Letter to Charles Garry

[Editor’s notes: The transcript of this document retains its original spellings, with corrections noted only where necessary for clarity.

[This letter was drafted from the notes at 14-18.]


Dear Charles [Garry],

Jim came on the radio very late late last night and asked that the following be conveyed to you in confidence in order to give you his inner feelings and the total background.

First of all, the political situation is very complicated. Russia recently let Guyana down, at least [Prime Minister Forbes] Burnham and the PNC. He had asked Russia to censure the PPP’s ([Guyana political opposition leader Cheddi] Jagan’s) political prejudice in view of the upcoming election (July 9). The PPP slogan is “VOTE YOUR OWN” – implying East Indian vs. Black. And Russia knows that putting strictures on this kind of race division would be the only way that PNC could win. Because by numbers they are the minority party. Russia did not want to get involved. She (Guyana) was not asking Russia forearms like Cuba, and Russia is still quite friendly – but Russia did not come through with the kind of support Burnham needed. This has vexed the PNC. Also it is going around in the Caribbean and Guyana that Cuba is only sending black soldiers to Arfica to fight. Guyana is very objective and suppor5ive of Cuba except for that one point.

It is difficult for us to state publicly our fondness for Cuba and Russia. And watching the world scene, Jim has been very impressed with Russia’s commitment to Africa. Since Russia refused to get involved in Guyana, it appears that China and North Korea are getting more involved on a support basis.

One time when Jim was projecting what would happen should his health fail, that all his people might go to Russia. Russia was not sure she could help in that situation. The thought was comunicated to Moscow that PT might help in any way we could – and the response was “Why don’t you give your help to the United Nations.” And that disturbed a lot of our people. But Russia is still very friendly and helpful, but appears to be so dogmatic and inflexible.

Russia said she could not help – but CUBA WAS willing to talk further with us. Some could not understand why Russia, being so powerful, could not help, when Cuba, despite her own hardship and precarious position, was willing to be of help.

Herein lies the substance of our conflict. [Guyana Minister of Home Affairs Vibert] Mingo, who is a very wise and good person in Jim’s opinion, siad that JJ should not take sides or indicate his persuasion publicly. He is not inclined to do that anyway. But the press will force the issue and their interest in getting into things in Guyana is to determine the extent of Russia’s involvement – or any communist country or line. Mingo Is worried also about the problem of Venezuela. Venezuela still has old prejudices against Communism as represented in the U.S. by Angela [Davis] and Huey [Newton]. They seemed to be more pre-occupied with the CIA. There was onece lies told on Guyana that Cuba gave them arms. Venezuela was very upset by this, because of continued border disputes with Guyana. But Venezuela has always been very friendly to P.T. It is sensitive though, because we are actually located in the disputed border area. When the Venezuelan government came to the project, they said that DR. [Deputy Prime Minister Ptolemy] REID  (2nd to Burnham) had spoked very highly of Jim and PT and was very impressed by what they saw at Jonestown.



All these variables make our own position very sensitive, including anything we say to the press. Jim is convinced that socialism is the answer and believes that we are pursuing it in the truest sense. But right now the whole socialist world is divided and very sectarian. If we let the press come and see our own preference – which is resolutely the USSR and Cuba – we throw ourselves and Guyana into the midst of a much broader and significant controversy with political ramifications for Burnham, the future course of Guyana and all of us. And they cannot mistake, with murals, political classes, library etc. our political leaning. Even the Inquirer guy [Gordon Lindsay] had to see the murals from the air – just tree-top level.

And if press do come, JJ wil not be the only one to speak. The press would be able to go around and talk to anyone. And everyone knows about the Bibles. There could be no control over the mouths of everyone, even those who mikgh [might] make a mistake of saying something with the best of intentions.

Though the U.S. focus right now is on Africa, as you said, project also how it will be for Guyana when it comes to public attention that P.T. and Guyana are soliciting help and aid from USSR – right in their own back yard. You see, whatever position Jim takes initially will make a vast difference permanently. Jim wants you to see his personal inner conflict. He sees himself not as any sectarian line, but is meeting total world needs.

You cannot put people into catagories. Some of his best friends, one of you, do not belong to any particular sectarian position, but are concerned for humanity. [California Lt. Gov. Mervyn] Dymally is hardly in any awareness of Communist philosophy of all, but did understand the black problem, has been a consistent supporter. Willie Brown and Enola Maxwell – and those like Harvey Milk – all these have stcuck their necks out. And even people like the Moores’ [John and Barbara Moore, parents of two Jonestown residents] who are horrified at the word “Communism” but came and said that evene if all that were tru in the press, it would have beena more than justified to bring people to this. And then there are people like Angela. She was the first one Jim hehlped of that political persuasion – and just a few days after helping her is when he got hit in ther press – when it came to standing up for anything, he was always called on by her and others. And now we cannot even get a letter of support from her or the party. You cannot catagorize people. Sectarianism is a real problem. Going public with our views will cause us to be confronted with the sectarian divisions in the socialist world.

Jim never counted on anyone understanding him or emulating his example. He just does what he knows is right. You lose all sense of historical perspective. Debbie reserved the final blow. Jim knes that people related to being around him by the fact that they needed him. And after that, after his usefulness ran out, they would discard him. That is OK. But it is awesome that people could be so close to decency and not emulate it. But emulate the reverse. One thing you know for sure, Debbie was one person he never let down. Except not to respond to her advances. He was a symbolic father figure to her. It pains him, but he knows you understand, that people takeout of your life whatever suits them. Jim is not bitter, but very much at peace by doing what he knows is right.

Jim sends his dear friend his love.