Grenadians should use the next few days to engage in some serious and deep soul searching on what 42 years of independence means for this small dot of an island in the Eastern Caribbean.
The tri-island State of Grenada, Carriacou & Petite Martinique is very miniscule in size when compared with many other countries around the world.
However, our island has managed to attract world attention more than any of its neighbours in the Caribbean since the attainment of independence on February 7, 1974.
The first was the March 13, 1979 coup d’etat staged by the left-leaning New Jewel Movement (NJM) of Maurice Bishop when it used force of arms to topple the duly elected Grenada United Labour Party (GULP) government of late Prime Minister, Sir Eric Matthew Gairy.
The 1979-83 rule of the People’s Revolutionary Government (PRG) that was headed by Bishop kept Grenada in the world news as part of the East/West battle of communism vs. capitalism for global dominance.
In a major address to the American people, late U.S President Ronald Reagan identified Grenada by name as an island that was building a military airport that would be used by Cuba and the then Soviet Union to help push their communist agenda in the Western Hemisphere.
A split in the NJM over joint leadership between Bishop and his hardline Marxist doctrinaire Bernard Coard put Grenada back in the world news with the shameful events of October 19, 1983 at Fort Rupert.
Five days later on October 25, 1983, the same Reagan kept Grenada in the limelight when for the first time in history, U.S sent troops to the English-speaking Caribbean to restore law and order in the Spice Isle due to the execution of Prime Minister Bishop and others on the fort which has resorted to its original name of Fort George.
Against this background, the very important question that needs to be asked around this time of the year is embedded in a calypso written some years ago by 3-time calypso monarch, Flying Turkey.
He actually answered the question with the following lyrics: “We have come a long way but we have a long way to go”.
Another important question is: Have we advanced in political and economic terms as a nation over the past 42 years?
The answers to these questions will generate mixed reactions from many of our citizens.
THE NEW TODAY holds the view that Grenada’s forward trust has often been affected and setback by bad political decisions by some of our leaders.
It was a mistake made by Bishop and company to resort to the use of arms and ammunition to effect regime change in 1979 because the next change of government was much bloodier than the first as the so-called Revolutionary Military Council (RMC) of General Hudson Austin killed many and created fear and panic in the lives of thousands of ordinary Grenadians who unfortunately got mixed up in the NJM madness.
Many of our people did not know that under the PRG rule, the island was getting ready to enter into a Structural Adjustment Programme (SAP) with the Washington-based International Monetary Fund (IMF) as the economy was experiencing some difficulties under the stewardship of Coard as the Minister of Finance.
The U.S military action resulted in documents being found in the Ministry of Finance, which revealed the extent of the discussions between the PRG and the IMF for a rescue package.
Another period of bad political decisions forced Grenada on two other occasions since independence – 1984-90 and 2003-13 to go unprepared and totally exposed to the IMF to try and bail out the economy of its present difficulties.
The latter period was largely due to the deliberate policy decisions of the New National Party (NNP) to engage in uncontrolled borrowing and spending to win elections and to dominate the political life of the country.
This newspaper is predicting that if the NNP returns to the same old bad habits that it did during its earlier rule of 1995-2008 that Grenada would again be plunged back into a deep financial crisis and would once again be forced to default on its debt payments to creditors.
The truth of the matter is that the unity that is so badly needed by us as a people in order to make the country advance and move forward as a proud independent nation still remains a pipe dream.
The deep political divide between the two camps of political supporters – Green and Yellow – cannot be easily healed and will be a major stumbling block in getting Grenadians to join hands together to build the country.
The NNP supporters will have nothing to do with a Congress government in power as demonstrated by their refusal to accept even free schoolbooks for the education of their own children.
On the other hand, the “yellow” supporters will never accept Dr. Keith Claudius Mitchell as the Prime Minister of the country and constantly use many derogatory names and terms in referring to him.
THE NEW TODAY can take comfort from one thing: The political situation on the island has not deteriorated as in Jamaica where there are garrisons and supporters of the Jamaica Labour Party (JLP) are considered “dead meat” if they venture into strongholds of the People’s National Party (PNP) and vice-versa.
Grenada is set to embark on another year along its path of independence and the political and economic prospects continue to remain uncertain.
Perhaps the solution to our problems lies in the emergence of a new generation of leaders with a different mindset and thought process to replace those currently on centre stage.