I read your article of praise for Bernard Coard’s “The Grenada Revolution- What Really Happened,” published in The New Today of Fri. Sept. 01st, 2017. I must confess that I have not read the book as yet, only reviews, as a result, I cannot comment informatively on its contents. However, allow me to comment on your article and not on the contents of Comrade Coard’s book itself. That would come later.
Mr. Frederick, before March 13, 1979, I felt I had ample reason to help overthrow E.M. Gairy and create a society that would promote and safeguard the interest of the masses, Grenada’s poor. As a matter of fact, my interest was internationalist in scope, in solidarity with workers and the poor the world over. We had a socialist outlook, if you know what I mean, “Workers of the World Unite! Locally we chanted, “Let those Who Labour Hold the Reins.”
I would have willingly given my life for “the Cause.” As a matter of fact, I gave it; Gairy as well as the PRG just did not take it, probably unable or unwilling to do so. The point here, I have and would always have an interest in promoting and safeguarding the interest of the masses, all of our peoples but particularly our young people, hence the reason for my open letter to you.
Mr. Frederick, you article is entitled, “Review of ‘The Grenada Revolution- what really happened’ by Bernard Coard.” Actually Mr. Frederick, this is by no means a “review” but an obvious promotion of Comrade Coard’s book. Much more than that, it is less of a review and more of an adulation, a glorification of the man himself.
You are artfully packaging him and selling him to the Grenadian public. You write: “an educator”, “methodical and well organised”, “Political Prisoner or Political Detainee,” “humbled,” “an intellectual mind”, “a revolutionary giant.” Mr. Frederick, no need to sell him, we know the man.
Mr. Frederick, you mentioned living in New York. I therefore implore you to buy a copy of the New York Times on Sunday, or access it on line. Why? To observe how a book review is written. When you have done so, and have discovered the difference between a review and a personal accolade to a friend, do write an apology in The New Today to the Grenadian people. Yours is not a review but an advertisement, a brazen promotion of Comrade Coard’s book. Your “Wow! He is so correct!” Really gave you away.
Now Mr. Frederick, we appreciate your assistance to Belmont Estate, because whatever takes place there benefits surrounding communities. However, it comes across as disingenuous that you would use the name of Belmont Estate and Ms. Shadel Nyack-Compton to promote Comrade Coard’s book. I do not know Ms. Nyack very well. However, I know of her genuine community work and prolific contributions to the poorer members of our society, and to our nation’s economy as a whole.
I do not know her politics or political leanings, but I suspect it is definitely not Coardite or Coardism. As a result, I cannot see her promoting Coard’s book. Therefore, she should not be subtly used as if she is promoting it. No need to have mentioned her name. A gift is a gift. Think Mr. Frederick! Sometimes we receive gifts from people who have researched us and know what we would like and get us gifts accordingly. That does not mean that they like that gift for themselves. Beware!
Allow me, Mr. Frederick to quote you, “I have absolutely no doubt in my mind that the Grenada revolution of March 1979 to October 1893 came closest to providing the answers for Grenada’s genuine development needs.” You mentioned the Marketing & National Importing Board (MNIB), National Transport Service (NTS), buying two national banks, commercialising Gairy’s properties under the Grenada Resort Corporation, setting up the Gravel & Concrete Corporation, consolidating ownership of the Grenada Sugar Factory, establishing the Sandino Plant, to build 500 low income housing a year, establishing the Grenada Farms Corporation with over 30 agricultural estates acquired by E.M. Gairy, starting an Agro-Industrial plant, etc.
Note, Mr. Frederick, that of these 30 agricultural estates, River Antoine Estate was the only productive one, which the PRG seized on 23rd March 1983, seven months before the collapse of the revolution. The others were economic burdens. Their abysmal performances were of serious concern to the PRG leadership. They had no solution for them. Remember George Brizan’s National Democratic Congress (NDC) was very happy to get rid of them to ease the strain on the government. If they were that productive, George Brizan would surely have kept them.
Here are some pertinent questions for you Mr. Frederick: with all of the above economic initiatives you highlighted, would you agree with regional economists, both on the Right and on the Left, as well as those in the middle, that while the PRGs efforts were welcomed and innovative, that the Grenada economy remained rather undeveloped from 1979 to 1983? Would you concede that the Grenada economy from 1979-1983 was under very severe economic constraints? Do you know, that as foreign aids funds were harder to come by, panic and confusion seized the leadership of the revolution and they began to look for scapegoats within the revolution’s hierarchy?
Are you aware Mr. Frederick that the “leadership” issue of Maurice Bishop and the proposed “joint-leadership” fiasco that led to the demise of the revolution had a lot to do with the stagnation and impending collapse of the Grenada economy? Ask Leon “Bogo” Cornwall why he often makes public statements that had they not intervened in October 1983, the revolution would have collapsed by December of that same year. This collapse was predicted to occur not from US invasion, not from CIA destabilisation, but from internal contradictions.
Ask Ewart “Headache” Layne and Liam “Owusu” James the same question. Note what they tell you.
Think Mr. Frederick! Maurice Bishop was still a popular leader although popular enthusiasm for the revolution had long waned. Mr. Frederick, the economy, was a major issue although well concealed from the Grenadian public. The economy was far from “providing the answers for Grenada’s genuine development needs” as you claim. By mid 1983, things were bad and getting worse. The actions leading up to October 1983 were ill-conceived attempts to solve the economic and other political problems. They failed, miserably, devastatingly, and regrettably so.
Mr. Frederick, limited space would not allow me to give a broarder discussion of the above, that is, the performance of the Grenada economy, 1979-1983. However, here are some hard undeniable facts that led to the internal contradictions, irreconcilable differences, infightings, finger pointing and eventual split, collapse, and craziness at Fort Rupert: employment and underemployment were widespread, trade deficit widened from U.S. $25.9 in 1979 to U.S. $45.7 million in 1983, import growth moved from U.S $47.3 million in 1979 to U.S. $64.6 million in 1983, combined export earnings from Banana, cocoa, and nutmeg fell from U.S. $18.4 million in 1979 to U.S. $10.5 in 1983, total debt to GDP ratio rose from 13.2 percent in 1979 to 58.3 percent in 1983 mainly because private capital failed to complement public sector capital.
Private sector investment fell from U.S $5.8 million in 1980 to U.S. $3.5 million in1983. Transport and communication, hotels and restaurants, and retail and wholesale trade showed negligible rates of growth. The export sector failed abysmally between 1979-1983. By mid-1983, aid funds from sympathetic countries dried up. The PRG borrowed heavily from commercial banks. Ill-conceived attempts to politicise the civil service, that is, compulsory attendance at political education classes, or forfeit annual salary increments as well as pay, did not increase productivity. The list goes on.
Let those on the inside tell why to this day they continue to conceal the economic causes that led to the demise of the revolution. Why so? If they open up, the revolution would lose some of its “glory”, and more so, Comrade Coard would be diminished as an economic guru in the eyes of his adulating fans. That is not allowable.
The Comrade economist has to remain infallible like a Pope. To do otherwise is revolutionary sacrilege. No imperfection must be attached to Comrade Coard. He must remain unblemished, a perfectionist, just as you are trying to sell him in your article. Revolutionary saints we are not, none of us, Mr. Frederick.
Undoubtedly Mr. Frederick, we all have a collective responsibility to our nation’s youth, that includes you. We have to put them on a stable footing. No deceptions allowed. I am committed to that. So, as a man who says you like to read, I would recommend a must read, a balanced scholarly book entitled, “A Revolution Aborted:
The Lessons of Grenada,” edited by Jorge Heine; only 350 pages. It was produced by the Caribbean Institute and Study Center for Latin America (CISCLA).
The contributors are not pro-capitalist or anti-socialist writers. That makes them very objective writers in Grenada’s revolution case. I implore you, to please read this scholarly written book alongside Comrade Coard’s, “The Grenada Revolution- What Really Happened,” for a balanced approach. In the process, keep an open eye and an unbiased mind. When you do, please get back to us, that is, the Grenadian public.
Finally, Mr. Frederick, I too, I am a reader of Pastor Joel Osteen whom you mentioned in your article. I particularly enjoyed his, “Your Best Life Now.” In this regard, don’t intentionally or subtly further try to confuse or mislead us. Please allow us to enjoy our best life now. Our nation, particularly our youths, deserve it.
Everton St. Louis