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[Editor’s note: Text from https://wikileaks.org/plusd/cables/1978GEORGE03936_d.html.]

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INFO OCT-01 EUR-12 ISO-00 SSO-00 NSCE-00 ICAE-00 INRE-00 CIAE-00 DODE-00 PM-05 H-01 INR-10 L-03 NSAE-00 PA-01 SP-02 SS-15 HA-05 IO-14 SCS-06 CA-01 HEW-04 FBIE-00 USSS-00 SY-05 /100 W
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O R 252045Z NOV 78
FM AMEMBASSY GEORGETOWN
TO SECSTATE WASHDC IMMEDIATE 8206
INFO AMEMBASSY BRIDGETOWN
AMEMBASSY CARACAS
AMEMBASSY KINGSTON
AMEMBASSY LONDON
AMEMBASSY PARAMARIBO
AMEMBASSY PORT OF SPAIN
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E.O. 11652: N/A
TAGS: PINT, GY, OREP (RYAN, LEO) CASC
SUBJECT: PNC EDITORIAL BLAMES UNITED STATES FOR JONESTOWN TRAGEDY
REF: GEORGETOWN 3919

1. The Nov 26 edition of the weekly “New Nation,” official organ of the ruling People’s National Congress (PNC) party, carries an editorial and cartoon concerning the assassination of Congressman Ryan and subjsequent [subsequent] events. It is the first editorial in the government-owned press about the incident.

2. The cartoon depicts a saling, labelled “People’s Temple,” being cut in half by a machette labelled “international conspiracy.” three paragraphs in the middle portion of the editorial address the causes of the incidents at Port Kaituma and Jonestown. The paragraphs are as follows:

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“Be that as it may there are a few things that seem quite clear to us. For one thing many in the United States were determined that the Jonestown commune should not succeed. They made every effort, therefore, to undermine and discredit. Why?

“That so many people should want to leave the ‘comfort’ of the United States to come and settle in Guyana’s hinterland reflected adversely on the ‘American’ way of life. That they could have done so successfully would have caused great anger and dissatisfaction in many quarters. Therefore whatever dissatisfaction or disagreement existed in the commune was encouraged and, it appears, even exaggerated.

“a hostile press campaign was started and relentlessly pursued and the differences among the Temple members were exploited to the full. These seem to have affected unduly the mind of Jonestown’s founder, Pastor Jim V. [W.] Jones. He therefore appears to have taken the decision, after Congressman Leo Ryan insisted on visiting the commune, that he and a number of those accompanying him should not leave Jonestown alive.”

3. Comment: the credibility of the GOG [Government of Guyana] faces a severe test as a result of the Jonestown tragdy [tragedy]. Eusi Kwayana’s Working People’s Alliance (WPA) has publicly alleged that the GOG was aware of human rights, customs and firearms violations by PT members in Guyana, but did nothing about them. In parliament on Nov 24, after Deputy Primin Reid’s [Deputy Prime Minister Ptolemy Reid] statement (reftel), acting leader of the opposition Janet Jagan vehemently protested the failure of the national assembly to immediately debate the matter. She added that the security of the country had been threatended [threatened] by events in

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Jonestown, but did not explain further. The “New Nation” editiorial [editorial] obviously indicates that hard-liners in the PNC want to deflect domestic criticism over the affair from the GOG to the United States. What is not so obvious is why the GOG would permit the publishing of the editorial and cartoon, given not only the magnitude of this tragedy, but also the fate of US-GOG relations in the days after the Cubana incident of 1976. The ambassador has already raised the cartoon and editorial with the GOG at cabinet level. This will be the subject of a septel [separate telex?].

Burke [John Burke, U.S. Ambassador to Guyana]

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Originally posted on December 9th, 2018.

Last modified on January 30th, 2020.
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