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Glorifying a Coup d’état or celebrating Grenada’s Revolution

Celebrating the Grenada Revolution in the times of COVID: Focusing on the economy, education, health and people’s power is the theme under which the three year old committee dubbed ‘Grenada Revolution Celebrations committee plans to celebrate the March 13 Revolution this year.

We all agree that the Revolution is our history, but it should be carefully documented to avoid biases or  slants to make an illegal event seems right in a subtle way to a people who had not lived through it.

While it is true that many people benefitted from programmes which were implemented from 1979 -1983 to help boost the economy, what cannot be ignored is the fact that a coup d’état on March 13, 1979 was an illegal, unconstitutional seizure of power and in Grenada’s case it was headed by the New Jewel Movement (NJM) which was an opposition party led by lawyers and other young scholars in their quest for power.

According to Teddy Victor who was a member of the NJM, while Sir Eric Gairy was Prime Minister the Bolshevik system that they studied underground in Grenada, called for the creation of an atmosphere to justify the overthrow in order to execute the Marxist dream which is part of the Communist ideology. Unfortunately, in 1979, only a choice few knew what the transfer of power would bring to our peaceful little islands where children played ring games in the yard and neighbours cared about their community. So it is not surprising that the Revolution is being described as popular because many people supported it.

 It may not hurt to read the lessons of the Bolshevik Revolution which was inspired by Karl Marx’s theory of class struggle. Then, with an open mind, one must weigh the pros and the cons to see if the event of March 13, 1979 was necessary. While it was said that Sir Eric rigged the general election to end up victorious, on the other hand the Revolution never held elections. So who was the real dictator?

Should we ignore the fact that the sudden violent overthrow of the Government formed by the Grenada United Labour Party (GULP) negatively affected many families for the rest of their lives? Some Government Ministers and other officials were even imprisoned, their only crime was that of supporting the GULP. How can that be celebrated?

Many people who helped to take control of the armed forces, police and other military elements on that fateful day when two people were brutally gunned down while on duty, quickly got disillusioned when they saw the kind of revolution that was coming, and quickly turned tail. Members of the Rastafarian movement were jailed and to date the reasons are still unclear. But as many people with information about the Revolution are freeing up themselves by finding it necessary to speak on different forums and mediums, we may get to understand why Comrades jailed Comrades. Can we agree here with calypsonian Black Stallin of Trinidad and Tobago that “there was something the Rastas were on that the politicians didn’t know?” In his song Black Stallin made reference of their unwavering sense of unity as they existed as one race. Isn’t it ironical that one of the slogans of the Revolution is “A people united, shall never be defeated?”

The main lesson we probably should never forget is to avoid blindly following a leader. Maurice Bishop was revered by young people who almost worshipped him and his address at Hunter’s College was treated as a bible; to many writers, therein lies the core of the problem which caused him to be executed at the hands of his Comrades.

 While Sir Eric was described as the worst leader that Grenada had ever seen, he was hailed as a powerful leader at his State funeral. It must also be noted that he was not the first to bring that rebellious spirit to Grenada during the colonial days when he tried to change the political system. Looking at our history in a chronological order –there is the story of the French overpowering the Kalinago people, Fedon’s Rebellion and the wars for possession between the British and the French. Yet Julian Fedon was hailed as a hero during the Revolution while Sir Eric who allegedly broke up the class system and provided opportunities of empowerment to the poorer class, was described as a villain when he was alive. No wonder the book written by the late former Prime Minister George Brizan is called Island of Conflict.

This week’s editorial is examining the objective of the committee which seems to be focusing on children as well, as they “celebrate the Revolution.” It is our hope that the questions designed for them to win prizes in the radio quiz, would be carefully examined to make sure that their innocent young minds are not being brainwashed in a subtle way so as to answer the call again. Instead let’s teach them to understand the constitution and why it is needed. Let’s encourage them to be good citizens and patriots through well rounded education which we all will benefit from in the end.

A good idea for a public debate around this time is examining the pros and the cons of Grenada’s Revolution with the hope of dissecting the good and the bad in an honest manner.

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