Why Washington Hated The Grenada Revolution
BY STEVE CLARK
October 25 marks the 15th anniversary of Washington's invasion of Grenada, one week after the murder of the country's prime minister, Maurice Bishop in a counterrevolutionary coup. From 1979 until his death, Bishop headed a revolutionary workers and farmers government that stood as a shining example to toilers throughout the Caribbean and beyond.
Below are excepts from the article "The Second Assassination of Maurice Bishop" by Steve Clark. This article, which explains the defeat of the Grenadian revolution and Bishop's political legacy, appears in issue no. 6 of the Marxist magazine New International. It is copyright (c) 1987 by 408 Printing and Publishing Corp. and reprinted by permission.
In mid-October 1983 a faction led by Deputy Prime Minister Bernard Coard in Grenada's army, government, and New Jewel Movement (NJM) overthrew the workers' and farmers' government brought to power by the March 13, 1979, revolution.
Prime Minister Maurice Bishop, backed by other NJM leaders and the overwhelming majority of the island's workers and farmers, resisted this counterrevolution and attempted to reverse it. On October 19 the Grenadian people launched an uprising to restore their government to power. They shut down workplaces, poured into the streets of the capital, St. George's, and freed Bishop, who had been placed under house arrest by the Coard faction. Estimates of the crowd range from 15,000 to 30,000 - equivalent for that island of 110,000 people to an outpouring of 35 to 65 million in the United States.
Troops loyal to Coard's faction turned their guns on the mass demonstration, killing many participants and wounding others. They assassinated Maurice Bishop and five other revolutionary leaders - Fitzroy Bain, Norris Bain, Jacqueline Creft, Vincent Noel, and Unison Whiteman. The working people of Grenada were stunned and demoralized.
One week later, on October 25, United States armed forces stormed the island and occupied it. The Coard faction had handed free Grenada to imperialism on a silver platter. The country once again was shackled with a government subservient to Washington. Discredited worldwide by these crimes and their disastrous consequences, Bernard Coard and his followers have tried ever since to cover their tracks by conducting a second assassination of Maurice Bishop. Their political targets include all those revolutionaries - in the Caribbean, North America, and elsewhere - who champion and seek to learn from Bishop's political legacy.
The first assassination succeeded in eliminating Maurice Bishop himself. But Bishop's accomplishments and example as a revolutionary internationalist leader proved more enduring than Coard had reckoned. As the truth came out about what actually happened in October 1983 - through the efforts of surviving Grenadian revolutionaries, Cuban president Fidel Castro, and others - the original explanations presented by Coard and his followers were increasingly repudiated by communists, anti-imperialist fighters, and progressive-minded people throughout the world....
The revolution brought to power for the first time in Grenada a government not subservient to U.S. and British imperialism and the local landlords and capitalists. The new workers' and farmers' government began to carry out a revolutionary democratic program. From the outset it also began promoting the organization of working people in town and country to advance their class interests against the power and prerogatives of the large landowners and capitalists.
Given the tiny industrial base, small urban working class, and the concrete character of the economic backwardness of Grenada, however, the transition to a planned economy based on state property in industry, banking, and big trade was necessarily a process that could unfold only over a number of years. Most important, it could advance only in tandem with the expanding organization, mobilization, and political consciousness of the workers and exploited farmers, whose class alliance formed the social base of the revolutionary government, state, and vanguard working-class party.
Grenada's productive forces, both in agriculture and industry, had to grow and be modernized....
Meanwhile, Grenada's economy remained capitalist. The working people through their government and the New Jewel Movement needed to make use of the technical and managerial skills of middle class and professional layers who were willing to cooperate in expanding production and cooperate with capitalists willing to continue investing in productive enterprises. The revolutionary government guaranteed the ownership rights of capitalists so long as they did not sabotage the economy or participate in illegal acts....
The tempo of a revolutionary transformation of property relations in Grenada could not be predetermined. That would depend on the concrete evolution of the class struggle and the economy in Grenada and internationally. During this transition period, the workers' and farmers' government, together with the unions and other mass organizations, decisively altered the relationship of class forces to the advantage of working people in their struggles for better living and working conditions. This included the adoption and enforcement of labor laws guaranteeing union rights and regulating the wages and job conditions of rural and urban workers.
Moreover, the new People's Revolutionary Army and People's Militia gave the workers and farmers a way to defend their political power against counterrevolution instigated by U.S. imperialism and by local landowners and businessmen. Without this armed power, the transition to a new, nonexploiting society would be a utopia. Some 3,500 Grenadians received army or militia training between March 1979 and October 1983.