x-3-g-1 – 4 • Memos from Guyana, Spring 1975



From: Gene Chaikin

To: All Guyana Mission personnel, Georgetown and Port Kaituma Staff

S/M: Voting in Guyana Elections

For some time the question has been discussed whether our Guyana personnel were legally permitted to vote in a Guyanese election, and if so, whether they should do so in light of the potential effect of so voting on US citizenship status.

OPINION: Our members are not eligible to vote in a Guyanese election. Article 65 of the Constitution permits a person to vote only if he is registered as an elector. To be eligible for such registration, a person must be either (A) a citizen of Guyana (other conditions), or (B) a Commonwealth citizen (other conditions). None of our members do qualify except for one who is a Commonwealth citizen, and her one-year of residence in Guyana.

In accordance with this opinion I am hereby advising that none of our members present themselves for registration or to vote in an election for any public office except for the one member held to qualify hereunder.

Eugene Chaikin
April 9, 1975



February 20

Notes from conversation with Joe Lambert (Guyana Airlines) today:

Mr. Lambert was at a conference of officials of the Northwest District over the weekend filling in for the Minister of Home Affairs. He asked around about us at our request and reported as follows:

  1. We are respected for our farm program and are regarded as “better organized and managed than Shalom, but that doesn’t mean that you are loved more.” Shalom is persona non grata there now and we cannot assume that some of their flak won’t “ricochet” off on us. According to Mr. Duke, some of the Shalom assets are being taken over by the Govt. (I’ll query Duke do about this at PK [Port Kaituma] next week).
  2. Some people there are concerned about our “evangelization” in the area, trying to win a lot of souls in the area to our church. (I said we would build a church for our own use, and people came we wouldn’t kick them out but there will be no proselytizing.)
  3. Till two months ago Mr. St. Romaine was the top of the lot in the District but that is no longer true because about two months ago Mr. Hamilton Green (till then PNC Party Secretary – the key post) was “deposed” and Saint was a disciple of Green – “protégé” whose influence was greatly reduced by the demise of his political mentor. He still has effect, and can hurt us i.e. has some power to do so, though little power left to help. (I took the point to be that we should still be nice to him and we said we would). Minister Carmichael is now back on top of the heap with Mr. Isaac Lambert as his chief and trusty advisor. This information he got from his own observations and from lengthy talks “till two in the morning” with his trusted brother Mr. Isaac Lambert. (I take this part with a grain or two of salt, because it is exactly what Lambert, Isaac would say to boost himself and what Joe will repeat to boost his brother, but we do know that Carmichael and Lambert are buddies, and the part about Saint going down with Green seems that it has some credibility.)
  4. Our ability to get “letters from Senators” has clearly established our credibility, but it also has had the effect of causing some apprehension (my word) and that they feel we have the power to “bring down hell and damnation on Guyana” if we were too mistreated. They feel that we are in a position to bring negative political influence upon Guyana because we know all of these Senators, Politicians, etc. (This last in answer to my request for clarification. I said sort of an ecclesiastical Reynolds Aluminum – he responded “that’s right.” I said I’d never thought of it like that). He continued that because we were Americans “nobody really thinks you are CIA or anything like that, but… with such friends in high places are potential power is something that they feel they should be careful of. He said it is like a little boy whose uncle is the Godfather, he may not be aware of having any power but if he were messed over, others would be afraid of retribution from the uncle.
  5. (I asked if there were any further negative comments about the group or any particular members) He said only three members were mentioned specifically. Chris is a “nice guy” but they don’t “take him seriously”, “he is no thinker in the group”. Gene … what’s his name and Jonnie – the thin guy – are the only “two people to watch”. [Likely Gene Chaikin and Johnny Moss Brown] (What does that mean?) Well, your group has never specified who the leaders are, but they feel that if they say something to either of those two, they are saying it to Peoples Temple. Leadership and thinking ability.



(I think this came from Saint. At one point that he wanted to talk with me alone about a problem, since resolved, and I insisted that Johnny come too – it was when we gave the PM [Prime Minister Forbes Burnham] the blanket and record)

  1. They are not “relaxed” with us yet, so he feels not to establish a social relationship at this time. He said that he would have taken us around to “everyone’s” home, but he feels it would not be expedient for him to do so now, but he certainly would continue to help us. (I said I understood perfectly and thought that’s a relief)
  2. He talked about fish a lot and the prospects of our bringing it in to the area. They said, “Like, man, we can’t get fish at all in here.” (Chris must have spoken of this to him recently because at first I didn’t know what he was talking about.) And said that we should definitely get about this, but we should not sell it at bargain rates so as to “evangelize” (I guess he means attract supporters). We must be prepared to convince anyone (emphasis his) that our pricing was fair and that we were making a profit. The reason for this is that the Govt wishes to use us as a model to convince the people that Co-ops can be profitable. He said all of the things that we do should be such as make a profit and not an evangelizing function. (I took it to mean that the Govt does not like it if we tried to look better than the Govt or gain support at the expense of making them look too indifferent.) A 20 to 25% markup is a fair profit. That goes for the boat too. We should submit a proposal to the Minister after we do a cost analysis with estimated prices, days of delivery, and so forth. Repeated that the fish idea went down very well.

(I am doing a cost analysis now) END OF REPORT.




February 21, 1975

From: Gene Chaikin, Georgetown
To: Jean Brown, Guyana Coordinating Committee

This is just a note to let you know that the Guyana Government has now formally given us permission to bring two shotguns into the country for use on the farm protecting crops, for hunting, and for protection from native wildlife. I am suggesting that you send down two 12-gauge pump type shotguns  with a five cartridge capacity. You should be able to find them in the group. I own one up there and someone should know where my things were stored when Phyllis [Chaikin] changed residences. Shotguns, especially that type are very costly down here. They should be full bore. I got mine used for $50 (US) and it works fine. If it is not too expensive, it would be good to air freight them down. Send them on a freight only line such as Flying Tigers, with instructions to be sent the rest of the way on Guyana Airways freight from Miami. Let us know when to expect them so that we can alert Customs and the Police to expect them so that there will be no administrative tangles because they must be cleared by most agencies on arrival. Customs will be charged upon the items based upon the purchase price so they should have, or we should have, some invoice receipt or other statement of value in place thereof.

Your concern assistance, is, as always, most appreciated here.




Dear Jean Brown,

Please have someone look up the following information for this man immediately. He wrote a very, very good letter of support for us when the going was rough, and we did not ask for it, but he wrote of his own cognizance because he feels we are doing something good. He is an active member of the Lions Club here and is a successful businessman in the community. He asked for the information some time ago but the radio was not making contact and it sat up there for some time without me knowing it and he has called me twice about it because I assured him that we would send it over the radio and get back the information in a matter of a couple of weeks. It has been that long with a week to add so please get the info immediately. He has also loaned us his own vehicle when we were in a pinch and needed transportation.

Granberg Industries, Inc.
Richmond, CA 94804

They manufacture “Mini-Mill” lumber making chainsaw attachment (and possibly the chainsaw, but I’m not sure if they make the chainsaws or not). I’m attaching a brochure so that you will have more to go on. He wants to know the following:

1) Cost per unit C.I.F. Georgetown. Air freight.
2) Availability.
3) P.O.B.
4) Any other info of interest.

Address your reply to (along with carbon copy to me):

Gordon Thompson,
110 Issano Place
Bel Air Park,
Georgetown, Guyana
South America

Thank you, Jean and how are you getting on, I am doing fine and find the weather very gratifying as usual and with even more intensity after hearing about the snow that you had there a few weeks ago. I don’t like the cold at all, but I don’t even have to think about it so I want to remind you of the pleasant 80 degree weather we have here almost daily. Things are going well here now and we are caught up enough that we are able to take turns going up to Jonestown, and besides, with the radio, we have an excuse for going (That is called rationalization, if I’m not mistaken). All for now. Take care.

In Father’s Love,
Affectionately, Paula