Summary prepared by Fielding M. McGehee III. If you use this material, please credit The Jonestown Institute. Thank you.
FBI Catalogue Jones Speaking
FBI preliminary tape identification note: Labeled in part “News 10/18/78”
Date cues on tape: Tape contents consistent with identification note
President Jimmy Carter
former President Lyndon Johnson
former President Richard Nixon
Henry Kissinger, former Secretary of State
Pope John XXIIIAdolf Hitler
Leonid Brezhnev, General Secretary of Soviet Communist Party
Alexei Kosygin, Premier of the Soviet Union
Andrei Gromyko, Soviet Foreign Minister
Neelam Sanjiva Reddy, President of India
Morarji Desai, Prime Minister of India
Le Duan, General Secretary of Vietnamese Communist Party
Ferdnand Marcos, President of the Philippines (by reference)
Imelda Marcos, wife of Ferdnand Marcos
Robert Mugabe, leader of Zimbabwean Patriotic Front
Joshua Nkomo, leader of Zimbabwean Patriotic Front
Augusto Pinochet, President of Chile
Anastasio Somoza, President of Nicaragua
Forbes Burnham, Guyana Prime Minister
Algirdas Brazinskas, hijacker of Soviet aircraft (by reference)
Pranas Brazinskas, hijacker of Soviet aircraft (by reference)
Victor Jara, Chilean singer
Suzanne Jones Cartmell
“Evans child” (three in Jonestown)
Robert Johnny Franklin
Lew Jones (by reference)
Bible verses cited: None
(Note: This tape was transcribed by Vicki Perry. The editors gratefully acknowledge her invaluable assistance.)
This tape consists of about a half dozen sessions of Jim Jones sitting at the microphone in the radio room, reading the news, makings announcements, issuing instructions, considering notes from the suggestion box, criticizing defectors, describing the beauty of Jonestown and the strength of his protection of the community through his healings, and – throughout it all – offering commentary. While a note on the tape itself indicates it was recorded on 18 October 1978, there is no indication over what period of time the tape was made that day – there are numerous tape edits, especially when Jones is about to change the subject – or for that matter, other than the identification note itself, that the tape is just from one day. But as a sampling of the different issues Jones discussed during his monologues in the radio room, this recording runs the gamut.
The tape opens with Jones issuing instructions to clean up Jonestown in anticipation of the arrival of visitors, likely from the Soviet Union, or at least its embassy in Georgetown. There is too much litter around, he says, and too many insects. He also wants the bathroom close to the pavilion reserved for visitors, in part to limit its use, in part to keep its odors from wafting over to the pavilion. He points out that the visitors will be looking at the basketball team and the Jonestown band – he adds the karate team to the list later on in the tape – and says they have an opportunity to travel to the USSR. He describes the reason for this venture outside of Jonestown alternatively as for public relations purposes, as a way to smooth the way for a possible move, and as a way to raise money for the community itself. However, he adds, before anyone can leave Jonestown, they must be current on their socialist studies, they must have some skills in the Russian language, and they must know the news.
Both in this section and more extensively near the end of the tape, Jones reminds the people of the community how lucky they are to be there. They don’t have to worry about their personal safety or their health or their well-being. “You have a privilege that kings and queens would like to have… and you should be thankful, and you should always feel in your heart like kissing the ground.” He means that metaphorically, he adds: “Don’t, because we don’t want any germs.”
Among his instructions for the day is an admonition against “light-hearted talk [and] gossip. Everyone that hears gossip should report it. It’s your duty because you don’t know when that gossip’s going to turn into treason, so you should do it as often as you hear gossip or any negative talk.”
Whether it’s related or not, Jones then speaks about his daughter Suzanne who has become alienated from the family. He describes her as “the ungrateful heifer, the ungrateful capitalist pig,” as “a wicked, wicked woman”, and worst of all, as someone who may “become one of the class enemies.” Because of the damage she might try to inflict upon them, he urges people who had dealings with her over the years to prepare affidavits on what she did while she was still part of the group.
In another section of the tape, he speaks at length about the wreckage left behind by anyone who commits suicide. People thinking about this act must consider the damage they do to their survivors. More than that, they need to think about what they’ll do to themselves. As he has said on other tapes as well, “you come back five hundred generations … and that’s a matter of scientific proof,” the act is self-centered, and it’s “the most anti-socialist action of all.” If you look at your responsibilities to the rest of the world, to fight injustice and fascism, “it seems to me you would look at that very carefully and not want to waste your life.
“You are a life,” he implores, then adds, “I would not dream of hurting my people in such a way.”
He describes several of the healings he has performed in recent weeks, but he also recognizes the need for the creation of a unit to handle mental illness and psychiatric problems. While he believes many emotional breakdowns are attempts at manipulation – presumably to get off work or avoid other duties – there are ways of determining which are real and which are legitimate. In the meantime, he warns people about deriding anyone confined to the psychiatric unit or – for that matter – the units for discipline. “We will not tolerate it.… Any joke made about anyone on Public Services or in the extended care unit will automatically mean that you’ll be in Public Service Unit. And you will be there for a long while if you make one bit of fun of anyone that has any kind of emotional problem or physical problem.”
Along the same lines, during the last section of the tape, Jones speaks out against violence within the community. While the context is unclear – he does not describe the incident that leads to the pronouncement – his voice is firm and assured. “A threat of violence is in my mind comparable to violence… I will not accept threats of violence, shaking, or any other matter.” If someone is disturbed, or acting disturbed, they should be referred to the medical department, where they – as does anyone else who is sick – will get proper medical treatment.
The one who isn’t getting the medical attention he needs is himself. He notes that some people are concerned that he get proper care, even if that means he has to travel from Jonestown to do so. But the government of Guyana is also concerned what would happen to the community in his absence, whether it would become “radicalized” if he weren’t there to keep them on track.
Both at the beginning and the end of the tape, he talks about the migration of the Jonestown population to another location. He mentions the USSR – a familiar theme – but he adds that there is one, maybe even two, unnamed places in Africa that they are considering.
The tape also contains a section on the news of the day. Among the stories he covers:
• Protests against the US military budget
• Negotiations between China and Chile on arms and trade agreements
• Rhodesian troops invading Botswana
• Pronouncements of the new Polish pope and reactions of the Polish community party
• Race riots in the US
Perhaps even moreso than other news tapes, there is a pro-Soviet tilt to the reading that indicates he is using Tass and Radio Moscow – both of which he mentions by name – to the exclusion of other sources. Beyond the general world news, he reads about Soviet assistance in the construction of a subway in Prague, a Soviet-Vietnamese friendship pact, a similar treaty between the Soviet Union and India, and an agreement of cultural cooperation between the Soviet Union and the Philippines. Beyond that, antagonists to the Soviet Union are cast in negative terms, whether that antagonist is capitalist (such as the United States) or communist (China). For that reason, it is difficult to tell whether some of the editorial comments which appear throughout the reading are those of Jones or of the Soviet news source.
Others, however, are distinctly Jones’. When he speaks about US military support of the Somoza regime in Nicaragua, he adds, “It’s something that should touch our hearts and cause great depth of guilt and concern.” When he describes a conference in the West German capital of Bonn, he adds that the nation “of course prides itself of being the inheritor of Hitler’s Third Reich, so you know where their sentiments are.” The words about the Soviet-Vietnamese pact that the “Soviet government and the fraternal Soviet people … have stood steadfast behind the Vietnamese in their struggle” sounds like the Soviet rhetoric of the period, but the following thought – “Always one thing clear that you see, the Soviet Union always on the front lines of liberation. Consistently so.” – is likely Jones’.
The real indication of just how segmented the tape is comes from Jones himself. He usually signs off a broadcast over the P.A. system with a variation of “Thank you and I love you.” In the tape, he does so seven times.
Date of transcription: 6/7/79
In connection with the Federal Bureau of Investigation’s investigation into the assassination of U.S. Congressman LEO J. RYAN at Port Kaituma, Guyana, South America, on November 18, 1978, a tape recording was obtained. This tape recording was located in Jonestown, Guyana, South America, and was turned over to U.S. Officials in Guyana and subsequently transported to the United States.
On May 28, 1979, Special Agent (name deleted) reviewed the tape numbered 1B69-38. This tape was found to contain the following:
JIM JONES reading news and announcements.
Differences with FBI Summary:
The summary is accurate and meets the FBI’s purposes.
Tape originally posted April 2008