Draft of Peoples Temple Letter to Soviet Embassy, April 23, 1978

GG-1-M1

Comrade,

The situation in Guyana is obviously very unstable right now. Things seem to be a hodge-podge with no lines clearly drawn, no real government, and no alliances – beliefs or otherwise – in the community. (Unless, of course, you see some lines clearly drawn or know of an imminent revolution – in which case we will hold out some way until something hits the fan.) However, we do not see this is hardly even a likely possibility.

We want our children to be safe and grow up in a socialist environment, with socialist education and along socialist lines. Some of our children before they came here were destroyed on drugs, but they have found a new lease on life. We came here trying to save them from anarchistic behavior, and now none of them would even think of touching a drug even if they had to – that is the kind of progress we’ve made. But we are asking for the opportunity for our children to grow up in a socialist country.

We want to follow Marxist-Leninist creed. We were not concerned for ourselves, but in providing safety and security for our people. If we were to come to the USSR to live, we would not expect to stay together as a family group, or make it a criteria to stay together in the same place. [Line deleted: “Although if it were decided to do that we could be a model of how principled people live.”] We would be very happy to assimilate and blend into society. We would not be taking any stands [deleted words: “when it comes to this”; handwritten substitution: “for principles because your principles are our principles”] – we would be contributing in whatever small way we could to the benefit of Soviet society. Certainly we would not be demanding any material comforts either.

If there were not room to stay in the USSR for all our people then some of our abled bodied comrades would be happy to go to Mozambique to contribute to the liberation struggles in Africa in whatever ways we could. Wherever we would go we would do an excellent job and rebuild, because we are tireless workers. If we can’t be taken in and be useful someplace in a real socialist type of situation, then we would simply rather die. Why can’t we be allowed to live principled lives in peace (here in Guyana)? What are we dealing with – technocrats?

We are a very pragmatic people and you can be straightforward and blunt with us. We understand there is a problem verbalizing some things and so any indication at all – even a nod of the head – to the following question would be deeply appreciated. Have [Guyana Prime Minister Forbes] Burnham and [Guyana opposition leader Cheddi] Jagan come to some sort of an agreement, or is there something in the wind in that respect? Of course this will be kept in absolute confidence. It is very important for us to know this – and if you don’t want to talk to us or give us some sort of indication, then please go directly to Jim Jones and let him know personally. We know that the PPP and the PNC show strong interest in their own party’s [parties], but if there is a move to the right, and we are told to stay away from Jagan, then that situation is totally unacceptable to us (because Jagan is a friend of the Soviet Union and we are loyal to the Soviet Union). Then again, if Guyana is becoming more friendly with the Soviet Union and is trying to keep us from precipitating any problems, then we understand. But it is vitally important to the wellbeing of our entire family that we know this.

We know that there are people in the cabinet who are very sympathetic to us. Hubert Jack is one of them, and we were told that he has the current favor to become the next Prime Minister. Hamilton Green says he is very sympathetic to us (we understand, too, that Minister Green and Dr. [Ptolemy] Reid have conflict that is long-standing). Shirley Field-Ridley is supposed to be favourable to us but she is very cautious and doesn’t want to stick her neck out. Some of the other ministers are just very neutral. [Desmond] Hoyte has apparently taken a strong stand against us, but other ministers are encouraging in saying that Hoyte will not be the next Prime Minister. We were told by officials in the U.S. Embassy that they are very fond of Hoyte and they trust him, because he has a liking and concern for the U.S.

GG-1-M2

Our only contacts with the U.S. Embassy are on business, and frequently they put up alot of smoke but there is no fire. Quite frankly, we don’t give a damn what the U.S. thinks about you visiting us. Everybody is visiting us these days, and for years we have been open friends with the Soviet Union while we were in America. If we were worried about the U.S. getting angry, we would not have displayed our friendship and solidarity so openly over there – so why would we worry now that we are 6000 miles away? Our support and friendship was well-known: we did much legwork for the Soviet-American friendship society, we help prepare various functions, we had a group after group from the Soviet Union visit us, we sang “United Forever” in front of both Chinese and American officials (and have been singing this song for years), and have made no secret of our support for the Chilean refugees, including even giving one group their “bread and butter.”

If there is some other reason you cannot visit us – such as that it were better formulations between Guyana and the Soviet Union – and please let us know or give us some sort of indication. We’d also like to know if Jagan is getting cooler to the USSR – as we are loyal to you. The USSR has been our “spiritual mother” for years.

We know the Soviet Union is on a consistent path of principle, [3 lines struck out: “even though we were visited by some comrades from the USSR who displayed male chauvinism and too much concern for jewelry and material things. But we understand that this is only a phase. Some people may feel they need this sort of thing”] even after the years of struggle and all the hell you went through in WWII with 22 million people dead and the homeland ravaged, [5 words struck through: “The important thing is that”] the Soviet Union [handwritten insert: “continued to”] consistently been on the right side of black and other liberation movements around the world, and have extended their support and shown solidarity, remaining true to the principles of proletarian internationalism. This is unlike China who has done much to improve its domestic situation but whose foreign [word struck out: “affairs”] policy is very backwards and even reactionary. In some ways she is worse than the United States because China is supposed to have socialist beliefs. Their whole posture makes us very suspicious of them.

Because members of the U.S. Congress are very supportive of us, the latest tactic the media is using is that we are friendly with the Soviet Union and this is reflecting unfavorably on the United States. But we have always endured injustices – for 28 long years now – and we will endure this also. It was our defense and support for a black activist civil rights leader, Unita Blackwell Wright, that got us involved with a reactionary element in the first place. We took on Senator [John] Stennis from Mississippi for harassing this progressive leader, and soon after our problems began. This can be verified with the editor of a large daily newspaper that told us this is where the conspiracy began. Looking back, we can see that this is indeed true that our problems began with Senator Stennis, even though we were warned Jim Jones will never compromise principle.

In case you cannot sense the urgency of our appeal, we’d like to give you some examples of the day-to-day realities we live with. We had a man [Joe Mazor] come to Jonestown recently and tell us there was a kidnapping planned for one of our members. He had been approached and asked to participate in the deal but had refused. We also recently had someone walk onto our property and wave a gun at some of our people. We have not made any complaints about these situations because nobody does anything anyway. But any one of these kinds of things could spark our having to take a stance to the death.

[Editorial note: Unknown additional pages missing]

Originally posted on December 3rd, 2021.

Last modified on December 8th, 2021.
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