Medical doctor, Terrence Marryshow who was the Political Leader of the now defunct Maurice Bishop Patriotic Movement (MBPM), has added his voice to the state of Grenada’s ailing economy.
Dr. Marryshow was sharing his reflections on the Grenada Revolution that took place 35 years ago
He said that had succeeding governments embraced “the fruits” of the four and a half years revolution from 1979-83, Grenada would not have found itself now having to be in bed with the Washington-based International Monetary Fund (IMF).
He lamented that all of the benefits that were realised by the leftist People’s Revolution Government (PRG) of slain Marxist leader, Maurice Bishop was destroyed by those governments in charge of the nation’s affairs following the collapse of the Revolution in October 1983.
Bishop’s PRG had cultivated close ties with Cuba and a host of communist states in Eastern Europe.
The regime was responsible for starting the construction of the Maurice bishop International airport (MBIA) at Point Salines in the south of the island.
A bitter power struggle ensued between radicals and moderates for control of the revolutionary process resulting in the execution of Bishop, three Cabinet Ministers and several supporters at the then army headquarters at Fort Rupert since restored to its original name of Fort George.
U.S and Caribbean troops staged a military intervention on October 25, 1983, six days after the bloody killings and arrested the leaders of the insurrection against Bishop.
Ex-army Commander, General Hudson Austin, top army officers, Lieutenant Ewart “Headache” Layne, Liam “Owusu” James, former Deputy Prime Minister Bernard Coard, and then Mobilisation Minister Selwyn Strachan were among a group of 17 former government and military officials convicted and given lengthy prison sentences for the murders.
With the collapse of the Grenada Revolution, several documents found at the Ministry of Finance revealed that the Marxist leaders were engaged in discussions with the IMF on a package of austerity measures to deal with fiscal problems affecting the Grenadian economy.
A package of austerity measures were being discussed including massive retrenchment of civil servants to deal with a bloated public service.
According to Dr. Marryshow, the Grenada Revolution left two commercial banks, the Grenada Bank of Commerce (GBC) and the National Commercial Bank, and Electricity Company, a telephone company, an ago-industrial factory, and a fleet of fishing trawlers.
He noted that all of these enterprises were eventually privatised by succeeding governments in the past 35 years.
GBC is now called the Royal Bank of Trinidad and Tobago (RBT) and NCB has been turned into Republic Bank – majority shares now controlled by banks in neighbouring Trinidad & Tobago.
The Cuban-trained medical doctor identified two of the biggest investments of the revolution as MBIA and the National Insurance Scheme (NIS) which he said have been largely responsible for “keeping governments alive”.
“The same people who are today telling us we must cut back on social expenditure and we must cut back on the size of the civil service, these were the same people who in 1983, were telling us privatise everything, put it back in the hands of the private sector. What we had to build on in 1983 we destroyed it so much through the propaganda,” he said.
“When I see the hardship … we are facing as a country today, there is no reason that we should be in that situation today. Instead of fighting down the revolution, maligning it, distorting it, we should have embraced the positive aspects, use the assets that it has left us and build the country in the interest of the people,” he added.
Dr. Marryshow believes that the Grenada Revolution is the landmark and milestone by which development should be measured on the island.
The medical doctor spoke out against monies being used by government to clear the road ways through the Debushing programme.
He said no one should be paid for debushing which government now holds high as one of his safety nets for the poor and vulnerable.
He recalled that during the days of the revolution, there was a sense of volunteerism with people coming out on weekends to fix roads, build roads and repair schools to save the country and the government millions of dollar in expenses..
“We knew that the tightening of our belt at that time was a sacrifices for greater things that were to come,” he said.
Grenada is currently experiencing a sluggish economy under the one-year old New National Party (NNP) government of Prime Minister Dr. Keith Mitchell which has been forced to introduce a three year structural adjustment program to deal with a severe fiscal crisis.
The administration which campaigned to win the February 2013 poll on a platform of, “We will deliver”, has not been able to provide the promised jobs and has defaulted on paying the national debt now estimated at EC$2.4 billion.