Serial 1297

[Editor’s note: This document was released both as a State Department cable as part of its 1981 FOIA release, and as Serial 1297 of the FBI’s RYMUR release.

[The text for this document was released in 2014 by the now-defunct Wikileaks website at This URL may be available through the Wayback Machine.]

STATE 316757
INFO OCT-01 ISO-00 L-03 CA-01 H-02 SCS-06 JUSE-00
FBIE-00 SS-15 PA-02 ICAE-00 INR-10 NSAE-00 INRE-00
/055 R
——————023085 160316Z /64

O 160144Z DEC 78
E.O. 12065 N/A

1. Chairman Zablocki of the House Committee on International Relations is releasing Friday, December 15 to press department’s reply to his letter of November 21, 1978, requesting documents and asking questions re Congressman Ryan’s visit to Guyana. Text of department’s letter to Zablocki follows.

2. Quote Dear Mr. Chairman:

This responds to your November 21, 1978, letter re-

PAGE 02 STATE 316757

questing documents and asking questions with respect to Congressman Ryan’s tragic visit to Jonestown, Guyana. In the secretary’s interim reply dated December 8, he noted that the documents had already been delivered to you. As we have indicated to Mr. [George] Berdes of your staff, the documents should not be made public without prior consultation with the Departments of State and Justice; some are classified, some contain information protected by the Privacy Act, and others may become important with respect to the ongoing criminal investigation.

We respond below to the committee’s specific questions. The answers are prefaced by a brief background summary that may help put the answers in perspective.


The department has no first-hand knowledge of the establishment of the People’s Temple settlement in Guyana. Representatives of the People’s Temple in California apparently visited Guyana initially in 1973 to explore the possibility of establishing an agricultural development there. In February 1974, the People’s Temple, through two of its trustees, applied to the Guyanese government for a long-term lease of 25,000 acres of land near Port Kaituma, approximately 130 miles northwest of Georgetown. This region of Guyana is primarily tropical rain forest, sparsely populated, and inaccessible by land from the capital. People’s Temple members began to develop a site in that area some time in 1974, although it was not until February 1976 that the Guyanese government finally granted the Temple a

PAGE 03 STATE 316757

lease of 3,842 acres.

The embassy’s first recorded contact with members of the People’s Temple was in June 1974, when two of its members appeared before the consul to sign on as crew aboard a U.S. flag ship just purchased by the Temple, the MS Cudjoe. At about the same time, the Venezuelan government expressed concern about reports of U.S. citizens establishing communities in Guyana near the Venezuelan border, an area in dispute between the two countries. In July 1974, embassy officers visited the two agricultural communities being established in the vicinity of Kaituma–the People’s Temple Agricultural Mission (not yet called Jonestown) and the shalom cooperative, which later failed. Nine Americans were then living at the People’s Temple site and beginning to clear it for development. They reported that the mission was expected to have roughly fifty members by mid-1975. As the mission grew, members of the People’s Temple contacted the embassy as necessary for consular services. Ambassador Max V. Krebs met with a group from the Temple at his request in Georgetown on January 23, 1975, and visited the project in March of that year, in connection with a trip to a Guyanese livestock project in the same area. The ambassador found several hundred acres in various stages of clearing, some of them already planted, and fifteen to twenty men living at the site. The visit was without incident.

Sometime in 1975 the People’s Temple established an office in Georgetown to carry out administrative tasks, act as liaison with the Guyanese government, and promote the Jonestown community.

PAGE 04 STATE 316757

In May 1976, Wade Matthews, then Deputy Chief of Mission, visited the People’s Temple along with members of his family. Some 40 individuals appeared to be living there. A number of rustic buildings and sheds had been completed, and a dozen or more pieces of large mechanized agricultural equipment were visible. Residents spoke enthusiastically about their work.

In March 1977, the embassy learned through the Guyanese foreign minister that the People’s Temple in California had decided to have 380 of their members immigrate to Guyana. The Guyanese minister of home affairs asked the People’s Temple to postpone the arrival of these immigrants so that the Guyanese embassy in Washington could review their immigration applications. The Guyanese government subsequently granted permission to immigrate.

In July 1977, an article in new west magazine accused the People’s Temple in California of violating the human rights of members and possibly the criminal laws. Other articles critical of the People’s Temple followed. (Questions about the People’s Temple in San Francisco and Los Angeles had been raised earlier in 1977 by the California authorities and press, but neither the department nor the embassy was aware of them at the time.)

In August 1977, Jim Jones resigned as housing director for the city of San Francisco and moved to Jonestown. In September, the attorney for the parents of John Victor Stoen came to Guyana to try to enforce a

PAGE 05 STATE 316757

California court order granting custody of the child to his mother, then living in California. (The Stoen custody case became a major issue in relations among the People’s Temple, the embassy, and the Guyanese government. The embassy twice raised the matter with with the Guyanese government to urge an impartial judicial resolution of the dispute. The case was important both to the People’s Temple and to the organization of Concerned Relatives, of which the Stoens were leaders.)

During the fall of 1977, the department and the embassy began receiving numerous inquiries from friends and relatives of Jonestown residents indicating concern about their well-being and, on occasion, charging the Temple with specific abuses of its members. The population of Jonestown was then approximately 800. (It eventually approached 1000.) The embassy initiated a policy (not customary in normal consular practice) of scheduling periodic visits by consular officers to Jonestown to follow up on these inquiries–by interviewing the Jonestown residents who were allegedly being mistreated–as well as to perform other consular functions (i.e., advising on Social Security, registering births and deaths).

The U.S. consul, Richard McCoy, conducted some 75 interviews during three visits between August 1977 and May 1978. Because of the nature of the allegations then being made against the Temple, precautions were taken to ensure that the interviewees could speak freely. The people interviewed denied the allegations of mistreatment made by their friends and relatives; so far as could be observed, the denials appeared to be genuine. In no case did an interviewee accept the consul’s offer to escort him/her from Jonestown and ensure repatriation to

PAGE 06 STATE 316757

the United States. (The interviews are described in greater detail in response to question number 5.)

Beginning in the summer and fall of 1977, some working level officials in the Guyanese police and other agencies began to express concern to the embassy about this large colony of Americans living in a remote area where effective jurisdiction and control was limited. There was some concern that the People’s Temple might be smuggling arms, currency, or other contraband or that it might be engaged in other criminal activity. Guyanese authorities began to pay greater attention to People’s Temple activities. The trawler belonging to the Temple was required to stop at Port Mabaruma for customs and immigration inspections. So far as we are aware, however, Guyanese authorities were not able to corroborate their suspicions.

In May 1978, Deborah Layton Blakey, a member of the People’s Temple living in Georgetown, asked the embassy to help her return to the United States. The embassy provided the necessary assistance. In conversations with the consul, Mr. McCoy, Mrs. Blakey revealed much of the information included in the affidavit she later distributed, including the rehearsal of mass suicide. Mr. McCoy urged Mrs. Blakey to take her information to U.S. law enforcement authorities.

At about the same time, Tim Stoen, father of John Victor [names originally withheld by FBI], forwarded to the Secretary of State two petitions signed by 57 members of the organization of Concerned Relatives–one calling on the secretary to launch an

PAGE 07 STATE 316757

investigation of the People’s Temple in Guyana, the other addressed for a similar purpose to the prime minister of Guyana. Mr. Stoen also sent copies of the second petition directly to Prime Minister [Forbes] Burnham and the embassy in Georgetown. Mr. McCoy discussed the second petition with police officials of the Guyanese government, who said they did not feel that they could pursue the matter without evidence of criminal conduct by the People’s Temple.

When Congressman Ryan proposed a visit to Jonestown earlier this year, the department offered its cooperation and assistance. Viron P. Vaky, Assistant Secretary for Inter-American Affairs, and other department officers met with the congressman and members of his staff on September 15 to discuss the visit. Among the issues discussed were logistical problems of traveling to Jonestown, the importance of gaining permission in advance to visit the community, and the difficulty which might be encountered in obtaining such permission if representatives of the media or Concerned Relatives of Temple members were in the Ryan party. Additional briefing sessions were held in the department during October and early November. Mr. McCoy, who had just returned from his tour as consul in Georgetown to become the Guyana desk officer, was in frequent contact with the congressman’s staff.

The People’s Temple’s representatives initially seemed agreeable to the Ryan visit, but subsequently informed embassy officials that Congressman Ryan would not be received in Jonestown when they learned that media representatives and Concerned Relatives would be accompanying him. The embassy and the Guyanese government both intervened with the Temple in an effort to

PAGE 08 STATE 316757

persuade it to accept the visit. The Temple then agreed to the visit on the conditions that the delegation include people sympathetic to the Temple, that there be no media coverage associated with the visit to Jonestown, and that the Temple’s attorney, Mark Lane, accompany the delegation to Jonestown.

In addition to making arrangements for the delegation’s stay in Georgetown, Ambassador [John] Burke and embassy officers briefed Congressman Ryan and his party after they arrived on the status of the proposed visit to Jonestown as well as the tentative administrative arrangements which had been made for the trip. Congressman Ryan’s party, including newsmen and some Concerned Relatives, left for Jonestown at midday on November 17. At that time, permission had not been received from the People’s Temple for the visit. Attorneys Mark Lane and Charles Garry accompanied the group, as did Deputy Chief of Mission Richard Dwyer. That afternoon an embassy officer went to the People’s Temple office in Georgetown and spoke with Mr. Dwyer over the radio link with Jonestown to make sure that the delegation had been admitted to the settlement and that all was going well. Mr. Dwyer reported that the delegation had been admitted and that press and Concerned Relatives had also been received. He also reported that, due to the lateness of the delegation’s arrival, it had been decided that the congressman and his staff would spend the night at Jonestown, while others would find quarters in Port Kaituma seven miles from Jonestown. This was the last word the embassy had of the delegation until the following afternoon when Ambassador Burke was informed urgently by Prime Minister Burnham that the party had apparently been attacked at

PAGE 09 STATE 316757

the Port Kaituma airstrip while boarding aircraft to return to Georgetown, and that Congressman Ryan and some of those accompanying him might have been killed.

Responses To The Committee’s Questions

1. To what extent were the Department of State and the American embassy in Georgetown, Guyana, aware of the potential danger to the Ryan delegation of a visit by them to Jonestown?

The department and the emassy [embassy] had no reason to anticipate the possibility of the violent attack against Congressman Ryan’s delegation which occurred on November 18, 1978. There was no prior instance–known or alleged-of the use of physical violence against a visitor.

We were aware of allegations that the People’s Temple used corporal punishment to maintain discipline among community members, but we had had no reports of physical violence directed against outsiders. Prior to the visit of the Ryan delegation, the department and the embassy had received information concerning a large number of visits to Jonestown by outsiders. In addition to visits by embassy officers and by officials of the Government of Guyana, we had received reports concerning visits by private individuals, several of whom were regarded as antagonistic. In none of these cases, so far as we were aware, was physical violence directed or threatened.

2. What advice did the Department of State and the embassy in Guyana give Congressman Ryan with respect to the potential violence which could arise as a result of

PAGE 10 STATE 316757

such a visit in view of the presence of weapons in Jonestown and the mood of its inhabitants with respect to visits by outsiders?

We did not specifically advise Congressman Ryan with respect to potential violence because, as indicated in our answer to question 1, we did not anticipate violence.

Embassy officers were aware that the Jonestown community had some weapons: neither the quantity nor the type of weapons was unusual for a frontier settlement in a jungle region. (Weapons are discussed in more detail in our response to question 7 below.) The presence of weapons at the settlement was discussed with Congressman Ryan at a meeting attended by representatives of the department and two “defectors” from the People’s Temple on November 13, 1978. At that meeting, Ms. Deborah Blakey noted that there was a squad of security guards at Jonestown who often carried pistols. A department representative asked Ms. Blakey whether to her knowledge the guards had ever drawn their weapons to injure or intimidate people. Ms. Blakey responded in the negative. The mood of the People’s Temple members toward outsiders was also discussed with Congressman Ryan and members of his staff. The department and the embassy had emphasized that the congressman could not compel the People’s Temple to grant him access to the Jonestown community, and that the Temple’s consent to his visit would therefore be necessary. We advised the congressman that the People’s Temple was antagonistic towards and suspicious of the “Concerned Relatives” group and the press, and that

PAGE 11 STATE 316757

including these groups on the delegation would be an obstacle to obtaining the Temple’s consent.

3. Once Mr. Ryan made known his intent to visit Jonestown, did the American embassy request the Government of Guyana to provide the delegation with security protection or other assistance? If not, why not, and if so, what was the nature and extent of the response on the part of the Government of Guyana?

The Government of Guyana was not asked to provide security protection to the Ryan delegation. The delegation did not request protection; the embassy had no reason to believe that it would be necessary. We had had no indications of potential violence from the residents of that community or from other sources. (See our responses to questions 1 and 2 above.)

With respect to other forms of assistance, the embassy informed the Government of Guyana of the delegation’s visit well in advance. The Guyanese ambassador to the U.S. urged officials of the Temple to receive the delegation. The foreign ministry of Guyana received the congressman for an hour-long meeting on November 15. The Guyanese airways corporation provided an aircraft to the delegation on a charter basis. Neville Annibourne, an official of the Guyanese ministry of information, accompanied the delegation to Jonestown.

4. What communication facilities were available to the Ryan delegation during the member’s stay in Georgetown and Port Kaituma? What special arrangements for communications with Jonestown, if any, were made for the Ryan delegation?

The Ryan delegation had access to commercial and

PAGE 12 STATE 316757

embassy communications facilities while in Guyana. Georgetown is reasonably well served by international telephone and telegraph companies, and the embassy made its full communicaiton [communication] apparatus available to the congressman. The embassy explained to him that the only direct link between Georgetown and Jonestown was by amateur radio operated by the People’s Temple. Jonestown did not have telephone service. The aircraft used by the Ryan party had the usual radio equipment, but it was of limited utility on the ground.

The congressman did not request any special communications arrangements for his trip to Jonestown. In any event, the embassy had no mobile radio equipment capable of reaching Georgetown from either Jonestown or Port Kaituma.

5. How many visits to Jonestown has the American embassy made on behalf of citizens’ inquiries since the inception of the settlement? What were the specific findings and results of these visits? Did the embassy representatives have full and complete access to the inhabitants and facilities in Jonestown?

Representatives of the embassy and the department made eight visits to Jonestown since the community was founded in 1974. Four were carried out by U.S. consular officers for the purpose of making inquiries on behalf of relatives as to the welfare of individual members of the community and of performing other consular functions, such as registering births and deaths of U.S. citizens. These four visits took place on August 30, 1977, January 11, May 10, and November 7, 1978.

PAGE 13 STATE 316757

Our consular officers adopted a procedure for these visits designed to assure full access to inhabitants of the community. To minimize the possibility that Jonestown residents whom the consul wished to see would be absent from the community during his visit, or that they could be concealed during a visit on the pretense that they were absent, he orally gave a list of such persons to the Georgetown office of the People’s Temple. However, he withheld some names of interviewees and asked to see them only after he arrived at Jonestown. Those he wished to interview, both those on the list he previously provided and those whose names he had withheld, were produced and he was able to interview them. He further required that interviewees produce their passports to avoid any possibillity [possibility] of substitutions or incorrect identifications.

During his three visits to Jonestown, Consul Richard McCoy conducted some 75 interviews of Jonestown residents as a result of inquiries from Concerned Relatives. On each occasion, he was accompanied by a Guyanese official. More than 40 of these interviews were conducted under circumstances designed to assure privacy. Most of these interviews were conducted in an open space at a distance from any structure and with unimpeded vision in all directions. Other interviews were conducted in a corner of the Jonestown pavilion, a large open structure which permitted privacy and minimized the possibility of electronic surveillance.

In conducting interviews, the consul would look for signs of mistreatment in cases where physical abuse of an individual had been alleged by Concerned Relatives. He would ask the individual to describe his general situation and would state the specific concerns that had

PAGE 14 STATE 316757

been raised by his friends or relatives. He would then ask the person if these allegations were true. He would also offer to escort the person from the Jonestown community immediately and to provide the assistance necessary for repatriation to the United States.

The results of these interviews varied in terms of the specific responses of individuals to questions from their relatives or to suggestions that they communicate with their relatives, etc. Those whose relatives had expressed concern that they were being held against their will or otherwise mistreated, denied the allegations. The consul’s offer of assistance to return to the United States was not accepted by any of the persons interviewed. During a visit in August 1977 Consul McCoy interviewed Leo Broussard a resident of the settlement in Matthews Ridge. At Mr. Broussard’s request, Mr. McCoy informed Reverend Jones that he had requested assistance in returning to the U.S. the embassy later confirmed that the People’s Temple assisted Broussard and that he had returned to the U.S. in May 1978, Mr. McCoy assisted Ms. Deborah Blakey, who resided in Georgetown at the time, to return to the U.S., in the face of apparent disapproval by Temple officials.

6. What information does the Department of State have with respect to the relationship between the Government of Guyana, its officials, and the People’s Temple church settlement in Jonestown and its facility in Georgetown?

PAGE 15 STATE 316757

The People’s Temple of the Disciples of Christ Church was incorporated by act of the Guyanese parliament on March 7, 1975. After exploratory discussions between representatives of the People’s Temple and officials of the Guyanese ministry of agriculture and development, a lease was executed in February 1976 granting the People’s Temple use of 3,842 acres of land in the North West district of Guyana. In exchange for a nominal rent, the People’s Temple agreed to clear, cultivate, and occupy a minimum of 1/2 of the leased acreage during the initial seven years of the lease period. In seeking approval of the lease, the People’s Temple stated its intention to invest approximately $400,000 U.S. in the project during the initial two years, and deposited a substantial amount of capital with a government owned bank. The lease required the People’s Temple to submit reports on its operations to the government at intervals of five years. Aside from the legal relationship established by the act of incorporation and the lease, there were ongoing contacts between representatives of the People’s Temple and officials of the Government of Guyana occasioned by the presence of the People’s Temple and, ultimately, a large number of its members in Guyana. The documents transmitted earlier to the committee reflect the extent of the department’s knowledge of such contacts.

In general, the People’s Temple appears to have enjoyed good relations with the Guyanese government. The government appears to have approved of the group’s plans to develop and settle a remote area of the country and of its general philosophy of cooperative socialism. Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Agricultural

PAGE 16 STATE 316757

Development Ptolemy Reid was regarded as a supporter of the Temple. At the same time, Guyanese police, customs and immigration officials had some concern about their ability to enforce local laws in a large community of foreign nationals living in a remote area. The transportation and administrative resources of the government were severely limited; the daily routine of the People’s Temple was beyond close scrutiny by the government.

7. Was the Department of State and/or the American embassy aware of the presence in Jonestown of extensive quantities of firearms and ammunition? If so, was this information given to the Ryan delegation? Did the presence of the firearms and ammunition conform to relevant Guyanese laws? If not, what action, if any, did the Government of Guyana take with respect to the presence of the weapons?

Although early media reports referred to large quantities of sophisticated weapons, it is our understanding that in the search of the Jonestown area following the tragedy, the only firarms [firearms] discovered were 10 pistols, 13 small caliber rifles, and 7 shotguns. Three pistols were taken from members who survived the mass suicide.

As indicated in our response to question 2, the embassy and the department were aware that the inhabitants of Jonestown had some firearms, although we did not know how many or what kind. Firearms were discussed during a meeting attended by Congressman Ryan, department representatives, and “defectors” from the People’s Temple community.

PAGE 17 STATE 316757

During a meeting with Assistant Secretary Vaky on September 15, 1978, Congressman Ryan asked if the embassy or the department was aware of reports that there were large stocks of weapons at Jonestown. Department officers replied that they were aware of such reports and had discussed them with Guyanese officials, but that neither we nor the Guyanese had been able to verify them.

A search of our records following the tragedy has revealed a copy of an interim report prepared by the U.S. Customs service dated August 26, 1977. This report concerns an investigation carried out by the Customs Service between February and August 1977 with respect to the possible illegal export of up to 170 guns from California to Jonestown, Guyana. The department apparently received no further reports of this investigation. (The department officers who briefed Congressman Ryan were not aware of the report.) The Customs Service has informed us that subsequent investigations resulted in one search of a shipment bound for Guyana, but that no contraband was discovered.

As regards potential violations of Guyanese law, the Government of Guyana has advised us that it issued four licenses to possess firearms to members of the Jonestown community and that several license applications were pending. Thus, it would appear that the remaining weapons found at Jonestown were not registered in accordance with Guyanese law and procedures. (As noted above, government officials suspected that the People’s Temple might be importing firearms illegally, and instituted Customs searches of People’s Temple vessels. No evidence was found to support the suspicions.

PAGE 18 STATE 316757

8. Were the activities of the People’s Temple church investigated by the FBI and/or other U.S. government agencies and, if so, were their findings made available to the Department of State?

The Department of Justice has informed the department that it conducted no investigations of the People’s Temple prior to the death of Congressman Ryan. We have been informed that the Federal Communications Commission investigated use of amateur radio stations by the People’s Temple to determine whether that use violated the Federal Communications Act of 1934.

The department is unaware of any other investigations that may have been conducted by other U.S. government agencies of the People’s Temple or its activities other than the single report of the Customs investigation noted in our response to question 7 above.

9. What efforts were undertaken by the U.S. Embassy in Guyana to insure that American lives and property of the Jonestown inhabitants were adequately safeguarded?

In view of the large number of U.S. citizens resident in Jonestown, and the remoteness of the area, the embassy instituted periodic consular visits to the community in August 1977 to provide normal consular services for the residents. The specific measures taken by the embassy with respect to individuals allegedly mistreated or held against their will are described in response to question 5.

In response to allegations that elderly members of

PAGE 19 STATE 316757

the community were being defrauded of Social Security payments, in January of 1978 the consul personally delivered the payees checks that had been transmitted to the embassy for delivery. During this visit he also interviewed annuitants at Jonestown who said that they received their checks and personally endorsed them. Many Jonestown residents admitted making donations to the community but said that they were voluntary and that it was their right to make them.

The consular officers also sought to make the residents of the community aware of the types of consular assistance they were in a position to provide to U.S. citizens overseas and to encourage them to take advantage of these services whenever necessary.

10. Was the U.S. embassy in Guyana aware of any reports of physical violence being directed against members of the People’s Temple church and, if so, was this information made available to the Department of State in Washington?

The embassy was aware of general allegations that corporal punishment was used by the People’s Temple for disciplinary purposes. Specific allegations of such punishment were investigated in the course of the consular visits described in response to question 5, and the results transmitted to the department. To the extent permissible under the Privacy Act, the results were forwarded to the relatives. The allegations were not corroborated.

11. Was the Government of Guyana ever requested to investigate the activities of the People’s Temple church? If not, why not?

PAGE 20 STATE 316757

The Government of Guyana was not asked to investigate the activities of the People’s Temple. We received allegations that U.S. citizens were being mistreated, and the Guyanese government had some concerns about possible illegal activities being conducted in Guyana. Allegations called to our attention were investigated during consular visits; the allegations were not corroborated. Similarly, actions taken by the Guyanese government, such as the Customs inspection of the People’s Temple trawler did not produce evidence of wrongdoing by the Temple.

In June 1978 our embassy requested the department’s view regarding the desirability of a request to the Government of Guyana to exercise its jurisdiction in Jonestown more effectively. The department concluded, however, that absent some credible evidence of wrongdoing or unlawful conduct at Jonestown, a U.S. government request to investigate the activities of the People’s Temple might well have raised legal and policy issues related both to concerns for the privacy of U.S. citizens and for freedoms of association and religion.

12. Did representatives of any U.S. government agency interview individuals who had defected from the People’s Temple church in Guyana? If so, was this information made known to Congressman Ryan?

Richard McCoy, head of the consular section of the embassy, interviewed Mrs. Deborah Blakey in May 1978 on the plane returning to the United States and had a further conversation with her by telephone after she had returned to California. The consul’s interview with

PAGE 21 STATE 316757

Leon Broussard in August 1977 and his action in assisting Broussard to leave the People’s Temple and return to the U.S. is discussed above. The consul also met with Timothy and Grace Stoen in January 1978. They were defectors of the People’s Temple, but had little personal experience with conditions at Jonestown since they left the Temple prior to the mass migration of Temple members to Guyana. They did describe the practices and methods of the People’s Temple up to the time they severed relations with the organization.

With the exception of the Customs investigation cited above, the department has received no reports of interviews of former People’s Temple members which may have been conducted by other agencies of the U.S. government.

The department did not communicate to Congressman Ryan specific interviews between its representatives and former Temple members. As noted above, Congressman Ryan was present at a meeting at the department of November 13 during which Mrs. Blakey and Mrs. Stoen discussed allegations which they had made earlier concerning the People’s Temple.

13. Was any consideration given to restricting the passports of potential inhabitants of Jonestown who applied for a passport for the purpose of going to Guyana pursuant to 22 U.S.C. 211a, as amended?

The department did not consider restricting the issuance of passports to potential Jonestown residents under 22 U.S.C. 211(a), as amended. Section 211 (a) was amended only on October 7 of this year–by which time Jonestown had nearly reached its final population. Existing department regulations, which do not yet re-


flect the amendment to section 211(a), provide for area restrictions on passports only upon determination by the secretary that a country or area is: (a) a country with which the United States is at war, or (b) a country or area where armed hostilities are in progress, or (c) a country or area to which travel must be restricted in the national interest because such travel would seriously impair the conduct of U.S. foreign affairs…. 22 C.F.R. 51.72. None of these standards is applicable to our relations with Guyana or the situation there since 1974.

The recent amendment to section 211(a) eliminates foreign policy as a grounds for restricting passports and substitutes in place of category (c) above: (a country) where there is imminent danger to the public health or the physical safety of United States travellers. Public Law 95-426. Even under the new standard, it is unlikely that the department would have sought to restrict travel to Guyana. Prior to November 18, the department had no reason to believe that there was “imminent danger” to the physical safety of U.S. travellers to Guyana.

Douglas J. Bennet, Jr.
Assistant Secretary
For Congressional Relations
End Quote

Christopher [Warren Christopher, Deputy Secretary of State]