Jonestown’s Relations with Government of Guyana

Throughout 1978, as pressure mounted on Jonestown as a result of the Concerned Relatives protests and of the Stoen custody battle, the leadership of Peoples Temple worked to strengthen its relationships with Guyana government officials. The Temple needed the country’s support for a number of reasons, including to serve minimally as a buffer between the United States governmental entities, and sometimes to act as an outright advocate for Jonestown’s cause. But there was also the matter of depending upon the Government of Guyana for intelligence, to learn what it was hearing through official sources and how to prepare for – and possibly pre-empt – the actions anticipated against the community.

One illustration is a snippet of a phone call between Temple leader Jean Brown and the Guyanese ambassador to the United States, Laurence Mann. In this undated transcript – likely from mid-1978 – Mann tells Brown about a San Francisco newspaper reporter who has been looking for verification of some negative information he has heard about the Temple, and what the ambassador said in response. “He asked if I didn’t find the Bishop to be a bit of a con man.… I said, if you are the chairman of a housing authority, if you are a public office holder in your own country and own city, would you expect us to believe you are a con man?”

Conversation between Jean Brown and Laurence Mann, RYMUR 89-4286-I-1-a-7; also at RYMUR 89-4286-FF-1-6.