By Special Correspondent
Judas Iscariot betrayed his master Jesus Christ for thirty pieces of silver and then committed suicide. Bernard Coard betrayed Maurice Bishop and the people’s revolution and spent 27 years of his youthful life in jail.
Peter David betrayed Prime Minister Tillman Thomas, the NDC and the Grenadian people. His fate is yet to be determined as he awaits a verdict from the NNP and judgement of a Grenadian grand jury.
Men and women acting as traitors are well documented in many history books, including the Bible. King David betrayed Uriah by putting him in the front line in battle so that he could be killed to get his wife. Joseph was betrayed by his brothers and so was Samson by Delilah.
Grenadian politics have always involved the betrayal of one politician by another, especially in their battle for leadership status. Herbert Blaiize was stabbed in the back by his then Minister of Communication and Works, K.C. Mitchell.
Prior to that Maurice Bishop was unceremoniously betrayed and executed by his own deputy Prime Minister Bernard Coard. Although Bernard Coard was seen as the ringleader of the gang that killed Maurice Bishop, he was ably supported by a number of officers in the People’s Revolutionary Army (PRA). One of these officers is a central figure in the dynamics of Grenadian politics today and he is Captain Peter David.
This writer will first examine the circumstances leading up to the betrayal of Maurice Bishop by Bernard Coard, also the betrayal of Tillman Thomas by Peter David. I will then examine the political situation from 1979-83 and situation from 2008-2013, drawing references to any similarities and patterns and the effect these actions had on the country and its people.
Political events don’t occur in isolation of the thinking, ideology and philosophy of the actors. Some may be spontaneous; however, there lies underneath the surface some motivational factors that would have ignited the event.
The NJM led by Maurice Bishop struggled for years in an effort to get rid of Sir Eric Mathew Gairy, who was widely seen as a dictatorial leader. In the struggle against Gairy, many citizens, including the father of Maurice, Rupert Bishop, lost their lives. Gairy ruled with an iron fist, culminating in his overthrow from power on March 13, 1979.
This revolution had popular support among the people of Grenada, the Caribbean and the international community. The PRG was able to improve the social, economic and political consciousness of the people. Education was given top priority and, for the very first time, hundreds of poor people got an opportunity to study free of cost. It was under that administration and with the support of the Cuban people and government the construction of the Maurice Bishop International Airport began.
After four and a half years of growth and with Grenada at the centre stage of world politics, the spirit of the revolution began to unravel. Maurice Bishop became more moderate and so the idea of joint leadership was proposed by the Central Committee. This resulted in an internal power struggle within the PRG.
Maurice Bishop was subsequently betrayed by his comrades led by Bernard Coard and assassinated on October 19, 1983. This betrayal killed the spirit not only of the revolution but the people of Grenada.
Grenada was just about to take its rightful place in the international community when greed, selfishness and an internal power struggle brought an end to the aspirations of the people.
The country emerged from the dictatorship of Eric Gairy but was plunged into chaos and conflict by the same group of people who got rid of him. The internal power struggle between the moderates and extremist factions of the PRG resulted in the demise of the People’s Revolution following the invasion by the United States.
For many years the psyche of the Grenadian people was shattered, as one would expect following the invasion by a foreign power.
The Revolution brought enormous benefits to the people. Bernard Coard and his gang destroyed what the people had struggled for under the dictatorship of Eric Gairy. After serving a jail sentence of 27 years, he was finally no longer a player directly in Grenadian politics. All his great talent, knowledge and skills went a-begging. The Grenadian people were left to speculate what their lives would have been if Coard didn’t betray the Prime Minister but instead worked with him as a team.
From 1984-1995, the political situation in Grenada remained unstable, despite the return of parliamentary democracy to the island. The country went through a structural adjustment program and, following that program under the NDC, the NNP now led by Dr. Mitchell won the 1995 general elections.
Dr. Mitchell wrested the leadership of the party from Blaize in 1989. Like Gairy, Dr. Mitchell ruled with an iron fist from 1995-2008. The people became agitated and frustrated with their circumstances and so rallied behind the NDC.
A coalition of forces formed against the NNP, led by a rejuvenated and reinvigorated National Democratic Congress (NDC). NDC won the July 8 elections and once again there was a great sigh of relief by the people that finally they had freed themselves of another dictator, not by the use of arms but by the power of the ballot.
The entire country erupted in jubilation, with some folks openly shedding tears who had suffered for so long under a repressive regime. Once again, some of the folks who got rid of Gairy were also involved in the defeat of the NNP in 2008.
Our people prayed and hoped that the old revolutionaries would have learnt from their errors of the past and worked within the new NDC to usher in a new era in Grenada. They were presented with a golden opportunity and a second chance to make a positive contribution to the development on the country. The initial response from the people was one of great optimism and anticipation.
The opposition NNP branded them as ‘crazy ball heads’ and ‘criminals’, all in an effort to discredit the new administration.
Like the PRG, the NDC inherited a broken country. As the administration worked to overcome the effects of the economic crisis and with increasing pressure to provide for the people, cracks began to emerge within the party and government.
Peter David emerged as the leader of a so-called rebel group and from then the betrayal started. A poll was conducted by CADRES which showed him as the best person to lead the NDC into general elections. An internal power struggle once again split the party and government, laying the foundation for defeat.
Peter David betrayed the people who put their trust and confidence in him. He betrayed his leader who accepted him into the NDC against the wishes of many stalwarts of the party. Like a ‘double agent’ in pure Cold War style, the NDC hierarchy considered him to be one who was colluding and working in complicity with the leadership of the NNP to destroy his own party.
The lifespan of the NDC administration was the same as that of the PRG. Both governments lasted four and a half years, after which they were brought down by the same traitors – Bernard Coard in the case of NJM and a member of his gang Peter David in the case of NDC.
Pedro went further by deceiving his own comrades in the National United Front (NUF) who thought that he would accept a leadership role in this newly formed organisation. NUF has apparently already died a natural death.
What is very significant is that on two occasions in the history of Grenada, when the people freed themselves of bad governance and dictatorships, they were deceived and betrayed by the same elements. It’s like these elements have a lifetime curse and the country has to suffer for their indiscretions.
Bernard Coard and Peter David destroyed the ambitions, dreams and hopes of thousands of people at a time when they were just beginning to be optimistic about their lives. They allegedly engaged in acts of treason and in some other country would have suffered a great price for their actions. They were pivotal in the destruction of their own party and government. While Coard has already served his punishment, the fate of David will be determined in due course by the Grenadian people.
I am certain that the NNP and its political leader, although they are now in a marriage of convenience with Peter David, are monitoring him and his and associates very closely. He will never be trusted because of his political history.
Brilliant men can use their brilliance to advance the cause of mankind or use it in a very destructive way, as is the case of two of Grenada’s most notorious traitors, Bernard Coard and Peter David.
Grenada has survived the treachery of Bernard Coard and I am convinced that the country and its people will once again survive the treason committed against NDC by the former Minister of Tourism.