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3147830th Anniversary of US Invasion of Grenada

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  • Cort Greene
    Oct 25, 2013
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      Today, Friday October 25 is the 30th anniversary of the US invasion of Grenada. President Reagan ordered the US forces to invade the island one week after when on October 19, 1983, that its most beloved Prime Minister Maurice Bishop and several members of his Cabinet and inner circle were lined up and gunned down execution style by forces loyal to Bernard Coard in a coup against the leader of the New Jewel Movement. It is well know both the Carter and Reagan administrations  worked  hard to discredit and to bring down Bishop government.

      There is no memorial for Maurice Bishop, the cabinet members, the Cubans or Grenada’s who died during this invasion anywhere on the island. To this day, no one knows where the bodies of Maurice Bishop and his cabinet are...


      A Bitter Anniversary: Remembering the Invasion of Grenada

      October 22, 2012
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      The second half of October is always a time of reflection amongst progressive forces in Caribbean, but especially so in Grenada. This is because October 19 marked the 29th anniversary of the death of Maurice Bishop, the Prime Minister of the People’s Revolutionary Government of Grenada. In addition, October 25 will mark the 29th anniversary of the invasion of Grenada—where the United States attacked the island’s population of 110,000 with 7,000 troops via land, sea, and air.

      1339"Photo Credit: hot97svg.com"

      The right wing Heritage Foundation described the 1983 invasion as “The Reagan Administration's bold action to restore democracy and a free market economy to Grenada.” Ronald Reagan himself stated that it was “no invasion; it was a rescue mission.” Guyana’sStabroek News was more precise, calling it “one of the most egregious examples of asymmetrical warfare in modern times, the United States of America, the world’s most powerful state, invaded Grenada, one of the world’s weakest mini-states.”

      Given the context of the Cold War, the United States under Reagan had been busyundermining the revolutionary government in Nicaragua, aiding the right wing paramilitaries in El Salvador, and destabilizing the progressive government of Michael Manley in Jamaica. Reagan was also eager to score a military victory and restore the confidence that had been lost after the Vietnam War and the overthrowing of the Shah in Iran. This victory was to come at the expense of the Grenadian people, and the wider hopes of the Caribbean, in constructing a model of society based on social justice.

      The Grenadian Revolution began on March 13, 1979, when the New Joint Endeavor for Welfare Education and Liberation, or the New Jewel Movement, overthrew the corrupt and increasingly oppressive government of Eric Gairy. Bishop described life under Gairy as one of “a total dependence on imperialism, a reality that meant extreme poverty, characterized by massive unemployment, with more than half of the work force out of work, high malnutrition, illiteracy, backwardness, superstition, poor housing and health conditions combined with overall economic stagnation and massive migration.”

      The role of the Grenadian Revolution, its importance to the wider Caribbean, and the threat it posed for the United States was best summed up by Bishop who remarked in 1980 that “We are obviously no threat to America, nor is Cuba for that matter. I think Washington fears that we could set an example for the rest of the region if our Revolution succeeds. In the Caribbean region you’re talking about small countries with small populations and limited resources, countries that over the years have been classic examples of neo-capitalist depend­encies. Now you have these new governments like Nicaragua and Grenada that are attempting a different experiment. They are no longer looking at development as how many hotels you have on the beach but in terms of what benefits people get. How many have jobs? How many are being fed, housed, and clothed? How many of the children receive education? We certainly believe in Grenada that the people of the English-speaking Caribbean want to see an experiment like that succeed. They want to see what we are trying to build come about. America understands that and obviously if we are able to succeed where previous governments following different models failed, that would be very, very subversive.”

      According to Jorge Heine, the Grenadian Revolution “stands as the single most advanced effort to bring socialism to the English speaking Caribbean, regionally the Grenadian Revolution stands only after the Haitian Revolution of 1804, and the Cuban Revolution of 1959 in the scope and degree of change brought to political institutions.” As such, the Reagan administration had to figure out a way to portray Grenada as an immediate threat to the world’s preeminent superpower.

      This was done by portraying the construction of the Port Salines International Airport as the latest Soviet attempt to launch an attack on the United States. Despite the airport being a project planned by the British and Canadian government, assisted by Cuban construction workers and a Miami-based dredging firm, Reagan spun the project as something much more sinister, calling Grenada “a Soviet-Cuban colony being readied as a major military bastion to export terror and undermine democracy.”

      In 1982, Bishop invited Congressman Ron Dellums to Grenada on a fact-finding mission. Upon his return,he told Congress that "Based on my personal observations, discussion, and analysis of the new international airport under construction in Grenada, it is my conclusion that this project is specifically now and has always been for the purpose of economic development and is not for military use.... It is my thought that it is absurd, patronizing, and totally unwarranted for the United States Government to charge that this airport poses a military threat to the United States’ national security."

      October 191983 marks the date when a personal and factional rivalry began between Bishop and Bernard Coard. Bishop was regarded as being more pragmatic, while Coard on the other hand was seen by many as being much more “Stalinist” and doctrinaire in character. Coard’s ultra-left counter-revolution was extremely bloody, killing Bishop, his pregnant girlfriend, and many of his supporters in the Revolutionary cabinet. With the killing of such a charismatic and visionary leader, this was the date when the Grenadian Revolution was dealt its hardest blow; the invasion simply finished things off.

      Before this could happen, one of the most vital elements which helped Reagan build his case for invasion came in the form of a request by the Organization of Eastern Caribbean States to invade Grenada to restore democratic institutions. The OECS leader and Prime Minister of Dominica, Eugenia Charles, made the request. William Blum argued about the controversial nature of this request for intervention, remarking that“Even if the fears were valid, it would constitute a principle heretofore unknown under international law, namely that state A could ask state B to invade state C in the absence of any aggressive act toward state A by state C.” Declassified records have since shown that the CIA had given Charles $100,000 for making the request to intervene in Grenada.

      One year after the U.S. invasion and the deaths of hundreds of Grenadian people, the World Bankhypocritically argued that the lack of an international airport “was the most limiting single factor in achieving the island’s growth possibilities.”

      The Grenadian Revolution was notable in the English speaking Caribbean for its firm declaration of anti- imperialist politics and the advancement of grass roots democracy, economic self-reliance, and agricultural cooperatives. Fidel Castro referred to it as both “a successful Moncada” and “a big revolution in a small country.”

      In many ways, the Grenadian revolution was also traumatic blow to the wider Caribbean left, revealing sharp warnings about ideological factionalism and ever-present U.S. destabilization campaigns and military intervention. It was a violent reminder that broad societal change would not occur easily or without repercussions. That said, we can see signs of hope. As a sign of the transition towards recognizing the good of the Revolution, in 2009, the Point Salines International Airport—the target of so much U.S. propaganda efforts—was renamed the Maurice Bishop International Airport. The move was significant after so much time and money had been spent to demonize Bishop and the revolution since the invasion.

      With the deterioration of living conditions and limited opportunities for so many people in the Caribbean, the words of Bishop and the positive lessons from the Grenadian Revolution are now more important than ever. While August 2012 marked the 50th Anniversary of independence for Jamaica and Trinidad, the current levels of poverty, inequality, violence, and lack of opportunity across the wider Caribbean, reveal that political independence is often a hollow prize if not reinforced by efforts to remake society along the lines of greater equality and justice.





      Kevin Edmonds is a NACLA blogger focusing on the Caribbean. For more from his blog, "The Other Side of Paradise," visit nacla.org/blog/other-side-paradise. Edmonds is a former NACLA research associate and a current PhD student at the University of Toronto, where he is studying the impact of neoliberalism on the St. Lucian banana trade. Follow him on twitter @kevin_edmonds.

      Commentary: Maurice Bishop was my friend and I know the Grenada story
      Published on October 19, 2013 Email To Friend    Print Version

      By Jai Parasram

      I am deeply offended by American writers who, after 30 years, continue to push the propaganda that America saved the Grenadians and that the people welcomed the invasion of their island.

      Jai Parasram is the author of Far From the Mountain, a series of political stories and commentaries covering Trinidad and Tobago over the period 2007 to 2012 and covers the a turbulent period from the struggles within the opposition UNC, the change of leadership and the rise of Kamla Persad-Bissessar as the first female PM of T&T. He may be contacted atjparasram@... or through his website
      Grenada was very personal to me and still is. Maurice Bishop was my friend and I know the Grenada story better than most journalists because Maurice told me what was happening in Grenada when I last spoke with him in New Delhi at the Non aligned Conference in 1983. He knew something was going to happen and it would not be pretty.

      And one of the people who truly understood that Grenada was a progressive democratic state under the Bishop administration was Allan Alexander, the Trinidad and Tobago lawyer who was writing the Grenada constitution when Maurice and the others were slaughtered by a murderous gang after the Grenadian people freed him from captivity.

      The Americans who subsequently invaded the island were not the angels they claim to be. They were an invasion force acting on behalf of their government to crush what Washington viewed as a dangerous threat to “democracy” in the Caribbean and the Americas. It was part of a plot that was hatched long before Bernard Coard moved against Maurice.

      The whole thing had the backing of Caribbean leaders like Edward Seaga, Eugenia Charles and Tom Adams. It was Adams who allowed the Americans to stage the whole thing from Barbados and keep journalists in the dark. When the American PR gurus showed up they took a selected band of journalists to show them the American version of reality in the island.

      Adams refused to let the Barbadian TV service broadcast pictures. My friends at CBC Barbados gave me the tape and I broadcast it back at TTT the night of the invasion. I was unable to get to Grenada because the Americans threatened to shoot down the private plane that my TV station chartered to take me to Grenada. I was only able to reach Barbados, where the Americans had taken charge and treating the Barbadian minister as their puppet.

      The popular fairy tale is that a bunch of communists were threatening American medical students in St George’s and that the invasion was partly to rescue them and partly to restore law and order in the aftermath of the chaos caused by the arrest and murder of Bishop and some of his cabinet ministers. 

      No student was under threat. The Cubans who were building the Point Salines airport were there to do just that. And, yes, there was a stash of arms because from the day Maurice and the New Jewel boys chased the dictator Eric Gairy out of office Grenada was under threat from the “free” world.

      Caribbean leaders met in Trinidad to decide on a course of action but Seaga and company walked out and went to Washington where President Reagan was waiting to execute his orders to take over Grenada.

      Why was America so worried about this tiny rock in the Caribbean Sea? Reagan was frightened that communism would take root and threaten the security of the region. His triangle of “evil” included Guyana, led by Forbes Burnham, and Nicaragua, where Daniel Ortega was in charge. They had already disposed of Michael Manley in Jamaica through the election of 1980 and they could not move Fidel Castro.

      So Maurice and tiny Grenada became the target to “teach the commies” a lesson and get the Americas fully in line with what America considered good for us.

      The Americans who keep writing about their country as the saviour of Grenadians should try to find out the truth. Why was Reagan meeting in private at the White House in early 1983 with Caribbean diplomats and ministers? Why was Washington telling these people to destabilise and undermine Grenada? Why was there an instruction that Grenada must not get any help from the Caribbean Basin Initiative or from the Caribbean Development Bank?

      They should ask about Russians living in North America who were part of the plot to destabilise Grenada. 

      If you ask Grenadians today they would tell you they still love Maurice because he was helping build a kind of participatory democracy in which everyone was involved. It was something that you could do in a small island state but not in America. Maurice was interested in people, not in governing them. He cared about improving their lives and pulling Grenada up from the abyss where Gairy had pushed it.

      America had every opportunity to help Granada as did all the countries in the Caribbean but that did not suit Washington’s agenda. 

      American writers also need to ask why Washington intervened instead of Great Britain. The Queen was the Head of State and the Governor General was her representative. Nobody told Margaret Thatcher that the marines were heading to Grenada and nobody told her of the plotting that was taking place long before Coard and company arrested Maurice.

      American writers need to also recall that Tom Adams told a British journalist that the Governor General had no contact with the outside world, which is why he could not appeal to London for help. How then did he get the message to Washington? Adams never provided the answer to explain the contradiction.

      When somebody writes the true history of Grenada and that dark period when the Americans destroyed a true people’s democratic revolution, the world would learn the truth for the first time – and the Americans would reject it as fiction. 

      Somebody needs to tell the world that Maurice Bishop died because he wanted to build a new free and democratic Grenada, based on equality for all. That’s why Coard got help from “friends” to rise against Maurice. 

      And they would also learn that no Grenadian welcomed the Americans because of a dislike of Maurice. They welcomed the Americans because Hudson Austin had created mayhem and they needed to escape that.

      But how did it all come to pass? How did Coard rise against his leader? That is the question that we all need to ask the Americans. 

      They needed to create a crisis to give them an excuse. They planned and executed it well and the cameras were ready to capture the moment and tell the world the grateful Grenadians were saying, “Thank God for America.”