March 13th An Unforgettable Event

On 13th March 1979, 41 years ago, Grenadians woke up to the clarion call of Maurice Bishop, leader of the New Jewel Movement to become part of the Revolutionary movement that had overthrown the dictatorship of Prime Minister Eric Gairy. This news was met with joy and jubilation in the streets as Grenadians had become tired of the dictatorial rule and excesses of Gairy came out and showed their support.

It was a change that was welcomed based on the spontaneous and positive reaction of the ordinary man and woman and from all accounts, it was relatively peaceful, since the loss of life on that day was limited to two people. For those who have become revisionists in the last 40 years and think that it should have been done differently, to my mind is an insult to those valiant and patriotic Grenadians who came out in their numbers to say enough was enough and that they wanted a different and better life than the one they were living under Gairy. It is an insult to them because were it not for them and their enormous input during the four and a half years that the revolution lasted, Grenadians would never have known that there was a different way of governing and a distinctively new path to development.

Notwithstanding the fact that some of the same revisionists come from the ranks of some of the very people who sparked the revolution, the experience of the four and a half years unleashed a vibrancy and a potential of the Grenadian people that had been stifled for years. Almost overnight Grenadians under new and dynamic leadership provided by Maurice Bishop, a young charismatic leader, steeled in struggled and who had paid his dues in the struggle against Gairy, began to build and transform Grenada in a way that was never seen or done before. The revolutionary Government was addressing every aspect of Grenadian life with the active participation of the people and on the ground real changes were taking place. Whether it was in the field of education, agriculture, fisheries, culture, health care, employment and social programs, Grenadians began to see improvements that motivated them, even more, to work harder. So motivated they were that they came out on weekdays after work and on weekends to build and repair roads and schools, debushing and cleaning their villages voluntarily without looking for pay because they knew that their efforts would benefit everyone who lived in the community. Unity and Patriotism reigned during that period as Grenadians began feeling proud again to be Grenadians and no longer the laughing stock of the Caribbean. The eyes of the world were on Grenada some adoringly and with great admiration but others begrudgingly with an agenda to stop the progress that was taking place because it constituted an alternative, an example and a model for other countries in the Caribbean and indeed in the third world to follow.

The fact that elections promised by Prime Minister Bishop at the inception of the Revolution did not happen in a more timely manner was used as a pretext to criticize and undermine the revolutionary process but when one sees what is happening around the world today particularly the constant attacks by the US on Venezuela, Nicaragua, Cuba and any country which tries to implement changes that are construed as socialist, having free and fair elections that would have been won by the New Jewel Movement would not have significantly changed the calculus and the systematic attempts to derail and eventually overthrow the Government whether by overt or covert means. Grenada as small as it is were more vulnerable to those attacks. Additionally, the priorities of the Revolutionary Government during those four and a half years as overwhelming as they were in improving the lot and lives of the Grenadian people were still headed toward Constitutional reform and the preparation for elections which eventually would have come.

The destruction of the revolution at the hands of the very people who helped to make it a success and not at the hands of the real enemies clearly showed that many of them did not understand the psyche of the Grenadian people. Their greed and senseless list for power came at a tremendous loss for the Grenadian people who had invested so much of their time and energy to build a process that they believed in. This ultraleftist fascist clique led by Bernard Coard and his acolytes within the Government and party never really understood the very ideology they were preaching and clearly were too drunk on ideology and their obsession to imposing their will on the people. Their agenda and that of the people were completely at odds with each other and they were too blind to see it because they were too caught up in their self-importance and their envy and disdain for the leader. They calculated wrongly and the Grenadian people paid the price.

However, the lessons of that prior can never be erased. That period taught us what was possible with a credible leader and government supported by the people in the name of development. It also taught us that development is possible even outside of the Geopolitical orbit of the United States and it also taught us that as small as we are, we are still a resilient people and it had to take a full-scale war from the most powerful country in the world to destroy one of the smallest countries in the world whose only crime was trying to build a better life for its people and its neighbours……… Just Food for Thought.

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