It’s now 30 years since the history making events in Grenada – the murder of a Prime Minister that prompted a U. S-led military operation – that attracted worldwide attention.
Today Grenada is once again forced to reflect on those bitter events that have helped to shape the Tri-island State that we are currently living in as our home.
The brief four-and-a-half years of Marxist rule by the People’s Revolutionary Government (PRG) of late Prime Minister Maurice Bishop, has impacted tremendously on our landscape.
THE NEW TODAY strongly believes that the Revo period must become an integral part of the school curriculum so that our children will get to know and understand what took place in their little island some 30 years ago.
It is sad that too many of our students are still totally ignorant of the modern history of the country and have no idea as to the events leading up to the overthrow of the Eric Gairy Government in March 1979, the things that took place in the subsequent four-and-a-half years, and its culmination with the bloody massacre on Fort Rupert on October 19, 1983 which has now returned to its original name of Fort George.
Several of the major players who operated between 1979-83 are very much present in our midst but have been slow in coming forward to give a truthful and accurate account of the events of 30 years ago.
Former Deputy Prime Minister, Bernard Coard is believed to be working on a book in which he promised to give his side of the story.
This newspaper is hopeful that The Comrade will indeed be truthful and do not use his much-talked about brilliance to engage in more semantics and leave the people of Grenada much more in confusion about the tragic events of October 1983.
It should be recalled that Mr. Coard was the other “Joint Leader” of the New Jewel Movement (NJM) – the issue that sparked the bitter infighting among the revolutionaries and eventually led to the collapse of their own process.
At the Maurice Bishop murder trial in the 80’s, Mr. Coard tried without success to sell the idea to the jurors that he was virtually an onlooker as the army took control of the political fallout between the two warring factions within the NJM Central Committee.
This account of The Comrade is doubtful in light of public statements made by the late Foreign Affairs Minister, Unison Whiteman hours before he was killed alongside Mr. Bishop on the fort.
Mr. Whiteman told the then Montserrat-based Radio Antilles that Mr. Coard was in charge and that they were negotiating with him to try and bring about the release of Prime Minister Bishop from house arrest at his home in Mt. Wheldale.
In the words of Mr. Whiteman, back then, Coard keep telling him on the telephone to call him back because the CC was still meeting and had not reached a conclusion on the crisis.
Another leading figure of the 1979-93 Revo, the late Education Minister George Louison in his account of the NJM internal struggle pointed an accusing finger at Mr. Coard as one who had embarked on a strategy to draw out the crisis as long as possible in order to weaken the resolve of the Grenadian people who were demonstrating in the streets in order to secure the freedom of their leader.
The telling words of Mr. Louison was that, Comrade Coard had told them that when the people get tired of demonstrating they would get off the streets and go back home” and that he was prepared to get them worn out.
If that was the case then the Bernard Coard artistry had backfired on him and one ought to question his so-called brilliance in strategies and tactics.
30 years after the tragic events, the Revolutionary leaders must clear the air in a frank and open manner on the critical question of whether or not the NJM Central Committee conflict was not an ideological struggle between the two warring camps.
It is the view of this newspaper based on certain statements made over the years by some of the pro-Coard supporters like John “Chaulkie” Ventour and Selwyn Strachan that a power struggle ensued between the Pro-Cuba Bishop and the rest of the Central Committee that had subscribed to the Pro-Moscow line of Democratic Centralism.
Mr. Ventour in a document that was smuggled out of the Richmond Hill prison when in incarceration made clear mention of some CC members (who were) not happy with the Cuban influence on the process and that Bishop as Comrade Leader was trying to engage in the type of Fidel Castro type of leadership of the process and moving more and more away from the Democratic Centralism process.
The then Soviet Union had even raised concerns about Bishop not informing them of his visit to the United States in 1982 aimed at seeking rapprochement with the White House.
The question is whether or not Moscow was getting weary of Bishop and had preferred to see the pro-Coard forces in charge of the Grenada Revolution as opposed to allowing two Castro type leaders in the Western hemisphere?
The Revo leaders also need to clarify the role played by Jamaican Trevor Munro in the Grenada events since fingers have been pointed at this leading Marxist intellect as the one giving ideological guidance to Coard as the most trusted ideologue of Moscow in the English-speaking Caribbean.
As the country reflects on the events of 30 years ago, Grenada must do its best to ensure that history does not repeat itself again in our Spice Isle.
The recent struggle in the National Democratic Congress (NDC) that led to its own downfall at the polls in February was partly due to two of the players in the 1979-83 Grenada Revolution jostling for influence and power.
It was unfortunate that then Prime Minister and Political Leader, Tillman Thomas got himself entangled in a struggle that involved the pro-Peter David camp and those who were supportive of Nazim Burke, the deputy political leader of the party.
The NDC would have to be very mindful in going forward with Burke as a possible leader that the fumes of fire will once again be ignited among his revolutionary opponents like Peter David, Chester Humphrey and Dr. Wayne Sandiford and others who will be opposed to any forward movement on his part to become the Prime Minister of the country.