(Editor’s Note: This is the text of the report of the Findings, Analysis and Inventory of the Peoples Temple Agricultural Settlement published by the Government of Guyana in March 1979. It comprises pages 1 through 51 of the 501-page volume.)
There have been innumerable stories, fantastic stories about Jonestown. Guyanese have been over the past months, and especially immediately after the disaster last November, exposed to all sorts of sensationalism and assumption from various areas of the Press, national and international about exactly what happened at the Jonestown Settlement. There have been numerous accounts too, about dangerous weapons and equipment, and extraordinary appliances in the area, and about Government’s condoning of the establishment of a ‘State within a State’.
It was because of those rumors, and of a desire to bare the facts about exactly what were found at the Settlement, that the Party and Government decided to conduct a special investigation into the nature and quantity of all types and categories of physical assets at the Jonestown Settlement at the time of the tragedy.
This Report sought to be as factual as it was possible, with as much detail as acquired. Care was taken to avoid discussion on issues and of what happened at Jonestown. That was not the purpose of the investigation.
My responsibility was specifically to do a thorough and comprehensive inventorising. This was a significant undertaking and an extreme necessity, since the Guyanese people needed some kind of assurance of the facts. All pertinent facts have been collected and presented. The Report contains accounts of the Education System, the Agricultural Development Programme, the Buildings and Structures, Equipment, Machinery and all materials found immediately after the disaster.
It is hoped too that, with the Report, our people would further understand the dimensions of untruths and misrepresentations to which the foreign press has gone to tarnish the name of the country.
Jonestown was no utopia. It represented, comprehensively, one of the many examples of hinterland development projects which reflect the policy of the Guyana Government. From a purely statal point of view, the Guyana National Service is such an example. The establishment of the Demerara Wood Complex township further exemplifies this approach to ‘busting’ open the interior and establishing townships and viable economic communities.
The physical layout, the landscaping, the organization of the agricultural, irrigational and electrical systems, the presence and siting of important community buildings such as the school, the clinic, the kitchen, etc., all indicate a serious effort to carve out a meaningful community and that part of the Northwest jungle, rich and fertile, and with great natural resource potentials.
This Report can only set out the facts and details of physical and environmental existence at the Jonestown Settlement. It is hoped that persons reading this, would be stimulated by the facts to visit Jonestown and, indeed, encourage others to do so is a further stimulus to build and ‘bust’ open our beautiful rich interior for progress and development.
I have tried my best to give as much information as I felt necessary and useful. It must be appreciated that there has been a number of difficulties in the collection of data.
My sincere thanks to those who gave me this opportunity to see for myself what man can achieve when his mind conceives and believes, though the odds might seem unsurmountable.
INVENTORY ANALYSIS OF THE PEOPLE’S TEMPLE AGRICULTURAL SETTLEMENT, JONESTOWN, NORTH WEST DISTRICT
The People’s Temple, Disciples of Christ, is a religious Organization incorporated in California, United States of America, and a member church of the General Assembly of the Christian Church ‘Disciples of Christ’, Incorporated. This Body is officially recognized by the United States of America, Internal Revenue Service, and by the State of California Franchise Tax Board as a tax-exempt religious organisation.
By Resolution No. 73-5, the Board of Directors of this Body was authorized to establish a branch church and agricultural mission in the Co-operative Republic of Guyana, to be operated in accordance with the National Development Plan of Guyana.
The Resolution empowered J. W. Jones, Pastor and President, and all persons designated by him, to take any and all actions necessary or convenient to the establishing of a branch church and of an agricultural and rural development mission in the Co-operative Republic of Guyana. The Resolution also authorised any two of the following six persons to conduct the business of the Body in Guyana:
- James W. Jones
- Archie J. Ijames
- Timothy O. Stoen
- Eugene B. Chaikin
- Carolyn M. Layton
- Marceline M. Jones
On February 5, 1974, Eugene B. Chaikin and Archie J. Ijames, in their capacity as Trustees, applied to the Commissioner of Lands and Surveys for, and on behalf of, the People’s Temple Disciples of Christ Church, to lease 25,000 acres of state land situated in the Port Kaituma area in the North West District.
In support of their application, they submitted a proposal for the development of the area which contained the following:
- Description of land to be taken up
- Form of taking and holding land
- Land Use
- Green areas
- Flooded areas
- Water storage
- Land clearing
- Equipment schedule
- Construction and development schedule
- Social structure and integration with the community
As a result of the proposal, a provisional release No. 1/2/3843 dated April 10, 1974 was granted from the 25,000 acres. This provisional lease was a permit which allowed the lessee to explore the area for suitable land, for agricultural purposes within the 25,000 acre bloc.
It should be stated that a few representatives had moved into the area before this provisional lease was issued, in order that they could identify the land.
After a few months, they submitted a progress report and development schedule for the area. It was stated that between January 1 and August 1, 1974 the following work had been done:
- Site Location
- Preliminary Planning
- Leasehold Application
- Commencement Of Incorporation Procedures.
- Arrangements for housing for 1st Workers’ Group
- Initial Clearing
- Survey and Building
It was projected that the work force would be increased to 30 between August 1, 1974, and March 1, 1976, and that there would have been subsequent increases of that amount according to the capability of absorbing workers into the project.
It was proposed that between March 1, 1976 and September 1, 1977 the remaining houses will be built and additional people would come, many of whom would be wives and children of those who came previously.
On March 12, 1975, the group also reported that it had cleared 110 acres of land in the area. This, along with the Progress Report and Development Schedule satisfied the Ministry that the group was doing very well; and after a re-examination by the Minister of Agriculture of its proposals and Farm Plan, it was decided that the People’s Temple, Disciples of Christ, could be granted 3000 acres of land within the 25,000 acre block. On March 26, 1975 the lease was approved, but was issued on February 25, 1976.
Although the date of issue of the lease was February 25, 1976 its effective date was April 10, 1974, the date on which the Provisional Lease was issued for a period of 25 years. This retroactivity is normal practice. The number of the lease was DL 1/2/3843, and the area covered by it was 3852 acres (gross). However, in actuality, only 3000 acres were approved for development into the Settlement. A total of 852 acres of the gross area consisted of several patches, uncultivable land. The People’s Temple, therefore, was required to pay for only 3000 acres.
Permission for the survey of this area was granted by the Commissioner of Lands and Surveys on November 10, 1974. The survey commenced on April 5, 1975 and concluded on April 17, 1975.
The People’s Temple Agricultural Settlement, therefore, consisted of a tract of State Land occupying a total area of approximately five (5) square miles. This tract is the surveyed area held under Provisional State Land Lease DL 1/2/3843 by the People’s Temple of the Disciples of Christ.
(a) Area Location
Geographically, the Area was approximately seven (7) miles from the Settlement of Port Kaituma and thirty-six (36) miles from the Matthews Ridge Area. It is situated between
Aratabaka Creek and the Sebai River on the right bank of the Kaituma River within the Matthews Ridge-Arakaka-Port Kaituma Area, North West Region, County of Essequibo, Guyana. See Appendix A for the Geographical Map of the Location, Jonestown [Editor’s note: It should be noted that this appendix is missing its text, likely because they consisted of larger maps and diagrams which had become separated from the volume in the intervening years. It may be that the author was referring to the maps which may be found here.].
The central area of the Settlement is located 3. 2 miles from the entrance. Access to it is by road which meanders through the Settlement for a distance of approximately four (4) miles.
The first bloc of buildings is located one and a half miles from the entrance. These include a Cassava Mill and a Stock Farm. Located another mile and a half away is the central bloc of the Settlement. This area encompasses:
- Living accommodation
- Power houses
- water pumps
- hospital and medical store
- mechanical store and workshop
- ration store
- carpentry store
- bonds and warehouses
- schools (nursery, primary and secondary)
- industrial bloc
- miscellaneous structures
See Appendix B – Sketch Plan of the Central Area of the Settlement. This central complex it is surrounded by agricultural activities excluding cassava cultivation. Plans showing the physical layout of the main productive areas are in Appendix C. [Editor’s note: It should be noted that these appendices are missing their texts, likely because they consisted of larger maps and diagrams which had become separated from the volume in the intervening year.]
This cassava cultivation is established further along on both sides of the access road between the entrance and central bloc.
(b) Settlement Plan
The first indication of a serious intention to settle in the interior began to take shape wehen Gene Chaikin, an American Attorney, came first to Guyana with a small team of Temple members in January 1974 and signed the Lease arrangements. Two of the team members move Denver for the provisional lease was issued – as mentioned earlier on – and stationed themselves about seven (7) miles from the project site. With the aid of a tractor and much local labor from the area – primarily Amerindians who were paid to do land clearing on a job-work basis –
they began to clear away the jungle, quickly and relentlessly, using troolie palms to make little huts which served as their homes. Much of the food grown at that time was also by local people – the cassava, plantain, banana, sweet-potato and the like were grown by the Amerindians whose expertise in cultivating such crops was engaged for the purpose, i.e. to assist growing food indigenous to the area. There were no indications that integration of the local people into the Settlement was planned. See Organizational Chart which shows the early structure of the Organization (Appendix D) [Editor’s note: It should be noted that this appendix is missing its text, likely because they consisted of larger maps and diagrams which had become separated from the volume in the intervening years.].
Thus it was that the success, if it could be so said, and the development of the Settlement were the result of a combination of local and foreign skills and expertise.
(c) The Idea That Was Jonestown
In this remote interior of the North West Region, County of Essequibo, Guyana, nearly one thousand (1000) members of the People’s Temple of the Disciples of Christ have been building, what has been described by some observers, as a model community. The Settlement was originally devised to accommodate 200-500 inhabitants, but had to be remodeled to house what turned out to be an amalgam of all races and ages, including a large proportion
of children and senior citizens. The remodel plans are shown as Appendix E to this Report [Editor’s note: It should be noted that this appendix is missing its text, likely because they consisted of larger maps and diagrams which had become separated from the volume in the intervening years.].
The Settlement under the direction of its late leader, the Rev. Jim Jones, has gone a far way in transforming the dense forest into productive crop land. The Settlement was named ‘Jonestown’ in honor of its founder and had developed over a relatively short time, a host of facilities to service its inhabitants and, as necessary, the surrounding community.
The Settlement is, by its very existence, profound evidence of the application and triumph of human will, ingenuity and determination over the forces of nature. Here, the jungle once prevailed. Here, where there was once hardly anything of human presence, the massive primeval forests surrounding the Settlement spoke volumes of testimony as to why this North West Region, and indeed, much of Guyana, and remain so sparsely populated for all this time.
The newcomer to the Jonestown area would be overawed by what it must have taken to carveout the community such as ‘Jonestown’. There are a few hundred acres abounding in cultivation, there are several blocks of carefully
laid out and constructed buildings in admirable variety, there is effective, deliberate landscaping, well-made sidewalks and a sophisticated electric lighting system.
Whence came that determined, persevering and creatively innovative spirit which fashioned Jonestown? Surely, one answer – and one lesson for us to learn – would be the need other people to exist and survive in the face of the most hazardous and repelling circumstances. ‘Jonestown’ may be described among other things, as a group of people who were drawn together by some common conviction, inexorably bound together by some common cause, for a common purpose. In this community, there was communal living, common ownership of goods and services an equal distribution to each according to his need.
Whether one examines the agricultural projects, the education system, the organization and layout of the community itself, the organization of work or the deployment of facilities, Jonestown was fast becoming a mirror of communal living, cooperation, order, discipline, productive and creative work of an order and scale imaginable and understandable only by those who are aware of the extent to which the human will can go, supported by creative genius and relentless application to goals
it sets itself.
Jonestown had a school population between the ages of three and eighteen years. Attempts were made unilaterally as setting up a school to serve these students.
Attention of the Ministry of Education was called to the establishment of the school which did not conform to Guyanese patterns and practices. The decision was then taken to put into operation, the necessary steps to have it accredited.
The approach adopted was a visit on March 7, 1978, to the Jonestown Community by a team of named officers of the Education Ministry with the following objectives in view:
- Assessing the functioning of the school in determining how effectively it was performing in terms of criteria set up by the Ministry of Education, Social Development and Culture
- Suggesting to the Ministry, the specific area in which the Jonestown School Will need to conform to the said criteria.
- Generally making recommendations re the accreditation of the Jonestown School by the Ministry of Education, Social Development and Culture.
A Report was submitted and the following recommendations suggested:
- That a permanent school building be constructed with walls and accommodation for students, worked out on the formula of 10 square feet for every student;
- that a book list and samples of books used in Guyanese schools be supplied to the school by the Book Distribution Center – this was a view to selection for in use in the school of Guyanese oriented texts;
- that a regrouping or reclassification of students according to classification patterns followed by the Ministry of Education, Social Development and Culture be done;
- that the school be staffed according to the formulae set out by the Ministry of Education, Social Development and Culture.
The school population given on the date of this visit was as follows:
Subsequent attempts on the part of officers of the Ministry to update these numbers proved futile; staffing of the school could not therefore, be proceeded with in a realistic matter.
On Saturday, April 8, 1978 a meeting was held between the Jonestown representatives and a Ministry of Education team, headed by the Chief Education Officer. The purpose was to discuss and decide upon the integration of the Jonestown school into the Guyana Education System. There was agreement on the recommendations as outlined above.
It was further decided that as an initial step in the integration movement:
- Teachers from the Jonestown School be transferred to serve at the Port Kaituma Community High School.
- Teachers from coastal areas in certain disciplines be appointed to the Jonestown school.
- Students from nearby schools be allocated to the Jonestown school on the results of the Secondary Schools Entrance Examination, 1978.
The problem of transportation for teachers and students to and from the area loomed large. This decision was therefore, held in abeyance.
The opportunity was taken also at this meeting to invite representatives from their Nursery, Primary and Secondary Programmes to attend workshops at Bishops’ High School on 18th, 19th, and 20th April. This exercise was intended to give such teachers insights into the operation of the local school system.
On Friday, May 21 representatives of the school were taken on a visit too Dolphin Government School, where they received induction in the preparation and keeping of school records.
Accreditation of the school by the Ministry was thereafter, granted in the official gazetting of Jonestown school as one functioning under the Ministry of Education was effected.
Other matters that were discussed and which were awaiting attention were:
- Applying for name staff members for all levels, at the same time submitting resumes and photostatic copies of credentials for equation with local certification;
- approval of staff by the Teaching Service Commission. This was dependent on an official check of the enrollment as reflected in the Pupils’ Attendance Registers;
- approval of school grants. This also depended on verification of enrollment.
in Guyana’s North West Region, there are Settlements such as Matthew’s Ridge and Port Kaituma which one could refer to as being more sophisticated, but less effectively planned. At Jonestown, there was a sophisticated well-equipped Health Clinic, there was evidence of a disciplined approach to the building of the entire Settlement. It must, indeed, have taken a massive effort to carve so much out of the hinterland. In many ways Jonestown presented an image of model community in Guyana’s hinterland, attracting many visitors from town and country, far and near.
The Settlement comprised people of almost all ethnic strains
and was a truly multiracial community, where everyone seemed to live equally and as a genuine community of people. This was indeed in keeping with Guyana’s policy, not only towards unity but in terms of hinterland development. Hinterland development was identified as being a primary importance even in the very early days. The Youth Corps, for example, was established especially to involve young people from all over Guyana in the development of the Hinterland. This corps was reformed and made more dynamic when it was absorbed in the establishment of the Guyana National Service whose training centers are vivid, distinct examples of total communities in the heart of hinterland areas around Guyana. In this regard, perhaps a quotation from our Comrade Leader and Prime Minister could suffice:
“New Agricultural townships in the Hinterland are expected to be established as a necessary and complementary part of National Service Training. Field training will be an essential part of the experience and benefit which National Service will provide. Field training areas and projects will need to be carefully selected, planned and administered in conformity with National Policies and Plans for agricultural settlements. Each project will be so designed that it will become the center of an agricultural settlement with a township…
Hinterland Settlement will be a fundamental feature of National Development. Such settlement, go based on agriculture, will not be confined to agricultural pursuits. It will have to be provided with health and educational facilities. Among the settlers, various types, administrators at various levels, clerical personnel, agricultural and other specialists, managers of business enterprises, forced workers and other personnel…”
(L.F.S. Burnham on National Service, p. 20)
As the Guyana National Service holds, as its theme “What the mind of a man can conceive and believe, he can achieve.”
With that background and framework, it is now appropriate to proceed with the findings and analyses of the Settlement with specificity, and in an order that I have considered a rational priority scale.
DETAILS OF COMMUNITY MEMBERS
Records found show a carefully compiled list of community members. Among the particulars stated our individual commune numbers. Though not complete, the list does give some idea of the
number of persons who once occupied the Settlement. The following details are also stated.
- Date of birth
- Date of entry into Guyana
- Passport number
The compiled list is attached as Appendix F.
The gross area held by the lease was 3852 acres. However, due to the fact that 852 acres were not suitable for cultivation, this amount was excluded from the total acreage for which rent was payable. Thus the net acreage under the lease was 3000 acres. Of this amount only six hundred sixty-eight (668) acres of it were actually cleared. Set out below is a breakdown of the cleared land.
- Cultivation – 301 acres
- industrial complex and housing – 203 acres
- pasture and livestock – 84 acres
- roads, reserves and burial ground – 80 acres
The main access road of the Settlement was found in a state of near total disrepair. It is fitting to state that road maintenance in these areas is a very costly exercise. Perhaps, the People’s Temple, in the circumstances, did not consider maintenance of this access road as a priority, as it is obvious that hardly anything was done to keep it passable.
When I arrived in Jonestown with a member of men who were assigned the responsibility of safeguarding the position and property, there was everywhere, an unpleasant odor. Here, from all its setting was a well organized, disciplined and productive community in chaos. Carcasses, corpses, machines, food and food utensils, household appliances and effects, agricultural implements, paper, tools, books, drugs, equipment were scattered all around the complex. Doors were unlocked. The lighting plants and water pumps were operating unattended, indicating a hurried departure of those who once occupied the area.
Crops were withering against the sunlight from lack of attention; livestock and other animals were unintended; freezers were filled with spoilt meat; storerooms and bonds were infested with insects; maggots appeared everywhere with fungus on food items and other essentials: these were some early indications of a
deserted community. The only sounds heard were growls or barks from dogs within the Settlement, as if they were echoing the pleas of those who were no more.
These and other factors posed an acute health hazard which was one of the immediate problems.
APPROACHES ADAPTED TO THE TASK
The immediate tasks of the assignment were to:
- Secure all assets and property;
- care for the livestock and crops; and place them under inventory;
- maintain existing services in an attempt to harness, so far as possible, its agricultural potential.
It was of major importance to note that there was a complete breakdown in essential services – electricity, water and vehicular transport, perhaps mainly because of lack of maintenance and their functioning unattended for an extended period. The latter greatly restricted movements around the Settlement. These services and undergo a major overhaul by a competent team of technicians led by Comrade Timothy Lyte from the Hinterland Roads Division. All essential services have so far been restored.
The main objectives were aimed at:
- Maintaining the commune as a viable economic entity;
- removal of any factor which might militate against any or all of the aims and objectives set out.
More specifically, these objectives included:
- Cleaning the Settlement to make it fit for human habitation;
- Inventorising all stock, equipment, machines, buildings and cultivation;
- recruiting of staff and workers;
- spraying and disinfecting for health and psychological purposes;
- identifying accommodation (i.e. Housing, messing and other facilities) for staff workers.
The objectives set out were accomplished. Work is still in progress and it will finally make the Settlement completely safe and so keep it as an ongoing concern. It is also intended to maximize all advantages which might have accrued and minimize all disadvantages encountered.
During the course of the inventory, an early headcount in this area of activities showed the following:
- Cows – 22
- pigs – 95
- layers – 1361
- broilers – 286
In this area three cows gave birth to three (3) heifer calves. This, therefore, increased the herd by three (3). No mortality was experienced. The actual stock at this point in time comprise the following:
- Dairy cows – 7
- Cows in calf – 6
- servicing bulls – 2
- Dry-Off Cow – 1
- Calves – 9
The pig territory reflected the following:
- Boars – 4
- Fatteners – 54
- Dry Sows – 3
- Gilts – 12
- Weaners – 10
- Piglets – 6
- Sows – 5
- Barren sow – 1
Recently there has been an increase in this area. Five (5) sows farrowed a total of sixty-one (61) piglets. This raised the stock level by fifty-three (53) percent.
Laying birds were found to be at their lowest peak in production. The majority of broilers had already attained almost maximum weight. It is to be observed that a high mortality rate occurred which resulted in the loss of a number of boilers and layers, even though feeding practices were good.
The view is, therefore, held that the absence of warmth by night due to the inadequate supply of electricity and the sudden change of farm-hands might have been contributory factors. Further layers became non-productive and broilers a financial liability.
There are a few ‘incidental’ animals which have been located. They are as follows:
- Horses – 2
- Monkeys – 2
- Ram Sheep – 1
- Duck – 1
- Rabbits – 3
- Locally bred dogs and cats – 20
There were many crops and abundant evidence of luxuriant plant growth. In the larger areas of cultivation were bananas (apples, cayenne, buck and sweet-fig), plantains and bitter cassava. Some of these plants were ready for harvesting when this survey commenced, but advantage was not taken to harvest these for psychological and health reasons.
(1) Sweet Potato
Eighteen (18) acres sweet potato – star-leaf and black-rock – were under cultivation; but these were harvested before November 18, 1978. The area was overrun with weed.
Cutlass or Sword Bean and Canavilla Ensiformis were planted on approximately twenty (20) acres. It is assumed that the cultivation of these crops was to improve the fertility of the soil.
About five (5) acres are under cultivation presently. This crop appears to have been experimental, judging from the nature of its growth in the field.
(4) Wing Bean
These are experimental crops in the garden.
(5) Nursery Area
Mixed fruit trees are planted, such as, Golden-Apple, Souree, Sappodilla, Star-Apple, Soursop, Seaside Grape, Five-Finger, Almond, Guava, Cashew, Mango, Barbados Cherry, Papaya and other local varieties. The nursery area stock is about five hundred (500).
There are approximately two thousand, five hundred (2500) citrus trees. Forty-five (45) of these are currently laden with blossoms. The great majority of these trees are not matured.
Sugarcane is planted in approximately 1.3 acres along both sides of the access road leading to the central areas of the Settlement.
Bitter and Sweet Cassava
Approximately, fifty-three (53) acres were under cassava cultivation, interspersed with citrus, cutlass beans and papaya. There was evidence that some of the cassava was harvested before the inventory was taken and later during cleaning operations, another section of the cassava was harvested. The result shows that some were at overripe stage and rotted. A number of acres remains to be harvested.
Twenty-two ( 22) acres were under cultivation with lettuce, cabbage, eschallot, cucumber, pumpkin, squash, ochro, bora-bean, egg-plant and a few other varieties of green vegetables. The garden surrounds the area where the majority of dead bodies was found. As a consequence, most of the vegetables were therefore, ploughed back into the soil in an effort to prevent any form of contamination and fear of the spread of disease.
Bananas and Plantains
The largest of these areas are under banana and plantain cultivation, approximately twelve thousand (12,000) trees. However, it should be observed that these crops have already outlived their peak productive periods; that is, they have produced their first and second crops. Hence they are useful primarily for seedlings.
A few standard cooking herbs were grown in isolation. These included thyme, celery, mint, ginger and others.
These were sparsely planted between small cultivations. It represents a small percentage of the overall cultivation.
Twenty-one (21) coconut trees are planted at various points within the Settlement.
BUILDINGS AND ERECTIONS
The inventory accounted for one hundred and twenty-three (123) unit structures of varying dimensions and features. Two (2) structures were not accounted for due to their state of disrepair. These buildings are:
- The hospital
- the claybrick factory.
The hospital building is unserviceable and it is at present in a state of total disrepair. The claybrick factory is a thatched structure with a furnace built of clay. On the site to date, there are two thousand six hundred (2600) bricks of varying types. Other structures include the following:
- Central supply bond;
- carpenter shop;
- shoe repair shop;
- power plants (electrical);
- pure water system;
- soap factory;
- medical store;
- herbal kitchen;
- schools (nursery, primary and secondary)
Full details are listed in Appendix G which explain the dimensions and features of the structures.
Within these structures were located spares, equipment (electrical and mechanical), medical equipment, food supplies, medical implements, appliances, books, machines, tools, clothing and other incidentals. These were identified and listed in Appendix H.
Mention was previously made of the Herbal Kitchen. During this exercise one hundred and twenty-one (121) different research samples of medicinal herbs, foods, spices, barks, cereals, medication and the like were found. These were identified and listed. Appendix I refers.
HOUSEHOLD AND PERSONAL ARTICLES
It is of special interest to observe that there has been no evidence of any significant amount of household furniture. The only items of furniture found were homemade wooden bunks, chairs, tables, stools and benches. These have been listed. In addition, a quantity of used clothing (male, female and children) was found. This was weighed, bundled and stored.
Soiled mattresses and clothing which were found were
destroyed. Large quantities of spoilt food items were also destroyed to avoid possible food poisoning, fly nuisance in breeding of other insect pests. This action was taken because of evidence that corpses and carcasses were strewn around and within various structures.
Clothing and furniture, including bunks, benches, stools, chairs, tables and mattresses formed part of the inventory and are listed at Appendix J.
There was no permanent structure for the library. Most of the books were found in cupboards under a tent which formed part of the school there. Most discovered another parts of the Settlement listed among those found within the tent.
Records indicate that many of the books were on loan from the Ministry of Education and Social Development, Georgetown, Guyana. A number of books bore the stamp of the National Free Library, Georgetown, Guyana. A complete list is given in Appendix K.
An amount of drugs was found strewn among debris. What was good was sent to the Central Stores, Georgetown for identification and safe storage.
Among medical equipment listed was a Dental Chair. This chair was trained by Dr. Patrick Ng-A-Fook, a Guyanese Dental Surgeon, as his property. A copy of his letter dated November 30, 1978 is enclosed for information in Appendix L.
Dr. Patrick Ng-A-Fook who is residing at Church Street, Georgetown, Guyana was the visiting Dental Surgeon at the Settlement.
MOTOR VEHICLES AND MOBILE EQUIPMENT
Motor vehicles and equipment were found in the Settlement. None was operational. It is noteworthy that only the Bedford Truck (GBB 3892) appeared to have been registered with the License Revenue Department in Georgetown, Guyana.
A list of vehicles and equipment is included in Appendix H.
A number of articles of varying types were found and listed together because of their condition. No attempt has been made to list them in categories because of the stage at which they were discovered. The inventory of yachting shoes, boots and other items is shown as Appendix M.
To date the sum of one hundred and twenty thousand dollars ($120,000.00) has been spent on the Maintenance and Operations of the Settlement. Work is still in progress in some areas. Large-scale clearing and cleaning are continuing among crops and buildings. Livestock are being tended and essential services maintained. Over-worked machines and equipment were overhauled. It does appear that most of the machines and equipment were poorly maintained and serviced.
Ploughing and planting were not catered for initially, but these activities became very necessary to accomplish the objectives. To date, one hundred and thirty-two (132) acres of land had been cleared and ploughed.
The access road to the Settlement was surfaced with clay at a cost of five thousand dollars ($5000.00). It was also necessary to build a further quarter of a mile of road within the complex, to provide access to areas considered important.
The dogs, cats, monkeys and rabbits found on the Settlement are well provided for.
The exercise began on January 4, 1979. Labor problems, fear and suspicion were some of the early difficulties which existed and had to be overcome.
At the commencement of the ‘cleaning up’ exercise, there was great hesitancy on the part of the Guyanese to participate in this type of work within the Settlement, much less reside within. Fear, psychological and emotional had been evident.
At first, it was difficult to dispel rumors or superstitious beliefs from the people interviewed for work on the Settlement. These myths and rumors were eventually dispelled. Workers approved were also convinced that the improved sanitary
condition of the place and care of livestock were of paramount importance.
Police presence and the task force which occupied the Settlement no doubt have been conducive to dispelling fear and led to improved morale of the work force.
A new water pump system and an electric motor generator were installed to support the ailing water and lighting systems on the Settlement. In addition, two (2) small buildings were erected at the entrance to provide accommodation for the police also an electric generator. A quarter of a mile of earth road mentioned earlier was constructed to give access to the industrial complex and the poultry farm. The area within the proximity of the pavilion where the majority of the dead was found has been fenced.
Skilled technicians and laborers are employed in the overhaul exercise in order to prevent the Settlement from being overrun. It is hoped that the same machines will be used to maintain and improve the present condition of the commune.
Eighty (80) gooseberry seedlings have been planted within the fenced area.
Initially, thirty-eight (38) persons were employed. However, this number gradually increased to one hundred and sixteen
(116). The increase in manpower facilitated the completion of the ‘clean up’ exercise on March 15, 1979. The work entailed:
- Cleaning of the entire Settlement because of the unsanitary condition of the commune after the loss of so many lives;
- caring for livestock and crops;
- taking stock of the Settlement;
- overhauling and servicing broken down and poorly maintained machines and equipment;
- making preparation to keep the Settlement as an ongoing concern;
- weeding, ploughing and planting to prevent the Settlement from becoming overrun.
Because of the absence of available records, the inventory activities proved to be a formidable task.
RECOMMENDATIONS FOR IMPROVEMENT
A pragmatic approach was used to derive the existing theories of Jonestown. These theories are based on information carefully pieced together. They reflect intelligent, thought-provoking and worthwhile conclusions. It is not, however, the
purpose of this exercise to repeat them. Yet it is of interest to note that these theories offer a challenge two Guyanese who are working towards fashioning a new society based on Co-operative Socialism.
In retrospect [the] Jonestown Settlement is an area of land under cultivation with citrus, ground provision, green vegetables and fruit trees. There are also poultry, cattle, horses, pigs and some wildlife. The Settlement was staffed by a number of highly trained and skilled technicians. Labor was also available, but was controlled. Production cost, therefore, was at a minimum as wages were not paid. There was also a well supervised and dependable work force which transformed forest lands into an agricultural Settlement.
There exists one hundred and twenty-six (126) wooden structures. These provide living accommodation, shelter for lighting plants, water pumps, hospital, laboratories, medical stores, mechanical source, ration stores, dry goods stores, carpentry shop, mechanical workshops, welding shop, bonds, mess hall, auditorium, classroom, cassava mill, chicken run, byre and sty.
It is also recommended that serious thought be given to the following suggestions for maintaining the Settlement and making it once more a viable and ongoing concern.
In this respect one of the following plans suggested for its conversion:
- Migrant workers; or
- permanent settlers; or
- a mixture of (i) and (ii) about.
If the suggestion at (i) it is accepted and agreed upon, then most of the existing stocks would have to be removed, since there would not be any permanence in terms of occupation and use of the facilities, equipment, etc. to a large extent.
If, however, a decision is taken on the family type community based upon the Melanie Damishana experiment (though on a much smaller scale) then thought must be given to the establishment of the following:
- A shopping plaza;
- A poly-clinic;
- a community high school (the Lodge model type catering for children from nursery level to the secondary level);
- security – internal and external
The latter suggestion necessitates retention of some of the current stock and equipment.
The presence of the clay-brick factory can aid considerably in the development of the area.
It is recommended that the factory be reactivated and the products used for the following purposes:
- Construction of buildings which will be far more durable;
- construction of internal clay-brick roads which is currently being given some thought by Government;
- if production is in excess of the demand surplus flicks can be sold to the Matarkai Authority for use in its development programme
The brick buildings and roads will enhance the appearance of the Settlement, thus aiding the tourist industry.
Jonestown is of historical significance both at home and abroad, hence a conscious effort should be made to capitalize on the recent disaster there. Farming activities must be maintained,
developed and extended. However, against this background, and in addition to whatever other developmental plans may be approved for the area, it is necessary to encourage the development of a thriving tourist industry for local and foreign consumption.
TOURIST ATTRACTION AND LEISURE TIME ACTIVITIES
With the rivers and creeks in the area, fishing for pleasure and swimming should be encouraged and developed. Facilities, as obtained at the Dakara Creek, could be constructed and the revenue collected would in due course offset operational costs.
An interesting activity will be either the erection of a cinema or the showing of films for the entertainment and education of those who would eventually live in the community. The cinema is not expected to cater for Western Films. If the film shows are preferable, then the majority of these should depict Guyanese culture, with special emphasis on the Hinterland areas, and models from Socialist countries like China, Cuba, Tanzania, etc.
As a spillover effect, the need will arise to develop
tourist facilities in the area, e.g. regular Guyana Airways Corporation flights to the area will become a necessity; further, hotel accommodation will have to be provided; craft and ggro-industry items including jams, jellies, dried fruits, Amerindian crafts indigenous to the area will have to be encouraged and developed. The need for other subsidiary industries can hardly be over-emphasized.
The existing physical facilities could be used for residential training programmes, and holiday camping. These should be expanded and more fully exploited. In order to maintain the very high standards at Jonestown, including the care of crops and livestock, there will be need for a highly trained, well-motivated and competent personnel, at work on the Settlement.
The following is a proposed temporary staff for the maintenance operations at Jonestown over the next twelve-month period:
- SERVICE SECTORS (25)
- Administrative Section (8)
- Administrator (1)
- Administrative Assistant (1)
- Procurement Officer/Expediter (1)
- Confidential Secretary (1)
- Accounts Clerk II (1)
- Store Keeper III (1)
- Typist (1)
- Medical Orderly/Dispenser (1)
- Maintenance Section (Mechanical and Electrical) (9)
- Mechanical Supervisor (1)
- Maintenance Assistant (Mech.) (1)
- Maintenance Assistant (elec.) (1)
- Lighting Plant Attendant (2)
- Water Pump Operator (1)
- Tractor Operator (2)
- Driver – Land Rover (1)
- Sanitation Section (3)
- Sanitation Supervisor (1)
- Handyman (2)
- Building Section (3)
- Building Supervisor (1)
- Building Assistant (2)
- Kitchen/Mess Hall Section (2)
- Cook/Mess Cook (1)
- Assistant Cook (1)
- Administrative Section (8)
- PRODUCTION SECTORS (18)
- Livestock Section (7)
- Livestock Supervisor (1)
- Livestock Assistant (6)
- Crops Section (11)
- Crops Supervisor (1)
- Crops Assistant (10)
- Livestock Section (7)
Each position is absolutely necessary and pivotal to the maintenance, subsequent growth and development of the Settlement. This is especially so since equipment has to be maintained and serviced; further the health of the community is paramount; then too, the living and field conditions currently obtaining at the Settlement allow for easy breeding of flies and mosquitoes. In addition, the farm project, if not attended, will lose its economic viability as livestock and crops must be cared for continuously.
Against each physician can be found proposed salary scales or wages. These are in keeping with the Guyana Public Service rates. There are some variations in the scales. Note however, that these variations are intended to accommodate those comrades who may be already in receipt affixed salaries or emoluments and/or enjoy special allowances.
[Balance of page 47 and top half of page 48 is a salary table]
Field Allowances should be considered for those Comrades employed in the field from outside the Jonestown-Matthews Ridge-Port Kaituma Area.
Perhaps it may be of interest to give some projections of the economic benefits that could accrue from beneficial occupation of the Settlement only because a case has been late already further development of the Settlement.
PROPOSED ECONOMIC EXTENSION OF THE AGRICULTURE SETTLEMENT
According to available statistics large quantities of food items are taken into the area monthly. These food items include protein meat – fish, chicken, pork and beef.
There is evidence of the possibility of the area become self-sufficient in the production of protein foods. Such efforts can help to decrease the high cost of living. Empirical observation bears out that Jonestown can be both a short and long-term large-scale producer of chicken, pork and eggs from the neighboring communities of Matthews Ridge, Port Kaituma, Morawhanna and Mabaruma. Beef and milk can also be produced in adequate quantities for supplies in a long-term plan.
A five-year extension programme is suggested for swine, poultry and cattle. The market demand for the produce previously mentioned for Jonestown and its neighboring communities has not been computed, but experience has shown that the two adjoining communities are unwilling to satisfy their own needs. Hence, their dependence on outside products may continue for a very long time. This market should be developed and exploited, so that there can be a reduction in cost of living in these communities and also increase per capita earnings at the Settlement.
Whatever decision is taken, it is recommended that the poultry farming should continue and efforts made to increase the present levels of production. There is need also to maintain a steady growth rate in the cattle industry, in order to increase the supply of beef and dairy products. If this is done and the venture proves to be an economic viability, then the processing
of pasteurized cheese could be undertaken to make the Settlement and the Matarkai area self-sufficient in this important community.
Sheep – Mention was made of the presence of a ram. An experiment with the black-belly type of sheep should be attempted. However, expert advice should be sought before these ventures are undertaken.
It seems as though legumes will thrive in the area; hence, it is suggested that large-scale planting of beans, black-eye and other varieties be encouraged.
Acreage under citrus, plantain and cassava cultivation should be maintained. New areas should also be put under cultivation; for example, new fields could be thrown into cultivation of cherry, pear, guava and other fruits.
Guyana can earn additional foreign exchange by printing hundreds of thousands of souvenir maps of Guyana depicting Jonestown as the most conspicuous area. These maps can be used in the production of wall plaques, waiters, etc. It is suggested that these notes be marketed both at home and Abroad, at very attractive prices.
IDEAS FOR MAINTAINING THE SETTLEMENT
It is recommended that continued advantage be taken of the available mechanical equipment to increase production and maximize all efficiencies. Greater efforts are needed to reduce production costs and to increase productivity. Maximum use must be made of modern methods of production; i.e fertilizer, weedicide, and incesticide.
Consumption of petroleum products will increase costs of production in the short term. However, the long-term proposal includes the breeding of horses in the utilization of labor-intensive methods to cut production costs and save valuable foreign exchange.
MANAGEMENT AND DISCIPLINE
Sound organizational techniques, good planning and discipline are pivotal to success in the venture at Jonestown Settlement. Strict costing has to be done to show input for every given area (cost of production) against output (level of production). In this manner, one can determine how much money was spent in the production of chicken, pigs, citrus, provision and the like; and what are the surpluses. Practical use should be made of cost benefit analyses as the development plan unfolds.