Tag Archives: coups

Grenada: Gairy, Bishop, Balance or Coup

PM Eric Matthew Gairy

Grenada PM Eric Matthew Gairy

Eric Gairy held the posts of Chief Minister in the Federation of the West Indies (1957-1962) and became prime minister of Grenada in 1967. During this period, the main opposition to the GULP came from the Grenada National Party (GNP). Gairy argued that Grenada should be granted its independence from Britain. Being a “puppet” for many years prior, it was feared that he would install himself as a dictator over Grenada if independence was dictated on his terms.

 Maurice Bishop meets the Grenadian people, in a still from Bruce Paddington's film Forward Ever.

Maurice Bishop meets the Grenadian people, in a still from Bruce Paddington’s film Forward Ever.

Maurice Bishop returned to Grenada in 1969 after studying law in England. Soon afterwards he helped form the Movement for Assemblies of the People (MAP) and the Movement for the Advance of Community (MACE). In 1973 these organizations merged with Joint Endeavor for Welfare, Education and Liberation (JEWEL) to establish the New Jewel Movement (NJM).

In May 1973, Gairy visited London where it was agreed that Grenada would become independent in February, 1974. On 1st January 1974 the New Jewel Movement called a national strike and a Committee of 22 was established by the trade unions, civic organizations and the church to demonstrate against him Gairy.

Manifesto of the New Jewel Movement:
The people are being cheated and have been cheated for too long-cheated by both parties, for over twenty years. Nobody is asking what the people want. We suffer low wages and higher cost of living while the politicians get richer, live in bigger houses and drive around in even bigger cars. The government has done nothing to help people build decent houses; most people still have to walk miles to get water to drink after 22 years of politicians.

If we fall sick we catch hell to get quick and cheap medical treatment. Half of us can’t find steady work. The place is getting from bad to worse every day – except for the politicians (just look at how they dress and how they move around). The police are being used in politics these days and people are getting more and more blows from them. Government workers who don’t toe the Gairy line are getting fired left and right.

The government has no idea how to improve agriculture, how to set up industries, how to improve housing, health, education and general well-being of the people. They have no ideas for helping the people. All they know is how to take the people’s money for themselves, while the people scrape and scrunt for a living.

We believe that the main concern of us all is to (1) prevent the daily rise in prices of all our food and clothes and other essentials (it is unbelievable but that the price you can get for a pound of cocoa can’t buy a half-pound of fish) and (2) develop a concrete program for raising the standard of housing, living, education, health, food and recreation for all the people.

The present situation we face is that we are forced to live in jammed-up, rundown, unpainted houses without toilet and bath, without running water, very poor roads, overcrowded schools where our children can’t get a decent education … We can’t afford the cost of food to feed our children properly and this makes it easier for them to catch all kinds of illnesses. There are very few places near home for recreation. All we have is the rum shop to drown our troubles. It’s almost impossible to buy clothes or shoes these days. The prices are ridiculous.

On 21st January 1974, demonstrators were attacked by police. Several people were injured and Rupert Bishop, Maurice‘s father and the leader of the New Jewel Movement was killed.


_62889134_grenada_eric_gairy_bbcWe are now completely free, liberated, independent. In spite of a wicked, malicious, obstructive, destructive minority of noise-making self-publicists, God has heard our prayers. God has been merciful. God has triumphed.

Eric Gairy, speech 7th February 1974


Eric Gairy and his Grenada United Labour Party won the elections held on 7th November, 1976. However, opposition leaders complained that all election officials were members of GULP and that they had tampered with the voting papers.

The police and military would soon begin “counter insurgency” training from the Chilean Military.

Eric Gairy Prime Minister Eric Gairy of Grenada and President Jimmy Carter meet in the White House on September 9, 1977.

Eric Gairy and President Jimmy Carter meet in the White House on September 9, 1977.

United States State Department reported on the activities of Eric Gairy in 1978 and found that the formation of the infamous “Mongoose Gang” in the early 1970’s – law enforcement agencies outside the provision of the law of the state – was responsible for a series of unspeakable atrocities and terror campaigns against the Grenada citizenry. In 1979 a rumor circulated that Gairy planned to use his Gang to assassinate leaders of the New Jewel Movement while he was out of the country. On 13th March 1979, Maurice Bishop and the NJM took over the nation’s radio station and the rest of the country with the support of the people.

 “Sir Eric Gairy appealed to the US and British for help in capturing what he described as a ‘small group of Communists.'”  ON THIS DAY, 13th March 1979 – BBC

Influenced by the ideas of Marxists like Fidel CastroChe Guevara and Daniel Ortega, Maurice Bishop began establishing Workers’ Councils in Grenada. He received aid from the Soviet Union and Cuba and with this money constructed an aircraft runway to improve tourism. Bishop attempted to develop a good relationship with the United States and allowed private enterprise to continue on the island. His actions improved the welfare of the common Grenadian, and the country as a whole, with improvements across every social measure.

Maurice Bishop with Fidel Castro, 26 July, 1983

Maurice Bishop with Fidel Castro, 26 July, 1983

Bernard Coard, the Minister of Finance, disagreed with Bishops efforts, as did United States foreign policy objectives. On 19th October, with the support of the army, Minister Coard overthrew the government. Maurice Bishop and several others, including Unison Whiteman (Foreign Minister), Jacqueline Creft (Minister of Education and Women’s Affairs), Norris Bain (Minister of Housing) and Fitzroy Bain (President of the Agricultural and General Workers Union) were arrested and executed.

Reagan being apprised of the situation as the U.S. invasion of Grenada.


Maurice_Bishop-450x350

Democracy requires inequity and a reaction to it, representative of the Peoples resolve.

Q:How to avert loss of life in on the road to revolution
Q:How to protect self-interest and democratic outcomes in the aftermath

A?:Rule of law, reconciliation, civic reorganization, and popularization of civic involvement.

ideas from:
http://nvdatabase.swarthmore.edu/content/grenadians-seek-greater-political-participation-new-jewel-movement-1973-1979

Wilder, Ann Elizabeth. The Grenada Revolution Online: http://www.thegrenadarevolutiononline.com/gairya.html

Lewis, Patsy. excerpts: Social Policies in Grenada
Found Online: http://books.google.com/books?id=AMpGrBP507sC&pg=PA27&lpg=PA27&dq=grenada+social+reforms&source=bl&ots=TyFt2v89dO&sig=9XWy0CWEq3qp816amWhkWJhqIN8&hl=en&sa=X&ei=0_ArUaG7BKKV0QHL-IHYAg&ved=0CHIQ6AEwCTgK#v=onepage&q&f=false

Ferguson, James. Grenada: Revolution in Reverse. Found online: http://dajialai.org/ziliao1/monthly%20review%20press/Grenada%20%20revolution%20in%20reverse%20%20James%20Ferguson.pdf

Williams, Dessima. Summary of Speech to United Nations, 1 October 2012. Found online:
http://gadebate.un.org/67/grenada

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The Return of Africa’s Strongmen

The Return of Africa’s Strongmen – WSJ

“After World War II, Britain, France and other European empires withdrew. But the militaries of many newly independent African states continued to suppress their own civil societies. Africa weathered more than 60 coups between 1960 and 1990.”

How can that be good for any country/continent?

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