The New Today

Commentary

Grenada’s identity crisis: Let dictators die and beware of China

George Orwell said: “The most effective way to destroy people is to deny and obliterate their own understanding of their history.”

Why pretend that this present dispensation beginning with Grenada’s birth in 1974 was a glorious, altruistic fairy tale, and Sir Eric Gairy (tyrant), our fairy ‘godfather’? Why do we whitewash Grenada’s history by insisting on this liberating ‘Father of Independence’ figure when the only reason Gairy cast off the Crown was to wear it himself?

We celebrate ‘independence’ in bright colours and many are entirely ignorant of what it means, often by no fault of theirs, but through a lack of meaningful education.

In his speech on the 7th, Mr. Dickon Mitchell said, “having acknowledged and learned from our shortcomings over the last 50 years…” But have we? Are we acknowledging our shortcomings when he says that the Revolution “succeed[ed] for four and a half years, building and inspiring Grenadians for another generation”? Are we learning from them when the same man says Gairy, “armed with a mandate from the population obtained this nation’s independence 50 years ago”?

Doesn’t Mr. Dickon Mitchell know that there was no such mandate, that “Grenadians neither voted nor fought for independence, it was conferred on them,” as Alister Hughes said? Gairy’s supporters only cannot be considered to have given the mandate, could they? Even if it was said that he campaigned for re-election as Premier on a promise of independence, not even all Gairyites wanted independence, contrary to the view of a broadcaster doing live commentary from the stadium that day.

Grenada’s unwillingness and declared unreadiness to have independence was in fact the crux of the protests, so on what basis was this deduction made by both speakers?

Anyway, the pre-independence Grenadian constitution allowed for the granting of independence in 2 ways. Section 10(1) essentially stated that a 2/3 majority in a national referendum would give Grenada independence and section 10(2) said that the Grenadian Premier could request independence directly from the British Crown.

In 1972, despite Gairy making independence a main point of his re-election campaign, it was widely believed that he won fraudulently – 59% of the popular vote.

Fond of the Empire for which they fought in both World Wars and unwilling to live under an unrestrained Gairy, the public outcry grew. Nevertheless, Gairy wrote to the now deceased Queen Elizabeth II requesting independence under section 10(2) of our then constitution. It was a sly move, because on the surface, it would look very bad for Britain to deny a colony its independence.

Herbert Blaize and his GNP initially agreed with the notion of Independence and talks were held in London in October 1972 over what Grenada’s new constitution should look like. From May 14th-18th 1973, there was a second meeting but due to public calls for a referendum to be held, Blaize submitted a letter to the British on 17th May withdrawing his agreement on the grounds that Grenadians objected to the proposed method of granting independence.

Despite this, an agreement between Gairy and the British Government was made, declaring that Independence would be granted 7th February 1974.

A group of civic organisations and Churches organised themselves into the ‘Committee of 22’ and attempted to dissuade Gairy from independence while requesting greater civil liberties, threatening to strike if ignored. When they were rebuffed, they called for a national strike on January 1st and a protest march on January 21st.

These strikes shut down the port, ended electricity production and phone connections, and abandoned the plantations. With no food entering the country nor being exported, the economy stalled, and inflation rocketed. On the 21st, seventeen days before independence, there was a massive demonstration of reportedly 4,000 people against Gairy’s regime.

Gairy cracked down on the protesting crowds with the Mongoose Gang, the Green Beasts and police, firing tear gas into the crowds. Many people were severely beaten, and Rupert Bishop, Maurice Bishop’s father, was murdered, shot dead at the entrance of Otway House. Then looting of stores began.

The situation grew so tense that the British and Canadians anticipated civil war. Accordingly, a British Naval Frigate, and a Canadian Destroyer, HMCS Annapolis, were dispatched to Grenada. The frigate and the HMCS Annapolis arrived on Feb. 4th and on the night of the 6th respectively. They waited to evacuate all American, British, and Canadian citizens in case of violence.

The night the Annapolis sailed into St. George’s harbour, all stores were boarded up, garbage and glass littered the streets – the unlit roadway was in deep darkness. According to the NY Times, some 150 Americans lived on Grenada, most of whom had sent away their wives and children just in case.

On February 7th, there was quiet. Gairy had invited 38 representatives of various states, celebrated his independence, and he wined and dined on the tears and blood of the people. Gairy was now free of British oversight—Independence was for Gairy, not for Grenadians, and people knew it.

After deeming the situation safe, the British and Canadian naval vessels left. With their departure, Grenada had been abandoned by her Empire and left to suffer under Gairy, who promptly cracked down further, establishing relations with The Chilean dictator Augusto Pinochet, training and arming his Green Beasts there and ruling with an iron fist.

This begs the question, why did the British allow independence to be granted? They knew of Gairy’s corruption for nearly three decades; that he stifled freedom of speech and opinion, tortured and sometimes killed his subjects, and routinely violated the British constitution, but they gave us independence anyway.

The following summarizes much of the discussions in Westminster, London that sealed Grenada’s fate based on the official Parliamentary transcripts, Hansard. At 9:50 p.m. on December 11th, 1973, Grenada’s independence was brought before the UK House of Commons by Lord Balniel, Minister of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs, and the House would either accept or reject Grenada’s request for independence and advise the Queen on what she should do.

Lord Balniel argued that Gairy ran on independence and won, that the election was not rigged, and that the Grenada constitution was not provided to place ‘an extra hurdle to independence’. He asserted that Section 10(1)- independence by referendum – was only provided as an option in case the British refused independence.

Several Parliamentarians opposed this, most notably, Sir Elwin Jones, Sir Bernard Braine, and MP Goronwy Roberts. Sir Jones and Roberts queried as to why Gairy was trying to leave the responsibility of granting independence to Her Majesty’s Government instead of seeking the support of his own people and urged that the matter be not rushed.

Sir Roberts went on to perfectly capture the Grenadian dilemma saying, “There have been for some time, and there continues to be, deep-seated apprehensions among a substantial body of the people of Grenada that independence will open the door to systematic suppression of human rights and civil liberties in the new State. It is asserted that even before independence, when the Associated State had control over its own internal affairs, such action was prevalent, that the elections of 1972 were rigged and that the Grenada Government resorted from time to time to the use of para-military groups to consolidate their position.”

Sir Braine quoted several regional news reports that supported this conclusion. Nevertheless, at every turn, MP Lord Balniel’s (born, David Lindsay, 27th Earl of Crawford, died almost a year ago, 18th March, 2023) response was largely the same. Unfortunately, he won.

After a brief 1-hour meeting, the request for independence was approved and conferred on 110,000 people to endure Gairy’s despotic rule. Mr. Stanbrook, another MP in the debate, summed it up well, saying, “Not for 100 years, not since Gladstone, has a British Parliament so wantonly cast away the allegiance of so many of Her Majesty’s subjects”.

Britain made uncaring decisions before; see how she treated Israel in the British Mandate years, or even their Channel Islands during World War II when they were captured by the Nazis.

Despite this, however, all is not lost for us. The problems of the world cannot possibly be solved by skeptics or cynics whose horizons are limited by the obvious realities. We need men who can dream of things that never were (John Keats).

Although a nation can be salvaged at any stage in the hands of those who are appointed to do it, we must not forget Grenada’s birth by independence was by any measure, painful abandonment, to say the least.

Could one imagine Gairy having the Grenada Termination of Association Order 1973, our “certificate” of independence in hand, and Grenadians waiting for critical food imports to reach our port from England (among other nations), to assuage our hunger?

Some recollections by Grenadians include living overlooking the Carenage, St George’s, with a view of Fort George on the night of Feb. 6th 1974, barely two weeks out of Bloody Monday, with the country under a general strike and no electricity … cowering in the darkness, peeping through the window trying to see what was going on at the Fort where the independence ceremony was about to take place, and all the while there were gun shots going off! Sounds like fear.

Says another: “Politics was not something we were vocal about or understood. We lived between fear and faith believing that all will be well once we sleep and wake again. The memories of Bloody Monday! (The) Lockdown was forever etched in our innocent minds. I remember going to the mill for molasses with my cousin as [sic] I could not acquire the taste for it and thus resorted to fruits and water. To get sugar was a prize.”

Imagine depending on the same country you just sort of severed ties from; and reeling in wake of the bloodshed and beatings of protesters, 17 days prior (Jan 21st, 1974), not to mention the blood of other opponents, whom Gairy said was resting in the cemetery and those other victims beaten but living at the time.

Ezekiel 16:4-5 (NKJV) sums up the situation aptly:

On the day you were born your navel cord was not cut, nor were you washed in water to cleanse you; you were not rubbed with salt (cleansing agent) nor wrapped in swaddling cloths. No eye pitied you, to do any of these things for you, to have compassion on you; but you were thrown out into the open field, when you yourself were loathed on the day you were born.

But the God of compassion pitied Grenada and still has a grand plan for her imminent prosperity.

Ezekiel 16:6 (NKJV) says it:

And when I passed by you and saw you struggling in your own blood, I said to you in your blood, ‘Live!’ Yes, I said to you in your blood, ‘Live!’

This British Crown, still loved by many loyalists in Grenada today, helped pave the way for an ‘independent’ Grenada, born covered in the blood of our own people, immersed in continual tyranny, to live under the thumb of Gairy for five more years and then get swallowed up in a revolution in March, 1979, led by a widely misunderstood young lawyer, Maurice Bishop.

He was a great pretender who evidently hated the people he claimed to love. But frustration often breeds blindness, as Alister Hughes, Eyewitness to History, himself a member of the Committee of 22, explains:

In the heady times following the coup, few realised or wanted to see the reality. NJM was a completely untried lot and Bishop and his group would never have gained such popular support if Gairy had not created the ugly background against which NJM could claim to rescue Grenada. People were so anxious to get out of the pot of oppression that they jumped right back into the fire of subjugation. This, and the failure to question, the failure to understand, the NJM’s commitment to the goals and tactics of communism proved to be extremely costly. But Grenadians were so focused on the opportunity to escape the shambles created by Gairy that they were willing to become dependent on, and place their hopes for independence on, any leadership, with little or no objective questioning. In their hope for freedom they subjugated that freedom to the will of others.

Currently, our country’s economy runs on ‘favours’, gifts and loans from foreign nations: nearly all of our food supply is imported; we are slaves to the United Nations’ diktats, including the sinister digital currency scam; we do not have a functioning healthcare system or competent road network; we do not have a safe, dependable water supply nor an effective education system. Pray tell, how are we independent?

Are even our remaining freedoms in jeopardy? Who exactly orchestrated the ban on amplified sounds on the 7th? Did it have anything to do with the Chinese, infamous for operating police stations in foreign nations where they have no jurisdiction? If not, why the mixed messaging by issuing permits and then rescinding them? The voice of the people must be heard!

Despite the post-humus remix of the benign Gairy persona that is being sold to us, many Grenadians have asked about the relevance of Maurice Bishop as an independence national figure. Is Nicholas Brathwaite worthy? What about Keith Mitchell? Herbert Blaize? George Brizan? Ben Jones? What are the criteria when independence was imposed by Gairy alone?

But seeing that from June 23, 2022, the spirit of Maurice Bishop seems to be having no end of romanticism, let’s deal with it: do we ignore the diaspora that fled this very nation on account of our two tyrants, Eric Gairy and Maurice Bishop?

Do we forget the beatings, the deaths in ‘military manoeuvres’, the political dissenters held for years without trial numbering over 1000, one of which was former Prime Minister, Tillman Thomas? or those ‘resting comfortably in the cemetery’ due to ‘natural causes’ as Gairy himself said on video?

Do we forget the terror at nights when his infamous paramilitary groups stoned windows and homes of members of the opposition and their relatives? Do we know why Lew Smith ended up on Radio Antilles instead of serving as Press Assistant to Maurice?

According to Kennedy Budhlall in a published account years ago, who was it that was imprisoned because he told Maurice on a tennis court not to use his (the Person’s) racquet which Maurice had taken up?

If we will not even admit where our country went wrong, how can it be righted? If we pretend it didn’t all happen, won’t these wounds just fester and lead to our demise? Where can we go from here if we will not acknowledge where we have been, much less where we are?

With regards to past evils, even concerning slavery, we must free ourselves by forgiving. We need to confess our sins going forward that we may be forgiven, not cover them. We must turn from our wicked ways, forgive one another, and learn to love our neighbour as ourselves.

“In a free society, neighbours don’t spy on neighbours; neighbours help neighbours. And that’s the way God meant it to be.” (Ronald Raegan, Remarks to Citizens in St. George’s, Grenada 02/20/1986.) We need to forget the schemes we have adapted to our nation’s circumstances – the habits we have enlisted to survive under corrupt governments in this unfortunately nepotistic society.

We need to learn what it means to be free, who we are, where we have been, and where we are going. We need to remember the truth, and the mercies that have been strangely extended to us that this nation has not collapsed, given that we lean towards Communism – a kind of death.

Here are some more questions that require answers. What is the purpose of beautification without bread? We pretend all was well and festive for the 7th, as if a fifteen-minute drive to the stadium didn’t stretch into almost four hours for some, more for others; as if unfortunate motorists weren’t sent up Mount Rush, a killer hill, and civil engineering failure, in an effort to clear the road for dignitaries – the government/police did the same thing before to citizens for ICC World Cup Cricket, March-April 2007.

Could it be denied that the Police on the 7th were choleric and overwhelmed especially at the back road to the stadium; as if the Grenadian people were not treated as second-class citizens amidst the chaos, especially if they did not have a VIP pass? And what was the role of the RRU that day? Why the Ghanaian flags? Is there a connection that Mia Mottley, PM of Barbados buried the Barbados flag in Ghana then Ghana comes to us?

Have Grenadians, particularly politicians, come to believe that there is no cost to China’s “kindness”? Aren’t there precedents to consider along the ‘One Belt One Road’ walk-along in Africa and elsewhere in the region and the world?

What does China want from us? Why have their civilian and naval ships been in Grenada and the region e.g. Peace Ark (Daishan Dao)? After they give us everything from a stadium, drone show, to community centres, bridges, playgrounds, airport improvement, budgetary support – does no one consider that it must all lead somewhere after 19 years, perhaps even depending on them for monthly monetary allocations?

Do we not consider the ancient Chinese General Sun Tzu’s tactic of subversion, war without firing a bullet- cold war? Of using our disunity, the needless conflict among ourselves – rampant in this country despite speeches to the contrary – for our own demise? Is Grenada intended to have a role in China’s version of the Tanaka Memorial?

Have you noticed this sign board which says, ‘People of China and Grenada are one family’ on the partition/hoarding wall erected in Queen’s Park stadium, close to the humpback bridge? If that is so, it would do us well to remember our Chinese brothers and sisters, dead by the tens of millions in ‘benevolent’ China from the Great Leap Forward to Tiananmen and beyond.

Let us remember the blood of 1.5-2 million dead Cambodians (much of it shed in the Killing Fields of Cambodia) that our ‘brothers and sisters’ are responsible for, given the Khmer Rouge was a proxy of the Communist Chinese.

If we are one family, let us not forget our ‘fathers’, tyrants all – Sir Eric Gairy, Mao Zedong, and others like Xi Zhongxun. Xi Zhongxun was the current President, Xi Jingping’s, father, and served in the capacity of a high government official after the bloody, violent communist takeover of poverty-stricken China in 1949.

Is President Xi a stranger to government-imposed terror? Have you tried searching for details about Xi Zhongxun on the internet? Try. Are we headed towards another October ’83 massacre if the Chinese have their way? What is the significance of flying the Grenada flag and the Chinese flag at the same height on 7th February at the stadium, the day of our independence and even ongoing?

The Chinese officially opened the ‘China-Grenada Friendship Garden’ outside Wesley College on the banks of the St. John’s River in Oct. 2020, including a shrine with the 12 Chinese Zodiac animals, which are a part of Chinese superstition, fastened to the roof.

2024, which began on Feb. 10 on the Chinese calendar, is dedicated to the Dragon Zodiac, a river spirit (its imagery much like the deceitful snake in Eden) which symbolises world domination among other things. Do you recall the Chinese Dragon Dance puppet on Kirani James Boulevard last carnival? You may have even noticed the gold dragon on the red shirt worn by the Chinese Ambassador at the independence ceremony. What do you think?

Three generations established a precedent, Eric Gairy and Maurice Bishop have already gone. Is there to be a third to lock us into a Marxist rut? Are we seeing the writing on the wall, predictive impressions all around us? We must fervently pray to Yahweh for our country!

Facts with foresight