What happened? Grenada: a retrospective journey?/Que paso? Granada: un viaje retrospectivo/Qu'est-il Arrive? La Grenade: un Voyage Retrospective.
The story of the revolution is as much about human emotion and simple miscommunication as it is about the greater global forces that have been exerting their superior physical and ideological powers over this tiny island of 100,000 people for centuries. In probing the effects of colonialism and its inherent authoritarianism on the ideology of the Grenadian revolution and its leadership, this document seeks to place the men who emerged as leaders of Grenada--Eric Gairy, Maurice Bishop and Bernard Coard--in context. In attempting to untangle the deep roots of authoritarianism and the tendency to depend on a "maximum leader" in Grenada, and indeed, the Caribbean, we gain another perspective on the all-too-human dynamics of the power struggle that ended so bloodily.
La historia de la revolucion trata tanto de las emociones humanas y la simple falta de comunicacion como de las grandes fuerzas globales que han estado ejerciendo su superior poder fisico e ideologico sobre esta pequena isla de 100 mil personas durante siglos. Con el interes de determinar los efectos dei colonialismo y su inherente autoritarismo sobre la ideologia de la revolucion granadina y su liderazgo, este articulo trata de situar en contexto a los hombres que emergieron como lideres de Granada--Eric Gairy, Maurice Bishop y Bernard Coard. Al tratar de desentranar las raices profundas dei autoritarismo y la tendencia a depender de un "lider maximo" en Granada y, de hecho, el Caribe, logramos una perspectiva diferente con respecto a la humanisima dinamica de la lucha por el poder que termino de modo tan sangriento.
Dans hhistoire de la revolution il s'agit autant de 1'emotion humaine et du simple malentendu que des forces mondiales plus grandes qui ont exerce leurs pouvoirs physiques et ideologiques superieures sur cette petite ile de 100.000 personnes depuis des siecles. En explorant les effets du colonialisme et son autoritarisme inherent sur 1'ideologie et la direction de la Revolution grenadienne, cet article cherche a placer les hommes qui sont devenus dirigeants de la Grenade--Eric Gairy, Maurice Bishop et Bernard Coard--dans leur contexte. En tentant de demeler les racines profondes de l'autoritarisme et de la tendance a dependre d'un <<leader maximum>> a la Grenade, et en effet, dans les Caraibes, nous trouvons une autre perspective sur la dynamique humaine de la lutte pour le pouvoir qui s'est termine de maniere si sanglante.
Suspended in time
To them the war was still memory, not the past, not history. When the stories pass down to the next generation, they may still be called memories because the information is passed from the mouths of the participants, but this is also the period when memories of an event become descriptions of the past, something that has little immediate relevance to the current generation.
Nigel Hunt, 2010, p.104
When the stories pass down to the next generation ... I often find myself wondering about this where the traumatic stories of Grenada's 1983 experience are concerned. To the many traumatised by those events, it seems almost impossible that thirty years have passed. It seems even more incredible that many young Grenadians born in or around 1983, and those who have come after them, born 15 years or so later, have had little extended discussion about the events of 1983. Parents and grandparents have often dealt with the trauma by burying it deep, saying, "That gone." They look instead to a future without much political involvement for them or, they must sometimes hope, for their children. Some parents who were involved in demonstrations as 18-year-olds in the Seventies would perhaps not encourage their children to do the same, fearful because of the painful lessons of their own youth.
Yet some have had discussions, and some stories have been told, so even though the memory of war may not seem to have much relevance to the everyday lives of the current generation, they colour everything. Some young people have inherited from their parents' enthusiasm--and their pain--names like Fedon, Che, Maurice and Samora, and so they have become walking embodiments of an expressed need for revolutionary thinking, breathing memory vaults of what might have been.
Several questions present themselves: What makes us keep talking about these traumatic events, or remembering them, even when it appears we cannot sensibly discuss them? Does it make sense to remember what might have been? Can the past, traumatic and otherwise (if there is much otherwise), help map the way to the future? Is there a need for change in the social, economic and political circumstances of the people of Grenada? Might any analysis of the past help to attain such change? If young people, representing the elusive future, have to be part of the change envisioned, doesn't it make sense for them to know and discuss details about the past?
Let me begin by reviewing details of that past, which would suggest that I answer many of these questions in the affirmative. In 1983, Grenada (the islands Grenada, Carriacou and Petite Martinique) experienced the trauma of internal political party strife resulting in the murders of the Prime Minister, other ministers of government and members of the public, followed by an October 25 US invasion. For everyone, but in a special way for young Grenadians born after 1983 or just before, this is one of the country's most recent open wounds, obviously there but not often discussed, still festering, just under the surface. The story that came to a bloody climax in 1983 represents a relatively recent trauma and indeed the community would, if it could, choose to forget those days. More recently, some have been trying to discuss the importance of remembering. On the final quiet afternoon of the 38th conference of the Caribbean Studies Association, Friday, 7 June 2013, Grenadian high school students participated in a presentation aimed at recreating, memorialising and, in the process, teaching various aspects of the Grenada Revolution. The presentations suggested that, for these high school students, the Grenada Revolution represented the kind of traumatic history sometimes explored in tragic plays. In fact, one student said, in a discussion after the presentation, that it was hard to believe that the things that adults told them in interviews had happened in Grenada. The student presentations were a result of the work of Grenadian theatre director Francis Urias Peters, who had been contacted by the Caribbean Studies Association. He had organised teachers to engage students in this activity. Sitting in the small audience on that final day of the conference were some who had been actual participants in or witnesses to the events of 1979 to 1983. Their own stories, descriptions of a past they had lived, were being acted out before them. They had been actively involved in trying to change the postcolonial world they had inherited from Britain; some had talked revolution and anti-colonialism, even anti-imperialism and Marxism-Leninism; others had simply hoped for better social and economic opportunities, in education for change, for a better health system. And then everything had come crashing down.
Now, a young generation appeared to be starting the process of entering into the spirit of what happened. Imperceptibly, a door was opening to allow some future much-needed study and analysis by a younger generation. Moving and evocative, the young people's presentation suggests how lessons might be drawn from the wounds of history. One group took on the roles of major participants of the period--Eric Matthew Gairy, the Prime Minister who was ousted by the New Jewel Movement (NJM) in 1979; Maurice Bishop, a member of the NJM who later became Prime Minister from 1979 to 1983, and was murdered at the fort; Bernard Coard, another member of the NJM, who became Deputy Prime Minister and a friend of Bishop later accused of complicity in his murder. One student played the role of a woman who had jumped from the high walls of the fort in St. George's to escape the terror of bullets. Members of Urias Peters' Family Theatre also played people in the community making choices about what to believe, focusing on how personal relationships could reflect political conflicts. In a strange way, it felt like being given a particular privilege to see how the past might live in the future.
Earlier in the conference, after a lecture that had touched on the theme of trauma and narrative, 1 had been asked two questions, both difficult to answer briefly. In essence, the questioners, referring to 1983, wanted to know what had happened and what might be done to ensure that events of this kind were not repeated. Considering what might be done perhaps requires first the kind of analysis that many commentaries--including this one--attempt. To the questioner at the conference who asked what happened in Grenada, I responded then, "I don't know", meaning that I thought I wasn't being asked to give a linear account but to attempt a philosophical interpretation of events; I meant that I knew this was a question lots of scholars have been examining, trying to find explanations at the core of the Grenada conflict of 1983 and I didn't have a quick, capsule answer. I've heard too many unsatisfying capsule answers. And then the questioner asked, what would you tell your children? Is that the answer you would give to your children? That put the question into a very specific context. Might one attempt both linear and philosophical explanations in an attempt to tell the story to the children or to the young people of a succeeding generation? These questions, coming after a presentation designed to approach answers to some of these issues, reminded me that presentations very often begin in the middle of the story, assuming that listeners share at least some of the knowledge that presenters bring to the discussion, that the story is well-known, that the conflict of which the presenter speaks is a known story. But this is not always the case. Indeed, at the end of many presentations about the Grenada crisis of 1983, younger people in the audience, in particular, might well ask what really happened? Now, as I write this essay, I think in particular of young people, of those who performed on the last day of the conference and those concerned with the stories of Grenada and the rest of the Caribbean. I will attempt to explore what happened, as far as I understand it, in a way that would also help contextualise the story and explain, particularly to young people who might be introduced to this article. I write out of my interest in the power of narrative for examining social and economic processes. I write knowing that some would have heard or read variations on this story, that many will hear and read other variations, and that each variation approaches some aspect of a deeper truth.
First, I turn to Cathy Caruth (1996, 1995), a literary critic with an analysis of trauma. In this essay, I consider what might be useful to understand about Grenada's story in order to avoid unwittingly wounding the people further. Because even those who do not express this verbally know that the country, and every individual in it as well as many outside of it, were wounded during those dark days of 1983. What happened? I will begin with October 1983, when the events generally considered most traumatic occurred, and from there walk back through the haunting, magical forest of history, in an effort to find some path that could have led the country to that month of trauma. In my estimation, the walking back through a history both immediate and more removed is very important. In fact, after the early shock of 1983 had subsided, I kept thinking that I wanted to find out more about how Grenadians and other Caribbean people came to be who they are as a people. One place I wanted to visit was England, where so much of the Caribbean story rests on library shelves and in other archival spaces. How, I wondered, might those neglected stories help me to understand some of the antecedents of this trauma?
On 19 October 1983, Prime Minister Maurice Bishop, Minister of Health Norris Bain, Minister of Education Jacqueline Creft, Minister of Foreign Affairs Unison Whiteman, trade unionists Fitzroy Bain and Vincent Noel, businessmen Evelyn Bullen and Evelyn Maitland, Production Manager of the Marketing and National Importing Board (MNIB), Keith Hayling, member of the People's Revolutionary Army, Dorset Peters, and Grenadian civilians, (1) including high school and other students, were killed at Fort Rupert, situated on the hillside near to the hospital in St. George's, the capital. Some of these victims, including the Prime Minister and ministers of government, and at least one trade unionist were, it was later admitted, lined up against the walls of the fort, and executed by members of the armed forces who belonged to an opposing faction of the ruling party, the NJM. When it happened, the terrified people of Grenada were told that these individuals had died in crossfire when the fort was attacked. After these events, the country was made to observe a military curfew, and people were informed by radio that the government had been replaced by a Revolutionary Military Council.
October 19, the day of the murders, is remembered as the first bloody day of the traumatic events. The second came six days later, October 25, when troops from the United States, accompanied by others from neighbouring Caribbean countries such as Barbados, the Organization of Eastern Caribbean States (OECS) and Jamaica, invaded the countryy (see Singh 2013 for a recent commentary about the decision by Trinidad and Tobago's Prime Minister, George Chambers, not to be part of the intervention). An anxious voice on the radio informed the people that a US invasion was imminent or in progress. Residents of the capital and its environs could hear military drones overhead. A strange mixture of excitement and horror pervaded the atmosphere. The Grenadian people were still reeling in horror from the unimaginable events of October 19 and were fearful of members of the party and the new military government, now seen as murderers. With the murders, the stage had been set for the entrance of those who, many people seemed to hope, could be new saviours. In the days that followed, even as friends urged me to acknowledge that, given the demonstrated violence of the party and obvious contempt for the people, there were few options and the US invasion could not really be rejected in the circumstances, I quietly mourned the beginning of another colonial relationship. Given the political, social and economic power of the United States; given Grenada's history of British colonialism with its neglect of social, political and economic structures and its contempt for the working people; given little demonstrated US interest over the years in the social and economic advancement of Grenada, what could one expect but an unequal relationship? Would Grenada now become even more dependent and settle for a long-term relationship of subservience that could affect an individual's sense of self? I asked myself these questions quietly, because the party that had promised so much and from which so much had been expected had led the country into a situation where it did not have too many choices. More Grenadians, as well as members of the invading forces, were to die during that second traumatic period in October. In my estimation, the country's self-respect was a less tangible casualty of the invasion. I could not help thinking that whatever happened in the United States, its people were not likely to welcome a foreign power to its shores as saviour. My friends assured me that the reality of violence from leaders reduces such concerns to the level of sentimental musings. I was not convinced, but I did not have answers. What had led to this unimaginable occurrence in Grenada?
The details of what happened on those days, and especially on 19 October, have been explored in various other accounts (Campbell 2010; Grenade 2010a; 2010b; Hinds 2010; Joseph 2010; Lewis 2010). Each account, as different as it may be from the others, contributes immeasurably to the reconstruction of those moments and of truths about the country and the people. Again, I ask, as so many have asked and continue to ask, what happened?
To help shape a response, I go back to 1973, approximately ten years before. By then, Grenada's premier, Eric Gairy, had been in leadership roles in the country for approximately twenty-two years. He had come to the fore in 1951, as a young man of twenty-nine in a small, poor colonial state where the majority of the population depended on agriculture for their livelihood. Gairy emerged as a champion of agricultural workers who were being exploited by the members of a planting class who, by and large, owned the estates in the country. He established a union and started a political party. The union championed the workers' rights and appeared to be of more significance than the party, which operated as his own sort of political arm. By the 1970s, a younger generation, some of them children and grandchildren of the workers who had supported Gairy in 1951, did not feel the same sense of allegiance to him as leader. Grenada was still a colony of Britain in 1973, but it was moving closer to independence and there had been several constitutional changes over the years. Between 1958 and 1962, there had been an attempt at a West Indian Federation and when that collapsed, the countries of the Caribbean, beginning with Trinidad & Tobago and Jamaica in 1962, acquired independence from Britain. In 1966, Guyana and Barbados joined the ranks of the independent nations and, in 1968, the Windward and Leeward Islands (Grenada was one of the Windwards) acquired what was called associated statehood, which meant they had control of internal affairs while Britain kept responsibility for external affairs and defence. The leader of an associated state was called a premier. This meant that in the 1970s Gairy was acquiring more power as a local political leader and the new generation of youths, although supportive of notions of supposed independence, was not happy about acquiring this with Eric Gairy in office. Through the years, Premier Gairy acquired a reputation for rigged elections, corrupt financial practices and the creation of a secret police force which was used to brutally repress opponents. An opposition party, the Grenada National Party (GNP), formed in the 1950s, was in office during the 1960s, but it never managed to capture the imagination of agricultural workers. Throughout the world in the late '60s and '70s, young people were actively opposing governments considered repressive. I've noted elsewhere that the writer Mark Kurlansky highlights 1968 as a year in which people everywhere were showing "a profound distaste for authoritarianism in every form" (Kurlansky 1968, 2; 14). For a fuller discussion of the importance of 1960s and '70s in Grenada, the Caribbean and worldwide, see also Collins (2013, 9-14). The Black Power movement of the '70s was also important throughout the Caribbean; the impact was particularly felt in neighbouring Trinidad & Tobago and at regional campuses of the University of the West Indies (UWI). In 1968, Guyanese historian and activist Walter Rodney was expelled from Jamaica, where he worked at the Mona campus of UWI. Grenadians at home and abroad were affected by this regional and international ferment. In a commentary on the works of Walter Rodney and their influence in the Caribbean, UWI Professor Rupert Lewis offers the opinion that "Rodney's expulsion from Jamaica in 1968 had repercussions which spread to Trinidad, Guyana and other Caribbean territories as well as to the Caribbean populations in North America and England. It marked a new phase of regional radicalism influenced by the civil rights movement and Black Power rhetoric from the United States adapted to the Caribbean. Some of the young people influenced by this movement later on adopted Marxism" (Lewis 1998,117). Lewis names Maurice Bishop and Bernard Coard as "the most prominent examples of the transition in the English-speaking Caribbean from Black Power to Marxism". The '70s was a radicalising period for young Caribbean intellectuals looking for new models of social, political and economic development for their countries. Lewis's comment is important to the analysis of the events in Grenada and is worth quoting at length. He writes:
Rodney's expulsion from Jamaica gave him publicity in the Caribbean, North America, England and Africa. Bogle L'Ouverture's publication of his Jamaican lectures and speeches under the title Groundings With My Brothers helped to shape his political reputation as the region's premiere radical-intellectual-activist. Many young Caribbean intellectuals followed in Rodney's mould in the 1970's but few were to have his intellectual depth, probity and pan-African experience.
After naming some of these intellectuals, including Bishop and Coard, Lewis continues:
They had all dialogued with him but none had his experience and knowledge of the African continent and few could rival his commitment to the working people. Moreover, this commitment was linked to an overriding concern to avoid manipulation of the working people which characterised the politics of the mass parties in the Caribbean and the centralism of the left-wing organisations which facilitated middle-class hegemony (Lewis 1998).
Let us remember this comment as we consider the story of the New Jewel Movement. What I am trying to do here is to consider how the NJM's emergence during the Gairy period was facilitated by the extremes of his abuse of the system and the growing disaffection with his regime. I want also to note some of the ways in which the NJM developed to see if there might be any clues to explain subsequent actions. The NJM was formed in 1973. It was a coming together of two organisations--the Movement for Assemblies of the People (MAP), led by Bishop, who was from the capital and had studied law in Britain, and JEWEL (Joint Endeavour for Welfare, Education and Liberation), which was led by Unison Whiteman, from rural St. David's, who had studied economics at Howard University in the US. The NJM developed rapidly, organising young people and attracting the support of those disaffected with Gairy's leadership, and became a formidable force. In addition to Bishop and Whiteman, among those attracted to the NJM were Coard, then a lecturer in economics at the Trinidad campus of UWI, and Kendrick Radix, an attorney who had earlier started MAP with Bishop. Buoyed by increasing opposition to Gairy, they and other young Grenadian intellectuals soon became focused on removing him from office.
At first the NJM would not call itself a party. Bishop's MAP had been a "movement" for representative "assemblies" of the people, interested in popular democracy. All were influenced by the ideas of the time. Coard has acknowledged in an interview that he was influenced by Black Power ideas, by Tanzania's Julius Nyerere and Ujamaa, notions of African socialism. He was a student in the US and invited Stokeley Carmichael to speak at a Brandeis summer programme during the Black Power era. He was also influenced by the example of Cuba, although first more as a Caribbean country in struggle than as a socialist country. According to Coard, he began with a broad interest in Black Power ideology and it was the 197374 period in Grenada and the NJM's perception that, although it had mass support, it needed to be more organised as a party in order to remove Gairy from office that led to the party's more focused study of Marxism-Leninism and the beginning of its development as a vanguard party. (Grenade 2010b).
Throughout the '70s, the NJM and other groups organised opposition to Gairy's regime. In 1973, as the NJM collaborated with business groups in planning strikes to show displeasure with activities by the Gairy government, including allegations of corruption and repressive acts by the security forces, Gairy used those same security forces to counter opposition. On 18 November 1973, six NJM members-Bishop, Hudson Austin, Simon Daniel, Kendrick Radix, Selwyn Strachan and Unison Whiteman-were beaten, arrested, and charged with possession of a rifle and ammunition. The confrontation, broad unity among opposition forces, and the arrest of NJM members were reported in the regional press (Trinidad Guardian 1973). (2) After this confrontation, young people, and in particular high school students, were at the forefront of anti-Gairy demonstrations. It is particularly interesting to recall this when one notes today the way that the events of October 1983 have driven this story of student activism underground and made parents and grand-parents wary of political activity. By 1973 and 1974, there was in the country a broad coalition of opposition to Gairy and the NJM was a recognised leader in the struggle. Meanwhile, the NJM was making pragmatic decisions about its participation in the electoral process. In the 1976 elections NJM members were actually elected to office, with Bishop becoming leader of a united opposition. Other more secret forms of opposition to Gairy continued. As far as the NJM and Grenada were concerned, it is important to note that many were excited about the emergence of a group of educated young people who did not distance themselves from agricultural workers and the working class, the lawyers among them willing to take on pro bono work, and all willing to openly challenge Gairy's excesses. To a young generation wanting advancement for their country, the NJM offered hope and the promise of a more productive future. NJM members went around to secondary schools, had quiet meetings with teachers, and showed an interest in the education of the youths. They supported, organised and were an important part of massive anti-Gairy demonstrations during the '70s; one such demonstration in 1970 was organised by nurses who were agitating for better conditions at the General Hospital. This was a popular cause, since conditions at the hospital were well known and much critiqued. Students were at the forefront of NJM-organised demonstrations during the period 1973-74, in the lead-up to Grenada's independence from Britain in February. The NJM appeared determined not to celebrate an independence that would give all powers, including the portfolios of external affairs and defense, to Gairy as the new Prime Minister. In January 1973, in one confrontation, members of a group of thuggish young men, said to be Gairy's secret police and known as the "Mongoose Gang", jumped into the middle of an NJM-organised demonstration assembled at the Carenage, St. George's. As usual, there were many high school students and teachers. Pandemonium ensued and terrified demonstrators tried to rush away from the areas surrounding Otway House, a union building on the Carenage. Later it was reported that Bishop's father, Rupert, had been shot and killed while trying to shield students from attacking Gairy forces. Another casualty of the period was the governor, Dame Hilda Bynoe, who had been appointed by Premier Gairy in 1968. Dame Hilda, the first woman and the first local to hold the post during the colonial period, was a popular but controversial figure to young people, since she had been appointed by Gairy. Offended because demonstrators had moved from shouting "Gairy must go" to add "and Bynoe, too", Dame Hilda said she would resign unless people indicated that they wanted her to stay. Incensed because the governor had even deigned to respond to the people's challenge, Gairy requested her resignation. Dame Hilda, feeling that she was not wanted by the people, had in fact tendered her resignation via the proper channels--through the British High Commission to the Queen of England. The NJM assured her that it would not, in fact, require her to stay. After the fatality at Otway House and the departure of the Governor, an uneasy silence settled on the land. A broad coalition continued to support anti-Gairy demonstrations and Gairy waited for the situation to settle back into what had become normal. Dockworkers, electricity workers, all essential services remained on strike. Gairy waited. The British did nothing. On 7 February 1974, in the midst of darkness, Grenada became an independent nation in the British Commonwealth. It was after this, when, in spite of the fact that the NJM had the support of the majority of people and there were constant massive demonstrations but it was unable to unseat Gairy, that the party appears to have decided to move to the organisation of a vanguard that could be a tight core of leaders. As the party strove to study Marxism-Leninism and develop in vanguard mode, one major challenge would be to recognise and respect that the focus of many of its supporters was opposition to the repression of the Gairy era.
On 13 March 1979, while Gairy was in New York at a meeting of the United Nations, the New Jewel Movement attacked the army barracks and seized the radio station. NJM members went on radio, asking the people of the country to go to local police stations and demand that the police put up a white flag of surrender. This is an important part of the narrative of the overthrow of the Gairy regime. It shows how confident members of the NJM were of their popularity and how much support they enjoyed in the country. With the population in vocal support of their actions, and enjoying the esteem of the people because of their confident leadership of an anti-Gairy struggle, the NJM seized control of the country and, bowing to the parliamentary democratic practices inherited from the British, promised elections. It was eventually decided that elections could not be held without major disruption. Since the party had tremendous early support and this was the first change of government of its kind in the region, this may have been a mistake, but that assessment was to come much later. Perhaps it was to become more of an issue when the NJM was losing its popularity and could no longer claim legitimacy because of obvious mass support.
For four years, from 1979 to 1983, the NJM and its government, the People's Revolutionary Government (PRG) instituted many changes in Grenada. At the beginning, it was not an idle boast that the party was in fact focused on the people. With the support of the masses--to whom decisions were explained at meetings--the NJM/PRG challenged and tried to change approaches to colonial education. Members argued that they did not have to be supportive of all Britain's ideas and might not consider British forms of parliamentary democracy the best political option for the country; they tried to make agriculture more attractive to the population and to encourage people to eat what the country produced; they organised militias to prepare young people to defend the country against all aggressors, be they large or small; they befriended and were befriended by Cuba, which was regarded by the US as an enemy because of its close relationship with the Soviet Union; they set up vibrant workers', youth, women's and farmers' organisations; they had popular public meetings to discuss the budget; they focused on what they referred to as "raising the cultural level" of the people and started an adult education programme known as the Centre for Popular Education. Since teachers needed to be trained, a National In-Service Teacher Education Programme was initiated. All of these were popular programmes and, in the early stages, they attracted many people. There was palpable excitement about the possibilities for social and economic transformation in the country.
Increasingly, as the party developed its core, the NJM rhetoric became militaristic. It developed a young, enthusiastic militia and an army, with a vocal armed forces branch of the party. Throughout, the NJM was organising as a party, studying Marxism-Leninism and working on establishing a small core group that could lead the work of the revolution. This meant that the party became very select, secretive, and what the leadership referred to as a "Leninist vanguard" (3) group. In retrospect, and considering Rupert Lewis's comment on Rodney's insistence about not manipulating the working people, we might think about whether continuous discussion about the formation of a vanguard party in the small community opened a way for the possibility of such manipulation. Some of the young party recruits, the "most advanced elements of the working class", had also had little formal education and the party, with its programme of study, became also their route to acquiring information and analytical skills. In that situation, teachers could acquire very powerful positions. In a small country of approximately 100,000 people, the select party group was resented for its secrecy, and the unworthy--those not invited to join or who did not wish to join the party--looked askance at "the chosen". Although the character of the party was clearly changing, people remained broadly supportive of some of the gains of the revolution--opportunities for further education, for example. In a small country that had inherited an elitist colonial education system, high school and university education were expensive and available mainly to those who had independent financial means or were able to acquire loans or scholarships. The People's Revolutionary Government and the New Jewel Movement changed this, ensuring that new secondary schools were opened and that there were more opportunities for further education. Parents, even if largely uninterested in ideology, were pleased that their children now had the opportunity to get an education. Many of the scholarships were tenable in the Soviet Bloc --Cuba, the German Democratic Republic (then East Germany), Czechoslovakia, and the Soviet Union.
The US responded to these alliances and the NJM's relationship with the public became tenser as it tried to counter such responses to its choice of political friends. While critiquing the attitude of the US government, the NJM/PRG tried to be careful to make a distinction between the government and the people, claiming that it had sympathy with the American people. Leaders reached out to the US black population. On a 1983 visit to the US, Bishop spoke at Hunter College in New York. In his address to a packed hall, he told the audience that a "secret report to the State Department" had revealed that one reason for the US government's hostility to the Grenada Revolution was that "the people of Grenada and the leadership of Grenada speak English, and therefore can communicate directly with the people of the United States." (Bishop 1983, 299). He noted that, "in some years, more American tourists come to our country than the entire population of our country" (Bishop 1983, 289) and acknowledged that "if we go around and take a careful count, we may well discover that there are more Grenadians living in the United States than the whole population of Grenada". This, he said, was a situation that the PRG did not want to affect negatively, although it claimed the right to manage its own affairs.
Locally and internationally, Bishop became the familiar and much-loved face of the Grenada Revolution. Locally, and especially among supporters, the Grenada political process was referred to familiarly and affectionately as "the Revo". Although in the first two years, 1979 and 1980, there was general excitement about the Revo, by 1981 it had lost some of its popularity. Looking back, one might say that, in the anxiety to accomplish much while simultaneously studying Marxism-Leninism and making it an important base of development for the party, the NJM members developed "battle fatigue". It was physically and mentally taxing to read, study, engage in intellectual debate and lead the work of party and state. Perhaps without realising the psychological toll it was taking, members of the party were themselves being traumatised. As the vanguard idea took root, there also developed a fine distinction between the government and the party--the People's Revolutionary Government and the New Jewel Movement--but many operated on both fronts.
As the NJM/PRG became more overtly supportive of Cuba and the Soviet Union, the US became more opposed to the Bishop regime. The NJM blamed the US government for many events in Grenada. In 1981, at a rally held at Queen's Park, a bomb exploded under the stage from which leaders of the government and party were scheduled to speak and young people--among them three schoolgirls--were killed. Many were injured. The NJM/PRG blamed counter-revolutionaries. One night in 1981, on a stretch of road at Plains, St. Patrick's, a car was ambushed and some young people shot to death. For that ambush, too, the NJM blamed counter-revolutionary forces (see Bishop 1982, 190; and Bishop 1984, 204). Whether or not these forces had the support of the US, the events had the effect of contributing both to a culture of suspicion and repression within the ruling party and to a sense within the country that the touch of the NJM had brought to Grenada events and incidents that had not been common before.
Meanwhile, in a country Grenada's size, it was not good for party public relations that it came to be regarded by the population as a type of secret society. Even as people worked in broad support of the revolution's aims to develop education and tend to the social needs of the population, they were uncomfortable with the secretive attitudes of party members and nervous about the word "communism", which more and more became associated with the party. It was not unusual to have the term--which was as little understood as was the word capitalism, but more generally feared--applied in a disparaging manner to a political opponent. In the early 1950s, it had been used to describe Gairy (Collins 1990). (4) Now, though, the NJM's secrecy and study of Marxism-Leninism and the increasingly repressive attitudes associated with both the government and the party made the public suspicious of the NJM's ideology. The arrogant attitudes of some young leaders were not a good advertisement for either the party or its ideology. As the NJM became more suspicious about the development of counter-revolutionary activity, many people were imprisoned. Some of them, it has been suggested, may have been imprisoned with little cause. Gradually, the revolution was losing its hold on the popular imagination. It might be difficult to recall now, in the aftermath of the events of October 1983, that a growing sense of unease, certainly present in the country in 1982, was not with one faction or the other, but with the party, its leadership of the revolution and what seemed to be a constant fear of "counter-revolutionary" activity. Within the Grenadian community, the designation "counter" became a quiet assessment and an unspoken threat.
Early in 1983 Maurice Bishop spoke to the country about US opposition and planned military exercises at its military base in Vieques, Puerto Rico. There was fear about US intentions toward Grenada. Notwithstanding this, Coard today admits that the young revolutionaries could have been more diplomatic in their handling of relations with the US. I would suggest that, outside opposition to and possibly destabilisation of their revolution process notwithstanding, party members cannot be absolved of responsibility for their reactions in the '80s. Today, as people try to find ways to deal with the memory of possibility and loss, some remember, too, the attitudes and actions of members of the party. These assessments remain relevant regardless of external interference.
Divided, the house could not stand
Although the ordinary citizen didn't realise it, divisions had been developing within the party. The Revo celebrated its fourth birthday on 13 March 1983. By September, a rumour had suddenly developed that Coard, a key figure within the party, generally thought to be at the helm of party work, wanted to kill Bishop. To appreciate the effect that this had on the population, one has to understand the public face of the revolution during that period. Outsiders might critique, but as far as most people knew, the key leaders were united in their goal to build the revolution. A few short years before, they had struggled together against Gairy. The rumour now circulating suggested an impossible scenario. Even then, it was the kind of tragic story one only read about in books. It meant that the revolutionary leadership was not as united as people had thought, and that there was trouble at the core. It seemed to suggest a power struggle. Maurice Bishop was well known to the people. He was the local and international face of the revolution, a personable and charismatic young man who interacted comfortably with people at every level. When the popular imagination was stirred by the notion that someone else within the government (and "government" would have been a more familiar notion than "party") was opposing Maurice (as he was popularly known), the country immediately sided with Maurice; Bernard, seen as the other powerful figure in the government (and party), became the enemy. When the crisis came, public support for Maurice appeared to be exactly opposite to what obtained within the party. The party sympathised with Coard and some members began to refer to Bishop as egoistic and counter-revolutionary. Coard had developed a reputation as the intellectual leader of the party. While both Bishop and Coard appeared to support the ideological perspectives of the revolution, and both had emerged from an attraction to Black Power ideology to the study of Marxism-Leninism, Coard, it was felt, seemed more given to analytical reading and discussion of political principles, Marxist-Leninist and otherwise, than Bishop. While both appeared generally to share the political ideas of the revolution and the leftist philosophy associated with it, Coard appeared more interested in theoretical debates, discussion and reading. Increasingly, the party appeared to be looking to Coard for intellectual leadership. Still, Bishop was the nominal leader of the party and the revolution. The party came to the conclusion that party work was not as strong as it could be and tensions developed between Bishop and Coard. Eventually (as the public was to discover later), Coard had resigned from the Central Committee of the party in September of 1982. The party kept this a secret and continued as if nothing had happened. By mid-1983, it was decided (within the party) that the work of the party was not moving forward and that something had to be done. Party members decided at a meeting that the situation of stalemate could be resolved by having Bishop and Coard as joint leaders of the party. On the surface, this might seem a reasonable proposition but perhaps the relations between the two groups (and their supporters) were already too tense to make joint leadership feasible. At first, Bishop was hesitant. He then accepted the proposal and the party appeared to be in a rejoicing mood. Bishop subsequently left for a trip abroad. When he was on his way back, the news got to party members that he had changed his mind and was returning in fighting mood. The result was that the party, which operated on what it referred to as a Leninist principle of collective agreement, felt that Maurice was betraying the principles of the party and was favouring his personal ascendancy--the ascendancy of the individual. The party later accused him of "one-manism". This, in essence, as far as the party was concerned, meant that the leader was betraying some of the basic principles of the revolution and the party that led the revolution. When Maurice returned from his trip to what was then the German Democratic Republic, the usual welcome party at the airport, headed by Coard, was noticeably absent. This clearly signalled the party's displeasure and put the two sides on a collision course. Whatever may have been Bishop's discussion outside of Grenada, and some have suggested that there was some discussion with Cuba, where Bishop made a stop on his return trip, it would have been clear to him, on his arrival, that he was out of favour with the party. He may have considered that, if he was to retain his role as leader of the party and the revolution, his only option was an appeal to what had been the party's early base the people. Bishop had apparently assessed, correctly, that he, individually, now had that base of support.
It is in this context that, shortly after his return, a rumour began circulating that Coard was planning to kill him. The party concluded, and one of Bishop's security guards later confirmed, that the rumour had been started by Bishop himself. Bishop denied it. Party members--believing indignantly that they, and not he, had made and now led the revolution, and that he was undermining the principles of the party--placed him under house arrest. It was the beginning of the end--or, one might say, the signal that the end was near. The country could not comprehend that the Prime Minister had been, or could be, arrested. The party, with its secrecy and sense of itself as a unit, meant nothing to the people. To the public, the Prime Minister's arrest proved that there was some kind of scheming going on in the party. After this, there was a clear divide between people of every walk of life and the party. (Lewis 2010) Had the party remembered its own teachings about the power of the people, and that its vanguard unit had information and a perception of events not shared by the people, things might have turned out differently. As wrong as party adherents may have thought the people were, they had spoken. Having been elected by popular vote on the streets and not by the ballot box, members of the NJM could not fail to realise the strength of the people's vote in this situation. But emotions appeared to solidify around notions of Leninist principles and perhaps here a disservice was done both to Leninist principle and to the people of the country. Even though the party has been accused of succumbing to the authoritarian tendencies of Leninist thought, it might also be said that it succumbed to the authoritarian tendencies of colonial rule. It is doubtful that the party, as busy as its members were, had yet spent sufficient time discussing the psychology of colonialism, personality politics, the particular manifestation of this in Grenada, and the ways in which Gairy had been shaped by the autocratic example of colonial rule. The NJM had experienced Gairy's autocratic attitudes and it is likely that party members had absorbed more than they realised his dismissal of the voice of the people in 1973.
On 19 October, NJM leaders and Ministers of the PRG who supported Bishop walked, at the head of a mass demonstration, to the Prime Minister's residence, where he was under house arrest. Those guarding him appeared to abide by the revolution's ethic that the guns of the revolution would not be used against the people. They did not shoot into the crowd. People swarmed the residence and released Bishop. The crowd left the residence and surged, with Bishop, into St. George's. There was some talk of Bishop addressing the crowd in the open marketplace. However, at some point the decision appears to have been taken to go, not to the market square, but to the fort above the market, the headquarters of the army. Perhaps ironically, this fort, originally (and now again, post-revolution) named Fort George, had been renamed Fort Rupert to honour Bishop's father, Rupert, who had been killed during the anti-Gairy struggle. The other side of the party, the majority group supportive of Coard, was said to be occupying a fort in Morne Jaloux, just above St. George's. Symbolically, each side was now claiming a fort and the factions seemed set for a violent confrontation. But perhaps the symbolism is clearer in hindsight than it was to the participants, and, one might assume, to the crowd at the time.
Accounts indicate that an armoured vehicle came from the direction of the other fort toward Fort Rupert, which was being occupied by Bishop and his supporters. This, it must be remembered, was also the headquarters of the army, and some army personnel, including members of the armed forces branch of the party, were also at that location. Some accounts indicate that there was firing from the crowd as the armoured vehicle approached and that a soldier was killed. What seems clear is that after confrontation and various questionable actions on both sides, those sent by the party to retake the fort were in the ascendancy. (Lewis 2010) They appear to, at first, have fired indiscriminately. People jumped off the fort to escape bullets. A still indeterminate number of people died, while others were injured. Grenadians remain traumatised by these events. Accounts suggest that members of the party, too, were traumatised by the ways in which they felt moved to confront each other on that fateful day. It must be acknowledged, though, that even today, many Grenadians are not sympathetic to any trauma supposedly felt by party members. Incensed by what it considered Bishop's treacherous behaviour, the party's emissaries, who claim not to have been given any direct order to do this, lined him and others, including Minister of Foreign Affairs Unison Whiteman, Minister of Health Norris Bain, who was a Minister of government but not a party member, Minister of Education Jacqueline Creft, Vincent Noel, a trade union leader and party member, against a wall and summarily executed them. Several others were reported to have been killed at the fort later that day.
Grenadians locked their doors, hid in their houses, under curfew and cowed by a radio announcement that anyone disobeying the curfew would be shot on sight. A shocked silence descended over the country. Residents of St. George's later gave whispered reports that trucks could be heard driving through the streets, away from the direction of the fort, out of St. George's, in the direction of South St. George. These trucks, people surmised, contained the bodies of those who had been executed. The small political party had failed to resolve its internal contradictions and had imploded. Shocked, the country mourned the loss of its leader and others who had been executed. Within a few days, news came that the United States would invade. The party belatedly attempted a rapprochement with the people, reminding the population in anxious radio broadcasts that they had trained in various militia groups to defend the country. Party members were sent out to round up members of the public to prepare for the invasion. Still traumatised, the people hid where possible, and the party was left largely alone to fight the invader. There were, however, those who were picked up and made to join the defence or who, in spite of the horror, joined because they were also against the idea of an invasion by the US. Although the US claimed to be invading to rescue students at St. George's University, an American institution, the students appeared to be in no way associated with the conflict and do not appear to have been under any threat. Some Grenadians left their homes when they could to be on the streets showing visible, almost vengeful, support for the invasion. It was an almost gleeful betrayal of those whom they felt had betrayed them by their actions. A people who had been manipulated and shown contempt no longer wanted to be described as revolutionary or to have leaders who described themselves as such. Soon, it was all over. Some Cubans who had been working on the new international airport and an indeterminate number of Grenadians were killed in the invasion. Members of the party were imprisoned and the US government established an interim government, comprised of Grenadian individuals residing in various parts of the Caribbean and further afield.
Little time has been spent acknowledging or discussing the very painful fact that Grenadians were pointing out to the American invaders not just those whom they thought were involved in the executions, but those who were involved in any way with the work of the party, the government and the revolution. The whole process had been discredited. The revolution was over and a new era of Grenadian post-revolutionary politics had begun.
It is important, too, to consider the parents of party members, who, forced to reside in a community still hostile to the role played by the party in the deaths of so many, did not have recourse to the usual community support in times of stress. Consider the parents, lovers, wives, husbands, relatives, siblings of those who were murdered at the fort and who have never found their bodies. Consider the parents and relatives of those who went out to fight on October 25, perhaps because they were members of the party and supportive of party arguments; perhaps because they were co-opted, perhaps because they felt a sense of patriotism and did not want any invader on their soil, even while they condemned the murders at the fort. In other words, consider the trauma that Grenada still has not worked through. And consider the fact that this had been a colonised country, where the citizens still needed to be re-educated for independence and transformation.
What preceded this? Where else might we find an explanation for the breakdown in communication and camaraderie? Somewhere in Grenada's history, had there developed a personality cult that made politicians of whatever ilk inclined to promote their ideas and personalities even when a majority seemed not inclined to support? Why was it impossible for warring party factions to resolve their conflicts? Why, in such a small community (approximately 100,000 people) was it possible for young revolutionaries to execute ideological opponents who had so recently been friends? How was it possible for leaders to ignore the wishes of the majority and so appear to replicate the intolerant attitudes of one whom they had so recently removed from office? Although it's possible to search even in Amerindian and early colonial history, let us go back again to 1951, to the beginning of the Gairy period. In Grenada's mid-twentieth century colonial story, the British Colonial Office operated to maintain British systems and institutions. Exploitation of the working people by the planting classes--low wages, poor working and living conditions--created situations for the emergence of political leaders within union organisations. British authorities observed the union/party dynamic nervously, because no such union/political party link existed in Britain and they could not bequeath it to the region as a British institution. Besides, union organisation suggested what they considered too much influence for the working people. As Caribbean leaders emerged in the 1950s, there were anxious discussions in the Colonial Office. Always the concern was that British models should be observed.
In Grenada in 1951, with major constitutional change allowing for universal adult suffrage (5) (see Collins 1990, 54), there were, for the first time, no property or income qualifications for voters. Everyone over twenty-one, women and men, was eligible to vote. Twenty-nine-year-old Eric Gairy, who had worked and been involved in worker organisation in Aruba, returned to Grenada at this point, having been expelled from Aruba because of that very same involvement in worker organisation. Back home, he immediately became involved in union organisation, took up the cause of workers, agitating for better wages and working conditions for agricultural workers. In the first elections under universal adult suffrage in 1951, Gairy's People's Party won a majority of seats in the Legislative Council. Under the New Constitution, in a bicameral legislature, there were eight members on the Executive Council, three of them being elected representatives from the Legislative Council. On the Legislative Council there were 14 members, three of whom were official (the Governor, the Administrator and the Colonial Treasurer), and two were nominated. One was the Clerk of the Council, while the other eight were elected members. Six of these were elected members of Gairy's People's Party. The scales had shifted a bit, but Grenada was still a colony of Britain (Collins 1990). (6) As I've stated elsewhere, "With the 1951 change, elected members had little influence within the Executive body, and in the event that they succeeded in gaining support from a nominated or ex-officio member on some issue, could still be over-ruled by the Governor's power of veto." (7) The Governor was the important figure. As I write this, I recall older people criticising Gairy by saying he "think he is the Governor". In the colonial system, there was no question about where ultimate authority lay locally.
Until the '70s, Gairy's was the main party in the Legislative Council. Even so, there was little real political party organisation and the individual personality continued to be the important factor. The party was really only a party in name. As the local newspaper, The West Indian, commented in 1954:
Party Politics has not yet arrived in Grenada ... With only one group asserting cohesion of a kind in this election and several independents opposing, talk of a party system is empty. This group, nevertheless, of itself possesses an essential party characteristic--unity--but it is difficult to determine whether the rallying point is a person or a programme." (The West Indian 1954, 2).
Even where there was supposedly a party, the individual mattered much more than the collective.
Until independence from Britain in 1974, Gairy's Grenada People's Party, which, in the mid-1950s, was re-named first the Grenada Labour Party and then the Grenada United Labour Party (see The West Indian 1955, 2) (GULP), was the main party in Grenada--in spite of the formation of another party, the Grenada National Party (GNP) in the '50s. Apparent conflicts with the British elevated rather than diminished Gairy in the popular imagination. As colonial rulers, the British were watchful, aware that a personality cult was developing as individuals emerged from union organisation into leadership roles, but assessing that, in spite of their mistrust of an individual like Eric Gairy, this might be the best alternative in the circumstances. Strategically, it was important to allow some individuals to emerge in order to preempt more radical worker organisation. Today, as we think of the contemporary Grenada story of personalities and parties, it is useful to consider the long history of the development of this in Grenada and the rest of the Caribbean. Consider these 1954 comments by K.V. Blackburne, Governor of Antigua, whose opinions were valued by the Colonial Office, as correspondence from the Office suggests. Participating in a discussion about whether the Office should sever the union/political party link, Blackburne commented:
Rightly or wrongly, I feel that these islands benefit more from the "boss-rule" (with certain limited controls) which they now have than from the unsettled conditions which would obtain if the workers (the vast majority of the electorate) are struggling for what they think are their rights in an unorganised manner. For all of these reasons, I should prefer merely to go on preaching (as I am already doing) that political office should not go hand in hand with trade union office, and to leave it to the leaders themselves to find their own solutions". (Colonial Office 1954)
The Colonial Office, then, recognised and even facilitated the development of a cult of personality when it seemed to be in their long-term interest. They were a bit more nervous about what this portended for Grenada and Eric Gairy than they were about leaders like Bird of Antigua or Bradshaw of St. Kitts. They considered requiring Gairy to give up political office if he insisted on keeping union office; however, they hesitated because they felt they could not make that requirement for Grenada and not other Caribbean countries. (Midgett 1983, quoted in Collins 1990, 97). As we consider political processes in Grenada today, the attitudes of both people and political leaders, it is useful to think about how present political attitudes have been shaped by this British colonial inheritance, not only of local politicians being watched by the Colonial Office, but of a figure like the all-powerful Governor appointed by the British Colonial Office. In 1955, Governor Beetham of the Windward Islands wrote to the Secretary of State for the Colonies, "It could be argued that where parties do not exist on an ideological basis, the only alternative is to have parties based on personalities." (Colonial Office 1955) When we consider how colonial officials discussed issues like these, considering what to do and how much to interfere to attain what they considered best for British interests, it is amazing to think how cautious people often are about making changes to a supposedly perfect British inheritance. Socially, economically and otherwise, Grenada and other Caribbean countries were organised with British inheritance in mind. Despite its tragic end, the NJM's anti-colonial perspectives have not, in my estimation, been discredited. There needs to be a deeper study and understanding of how colonial processes have shaped Grenada and the Caribbean, so that a response is not merely cosmetic.
Two of the many interesting aspects of the Grenada story up to 1983 are the efforts of successive generations of young people to find alternative political frames for the governing of the country; and the role of rumour in the collapse of the revolution. As demonstrated in this exploration, Grenada's political culture was historically very authoritarian, elitist and focused on the "maximum" leader. Under the colonial system, until 1951, only a small percentage of the population was even allowed to vote. Although constitutional change came within the context of internationally connected, Caribbean-wide struggles and movements, Eric Gairy's arrival on the political scene at a key moment in the development of Grenadian politics made him seem larger than life--the cause and effect of all change. Having been used to elitism in politics and the high living of political elites, the masses were not conditioned to be critical of their leader, even when he was accused of corruption. In the mid- to late 1950s and '60s, when Gairy was increasingly being accused of corruption, the general attitude among his majority (largely agriculture-based) supporters, seemed to be that others had been corrupt and exploited them and now it was their time, and, since he was their representative, his time. Although Bishop was from St. George's and of a different class background from Gairy, who was rural and closer to the agricultural classes, he was also comfortable in his interaction with the people. When the time came, he, too, had the kind of personality that could win him support.
As they tried to learn from the histories and experiences of left-leaning parties within the region--Jamaica's WPJ and PNP, Guyana's PPP and WPA--and internationally, as they tried to understand and apply principles of Marxism-Leninism, which they thought could be useful as an alternative route for the country, as they tried to consider how to use local experience in the construction of a governing ideology, Grenada's young leaders (born in 1944, Bishop was 29 when he formed the NJM with Unison Whiteman) were also grappling with the everyday problems of leadership. While the party accused Bishop of "one-manism", it would appear that the party, as a unit, opted for the authoritarian mode, aware that the country had views different from the party's, but unwilling to relax their own certainties in order to accommodate these. All, it seemed, suffered the effects of the country's authoritarian political history. In effect, the NJM was a young party, new to both left and Marxist-Leninist thinking. Members were learning as they developed. Their ambition--along with the confident and ultimately destructive arrogance of their youth--was also their downfall.
It is also fascinating to consider the role of gossip in the downfall of the party and the demise of the revolution. When Bishop was returning home after his final trip, the news of what he was thinking and had decided to do reached Grenada ahead of him. Party members reacted. They themselves began to lobby those close to the party about his attitude, his acceptance and then rejection of joint leadership, his tendency toward "one-manism". Bishop is accused of himself resorting to rumour when he realised his isolation within the party. It might also be assumed that, during the last year of NJM leadership, gossip had a role in solidifying the attitudes of the two sides towards each other. Coard had been out of the Central Committee of the party for a year without the public having any knowledge of this. This was a tremendous achievement in a community as small as Grenada. However, it might be assumed that whether or not there was a formally organised group to support Coard--and much has been made of a core study group called Organization for Revolutionary Education and Leadership (OREL)--there were friends of Coard and concerned party individuals who had discussions with him during the period of his absence from the party. It also became clear that there were those who spoke to Bishop about what they considered was really going on among those who opposed him. It seems that one major tragedy here is that each side thought it was working in the interests of the country, by saving it from the inadequacy and ignorance of the other. And in the escalation of the tension between them, gossip played a key role. If Bishop indeed started a rumour, he may have done so because he knew the power of rumour and did indeed feel himself (politically, if not personally) threatened and because the two major individuals, Coard and Bishop, did not speak directly to each other (Grenade 2010b). The party is left shouldering the greater blame because it showed contempt for the wishes of the people, however misguided it may have thought these wishes, and acted upon this contempt by using violence against the people and those chosen as their representatives.
The events of 1979 to 1983 are related to all of Grenada's past stories and certainly to its continuing journey. The final day's performances at the 38th Conference of the Caribbean Studies Association suggest that the country's artists might help challenge silences imposed by the traumatic experiences of 1983.
This journey through the magic forest of history, with its many shadows and prickly brambles, suggests that writers today can contribute to a memory of the Grenada Revolution more complex than a Maurice/Bernard story. In Edwidge Danticat's The Farming of Bones, a guide who is showing tourists the ruins of Henri Cristophe's Palais Sans Souci tells the group, "All monuments of this great size are built with human blood." Later, he adds, "Famous men never truly die. It is only those nameless and faceless who vanish like smoke into the early morning air" (Danticat 1988). Narrative is a powerful force for examining not just personalities, but complex experiences of trauma. Many people gave their lives to this initially hopeful but eventually bleak story of revolution and trauma. The Caribbean Studies Association was wise to give the last word of the Grenada conference to tomorrow's leaders, who will continue to search for the location and nature of the wound, examining both contemporary and earlier historical events, in an effort to acquire a deeper understanding of Grenada's story.
Bishop, Maurice. 1983. "Maurice Bishop speaks to U.S. Working People." In Maurice Bishop Speaks: The Grenada Revolution 1979-83, edited by Bruce Marcus and Michael Taber. New York: Pathfinder Press.
--. 1982. "Imperialism is the Real Problem." In Selected Speeches, 1979 1981, edited by Maurice Bishop. Havana: Casa de las Americas.
Campbell, Horace. 2010. "The Grenadian Revolution and the Challenges for Revolutionary Change in the Caribbean." Journal of Eastern Caribbean Studies 35 (3/4): 32-74.
Caruth, Cathy. 1996. Unclaimed Experience: Trauma, Narrative and History. Baltimore: Johns Hopkins University Press
Collins, Merle. 2013. The Governor's Story: The Authorized Biography of Dame Hilda Bynoe. London: Peepal Tree Press.
--. 1995. Trauma: Explorations in Memory. Baltimore: Johns Hopkins University Press.
--. 1990. "Grenada: A Political History, 1950-1979." Ph. D. thesis, London School of Economics and Political Science.
Colonial Office. 1954. Colonial Office document C01031/1400. K.V. Blackburne, Govt. House, Antigua, to Charles Jeffries, Colonial Office, 5 April.
--. 1955. Colonial Office Document C01031/1407. Beetham, Governor, Windward Islands, to Wallace, Secretary of State for the Colonies, 25 July.
Danticat, Edwidge. 1988. The Farming of Bones. New York: Soho Press.
Grenade, Wendy. 2010a' "Reflections on Politics in Post Revolutionary Grenada (1984-2008)." Journal of Eastern Caribbean Studies 35 (3/4): 109-140.
--. 2010b. "Retrospect: A View from Richmond Hill Prison: An Interview with Bernard Coard." Journal of Eastern Caribbean Studies 35 (3/4): 146-182.
Hinds, David. 2010. "The Grenada Revolution and the Caribbean Left: The Case of Guyana's Working People's Alliance (WPA)." Journal of Eastern Caribbean Studies 35 (3/4): 75-108.
Hunt, Nigel. 2010. Memory, War and Trauma. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.
Joseph, Tennyson. 2010. "C.L.R. James' Theoretical Concerns and the Grenada Revolution: Lessons for the Future." Journal of Eastern Caribbean Studies 35 (3/4): 4-32.
Kurlansky, Mark. 2004. 1968: The Year that Rocked the World. New York and Toronto: Ballantine Books.
Lewis, Patsy. 2010. "Remembering October 19: Reconstructing a conversation with a young female NJM candidate member about her recollections of October 19, 1983." Journal of Eastern Caribbean Studies 35 (3/4): 141-145.
Lewis, Rupert. 1998. Walter Rodney's Intellectual and Political Thought. Kingston: UWI Press.
Midgett, Douglas. 1983. "Eastern Caribbean Elections, 1950-1982: Antigua, Dominica, Grenada, St. Kitts-Nevis, St. Lucia, and St. Vincent." Development Series No. 13, Center for Development Studies, Institute of Urban and Regional Research, University of Iowa.
Singh, Ricky. 2013. Commentary, Trinidad Express, 26 March 2013. http://www.trinidadexpress.com/commentaries/Lies-for-two-USinvasions-200148421.html
The West Indian. 1954. News story, 1 May.
--. 1955. News story, Sunday, 2 January.
Trinidad Guardian. 1973. News story, Tuesday, 20 November.
(1) Here I've named only those who were official government personnel. Many other names have been listed on posters distributed over the years by the Maurice Bishop Patriotic Movement (MBPM) and a list, with disclaimers, may also be found online at http://www.thegrenadarevolutiononline.com/page8.html
(2) In a note in Grenada: A Political History, op. cit., I commented that "While other newspapers, e.g., The Torchlight and Trinidad Express, covered the story, the Grenada newspaper, The West Indian, was less revealing about the events of the period."
(3) As noted above, Coard referred to the need to build a vanguard party.
(4) In 1952, the local newspaper, The West Indian, printed articles about communism. In The West Indian, 22/11/50, L.C.J. Thomas, Member of the Legislative Council, wrote, "These men are now in our midst preaching hatred and destruction in the community on a parallel with the directives of the Kremlin ... has Communism in its vile and ugly form invaded and gained a foothold in Grenada?"
(5) Under the 1951 Constitution, Grenada's Legislative Council comprised fourteen members (including the Administrator as President). The Administrator was the official, resident locally, who presided in the absence of the Governor, whose function was to oversee the administration of all four islands of the group named the Windwards--St. Lucia, St. Vincent, Dominica and Grenada.
(6) There were several problems with the operation of the new Constitution of 1951. For a full discussion, see Collins, "Grenada: A Political History, 1950-1971", op.cit. As stated there, the constitutional instruments were hastily assembled, and there were several operational problems. There were tensions between Legislative and Executive Councils, with nominated and elected members struggling to assert their authority. A 1945 Report of the West India Royal Commission referred specifically (p.57) to the "autocracy" which the Constitutions of the region involved, concluding that constitutional weaknesses might be ascribed not so much to the alleged autocracy as to the opposition engendered "between Government, on the one hand, and, on the other, those, among whom must often be counted elected members of the Legislative Council, who so vehemently and constantly criticise Government in speeches and in the Press."
(7) Quoted from Collins, "Grenada: A Political History, 1950-1979", op.cit.
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|Publication:||Social and Economic Studies|
|Date:||Sep 1, 2013|
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