Nov 27, 78 • 1351 • USICA-State

[Editor’s note: This cable represents a daily news bulletin from the International Communication Agency for November 27, 1978.]

[Listing of agencies receiving informational copies on PDF]

O 271351Z NOV 78
FM USICA/SANTO DOMINGO
TO USINFO WASHDC PRIORITY
INFO SECSTATE WASHDC
AMEMBASSY GEORGETOWN
UNCLAS

E.O. 11652: N/A
SUBJECT: MEDIA REACTION: JONESTOWN SUICIDES IN GUYANA

1. Editorial reaction to date on Jonestown suicides has appeared in editorial page or op-edit page columns. All emphasize anger of fanaticism. El Sol carried interview with sociologist and maintained that [illegible word] coverage, given Jonestown suicides is “smoke screen to minimize civilian assassination of the tyrant Somoza in Nicaragua” and is the “best painting possible to depict the putrid matter of the capitalist system.”

2. Augustin Martin in El Caribe wrote Nov 23: “Unfortunately man is not always capable of distinguishing between what is a positive, authentic and enriching religious sentiment and one which is a superstition with a strength of suggestion sufficient to carry over into fanaticism.

3. “Accepting the importance of religious sentiment and religious life, with a respect that different creeds and confessions deserve, we must reject with all our strength fanaticism as something diametrically opposed to the dignity of the person, to civilization and authentic religious feeling.”

4. “Columnist [illegible name] in afternoon tabloid La Noticia said: “The entire world is horrified by the killing in Guyana… The type of collective suicide was foreseen a long time ago by the Cuban psychological expert Enrique Newriguez … who in his book “Crimes and Witchcraft,” wrote that such a profound veil of mental primitivism falls over such groups that they will accept without hesitation orders for collective poisoning…

5. “As Newriguez says, intelligent and cultured people from the civilized world can fall into fanaticism because they have not managed to suppress their innate impulses. The horrible experience in Guyana, then, must serve to keep us alert, and the authorities must maintain vigilance over pretenders who influence the ignorant, including witches, astrologist, conjurers and warlocks.”

6. Dominican psychologist Rafael Castro Sanchez, interviewed by El Sol, said he “considered that the big play given by US news agencies to the collective suicide in Guyana constitutes a smoke screen to minimize the assassination of civilians by the tyranny of Somoza in Nicaragua.”

7. He told El Sol that he “believes that the play given the suicide of the People’s Temple has passed unnoticed by the people in general. In a certain sense, the phenomenon in Guyana is being used as a smoke screen. Moreover, a group of Americans appears to be worth more than a whole people,” he said…

8. Castro Sanchez maintained that the macabre event is a reflection of the crisis through the US economic system is passing. He said that the fact that there are officially registered in the United States more than half a million religious sects of the type of People’s Temple reveals the social reality in which all who live there are immersed in it…

9. “It is not the first nor the last time that the world will be horrified by the events of this kind in a society such as the United States. It is the best possible picture of the putrid matter of the capitalist system,” he said.

EOT

Originally posted on March 16th, 2020.

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