct one. It was a question of protecting the country’s national dignity. And, it is to the credit of those concerned that permission was not granted for the country’s dignity to be trampled on. Unquote.
7. Copies of news articles will be pouched to the department.
Burke [John Burke, American ambassador to Guyana]
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