A new reason recently coming to light for the coup d’état in Grenada in 1979 is dispelled by Senator Chester Humphrey.
For years, the New Jewel Movement (NJM) justified the overthrow of the Grenada United Labour Party government by revealing that Prime Minister Sir Eric Matthew Gairy upon leaving for the US, had left orders to kill out the leadership of the NJM.
Political activist and former Lieutenant in the People’s Revolutionary Army (PRA), Kennedy Budhlal (KB) speaking in a recent Real FM Radio Sunday Talk show, has brought new light on the issue. He said that before the actual coup took place, he was visited at his Saint Patrick home by Bernard Coard and Vincent Noel and was asked by Coard to “pass out Gairy.”
“The plot was for me to go down to Evening Palace in Grand Anse on Saturday and shoot Gairy. I was told that they had men inside who would indicate whether Gairy was in the Gold room or the Scarlet Room,” KB said.
The reason he said he was given for the killing of Gairy, is that the FBI was in Grenada and the NJM learnt that he was making plans to extradite all those who were connected to the Chester Humphrey issue of shipping guns illegally from the US to Grenada.
KB added that he was picked out to kill Gairy and Strachan Phillip was earmarked to take over the Defence Force (Green Beast) barracks in True Blue. But the plan flopped as a result of other matters which got in the way on that day.
However, Senator Chester Humphrey who was a member of the NJM, living in the US, said those utterances is a figment of Kennedy’s imagination. “First and foremost, Kennedy Budhlal and them had no longer enjoyed any closeness with the NJM. Kennedy and them had drifted away from the NJM into some adventurous activity which led to Gairy clamping down on them. Kennedy and others were arrested for the murder of Innocent Belmar who was shot in Birch Grove. So, KB was no longer a part of the NJM in that sense. He was on the fringes.”
Humphrey said that KB and three other guys were arrested for the assassination of Innocent Belmar and while in the US, he [Humphrey] helped to raise funds for his defence. “Their case went to trial and was thrown out for lack of evidence. Kennedy and them caused real stress for the NJM because they went off on a tangent, doing things for themselves. Bernard Coard would never had gone to KB for help to pass out Gairy.”
In explaining why KB was jailed during the Revolution Humphrey said “KB and them were detained because they were involved in ultra-leftist activities. Kennedy and them went and took over Kent estate and decided that they were going to expropriate the estate from Kent.”
In fairly recent interviews on the question of overthrowing the Government, some of the men who were jailed for the October 1983 incidents hold fast to a statement that “A Patsy had told us that Gairy left word to kill all of us when he went to the US.”
While Sir Eric was not killed, online reports state that Strachan Phillip was in the group that took over the Defence Force barracks on March 13, 1979.
He was later blamed for the June 19, 1980 bomb blast in Queen’s Park and assassinated at his home in Mt Airy.