State Cable: 770901 GT-State (Consul)

[Editor’s note: This cable included material which was exempted from disclosure. The name of Joe Mazor was deleted, but where it is known to the editor, it is included in red type where it appears in the text. Portions of the copy are also illegible.]

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[Listing of agencies receiving informational copies on PDF]

P 0116 (illegible) Z SEP 77
FM AMEMBASSY GEORGETOWN
TO SECSTATE WASHDC PRIORITY 5232
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[illegible word] PASS TO ARA/CAR TUMMINIA

E.O. 11652: N/A
TAGS: CASC [illegible word]: (PEOPLE’S TEMPLE)
SUBJECT: PEOPLE’S TEMPLE IMMIGRANTS TO GUYANA
REF: (A) GEORGETOWN 1991 (B) GEORGETOWN 2010 (C) STATE 206679

1. Reftels reported on problems stemming from recent large number of members of the People’s Temple who have immigrated to Guyana. Consul visited Jonestown on August 30 and spent several hours touring site. Consul saw John Stoen, subject of Reftel C. He confirmed identity through photo provided by mother’s attorney.

2. Bishop Jim Jones met with Consul and during conversation expressed his concern about effect press attacks by magazine “New West” were having on the members of his organization. Jones believed these attacks were the primary reason why members’ relatives in the US are inquiring about their health and well-being. He stated that allegations by former members of the People’s Temple that people were being held against their will in Guyana were deliberate lies. He pointed out the lack of armed guards and openness of the site. Several times when Jones and Consul came upon a group Jones introduced Consul and then asked members of the

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group if they were happy and desired to stay. Not surprisingly, they answered affirmatively.

3. In this connection Consul is coordinating return to the US of People’s Temple member [line deleted] leading credence to Jones assertion in Para 2 the fact that [name deleted] had left Jonestown without hindrance and requested assistance of the Guyanese authorities in Port Kaituma in returning to US. [Name deleted] later requested Consul to intercede on his behalf with People’s Temple to return him to the US since he was not suited for life in Jonestown. Jones, when informed by Consul of [name deleted] request agreed to do so at People’s Temple expense.

4. Consul’s initial impression is that People’s Temple has made surprising progress in 3 years in clearing surrounding jungle and establishing a settlement. The community now consists of some 600 plus inhabitants who in keeping with socialist philosophy of organization live dormitory style in small houses and eat in communal dining tents. They have established a clinic with a medical school graduate and fully trained nurses and laboratory technicians. There is graduate agronomist who has supervised the planting of cassava, pineapple, eddoes, beans etc. The entire arrangement is very similar to an Israeli kibbutz. Local GOG officials while somewhat concerned about the sudden influx of Americans at Jonestown are loud in their praise at the productive capacity of the immigrants.

5. Consul noticed relatively large number of children from pre-school to high school age. Jones described

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children as former wards of the state of California. Also Jonestown were about 100 elderly Americans, including one man reputed to be 102 years of age. People’s Temple member explain each “senior citizen” has small task to perform and that the elderly have responded very well to this senior citizen’s program because they are now unwanted and useful.

6. Consul could not determine from short stay whether he was subjected to gigantic “put on” by Jones or his adherents truly are dedicated to their mission of building a thriving, productive agricultural community. All members appeared cheerful, friendly, and looked reasonably healthy. Consul had lunch that would probably not win any culinary prize but was filling. However, while there is no doubt that Jones believes he and his group are being threatened by a conspiracy of “right-wing forces” who are out to destroy the organization. Only jarring note during visit occurred when Jones asked Consul if the USG had requested to the GOG to expel the People’s Temple immigrants. Jones claimed that he had heard that such request had been made. Consul emphatically denied charge and stated such action was inconceivable. Jones showed Consul numerous testimonials from California political figures such as Lt. Gov. Mervyn Dymally of California and the Mayor of San Francisco, church leaders from California, and other community representatives that had been sent to Prime Minister [Forbes] Burnham on behalf of People’s Temple recommending organization. All letters appeared to have been written within the past three months and alluded to immigration by organization to Guyana. Letters were not political in nature and referred mostly instead to basic aims of organization. Jones also showed Consul copies of court decisions taken

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[illegible word] [line deleted referring to Joe Mazor] who had been charged with forgery, [illegible word] false checks and impersonation. Documents show that [Mazor] had been convicted of the above charges during the past 10-12 years and on several occasions had his parole revoked. Jones characterized [Mazor] as one of People’s Temple greatest enemies.

7. During entire visit Consul was photographed extensively by both movie and still cameras while touring site with Jones. Presumably this film will be utilized by Peoples Temple to show USA interest in project. Member taking film indicated he was preparing film and mentioned that Consul was believed to be the first member of USG to visit community. Frankly it was strange to hear a background of spiritual music being sung by mostly black elderly persons while visiting a community of Americans in a remote region of Guyana that can only be reached by boat after a 22 hour trip from Georgetown or by a thrice weekly flight and then a one hour trip by Land Rover over a dirt road carved out of the wilderness. All in all, visit was both informative and interesting.

Blacken
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Originally posted on February 9th, 2020.

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