Following the tragic events of October 19th 1983, which led to the brutal assassination of Prime Minister Maurice Bishop and others at Fort Rupert at the hands of the murderous ultra-leftist clique led by Bernard Coard, Grenadians were to suffer further insult when the very country that had threatened to invade Grenada was given the opportunity on a golden platter.
Over the four and a half years of the Revolution, Grenadians rallied around the leadership and aligned themselves with the army and militia in numerous maneuvers to stave off what was perceived to be the imminent threat of invasion. With chants of “let them come, we will bury them in the sea” after every maneuver, Grenadians were willing and ready to defend the gains of the revolution at all costs and even willing to die for it once the revolution remained intact and Bishop was their leader.
However, with his untimely demise at Fort Rupert on 19th October, many of the militia were disarmed by the Coard faction, and many soldiers took off their uniforms and deserted the army after the tragic events. Many of them no longer felt the desire or enthusiasm to associate with an army that had turned the guns on the masses or to support a clique that had committed the most atrocious crimes in the name of ideology.
At the same time that all of these tragic events were taking place in Grenada when Grenadians were placed under the most draconian shoot-to -kill curfew for six days by the Coard clique, another infamous act had taken place thousands of miles from our shores, which would have a direct impact on the internal events in Grenada. On October 23rd 1983, a suicide bomber drove a truck of explosives into the US Marine barracks in Beirut, Lebanon. A four-story cinder-block building collapsed into rubble killing 241 American servicemen, among them 220 marines, 18 navy personnel, 3 army soldiers while wounding another 60 Americans. This was by far the deadliest single day toll, post World War II attack on American marines overseas. President Reagan, the US President at the time dispatched warships to Lebanon to evacuate US citizens. Opportunistically, in an effort to deflect US public attention from this horrific experience, the warships that were headed to Lebanon were diverted to Grenada in a so-called rescue mission for Americans and particularly American medical students studying in Grenada. The very opportunity that President Reagan and his administration were looking for to invade Grenada presented itself with the death of Bishop. Under the code name “Urgent Fury”, the might of the US military was unleashed on Grenada on October 25th 1983 when the country was invaded with F-16 bombers, helicopter gunships, paratroopers and ground forces.
Ironically, the victory was a pyrrhic one because the revolution was already over by the time the marines landed and Reagan was to claim a victory over socialism, which is what Grenada represented in the geopolitical axis during the era of the Cold War. Many Grenadians, however, welcomed the invasion because they saw it as a way of getting rid of Coard and his clique. This was emphatically borne out by a survey carried out by the Institute of Social and Economic Research of the University of the West Indies, which was headed by the late Dr. Patrick Emmanuel.
The invasion, despite the fact that an overwhelming majority of Grenadians welcomed it, still represents a major aberration in Grenadian history where the potential invaders and enemy were converted by force of circumstances into heroes and rescuers. Although others may disagree, I believe the invasion robbed Grenadians and the Caribbean of a historic opportunity to resolve a crisis by ourselves and to impose a Grenadian and Caribbean solution to our problems. The imposition of economic sanctions as well as debarring Grenada from participating in regional and international fora would have been sufficient to oust the Coard clique from power and thus save Grenadians from the physical and psychological trauma of an invasion. As a people we would have come out stronger and more united for it and the wanton loss of lives would have been avoided.
At any rate, Grenadians, 35 years after the invasion, rescue mission, intervasion or intervention, now have the opportunity to reflect and decide whether the events of October 25, 1983 were justified and whether we are better of as a people for it. A great man once said that when a country is invaded, the philosophy of the country becomes the philosophy of the invader and to my mind there is much merit to that statement. Reagan himself said in no uncertain manner that the invasion was undertaken to save American medical students going to school as the St George’s University. It was never about Grenada and Grenadians. I knew the invasion was never about the US ever saving Grenadians because Grenada has a population of African origins similar to the African-Americans in the United States, a black population that has suffered the brunt of US racism since slavery and who are still second-class citizens in their own country. So it is hypocritical to give the impression that they came to save Black people in Grenada while not saving their own black people in the United States. Since the triumph of the Grenada Revolution on 13th March 1979, the impending invasion of Grenada by the US was always on the cards because our strong relations with Cuba and our developing relations with the Soviet Union at the time was perceived as a threat to the US. So it was simply about America looking after their own strategic interests, which is the pretext they use to intervene in or invade countries as they have done so many times in their history. Grenada just happened to be a pawn in their chess game at that particular point in time. The result was inevitable because Grenada could never match the military might of the US. But despite this fact, the Grenadian soldiers who valiantly fought and died against an implacable enemy gave a very good account of themselves. Epic stories have been told about the bravery and heroism of our Grenadian soldiers and they do deserved to be recognized for they have earned a prominent place in our history as martyrs of the Grenadian people. While these opinions may not be popular in some quarters, I humbly apologize for any offense since my intention is never to offend but to elucidate. But then again I am only one Grenadian with one opinion that may not be a popular one but I am sure there are others who do share my opinion…………..
.Just Food For Thought!