The New Today

Commentary

Fifty of independence, Forty-five of March 13th and Forty-five years of diplomatic relations with Cuba

More Celebrations to come?

I am still basking in celebration of our Golden Jubilee of February 7th.

I am wondering if there are more celebrations to come with March 13th around the corner and Grenada/Cuba diplomatic relations and also Maurice Bishop Birthday on May 29th.

For the next three months there are more historical dates of significance to celebrate. On March the 13th 2024 will be 45 years since the triumph of the Grenada Revolution – one of the most significant dates in contemporary Grenada, regionally and internationally from a historical point of view.

Because it was the first time that an elected government was removed from office by the use of arms which was led by parliamentarians, in the persons of Maurice Bishop, leader of Her Majesty Opposition and leader of the New Jewel Movement and Member of Parliament for St. George South East, Unison Whiteman, Member of Parliament for St. George North-east and Bernard Coard, Member of Parliament for the Town of St. George.

Maurice and the NJM did not wake up one morning and decided to take matters in their own hands. There were objective and subjective conditions that gave rise to the Grenada Revolution.

For the four-and-a-half years the country saw swift development at a pace never seen before in the country including the building of the M.B.I.A which brought tremendous benefits and opportunities to our people, which also included solidarity with other peoples in Africa, Asia, Latin America and the Caribbean, especially Cuba.

In addition, there were serious shortcomings which threw shade over the positive aspects of that period. But for me there were plenty more good than bad in my opinion during the Grenada Revolution.

I hope that the National Celebrations Committee and the National Organisation Committee come together to continue the celebration of our heritage so that the younger Grenadians and others would understand our history which should be celebrated in such a way which indicates as a learning process the mistakes of the past will not be repeated.

The following month on April 14th 2024 will be the 45th anniversary of diplomatic relations with Cuba which brought direct benefits for our people even today long after the Grenadian Revolution imploded.

After the invasion of our country on the 25th of October 1983 diplomatic relations were unceremoniously severed by the invading forces led by the USA.

When the Maurice Bishop Patriotic Movement was founded at Heroes’ Square in St. Mark on the 29th of May 1984 relations between the MBPM and the Cuban Communist Party and Government continued which resulted in Grenadians receiving scholarships and medical attention on the behalf of the Government and people of Cuba.

Diplomatic relations were restored by the Sir Nichols Brathwaite NDC on the 10th of March 1992.

It was the Hon. Tillman Thomas, former Prime Minister of Grenada who was the Minister of Tourism at the time who travelled to Havana to present his credentials. But it was not a walk in the park for the NDC Government. This also paved the way for Cuba to become a member of the Caribbean Tourism Organisation.

Also, in April of 1997, former Grenadian Prime Minister the Rt.Hon. Keith C Mitchell travelled to Cuba and in 1998, the Cuban Historical Leader and Commander in Chief visited Grenada. During his visit he took time out to visit Alimenta Bishop, the mother of former Prime Minister Maurice Bishop at her home on Parade.

I will not go too deep into such relations because I have expressed in a detailed document the 30th anniversary of Grenada/Cuba relations with several updates over the years.

For this year’s celebration I will like to see several new features – for example a cultural exchange between the two countries whether it is a dance and folklore groups’ from Grenada going to Cuba and in return the same coming from Cuba and also an exhibition between the two countries to make the celebration participatory and grand.

Related:  Gang violence and violence are neither our style nor our culture

I will also like to see the majority of former graduates coming together to put some kind of political and cultural event that have not been seen for a longtime in Grenada and the activity should be in Spanish or a speech night in Spanish.

And finally the official party with cocktail reception when government officials along with the Embassy of the Republic of Cuba along with dignitaries and invitees come together to bring the curtains down on the celebration for the 45th as we head towards the 50th anniversary of this profound and camaraderie friendship.

When we were operating as MBPM, my favourite time on our political calendar was when we commemorated African Liberation Day, as well as Maurice Bishop’s Birthday on the 29th of May and another anniversary of the MBPM.

As the Master of Ceremonies, I was able to present the life and times of Maurice Bishop in between speakers and it was indeed a pleasure.

Recently, there was this debate on Facebook about whose navel string is buried in Grenada. The discussion was between Sir Eric and Comrade Maurice. One debater said that Maurice’s navel string was buried in Aruba while Sir Eric own was buried in Dunfermline, St. Andrew. I jumped in and joined the discussion saying that when children were born in other countries of Grenadian Parents they carried the nationality of the parents.

I went on to say: tell me how all of us who were born before 1967, when we attained Associated Statehood from Britain, were not British citizens. Someone said that is the history they should teach and they are hiding it.

Well I have to remind them that Maurice returned with his family in 1950 at the age of 6. I could go on in a very profound way on Maurice for example as he went to the two primary schools; one of the schools was the St. George’s R.C. Boys where he sat the entrance exams to Presentation Boys College and passed.

The rest is history from Grenada to London and around the world his larger and life contribution to the world revolutionary struggle in the name of Grenada and we should be grateful and thankful for such greatness is in our name.

I wrote that Maurice Bishop is our most decorated son of the soil. Allow me to list some of his accolades, the former Soviet Union issued a post stamp and named a ship after him, Cuba named a school of special education after him, somewhere in Martinique or Guadeloupe a street is named after him and we in Grenada did name a highway and our international airport after him.

In more recent times, Maurice is on the commemorative 50 dollar note with Sir Eric and October 19th, the day of his execution is now a public holiday.

Someone said that Maurice had the ability to be Prime Minister of England. I don’t think that Sir Eric had reached that level but he was also great in the Grenadian context and that is why he is the Father of our Independence.

In closing, the Grenadians who are making a serious contribution in other countries must be given their flowers because their navel strings are buried in Grenada. We have to stop that kind of elementary reasoning and go up and up in the future.

As we go up and up, let our history and our Heroes be put into proper perspective so there will be no confusion about where people’s navel strings are buried.

Finally, I am looking forward with great anticipation to the outcome of the rest of the activities for the rest of this year’s Golden Jubilee Celebrations and I am putting myself up as a presenter on a few selected themes namely, the conditions that gave rise to the March 13th Revolution of 1979. Grenada/Cuba Relationship and the life and times of Maurice Bishop to schools and other institutions.

Brian Lindsay-Campbell