It’s that time of the year when Grenadians at home and abroad will reflect on our political independence when we decided to journey on our own from our colonial master, Great Britain.
Some 48 years later, we still continue to grapple with the vexing question of whether we made progress and development FROM those leaders who were entrusted with the task and responsibility to lead the tri-island State of Grenada, Carriacou & Petite Martinique after February 7, 1974.
The answer to the question will come from the political divide – the supporters of the Father of Independence, Sir Eric Matthew Gairy and the Grenada United Labour Party, the 1979-83 revolutionaries who were loyal to Maurice Bishop, and the loyalists of Keith Mitchell and his New National Party (NNP).
The Gairyites will always continue to defend the policies of progress under “Uncle” such as Land for the Landless, the amount of schools and medical stations built in strategic parts of the country, as well as the master stroke of passing an act in Parliament to establish St George’s University (SGU).;
Today, it is generally accepted that this american-owned institution has expanded to the point that it contributes 25% of the Gross Domestic Product (GDP) of the nation.
This “baby” of Sir Eric came amidst massive opposition and condemnation from the opposition of the day who attacked SGU on a constant basis with many unfounded accusations and allegations.
The current Prime Minister was a member of the Maurice Bishop-led New Jewel Movement (NJM) which was in the vanguard of the struggle against SGU and its coming to our shores.
It is ironic that Dr. Mitchell on the eve of our 48th anniversary of independence was gleefully accepting a grant of US$30 million from the university that will make a significant difference to the coffers of the National Treasury.
In looking back over the past 48 years of independence, the other major project that impacted heavily on the lives of our people was the Maurice Bishop International Airport (MBIA) which opened up many possibilities for our 133 square mile island.
This was a project that was met by resistance from Washington out of fears that the airport will be used by Cuba and its communist allies to help subvert democracy not only in the Western hemisphere but also in Africa where many liberation struggles were taking place against colonial rule.
Today, 48 years later, MBIA is the gateway for Grenadians to fly to the United States directly on American Airlines and JetBlue.
Bishop’s People’s Revolutionary Government (PRG) which crashed due to a power struggle with his over ambitious deputy Bernard Coard for power-sharing with his OREL group of hardline Marxists drunk on ideology, was also trying to create a new industry for the country through agro-processing but it faltered after the collapse of the Grenada Revolution.
The PRG was also able to send hundreds of Grenadians to Cuba on educational scholarships and years later Havana was able to help in the rebuilding of the current General Hospital.
The Mitchell-led NNP has the record of being the longest serving administration in the country and can be credited with the building of a national sporting stadium, a Ministerial Complex, and a cruise ship terminal.
There is no doubt that Dr. Mitchell has been exposed to the most amount of money to spend than any other Prime Minister in the history of the country and squandered millions in too many ill-advised projects.
The list includes the Mt Hartman fiasco with U.S investor E.J Miller who was able to draw down on over EC$20 million and disappeared almost overnight, the uncomfortable relations with a host of crooks and conmen like Viktor Kozeny (The Pirate of Prague), Van Brink, Rita Regala and others of the infamous First International Bank of Grenada (FIBG).
THE NEW TODAY believes that if other leaders like Eric Gairy and Maurice Bishop had been able to lay their hands on the amount of money that passed through the current Prime Minister that the development agenda in Grenada would have been at a much higher level to the benefits of all Grenadians.
Dr Mitchell has mastered the art of winning elections at the polls but lacks the type of vision for development that both Gairy and Bishop had possessed.
Grenada has the potential to still engage in activities that can prove to be beneficial to the people when it comes to earning foreign exchange in the face of massive decline in the agricultural sector.
The SGU should be used to create linkages between tourism and medicine through the creation of a modern teaching university that is equipped to provide the kinds of services that Grenadians are forced to go overseas to get in places like the United States.
Thousands of persons from other neighouring islands would have had the option to come to Grenada to seek medical care and attention at reasonable costs because their homeland does not have the facilities.
It is sad when our government choose to accept a few scholarships from SGU for persons to study medicine and after a few years the island loses them because they are lured to greener pastures to make thousands of dollars.
The current administration did a disservice to Grenada by choosing to close down the Grenada School of Nursing since it had wisdom in developing the facility to provide trained nurses to go abroad like Cuba is doing to work in other countries and send back valuable foreign exchange to their homeland.
Any student of history will know that Grenada was flourishing when our people left our shores for the Panama Canal, Aruba, Great Britain and the United States, as well as Trinidad, Guyana and Venezuela to a lesser extent to seek employment opportunities and to send back remittances back home.
Grenada dropped the ball under NNP to develop the School of Nursing into a money making machine because countries are willing to spend millions of dollars to get qualified personnel to maintain their health services.
It is our hope that our 50th anniversary independence celebration will bring forth the type of leaders who can take on board a genuine agenda for the development of Grenada, Carriacou and Petite Martinique.
THE NEW TODAY wishes all and sundry at home and in the Diaspora with linkages to our homeland a Happy 48th anniversary of Independence.