State Cable: 771003 GT-State

[Editor’s note: The State Department FOIA release of 1981 withheld all names associated with the relatives of two Peoples Temple members from this cable. Several of those names are known to the editor and are denoted below in red type.]

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[listing of agencies receiving informational copies on PDF]

P 031920Z ORT [OCT] 77
FM AMEMBASSY GEORGETOWN
TO SECSTATE WASHDC PRIORITY 5415
UNCLAS GEORGETOWN 2425
PASS ARA/CAR – TUMMINIA

E. O. 11652: N/A
TAGS: CASC (GURVICH, JANN ELIZABETH AND KATSARIS MARIA)
SUBJECT: W/W JAN GURVICH AND MARIA KATSARIS
REF: STATE 234710

1. On the basis of its records Guyanese Immigration Service has confirmed to Consulate entry of Jann Gurvich into Guyana on August 22, 1977. Ms. Gurvich is bearer of US Passport No. 02413986 issued in San Francisco, on October 20, 1976.

2. Consul conveyed above information to father [Lou Gurvich] who had telephoned Consul to express his concern about [his daughter’s] whereabouts and also to have message passed to her that [name deleted] is ill and may have to have surgery.

3. Consul passed message to People’s Temple representative in Georgetown who confirmed that Jann Gurvich is presently at the agricultural community in the Northwest District. Temple representative promised to pass on the above information to Ms. Gurvich to contact [her father] ASAP.

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4. [Lou Gurvich] during his telephone conversation with Consul in expressing his concern about [Jann Gurvich] well-being, mentioned allegations made in the press about People’s Temple including ritual beatings, and forced labor, and brainwashing. Consul informed him that he had heard of such allegations but has not received any evidence that such activities were taking place in the People’s Temple agricultural community in Port Kaituma. Consul told [Gurvich] of his visit to the farm one month ago and of his impressions of the community. He emphasized, though, that he is not in a position to confirm or deny any allegations of wrongdoing by the People’s Temple.

5. Consul has a similar case to Gurvich involving Maria Katsaris and [half line deleted identifying father, Steven Katsaris]. In this instance, [Steven Katsaris] came to Guyana to see [his daughter] but was unable to arrange contact when she refused to see him. [Steven Katsaris] claims [Maria Katsaris] has been psychologically turned against him. He intends to come to Washington to seek advice from friends in the USG [United States Government] and will probably be visiting the Department. Consul had informed him that Embassy was inhibited in the ways it might be helpful, particularly in view of the fact that [Maria Katsaris] is not a minor.

6. Embassy is puzzled by the Department’s reference to the Privacy Act in these cases. The Federal Register published October 2, 1975, outlining the guidelines for responding to welfare/whereabouts inquiries authorizes information to be given to immediate families when the information is required

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by the individual’s immediate family. The Department should understand that it is very unlikely that a consular officer will ever have direct contact with an individual unless he travels to the People’s Temple agricultural community. Community is two hundred miles from Georgetown and travel is a costly, time-consuming combination of air and road travel. As we indicated in paragraph seven Georgetown 2097 round trip takes three days via scheduled air transportation or one day via chartered plane service which cost approximately US$ [illegible number] the charter. Under these circumstances our consular officers believe that they should be able to confirm entry of individuals into the country and give general information about the group and its farm without contravening the provisions of the Privacy Act. In the case of Maria Katsaris, our consul was able to mention to [Lou Gurvich] that he had personally met [Steven Katsaris]. He has found that such information while not the same as direct contact between the parent and child still helps to assuage the worry and anxiety that relatives have about their offspring especially after hearing about serious allegations against the People’s Temple in the U.S.

Burke

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Originally posted on February 5th, 2020.

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