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: One Audio Magnetics 60
marked in part “Suggestions” (cross-out in FBI notation)
Date cues on tape: Jim Jones and Mike Prokes visiting Jonestown pioneers before mass migrations (November 1975, according to Raven) [recorded on same trip as Q 570]
Guyana Prime Minister Forbes Burnham
Cheddi Jagan, Guyana leader of opposition party
Karl Marx (by reference)
Mao Tse Tung
Temple members not on death or survivors’ lists:
Jonestown residents, full name unknown:
Al (probably Touchette)
Darren (likely either Darren Swinney or Daren Janaro)
Eugene Chaikin (speaks)
David Bettis (Pop) Jackson
Marceline Jones (speaks)
Mike Prokes (speaks)
Dr. Larry Schacht
John Victor Stoen
Charlie Touchette (speaks)
Debbie Touchette (speaks)
Joyce Touchette (speaks)
(Note: This tape was one of the 53 tapes initially withheld from public disclosure.)
This tape of conversation between the “pioneers” of Jonestown — those who were constructing the buildings and houses in anticipation of the immigration from the U.S. — and the Temple leadership, including Jim Jones, was probably made in the course of one meeting during Jones’ visit. There are two distinct edits, and the tone of the voices shifts from one segment to the next. Because the people in attendance seem to be the same throughout, and the overall subject matters similar, it is probably a single meeting.
The FBI initially withheld this tape from disclosure, due to its lengthy discussions of money, smuggling, and guns. A lot of the conversation on these subjects seems amateurish — Jones talks about coming into the country with money in his crotch, adding, “I always keep my money in my crotch” — although the discussion of coding messages between Jonestown and the U.S. also indicates that they preferred no one outside of the meeting to know what they were doing.
The tape begins with Jones talking about the problems involved in getting people to Jonestown. He is especially concerned about costs: how much it would cost to bring everyone over, how much it would cost to get the place ready, how much they can afford to spend. “We’re getting ready to pour several million dollars into this place… if I move all these people. I’m talking about assets that I can get my hands on, about four million dollars.”
From there, the conversation turns to the different designated funds of the church, what they can and can’t use the funds for. Jones describes some of the money as his own, and explains that, even though he has turned it over to the church, there are still reasons for him to consider it as money he can remove, if things turn sour. In the meantime, he has turned it over to a legal defense fund within the church. He also suggests that they — he — give details to everyone in the Temple about their financial situation, so everyone will know.
The group talks about Guyana politics. They understand why Guyana opposition leader Cheddi Jagan has called a strike of sugar workers in the country — it’s to undermine the government of Forbes Burnham — but they criticize the fact that the strategy hurts Eastern Bloc countries. Of greatest concern is how the internal political wrangling affects their own position in the country, whether they can maintain their support within the government. The political discussion ends with a short debate about the CIA’s role in Guyana.
Jones praises the settlers in Jonestown. If the project ends up failing, he says, he’ll call them home.
The conversation returns to money, but now it’s about the physical movement of currency and precious metals like gold and silver in and out of the country. They talk about strategies to avoid customs, including getting a yacht and using the “yacht clearance.” Jones warns them about bringing in any kinds of drugs, because the customs agents use well-trained dogs. Even if all they find is some prescription medicine, they’ll use it as an excuse to search a whole vessel, and then they’ll find the money that Temple members are bringing in. Whatever strategy they devise, they’ll need a code to use on the radio or phone to talk about the shipment or arrival of smuggled money.
Jones is concerned about the location of gold and silver which he thought was already in Jonestown. He wants to transfer all the precious metals to Guyana. At one point in the conversation, he issues a generic warning about people trying to steal money — either as cash or as gold — from the Temple. He says they won’t make it through Customs. His warning is not directed at any one person, he says. It’s just a warning.
More than once, the meeting turns to the repercussions of some incident involving Eugene Chaikin and Archie Ijames that resulted in previously-smuggled money being returned to the U.S., when it should have stayed in Guyana. Without the details of the incident — which are not provided — the discussion is oblique.
Just as suddenly, Jones shifts into a complaint about people “rummaging” through his personal possessions. Again, there is no real context for what precipitated the minute-long warning.
The settlers and the Jones leadership group have a long, substantive, wide-ranging discussion about guns. Guns are illegal in Guyana without a license, Jones says, and if Guyanese authorities go in there and make a raid, they better not find any guns. At first Jones suggests hiding them; almost immediately, though, he urges that they go through the licensing process so they can have all the guns they want.
What they want, according to the settlers, are guns for protection. Jones questions whether they need guns for protection — especially one older man, who says he needs one — but later talks about the guns he, Jones, needs for his protection. When told the Jonestown community has two shotguns there, Jones replies, “Know what? If I stay here, I ain’t gone stay here with just two shotguns.”
In the midst of this discussion, Jones brags about the size of their arsenal, the types of guns they have, how “fancy” they are, how one gun can kill someone at a range of several miles. Then, seemingly continuing the contradiction to how he had steered the conversation and what he had just advised, he returns to the notion of smuggling guns, how they can get them into Guyana without detection. Finally, towards the end of the conversation about guns, Jones says “you ought to have the guns on this end [Guyana]” rather than sending any of them back to the States. “We can’t start no revolution in that country [the U.S.] with guns. We got to think about other things. I got something else to get started a revolution in that country. But a goddamn gun isn’t worth shit.”
In the last quarter of the tape, Jones offers rather succinct statements about his own beliefs. He talks about the compromises he would have if Jonestown failed, and he had to go back forever. He could survive in the U.S. under fascist rule, he says. He could survive interrogations, and wait until the dark day passes, so the Temple could re-emerge. He could pass those tests, he says, because “I’m not a follower of anyone but me, because I believe in me.”
He talks about suppressing the ego, how the battle is a daily one and the necessity of waging it. On the other hand, though, he says they must cultivate guilt: “You gotta keep that guilt there. Every day, wake up with a little guilt. You don’t want to wake up with so much guilt that you can’t get mobilized. But you got to have enough guilt to keep yourself humble, every day.”
He continues with an admission of his own depression, how the tests he’s taken shows that he should be paralyzed with it, and that “it went way beyond the realm of suicide.” He admits his weariness and disinterest in life, but “I’ll never be in no mental institution. I’ll never lose my mind.”
In speaking about loyalty, Jones says everyone has a price that would allow them to sell out Peoples Temple. He can’t be betrayed, he adds, because he is dependent on no one but himself. He doesn’t even trust Marceline in certain areas, because of the limits on her loyalty and the price she might have.
Life is filled with pain, Jones says, a belief he has voiced on more than one occasion. That’s why people build illusions for themselves, to help them endure the pain.
Jones then gives a lengthy discourse on communism and socialism, using the illusions we all live with as a springboard: “Even many revolutionaries [have illusions]. That’s why a lot of communists have been communist, because they always believe the revolution’s gonna win.” The truth is, they may not win in the short run, but they have to struggle for the victory. Because the other truth is, even if they don’t win in the short run, communists will win in the long run, “but it may go through a nuclear war” along the way to get there.
Jones parses the differences between socialism and communism, and reminds the pioneers how Jonestown is struggling towards socialism, even if they aren’t there yet. That’s shown in the fact that people steal food from the refrigerator at night.
Real communism would also extend to the bedroom, he says. Lenin tried to include it in his revolution, but failed. And even Lenin didn’t understand what Jones does, which is that “most relationships breed anarchy or outright treason.” People should have sexual partners based upon desire, not convention. He includes Marceline as someone who isn’t sexually liberated yet, even though she apparently demurs. Jones’ monologue on sex is cut off by the end of the tape.
Date of transcription: 3/22/79
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 March 3, 1979, Special Agent (name deleted) reviewed the tape numbered 1B47 #10. This tape was found to contain the following:
A recorded JIM JONES speech in which a variety of topics are mentioned including:
1. Contingency plans in case of a “take over” or if JONES is extradited to the U.S.
2. JONES states that he has assets of $4,000,000, “Assets that I can get my hands on.”
3. The formation of a legal defense fund, and why church money cannot be used.
4. The fact that JONES had a million dollars before coming in to Guyana and hopes to go to Cuba with the money.
5. The logistics of taking money out of the U.S. (smuggling), “No more than $5,000 per person.” The need for using a coded message to signify the “expending” of such money; the feasibility of moving gold and valuables instead of cash.
6. JONES states that gold and silver should be kept in Jonestown, not in Georgetown, “where we now have some things.”
7. JONES states that he has kept the money completely secret until now. JONES only told the “2 sisters.” JONES also told ESSY TOWERS (phonetic) about where the money is hidden. “CHARLEY”, (who is apparently present), didn’t even know.
8. JONES states that women are better suited to smuggle money.
9. Criticism of ARCHIE who buried some money and told SHAKIN (phonetic), “a brilliant attorney at home”, where it was buried. ARCHIE apparently thought that he was going to be killed and used the money, (or knowledge of its whereabouts) as a bargaining point.
10. JONES: “We got so damn many guns that we don’t know what to do with them.” (Shotguns in CHAKIN’s name)
11. Dr. SHACK (phonetic) tested JONES for depression and stated that he was below suicidal.
12. Philosophies of Communism.
Differences with FBI Summary:
Most of the points in the FBI’s summary are accurate and straightforward. However, the statement in point 10 — “We got so damn many guns that we don’t know what to do with them” — could be slightly misleading. The statement is truthful, in that Jones said it, but it arises in the context of a conversation in which he is urging them to do things right — to follow the law, to get proper licenses for the guns — rather than the issue of the procurement of the guns themselves. Once they have the licenses, they can have as many guns as they feel they need. Just as important as the quoted sentence is the one immediately preceding: “The best way for us to get our guns here, is to get it done legally.”
Tape originally posted November 2001