Monday, April 15, 2013

Guyana Graphic

People's Temple Jonestown Guyana

Jonestown bodies
Jonestown was a settlement established in Guyana in the 1970s by the Peoples Temple, a cult led by Reverend Jim Jones. Although Jonestown was originally founded as a paradise, it has since become famous for the mass murder-suicide of its residents, which occurred on November 18, 1978
Peoples Temple began as a church founded by Jim and Marceline Jones and a small group of parishioners in Indianapolis in 1955. As pastor, Jim Jones preached to a racially integrated congregation during Pentecostal based services that included healings and sermons on communism, peace movements, and class conflicts. Peoples Temple conducted food drives; opened a "free restaurant" that served thousands of meals to the city's poor in the early 1960s; operated nursing homes; and hosted weekly television and radio programs featuring their integrated choir. The church became well known in the Indianapolis press for the members' integration activities and for their assertions of their pastor's gifts as a healer. The church became affiliated with the Disciples of Christ denomination in 1960.
In the summer of 1965, the Jones family and approximately one hundred Peoples Temple members relocated to Redwood Valley, a rural community eight miles north of Ukiah in Mendocino County. Peoples Temple conducted their church services and meetings in rented and borrowed spaces until they finished building their own church with a swimming pool, an animal shelter, gardens, and a community kitchen in 1969. By this time, the church's membership had grown to three hundred.
In 1970, Jim Jones began to preach in cities throughout California. Recruiting drives in African American communities in San Francisco and Los Angeles increased Peoples Temple membership to over twenty-five hundred by 1973. Some members lived in communal housing and worked full time for Peoples Temple. Others contributed significant portions of their income and property to the church. The church's operations included real estate management; home care facilities for seniors and youths; publishing, bookkeeping services; mail order; and maintenance of a fleet of buses to transport members to services throughout the state and across the country. Tens of thousands of people, including politicians and members of other congregations, attended Peoples Temple services between 1970 and 1977.
Peoples Temple voted to establish an agricultural and rural development mission in Guyana, South America in the fall of 1973. Over the next two years, members traveled to Guyana to scout a location for the mission; establish a residence in Georgetown, the capital of Guyana; clear the land; and begin construction at the site. The building plans included farm buildings, a large communal kitchen, medical facilities, schools, dormitory style housing, small cabins, and a day care center that were all constructed around a large open-air pavilion.
By 1976, Peoples Temple had moved its headquarters from Redwood Valley to San Francisco and had become involved in citywide electoral politics. They published their own newspaper, Peoples Forum; staged rallies and events for local and national political figures; and were vocal in their support of causes such as freedom of the press, affirmative action, and gay rights. In the fall of 1976, recently elected Mayor George Moscone appointed Jim Jones to the San Francisco Housing Authority. Jones served as its chairman until he left for Guyana the following year.
In 1977, former members and relatives had organized a group called the Concerned Relatives and Citizens Committee to protest Jones's treatment of church members. Child custody issues and living conditions in the Guyana mission, which became known as Jonestown, were at the center of the conflict between Peoples Temple and the Concerned Relatives. Both sides filed lawsuits, sought public support through the media, and appealed to government officials for protection. Media coverage of Peoples Temple practices and political activities led the government to investigate the church's financial and social welfare programs. Peoples Temple began to close many of their businesses, sell their properties, and relocate hundreds of their members to Guyana.
In response to issues raised by the media and former members, California Congressman Leo Ryan organized a trip to Jonestown in November 1978. By this time, more than a thousand Peoples Temple members were living in Guyana. His staff, Concerned Relatives, Embassy officials, and journalists accompanied Ryan on an overnight visit to Jonestown. During their visit, seventeen Jonestown residents decided to return to the United States with Ryan. As the group boarded two small airplanes at a remote jungle airstrip, Peoples Temple members drove up on tractors and shot at them. They killed Ryan, three journalists, and a Peoples Temple member. That same day, 18 November 1978, more than nine hundred people died from cyanide poisoning in Jonestown and four other members died in Georgetown.
More than eighty Peoples Temple members survived the deaths in Guyana: people who lived through the airstrip shootings; Jonestown residents who left the community before and during the poisonings; and members who were in Georgetown and on boats. Hundreds of Peoples Temple members had remained in the U.S, many of them in California.
Immediately after the deaths, Peoples Temple members in San Francisco provided records to the government to identify the dead and immediately began the process of dissolving the organization. The assets of Peoples Temple were frozen and placed under court supervision. The court oversaw the burial of hundreds of unclaimed and unidentified bodies from Jonestown and dealt with $1.8 billion in claims that were filed against the Peoples Temple estate. Claims were filed by the Guyana and U.S. governments; people injured at the airstrip; relatives of the deceased; and people who had turned over property to Peoples Temple. In 1979 and 1980, Congress held hearings on the death of Congressman Ryan and on cult phenomenon in the U.S. By 1983, the court recovered and disbursed over $13 million in assets, which it had recovered from cash found in the U.S. and Guyana; in international accounts in Panama, Caracas, and Grenada and other countries; and from the sale of Peoples Temple properties. In June 1983, the court approved the transfer of the records of Peoples Temple to the California Historical Society.
Today, Jonestown is an abandoned ruin which is slowly being reclaimed by the jungle; most native residents in the area avoid it, and given the speed with which the jungle can reclaim human settlements, all traces of Jonestown will probably disappear entirely within 100 years of the tragic events which made it famous.
Peoples Temple, 32nd Anniversary
October 18, 2010
Photographs are complements of the California Historical Society (CHS). Written permission required for commercial use

Larry Schacht, the Doctor of Jonestown

Medicine man
On the day of the Jonestown massacre in November 1978, three native Texans played significant roles.
Sixty-year-old Christine Miller, born in Brownsville, is heard on the infamous "death tape" trying to negotiate with Peoples Temple leader Jim Jones to save the lives of more than 900 people. With incredible courage and dignity, she calmly suggests alternatives to drinking poison in a display of "revolutionary suicide."
She assures Jones that she isn't afraid to die -- almost certainly a lie -- but that she wants to explore all the options, such as the previously discussed plan of fleeing to Russia. She was opening a door, throwing a lifeline to others who may have wanted to speak up but were too afraid. "But I still think, as an individual, I have a right to...say what I think, what I feel. And think we all have a right to our own destiny as individuals," she says.
Her words were in vain.
She was shut down by Jim McElvane, a 46-year-old native San Antonian, who had only come to Guyana a few days before.
"Christine, you're only standing here because [Jones] was here in the first place," McElvane says. "So I don't know what you're talking about, having an individual life. Your life has been extended to the day that you're standing there because of him."
McElvane succeeds in extinguishing the only voice of dissent heard on that tape. A few minutes later, the killings begin.
That's when the work of the third Texan, whose voice is not heard on the tape, becomes apparent. He played the most important role that day. His name was Larry Schacht, and he was born in Houston. He was Jonestown's only doctor. He was the man who came up with the idea of using cyanide to kill more than 900 men, women, and children.
Barely 30 years old, this former meth addict is a virtual unknown. Unlike Jim Jones, whose history has been studied extensively in the decades since the tragedy, Schacht's back story is only understood in pieces, told by former Peoples Temple members, and letters found in the thousands of internal Temple pages government officials collected in the wake of Jonestown. This week's cover story, "Medicine Man," uses these sources to follow, as best as possible, Schacht's trajectory from Houston to California to Guyana. Unfortunately, as is the case with most studies of Jonestown, it tends to raise more questions than it answers. Schacht tends to remain an enigma; an obscure individual who nonetheless helped perpetrate one of the darkest days in American history.

What was Jim Jones up to in Jonestown in 1978?

Jonestown remnants
Not long ago, I visited the site of the world's greatest mass suicide, in NW Guyana. Remote and derelict, it's hard to imagine that up to 1,000 people had lived here. The jungle has returned but, on the edge of a clearing, under the trees, I found what I was looking for: the leprous hulks of the three tractors (see photo), a boiler, half a dozen engine blocks, a vast workbench, and the crumbling chassis of an old army truck . Whatever else was happening in Jonestown at the moment it imploded, it was in throes of agricultural effort.
All around, the soil seemed to have boiled up, or been ransacked by badgers. ‘People,’ noted Duke, my local guide, ‘Looking for small scraps of metal.’ Further along, there was an old miner’s cabin, made from twigs. This was where Jones had his house, said Duke. We both peered through the twiggy framework. There was nothing there but ant-works and Tiger Teeth. Duke explained that, in the days following Jones’ death, looters had picked the place clean.
I’d also heard that they’d discovered a grisly, parallel economy; Jones lived quite differently to his disciples. Apart from the trappings of office – books, electric lights, a fridge full of del Monte fruit, a double bed, cotton sheets, and two dead mistresses – there was also a large quantity of Thorazine, sodium pentathol, chloral hydrate and Demerol. It was like a sort of pharmaceutical armoury, with every weapon you’d ever need in the practice of coercion ...
(You can read more about my visit to Jonestown in Wild Coast

Jonestown remnants

Jonestown remnants
John Gimlette's Voyages

... Guyane Fran├žaise). Along the way, John Gimlette visitsJonestown (scene of the mass murder/suicide of November 1978), and meets ...
Article - Maggie Reece - 01/03/2013 - 11:31 - 1 comment - 0 attachments

Jonestown bodies

Image - Anonymous - 05/16/2012 - 03:53 - 0 comments

The history of the Wild Coast in ten objects - 6

John  Gimlette's picture
Is this the shoe of one of those poisoned in Jonestown, Guyana
Is this the shoe of one of those poisoned in Jonestown (Guyana) in 1978? It could be. I took this picture on the exact spot where, on 18 November that year, over 900 people took (or were forced to take cyanide). Few women will have lost their shoes in this bit of jungle since then, so it could well be the wreckage of that terrible day.
But what has Jonestown meant to modern Guyana? Despite an energetic case of amnesia, it's proved difficult to bury. Every year, the newspapers unearths the facts, and parade them over their pages. It's almost as if readers need reminding that the Temple was part of their story. Some joked that it was the only part. I once spotted a t-shirt in Stabroek market that depicted a map of Guyana under the heading ‘Sights of interest’. All it featured was Jonestown, marked with skull and crossbones.
I sometimes wondered if the government had taken this taunt to heart. Only a few years earlier, the Minister of Tourism had suggested that Jonestown be re-opened, to promote ‘dark tourism’. In fairness, every other scheme had failed (including a refugee camp for the Indochinese). But tourism? I remember asking my driver about this, soon after my return to Georgetown. Was it his cup of tea, a resort for the chronically morbid? Would he be booking his grand-children in, and his wife?
‘Don’t shit me, man,’ he laughed, ‘You been too long in the bush ...’

Sir Wilson Harris, author of "Palace of the Peacock", among many others

... Banks of the River of Space. His most recent novels areJonestown, The Dark Jester, The Mask of the Beggar, and his final novel, The ...
Article - Maggie Reece - 02/05/2013 - 10:10 - 0 comments - 0 attachments

Fred D'Aguiar - Poet, Novelist & Playwright

... Bill of Rights (1998); a long narrative poem about theJonestown massacre in Guyana in 1979; and a long narrative poem, Bloodlines, ...
Article - Maggie Reece - 02/05/2013 - 10:16 - 0 comments - 0 attachments

A chronology of key events in Guyana's History

A chronology of key events:
1498 - Christopher Columbus sights Guyana.
1580 - Dutch establish trading posts upriver.
1620 - Dutch West India Company establishes a foothold in Guyana, including armed bases, and imports slaves from Africa to work on the sugar plantations.
1780-1813 - Guyana changes hands several times between the Dutch, French and British.
1814 - Britain occupies Guyana during the Napoleonic Wars.
1831 - Guyana officially declared a British colony.
1834 - Slavery abolished; many slaves leave plantations to set up their own freeholdings and are replaced by indentured workers mainly from India.
1879 - Gold is discovered in Guyana and is followed by an economic boom.
1889 - Venezuela lays claim to a large portion of Guyana west of the Essequibo river.
1899 - International arbitration tribunal rules in favour of Guyana (then called British Guiana) in the territorial dispute with Venezuela.
1953 - Britain suspends Guyana's constitution, sends in troops and installs an interim administration after democratic elections for parliament produces a result not to its liking - a victory for the left-wing Indo-Guyanese Progressive People's Party (PPP). Read More....
1957 - Britain restores Guyanese constitution; PPP splits along racial lines, with Cheddi Jagan leading a mostly Indian party and Forbes Burnham leading a party of African descendants, the People's National Congress (PNC).
1961 - Guyana granted full autonomy, with Britain retaining control over internal and defence matters; Jagan of the PPP becomes prime minister.
1962 - Venezuela revives its territorial claims on Guyana; Jagan introduces austerity programme, sparking off violent riots and a general strike; British troops sent in to restore order.
1963 - Racial violence between people of African origins and Indian supporters of Jagan.
1966 - May 26, Guyana gains independence from Britain with Forbes Burnham as Prime Minister.
1966 - December 16, Sir David Rose Becomes Governor General of Guyana
1970 - Guyana becomes a republic within the British Commonwealth with Raymond Arthur Chung as titular president.
1976 - 11 Guyanese were among 73 persons murdered by a terrorist bomb on board a Cubana flight off the Barbados coastline. Read More....
1978 - November 18, nine hundred members of a religious sect commit mass suicide at Jonestown, a community established by sect leader Jim Jones.
1980 - Guyana gets a new constitution and Burnham becomes the country's first executive president.
1985 - Desmond Hoyte (PNC) becomes president following the death of Burnham.
1992 - PPP wins general elections; Cheddi Jagan becomes President.
1997 - March 06, Cheddie Jagan dies and is replaced by Prime Minister Mr. Sam Hinds.
1997 - December 19, Sam Hinds steps down as President and Janet Jagan is sworn in as President. Sam Hinds is appointed Prime Minister.
1998 - Government declares state of emergency in Georgetown in response to violent riots amid allegations of discrimination by PPP against Afro-Guyanese.
1999 - Janet Jagan temporarily replaced Sam Hinds with Bharrat Jagdeo as Prime Minister and resigned for health reasons. Bharrat Jagdeo becomes president and Sam Hinds is appointed Prime Minister.
2000 - Long-running dispute with Suriname over the offshore border comes to a head when Surinam gunboats evict an oil exploration rig from the area. Guyana had approved the exploration.
2002 July - TV presenter Mark Benschop charged with treason. Court says he encouraged protest in which presidential complex was stormed by demonstrators, who were complaining of discrimination against Afro-Guyanese.
2003 April - US embassy employee is kidnapped and released after a ransom is paid. The abduction is part of a wave of violent crime; the murder rate in 2002 quadrupled to more than 160.
2004 May - Home Affairs Minister Ronald Gajraj steps down to allow an inquiry into allegations that he is linked to a death squad accused of executing hundreds of suspected criminals.
2004 June - UN sets up tribunal to try to resolve long-running maritime border dispute between Guyana and neighbouring Suriname.
2004 December - Jury at trial of TV presenter Mark Benschop, charged with treason in 2002, fails to deliver unanimous verdict, necessitating re-trial.
2005 January - Government declares the capital a disaster zone as severe flooding follows days of continuous rain. More than 30 people are killed. UN estimates loss to the economy to be $500m.
2005 April - Ronald Gajraj reappointed as interior minister after inquiry clears him of direct involvement in killings of known and suspected criminals. He resigns in May.
2006 April - Agriculture Minister Satyadeow Sawh is shot dead. The murder is part of a string of gun crimes. The ruling party (PPP) says the killing is intended to incite pre-election violence.
2006 August - President Bharrat Jagdeo wins another five-year term in general elections.
2007 June - Former Guyanese MP Abdul Kadir is arrested in Trinidad on suspicion of involvement in a plot of blow up New York's JFK airport.
2007 September - A UN tribunal rules in the Guyana-Suriname dispute over maritime territory, giving both a share of a potentially oil-rich offshore basin.
2008 July - President Jagdeo accuses the EU of using its economic might to 'bully' developing nations into accepting its terms in negotiations with 16 Caribbean countries over a trade agreement.
2008 October - President Jagdeo signs trade agreement with EU.

Sir Lionel Alfred Luckhoo

Sir Lionel Alfred Luckhoo
Sir Lionel Alfred Luckhoo KCMG, CBE, Q.C. was born on March 2, 1914 in New Amsterdam, Guyana. He was educated at Queen's College, Georgetown, Guyana and then began studying medicine at St. Thomas' Hospital in England but then quickly switched careers to legal studies. He was called to the English bar (Middle Temple) in 1940, then returned to Guyana and started a solicitor's practice with one of his brothers in the firm Luckhoo and Luckhoo.
He maintained his private legal practice spanning most of the years from 1940 to 1985, and became a Queen's Counsel in 1954. His reputation earned him an entry in the Guinness Book of Records in 1990 where he is dubbed the world's "most successful lawyer". The record is for obtaining as a defense trial lawyer 245 successive murder acquittals. In a few instances his clients were found guilty in jury trials, but were acquitted in appeal cases. He also practiced as a barrister in England, later served as a judge of the Supreme Court of Guyana.
He also came to notoriety as the legal personal representative of the Reverend Jim Jones. Jones was the founder and leader of the People's Temple Church, and had left California in the 1970s to establish a commune in Guyana known as Jonestown.
In addition to his legal practice, Luckhoo also had a political career. He was the head of four trade unions, and served in the Legislative Council of Guyana (1952-53) in its pre-independence days. He served as the Mayor of Georgetown in 1955, 1956, 1960 and 1961. In the late 1950s he established the conservative political party the National Labour Front, which contested the Guyana general election of 1957. However Luckhoo was unsuccessful in his bid to be elected as Prime Minister, and his party only gained one electoral seat in parliament.
He was also involved in the negotiations for independence of both Guyana and Barbados. He was appointed High Commissioner for Guyana and Barbados in Britain (1966-1970), and was also Ambassador for both countries. From 1967–1970 he served as joint ambassador for Guyana and Barbados in France, Germany and the Netherlands.
He served as the President of the Guyana Olympic Association from 1974-79. He was also a notable figure in the Guyanese horse racing industry, and owned several race horses. He also owned an island and a resort hotel.
He was married to Sheila Chamberlin, and had two sons and three daughters with her. This marriage ended in divorce in 1972, and he remarried Jeannie Willis Carter. His second wife is a genealogist.
Luckhoo received the CBE (Commander of the Order of the British Empire) in 1962, was made a knight bachelor in 1966, and received the KCMG (Knights Commander of St Michael and St George) in 1969.
[Luckhoo was raised in a nominal Christian faith. In 1978 he experienced a profound religious conversion at a meeting he attended that was sponsored by the Full Gospel Business Men's Fellowship International (FGBMFI) and participated in the Protestant Evangelical movement of Christianity.
After his conversion, he established Luckhoo Ministries in Fort Worth, Texas and became an itinerant speaker about his Christianity in Guyana, England, Australia and the United States of America. He wrote several booklets where he presented Christian apologetics arguments to persuade others about faith in Christ. Booklets included titles such as What is Your Verdict?, The Question Answered: Did Jesus Rise from the Dead?, and The Quran is not the Word of God. He also co-wrote an apologetics-based novel, The Silent Witness. Luckhoo's contributions to apologetics identify him with both the evidentialist school of thought, and the tradition known as legal or juridical apologetics.

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