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 “11/1/78 News”
Date cues on tape: November 1, 1978 (note on tape box verified by tape contents)
Francisco Franco, former leader of Spain
Reza Pahlavi, Shah of Iran
Kim Il-sung, President of North Korea
Julius Nyerere, president of Tanzania
Joshua Robert Mugabe, leader of Zimbabwean Patriotic Front
Joshua Nkomo, leader of Zimbabwean Patriotic Front
Samora Machel, president of Mozambique
Mengistu Haile Mariam, president of Ethiopia
Fidel Castro, leader of Cuba
Commander Price, Guyanese military leader friendly to Jones
Huey Newton, leader of Black Panther Party
Judge Joseph Karnish [phonetic], judge in Newton trial
Rep. Charles Diggs Jr. (D-Michigan)
Charles Diggs Sr. (by reference)
Jean Stoltz [phonetic], staff member with office of Charles Diggs
George Meany, labor leader, head of AFL-CIO
Bible verses cited: None
Jim Jones reads the news to the Jonestown community. The stories include:
• A new education center in Guyana’s northwest district;
• Discovery of ancient musical instruments in China;
• Efforts towards Korean reunification
• “Marxist philosophy and scientific cognition”;
• Fighting between Ugandan and Tanzanian troops;
• Cuban soldiers in Africa;
• Arab Bank loan to Zaire;
• Sanctions against Rhodesia;
• A Chinese leader’s visit to Ethiopia;
• Arab resistance to Camp David peace accords;
• Strikes in Iran;
• The new Spanish constitution;
• “Political democracy and class dictatorship” in Austria;
• Strikes against paper mills in the Pacific Northwest
• The sentencing of Black Panther Party leader Huey Newton;
• The trial of Rep. Charles Diggs;
• The unification of peasant political groups in Peru.
In addition to the international flavor to the news and the issues which are covered, the rhetoric in the newscast demonstrates that Jones is using a Soviet wire service. The item about “political democracy” in Austria, for example, focuses on the ideological struggles facing the chairman of the Communist Party and their impact on “international development [and] the growth of the forces of democracy and socialism.” The notation that the Soviet Union surrendered its dominance over Austria after World War II rather than risk nuclear war is perhaps simplistic and one-sided, but its emphasis is definitely Jones’.
The Temple leader makes other editorial asides as well, such as corporations’ universal disregard for working conditions their employees (“Typical, typical, typical”), although most have been repeated enough that they are familiar to the Jonestown population.
Jones also uses news items to draw favorable parallels to aspects of Jonestown which have been criticized by outsiders. After reporting on a meeting of scientific and social experts who concluded that “structure” in community has more benefits than individuals living only for themselves have, he adds, “And we tend to agree with that. We have found our structure has eliminated drugs, the use of anything harmful, and has given complete elimination of crime and total peace in our social units. And we certainly agree with that.” Perhaps more mindful of another allegation made against Jonestown, he points out that in North Korea, “children eat rice as a staple food, and how healthy they look, and how vigorously happy, enthusiasm on all their faces… Nothing would warm the heart more than the joy that was in the faces of the Korean people.”
As with other newscasts from the last months of Jonestown, Jones seems to have trouble reading the words before him, but his difficulty here seems more profound. His speech is slow and slurred, he pauses for lengthy periods of time before pronouncing a single word – and even then, sometimes mispronouncing it, or slowly sounding it out as though it were in a foreign language – and for most of the tape, there is little emphasis of a sentence’s key word or thought. There are numerous false starts, there is much repetition of different sentences as though he doesn’t recognize he has just read it, and the effort to perform this simple task periodically makes him pant. The result is, many of the news items – and his purpose in reading them – is unintelligible.
He recognizes his difficulty on several occasions, or perhaps someone points it out to him. “They said you’d have to bear with me, because I’ve had very little sleep and I cannot hardly read some of my own notes,” he says early in the newscast. At other times, though, he seems to offer alternate explanations for his own lethargy. “I hope I’m reading slow enough for you to comprehend,” he says midway through the tape. Towards the end, he blames the problem on the equipment: “If you are having trouble listening to this P.A., please let us know, we’ve have a lot of trouble with it, and it goes on slow speed and high speed, and distorts the voice, so be sure that you mention it to us.”
The broadcast ends when he is called away to speak with someone.
Date of transcription: 6/11/79
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 1B70-2. This tape was found to contain the following:
A speech by JIM JONES concerning current news events.
Differences with FBI Summary:
Other than the distinction that this is a newscast rather than a “speech,” the summary is accurate and meets the FBI’s purposes.
Tape originally posted March 2008