Dec 9, 78 • 1747 • State-Georgetown • 311003

[Editor’s note: This document was released both as a State Department cable as part of its 1981 FOIA release, and as Serial 985 of the FBI’s RYMUR release. The text was released at https://wikileaks.org/plusd/cables/1978STATE311003_d.html.]

UNCLASSIFIED
PAGE 01
STATE 311003
ORIGIN ARA-15
INFO OCT-01 ISO-00 PA-02 SCS-06 CA-01 FBIE-00 L-03
/028 R
DRAFTED BY ARA: JABUSHNELL:MG
APPROVED BY ARA: JABUSHNELL
——————079216 091758Z /43

O 091747Z DEC 78
FM SECSTATE WASHDC
TO AMEMBASSY GEORGETOWN IMMEDIATE
UNCLAS STATE 311003
E.O.112065 N/A
TAGS: CASC, OREP (RYAN, LEO) GY
SUBJECT: NEW YORK TIMES ARTICLE ENTITLED “GUYANA SAYS IT BELATEDLY RECEIVED TAPE OF THE JONES CULTISTS DYING”

FOLLOWING IS TEXT NEW YORK TIMES DECEMBER 9 STORY BY NICHOLAS M. HORROCK:

GEORGETOWN, GUYANA, DECEMBER 8 — A SPOKESMAN FOR THE GOVERNMENT OF GUYANA SAID TODAY THAT THE GOVERNMENT WAS NOT GIVEN A COPY OF A TAPE RECORDING OF THE DEATH SCENE AT JONESTOWN, FOUND BY THE AMERICAN AUTHORITIES, UNTIL LAST WEDNESDAY, NEARLY THREE WEEKS AFTER THE MASS DEATHS AT THE PEOPLE’S TEMPLE COMMUNE.

JACK GALINAS, A DIRECTOR OF A NEW YORK PUBLIC RELATIONS FIRM WHO REPRESENTS THE GUYANESE GOVERNMENT, CONFIRMED THAT SUCH A TAPE HAD BEEN FOUND AT JONESTOWN AND SAID THE GOVERNMENT HAD BEEN TOLD THAT THE TAPE WAS DISCOVERED BY A MEMBER OF THE CONSULATE STAFF OF THE UNITED STATES EMBASSY HERE.

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OFFICIALS IN THE MINISTRY OF INFORMATION WHO HAVE LISTENED TO THE TAPE SAID IT APPEARED TO BE SCRATCHY AND PARTS OF IT WERE NOT CLEAR.

AGENTS OF THE FEDERAL BUREAU OF INVESTIGATION, USING SOPHISTICATED EQUIPMENT, HAVE APPARENTLY MADE A TRANSCRIPT OF THE CASSETTE-STYLE TAPE AND SUPPLIED IT TO THE GUYANESE GOVERNMENT.

ACCORDING TO SOURCES IN THE GUYANESE GOVERNMENT, IT IS NOT CLEAR WHETHER THE HOUR-LONG TAPE RECORDING IS THE FINAL HOUR OF THE MASS DEATHS OR SIMPLY A PORTION COVERED BY THE RECORDING MACHINE.

SHREIKS [SHRIEKS] AND GUNSHOTS

CHILDREN’S SHRIEKS CAN BE HEARD ON THE TAPE RECORDING, SOURCES IN THE UNITED STATES GOVERNMENT SAID, AND GUNSHOTS CAN BE HEARD IN THE BACKGROUND.

WORD THAT TAPE RECORDINGS HAD BEEN RECOVERED RESULTED IN NEW GROUPS OF REPORTERS ARRIVING IN THIS HUMID FORMER BRITISH COLONY AND STRONG DEMANDS BEING PLACED ON THE GUYANESE GOVERNMENT TO MAKE THE CONTENTS PUBLIC.

BUT GUYANESE OFFICIALS SAID THAT, BECAUSE THE TAPE HAD BEEN RECOVERED BY THE AMERICAN GOVERNMENT AND THAT THE GUYANESE GOVERNMENT HAD RECEIVED A COPY BELATEDLY, THE AMERICAN AUTHORITIES SHOULD MAKE THE TRANSCRIPT PUBLIC.

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BOTH GUYANESE AND AMERICAN LAW ENFORCEMENT OFFICIALS SUGGESTED THAT THE TAPE MIGHT BE USED AS EVIDENCE IF A PROSECUTION WAS CONSIDERED AGAINST PERSONS WHO COMPELLED THE SUICIDES BY DRINKING A SOFT DRINK MIXED WITH POISON OR WHO KILLED THE CHILDREN.

AMERICAN SOURCES REPORTED THAT THERE WERE WORDS ON THE TAPE THAT INSTRUCTED THE MOTHERS TO SHOOT THE POISON DEEP INTO THE THROATS OF THE CHILDREN, PRESUMABLY USING THE SYRINGES THAT WERE FOUND LITTERING THE PAVILION IN JONESTOWN, WHERE MOST OF THE 900 CULT MEMBERS DIED.

SURVIVORS OF THE JONESTOWN KILLINGS AND SUICIDES SAY THAT THE REV. JIM JONES, THE CULT’S LEADER, WAS METICULOUS IN RECORDING ALL OF HIS ACIVITIES [ACTIVITIES], EITHER ON TAPE OR ON PAPER.

“EVERYTHING HE SAID PRACTICALLY WAS PUT ON TAPE UNLESS HE SAID NO, AND THE ONLY TIME HE SAID NO WAS WHEN SOMETHING WAS REALLY INSIGNIFICANT,” SAID MICHAEL CARTER, A 20-YEAR-OLD FORMER RADIO OPERATOR IN JONESTOWN.

“A LOT OF STUFF HAD BEEN ERASED,” HE ADDED, “BUT NOTHING IMPORTANT. I KNOW THAT FOR A FACT. THOSE TAPES CAN GIVE A LOT OF INSIGHT TO JONESTOWN.” ONE GUYANESE POLICE OFFICIAL SAID IT WOULD TAKE WEEKS TO LISTEN TO ALL THE TAPES THAT HAVE BEEN RECOVERED.

CHRISTOPHER [Deputy Secretary of State Warren Christopher]

UNCLASSIFIED

Originally posted on March 24th, 2020.

Last modified on August 16th, 2022.
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