In reply to Jerry Edwin’s article of 25th October 2013, in which he asks, “Is Grenada afraid to honour its martyrs from October 1983?”, I note that although he asserts that there is documented evidence that the remains of Maurice Bishop were in fact removed from Grenada and taken to the USA, he makes no mention of the claim by the Americans that, after examining the remains, they returned them to Grenada and handed them over to Otway’s Funeral Home.
The remains were then buried in an unmarked grave said to be somewhere at the bottom of St George’s cemetery. Although attempts have been made to locate these remains, it is obvious that locating an unmarked grave is like looking for a needle in a haystack. Even if Edwin chooses to disbelieve the American claim, he should at least have mentioned it. Not to do so smacks of a lack of objectivity.
In making this claim, the Americans obviously are not denying that they removed the remains to the USA, so there was hardly any need for mentioning documented evidence that they did so. Mentioning it suggests a very one-sided view and an intent to whip up emotional and unreasonable support.
It needs also to be pointed out that, according to reports at the time, the bodies of Bishop and some others were burnt in a pit at Calivigny PRA camp. Burnt, possibly beyond much hope of recognition, and all mixed up together. Finding and identifying Maurice Bishop’s teeth may not have helped to find the rest of his body.
Why, in any case, is finding these remains of so much importance? If they are found, what difference is that going to make to us? Are we all going to wake up next morning and feel wonderful because Maurice Bishop’s remains have been found? No, it is not going to solve one single problem for us.
And for that matter, not all of us worship Maurice Bishop’s memory. The fact that he was killed by bad people doesn’t make him a good person. Despite the positive things that can be said about the revolution, there are so many bad things that counteract them. It was Maurice Bishop who locked up thousands of Grenadians without trial in Richmond Hill. In his own words in his Line of March speech, “It’s up the hill for them”. He was talking about people who had committed no crime.
It was Maurice Bishop who imprisoned hundreds of Rastafarians in Hope Vale Labour Camp, simply because they were Rastafarians. There, an attempt was made to “rehabilitate” them by playing songs by Diana Ross and Marvin Gay. The camp commander ordered one inmate to be held down while pieces of pork were pushed down his throat.
It was Maurice Bishop who presided over the importation of electrical torture machines and applied them to the genitals of blindfolded and naked men tied to a chair, and even, in the case of Russell Budhlall, inserting the wand in his anus. (Document No. DSI-83-C-002911, 30/9/80, Complaint of Russell Budhlall). Some of those tortured say that they recognized the voice of Maurice Bishop whilst they were being tortured, and in some cases felt lighted cigarettes being extinguished on their skin. It is worth noting here that Bishop was a chain smoker who lit a new cigarette from the one he had almost finished. And there is well documented evidence, Jerry Edwin, of this ongoing torture throughout Maurice Bishop’s revolution.
So how appropriate is it for us to honour such a man? How appropriate to call him a martyr? Was he not killed by the beasts of his own creation? Is that martyrdom?
As to there being no shrine to honour Bishop, what about the renaming of Point Salines airport “Maurice Bishop International Airport”? This exercise was a tremendous waste of money (as if we were not occupying second place in the world’s list of debtors) but considered by Peter David as an absolute priority and the first thing that “his” government did on coming to power.
As to Edwin’s claim that Marxist-Leninism (communism) is a thing of the past, let him turn away from Beausejour and face Venezuela, whose coast lies just out of sight 90 miles away, and tell me that there is not a Marxist-Leninist revolution in full swing there. One, moreover, which could easily engulf us, with the lure of Petrocaribe and ALBA, and which would already have engulfed us if Peter David had had his way. Then let him turn to the northwest and tell me if a 54-year-old Marxist-Leninist revolution is not still holding sway in Cuba, controlling in fact the revolution in Venezuela and offering inducements all around.
So, to answer your question, Jerry, Grenada is not afraid but reluctant to honour a man who led his people up the garden path and betrayed them.