276. Telegram From the Embassy in Guyana to the Department of State1
671. Subject: 380 Members Of People’s Temple In California Plan To Immigrate To Guyana.
1. Foreign Minister Wills on March 31 gave Charge copy of memo of conversation between Vibert Mingo Minister of Home Affairs and Bishop Jim Jones of People’s Temple,2 a religious organization located in California, who presently have approximately 40 members of their [Page 670] organization farming outside Port Kaituma in the North West territory of Guyana.
2. The conversation pertained to a decision on the part of the People’s Temple to have 380 members of their organization immigrate to Guyana on Sunday, April 3 by two chartered planes. Minister Mingo requested that People’s Temple officials postpone the arrival of the 380 prospective immigrants to Thursday, April 7 pending further information about their bonafides. GOG has requested that the list of 380 persons including the number of men, women and children be forwarded to Claude Worrell at the Guyanese Embassy in Washington for his review before permission to enter Guyana can be given.
3. After the meeting took place, James Mentore, Chief of Special Branch, who was present at the meeting, indicated that the delay in the arrival of the 380 persons would give Worrell the opportunity to check their backgrounds with the police in California and then forward this information on to Guyana. At this time date of arrival of group is still undecided pending completion of background checks.
4. The most disturbing aspect that surfaced in meeting is a statement by Bishop Jones to the Guyanese when he indicated that the 380 prospective immigrants “represent some of the most skilled and progressive elements of his organization and as such are most vulnerable to state repression on the part of the American authorities”.
5. At this meeting the Bishop also exhibited an envelope that he claimed contained a check for $500,000 that he intended to deposit in the Bank of Guyana for use of the intending immigrants to help them settle. He also spoke of his intention to have all or most of the assets of his organization transferred to Guyana.
6. GOG is also concerned about rationale behind Bishop Jones’ decision to suddenly bring large numbers of Americans to Guyana. Wills is apprehensive that Jones is carrying out this operation because of possible hostility on the part of his organization toward the USG. GOG definitely does not wish to harbor a colony of expatriots who may be hostile toward USG and publish literature attacking us. GOG is also concerned that the group may have been smuggling foodstuffs into Guyana and Mentore has suggested the need to establish a police outpost in the region.
7. On the other hand People’s Temple organization currently has a good reputation with GOG as an industrious, hard-working organization who is helping to develop Guyana’s interior. In this connection People’s Temple officials here have close working relationships with the Ministry of National Development. GOG therefore while chary of program, nevertheless has no reason to deny entry if members of the group are eligible in all other respects of Guyanese law.