Q217 Summary

Summary prepared by Fielding M. McGehee III. If you use this material, please credit The Jonestown Institute. Thank you.

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FBI Catalogue           Jones Speaking

FBI preliminary tape identification note: Labeled in part “10/16/78 News”

Date cues on tape:     News items consistent with tape box label; specific reference to “today the sixteenth, seventeenth rather”

People named:

Public figures/National and international names:
U.S. President Jimmy Carter
Pope John Paul II
Leonid Brezhnev, Communist Party General Secretary, Soviet Union
Alexei Kosygin, Premier of the Soviet Union
Todor Zhivkov, President of Bulgaria (by reference)

Houari Boumedienne, president of Algeria
Mengistu Haile Mariam, president of Ethiopia
Olusegun Obasanjo, head of military government of Nigeria

Antonio Guzman, president of Dominican Republic
Joaquin Balaguer, former president of Dominican Republic
Felipo Diaz, aide to Joaquin Balaguer
Carlos Andres Perez, president of Venezuela

Anastasio Somoza, President of Nicaragua
Jose Benito Escobar, Nicaraguan Sandinista National Liberation Front leader
César Augusto Sandino, Nicaraguan rebel, namesake of Sandinista National Liberation Front

Forbes Burnham, Prime Minister of Guyana
Ptolemy Reid, Deputy Prime Minister of Guyana
Guyana National Service leader Norman

Brigadier General Clarence Price, head of GDF in NWD

Jonestown residents:
James Baisy
Jann Gurvich
Ricky Johnson (by reference)
Carrie Langston
Teri Smart


Bible verses cited:      None


(Note: This tape was transcribed by Sarabeth Trujillo. The editors gratefully acknowledge her invaluable assistance.)

Recorded one month before the arrival of Rep. Leo Ryan, this Jonestown tape consists of three sessions of Jim Jones reading the news and issuing instructions to the community (although it could be a single recording session behind the microphone, with an adjustment to the equipment partway through for better sound fidelity).

Jones’ two major messages for the community are a carrot and a stick. The stick is the repetition of a warning about attempts to escape. Runaways will be dealt with harshly, Jones says, but not by their comrades. In fact, he says, they won’t waste their time looking for missing persons. But Guyanese military authorities – with whom Jones says he is friends – will arrest them, because “it is illegal to run away and be in the jungle. It’s a crime to be running loose in the jungle. It’s considered a menace to health, [and] the police will hold you responsible.”

Jones adds that he is baffled why anyone would want to leave the “body of socialism… that dimension of socialism” in Jonestown. He relates the numerous miracles that have happened in Jonestown in recent weeks – accounts that are quite familiar by now to the listeners – and while there have been injuries, there has been “no accident that has not been healed by Jim Jones.”

The carrot is the promise that a possible move to the Soviet Union represents. There is free university education, there is no racism, and they will be protected from nuclear war. Moreover, the people of Jonestown will be allowed to lived together in one commune, which means they won’t have to worry about learning Russian, if they don’t want to. In fact, the Soviets are so anxious to have the group of Americans migrate that they will “build all the buildings for us before we arrive.”

Beyond that, Jones pledges, people who find they are unhappy in the Soviet Union will be able to return to the US, although he says he does not understand why anyone would want to go back to “Babylon, and die in a concentration camp or be blown up in a nuclear war.… That’s your privilege.”

He also says in the first and last part of the tape that there is an unnamed country in Africa that is interested in hosting the community, adding to its first mention that “[w]e’re not naming it because we want no security leaks.”

But his focus is Russia, or – as he reminds people at several junctures in this tape – the USSR. “They’re Soviets, by the way, don’t ever call them Russians… the Soviet Union resents having people speak of Russia.” He also urges people to refer to the Soviet alliance of nations in Eastern Europe as  the Warsaw Alliance. “Never say Warsaw Pact… Pact is something kept for wolves. Like they consider the North Atlantic Treaty Organization, it’s a pact of wolves.” Other lessons in word usage includes using the word “realism” instead of “pragmatism,” and to refer to the nations with strong Soviet influence as “allies,” not “satellites.”

In a couple of personal asides reflecting his own state of mind at this point in Jonestown’s history, the Temple leader promises people that they will have a day off once a week (even as he encourages then to put ten-hours’ worth of work into eight hours).  He just won’t promise that the day off will be Sunday. “Your day off may be a full day, but … [y]ou may not know it until the night before.” The reason for such short notice, he says, is that “we have some people who do anything in their power to manipulate,” and if they know they have a day off coming up, it will help them in their efforts.

He also asks to be notified when there is a “generator change” in the PA system in Jonestown. People often don’t inform him, he says,  and “when you tape me on one generator and then let me speak on another… it sounds like somebody that’s drunk or it sounds like somebody that’s crazy.” Whether he recognizes that that recent addresses over the PA did make him sound drunk, drugged or crazy may be one reason he proposes the “generator change” as an excuse; or it could have been the faulty equipment.

The reality is that the tone of his taped messages in the last month of Jonestown’s existence veered all over the place, sometimes even on the same tape. In the first two sections here, for example, he is so excited about what he says that the audio periodically verges on distortion; the last half, though, especially during the reading of the news, his tone is moderate and intelligible.

Among the new items Jones covers:

• Friendship between the USSR and Algeria
• The Soviet rejection of the Camp David accords
• The visit of Bulgarian officials to Nigeria
• The establishment of a provisional government in Ethiopia
• The growing power of women in Mozambique
• Improved employment figures in socialist countries, and the weakening American dollar
• The election of Pope John Paul II
• Student demonstrations at universities in Thailand and in Mexico’s Baja California
• The first weeks of a new leftist government in the Dominican Republic
• An interview with a leader in the Nicaraguan Sandinista National Liberation Front


On several occasions in this tape, Jones raises the specter of the presence of Venezuelan troops a few miles away and the problems of cross-border raids. The issue makes the news summary as well, as he speaks of world concern over the incursions. The Guyana government would not let that happen, Jones assures his listeners, adding that “we being Americans would make [the raids] even more difficult.”

The tape ends with an exhortation to work hard, and a reminder that people are responsible for the contents of the tape during testing in the pavilion that night.

FBI Summary:

Date of transcription: 6/8/79

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 1B70-3. This tape was found to contain the following:

A series of short speeches by JIM JONES relating to a relocation of the People’s Temple to the Soviet Union where all will be given an education. Also, about the possible relocation to somewhere in Africa, the location which JIM JONES would not reveal to avoid the possibility of a security leak.

JIM JONES also talks about the runaway he (JONES) states that the runaways will no longer be looked for by the workers of the land, that all runaways will be handled by the military.

JONES further talks of the miracles he has performed.

Differences with FBI Summary:

The summary is accurate and meets the FBI’s purposes.

Tape originally posted March 2009