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/April 13 Night meeting
Date cues on tape: 13 April 1978 (notation on tape box consistent with context)
Former Cuban dictator Fulgencio Batista
Joan Brans (sp?) (State Department official)
Eldridge Cleaver (Black Panther living in Cuba)
Huey Newton (Black Panther living in Cuba)
Peter Fernandes, head of Guyana Livestock Board
Temple adversaries; members of Concerned Relatives:
Wade Medlock (Member of Concerned Relatives)
Temple members not on death or survivors’ lists:
Mother Everett (no woman on Jonestown death list with surname of “Everett”)
Carrie Langston (speaks) (Could be Carrie Corey, but voice sounds older)
Carolyn Moore Layton
Christine Miller (speaks)
Bible verses cited: None
This tape, which is probably an earlier part of the meeting that concludes with tape 596, features discussions of the pros and cons of going to Cuba. Jones talks about the good educational system, vocational opportunities, medical facilities, and “fantastic beaches” there. While he complains about some “elitism” of Communist Party members that he saw on one trip, he also talks about the nightclubs — built under Batista — being open to the workers of Cuba, who have priority in using them.
Most of what he says about the benefits, however, is tempered with warnings that he might not be their leader once they arrived, that his courage and leadership abilities and principles might make him too much of a threat to the Cubans. He contrasts his self-knowledge with Castro’s, calls himself “the only pure Communist.” In addition, he says, Cuba may not take some members of the community, especially the aged, the infirm, the blind, and others with disabilities. In addition, anyone who expresses reverence for Jones, or who praises Jesus — which would encompass most of the Temple membership — would not be allowed in. (“Don’t forget to wipe Jesus out, honey,” he says to one woman. “You better wipe him out of your vocabulary if you want to get someplace else.”) In that case, he adds, the leadership role he might or might not have would be moot, because he wouldn’t go in. Finally, in case they all got in, and stayed together as a community, and he was allowed to remain as their leader, they might not have the “flexibility” to have a White Night, if they so chose.
As an alternative, he suggests, they could all go to Cuba, let the ones in who are accepted, and he would stay behind on the ship with the rejected members, and set the ship afire in the harbor. Later, he says that that would not be the right way to treat the Cubans, to embarrass the country that has aided liberation movements, so they could take the ship into the ocean and let it drift until they all died.
The decision is the community’s to make, he says, and he will abide by it, but he seems to be trying to influence a vote against going. He refers to what they have in Guyana as the bird in the hand, with Cuba and Russia as being the two in the bush.
Jones asks several people about their opinions, even if he already knows the answer. “You know, Father never ask a question without a reason. He’s the all-knowing mind. … I know where your mind is. I know where your fears are. I know how tired you are.”
One woman, Christine Miller (who was the most vocal opponent to the suicides on November 18), admits to ambivalence. He praises her for her honesty: “That’s why I asked you. That’s why I am who I am. I know the mind. I knew you hadn’t. You’re standing in the gap of the hedge, and there’s others, but you’re honest. Some others would tell me a lie.”
Jones’ bifurcated — if not internally contradictory — analysis of Cuba extends to his descriptions of himself. He belittles his own looks, then ridicules people who are hung up on their looks. He says he’s getting old, but then adds he “could fuck any wife away from any one of you.” He talks about being a millionaire who “gave it all away.”
At the end of the tape — but not at the end of the meeting — a woman who apparently still wants to go to Cuba points out that Jones could perceive his loss of leadership of the community as a benefit, because he wouldn’t have that responsibility anymore. By the same token, he could take his leadership qualities and expand them. He would have “the opportunity … [to] be even more than he is now, a leader of world communism, because his talents could not be hidden, and anybody on the world scene would see that he was a great world leader.”
Date of transcription 3/14/79
In connection with the Federal Bureau of Investigation’s (FBI) 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 12, 1979, Special Agent (name deleted) reviewed the tape number 1B47-36. This tape was found to contain the following:
Tape Counter @190: JONES: I was guilty of a crime… (in the USA)… They never charged me with that crime… but I was willing to go to Cuba to help HUEY NEWTON… but for me to go to Cuba, it was against the law to go to Cuba.
Tape Counter @386: JONES: The Russians have been here to look us over, time and again, we’ve made many trips to Russia. They (the Russians) didn’t know there was a communist group in America and in the church.
Tape Counter @28: JONES: It don’t look like we’re on the verge of death in Guyana at this moment … and once they get us to Moscow … we’ll have more security.
Tape Counter @50: JONES: These people, shoot ’em, that’s the best way. Shoot these sons of bitches.
Tape Counter @88: Lady speaks of “getting back” (to the USA) and “killing until I gets killed”.
Tape Counter @148: JONES: (quoting the older lady above). You said the best thing I’ve heard tonight… I’d like to go back and kill all the enemies I can kill, until they kill me.
Tape Counter @155: JONES: I’m the only pure communist.
Tape Counter @159: JONES: I’d just as soon die … I’d prefer to die most of us would prefer to die… most people have not come down the Communist path that I have, a whole lot of the leaders have not come down the communist path the rest of you have.
Tape Counter @164: JONES: I can’t promise you what will happen when our boat gets there; we can have a white night in the harbor. Set (the boat) afire… Once you land you don’t have that flexibility of making white nights.
Tape Counter @239: JONES: I know … you want to go home and kill them all; my kids are all wanting to go back and kill ’em (more discussion of killing).
Tape Counter @264: JONES: discusses dying on the boat with the “Seniors” if one of the Seniors is refused entry to Cuba. I’d rather do that than face killing everybody in this house”.
Differences with FBI Summary:
The FBI summary points out that Jones tells the meeting, “These people, shoot ’em, that’s the best way. Shoot these sons of bitches.” The comment is in the middle of a conversation interrupted by radio overdub, but the balance of it speaks about the need to fight the state and the federal government for what belongs to Peoples Temple. For example, Jones’ next sentence after the FBI quote is “They took our tax exemption away, and then we got it back, from the state.” A moment later, Jones says, “They took our name, our corporation, everything, they took it away, but we got it back from the state of California.”
The FBI summary notes that an unidentified woman “speaks of ‘getting back’ (to the USA) and ‘killing until I get killed.’ The next FBI summary remark points out that Jones says “You said the best thing I’ve heard tonight… I’d like to go back and kill all the enemies I can kill, until they kill me.’
There is a larger context. The woman is speaking in the context of a discussion of what to do about the community’s future, and more specifically, whether they should go to Cuba. Jones reminds the people that the community could be split up or denied entry, depending upon what they say at interviews. When the woman says she wants to go back to kill the enemies, Jones replies, “Right there. They [the Cubans] block her. Right there. But yet, what would you do with such a woman asthis who says I don’t think I should go to Cuba, I should go back, I’m a senior, my working days are over. What would you do? Would you go on into Cuba, when they block her?” The crowd murmurs “No,” in reply.
Jones continues: “I mean no criticism of you, ’cause you said the best thing I’ve heard tonight. … ‘I’m at the end of my life, I don’t know that I could do any good there, I’d like to go back and kill all the enemies I can kill, until they kill me.’ What more can you say? … So you ask me to make a decision, if I’m going to Cuba… I will go to Cuba with us, unless they keep anybody out. And then I will sit on that dock until they throw me out or throw me into jail. ‘Cause the moment they say’No’ to anybody, that’s it.”
The summary — perhaps because of the FBI’s mandate tapes for references to killings, White Nights, death, and anything else that might assist in a prosecution of surviving Temple members — lists only the dozen passages relevant to that investigation. The tape has longer discussions about going to Cuba, about Jones’ previous trips to Cuba, about Cuban life, about the implications of splitting up the community, and of the life Jones has given his followers in Jonestown.
Tape originally posted January 1999