I don’t see any letters to the editor in Caribupdate so I hope you will publish this letter in response to Arley Gill’s suggestion in Caribupdate that we bring positive out of negative. He claims that he condemns the “abuses” of the revolution but we should nevertheless consider Maurice Bishop to be a hero because of his achievements.
What were those achievements? According to Gill, the fact that he led a revolution, the first of its kind in the English-speaking Caribbean. Is that an achievement?To take away by the power of the gun our democratic freedoms?
Second, the fact that Washington was embarrassed. Is that an achievement? Third it was “an affront to the Western world”. Another achievement? Fourth, the fact that Bishop had Grenada being discussed in Washington and Moscow. Puh-lease !.
Yes progress was made in education, agreed. As for the international airport, the way Bishop put it to us (and Gill would have been too young to remember this) was that he himself had had the brilliant idea of constructing it, and the “fraternal” love of the Cubans was going to make it possible. But Bishop was a master of deceit, as Teddy Victor’s book “Deception on Conception” makes us aware.
The fact is that the Soviet Union wanted the airport built, ostensibly for civilian use, but also having the capacity for military use, giving the Soviets control over the shipping lanes carrying petroleum from the Middle East to the West Coast of the USA, through the Panama Canal.
So the Soviets financed the construction and Cuba provided the manpower and building skills. There were plenty of Grenadians who were opposed to the renaming of the airport after Maurice Bishop, but remember that the majority of Grenadians were too young at the time of renaming to know or even care about Bishop.
Gill suggests that since George Washington is an American hero who nevertheless owned slaves, we should copy the Americans and name people heroes who were responsible for atrocities.
What needs to be borne in mind is that in Washington’s time slavery was accepted as OK, whereas the crimes of Gairy and Bishop were not in their time.
We are not fooled by Gill’s assertion that October 19th marked Grenada’s return to democracy. The 19th was a bloodbath, but the return to democracy took place on the 25th when the Americans liberated us and crushed the remnants of the communist regime.