THE NEW TODAY is inviting Grenadians at home and in the Diaspora to try and listen to a five-part interview which former Army Commander General Hudson Austin did with THE NEW TODAY, to coincide with the 38th anniversary of the bloody events on Fort George/Fort Rupert in which Prime Minister Maurice Bishop was executed following internal wrangling in the New Jewel Movement (NJM) on a proposal for Joint Leadership with his deputy, Bernard Coard.
In this wide-ranging interview by the General who is known by many in the country as H.A, he did not back away from several eye-opening questions about some controversial killings in the country back in the 1970’s and during the 1979-83 Grenada Revolution.
Perhaps the most intriguing was the General’s response to the army killing of the late Strachan Phillip who was one of the persons who journeyed to True Blue to defeat the Grenada Defense Force (GDF) as part of the contingent of the military wing of the NJM to overthrow the then Eric Gairy government on March 13, 1979.
Austin, as head of the army, is not convinced that the report given to him after the killing of Strachan Phillip is accurate and might have been falsified to some extent.
The former army boss has put Major Leon “Bogo” Cornwall, the former Ambassador to Cuba at the centre of the squad of soldiers who were dispatched to Phillip’s home at Mt. Airy in St Paul’s to engage him after the deadly bomb blast at Queen’s Park in which some persons including a female student was killed.
There is no limitation on murder but it is doubtful that the Office of the Director of Public Prosecutions (DDP) will re-open the files.
It is clear from the interview that General Austin is a very shrewd politician and was very cautious in the manner in which he responded to many of the sensitive questions about the suspicious killings during the revolution.
It seems that his responses were measured as he did not want to put the Grenada Revolution and its leaders on trial for some of the atrocities that took place in the four-and-a-half years of NJM rule in the country.
However, the General has made a number of disclosures in his latest interview which no one has challenged publicly.
It is no longer bordering on suspicion that Coard who was considered as a hardline Marxist-Leninist had floated a most controversial proposal for NJM to change its name to the Communist Party of Grenada (CPG) which if successful would have created panic in the corridors of power in Washington in the United States.
Hudson Austin is also the first revolutionary figure in Grenada to admit in public that there were deep ideological differences between Bishop and Coard on the way forward for the Grenada Revolution.
As he put it, there was an “ideological war” taking place between the Prime Minister and his very ambitious deputy on the course that should be followed in the development of the country under the revolutionary process.
The evidence of this brutal battle that resulted in the executions on the fort can be deducted from statements made in the aftermath of the tragic events by former Mobilisation Minister, Selwyn Strachan, a once loyal Bishop supporter who deserted him and went over to the Coard Camp.
Strachan had made the statement that Comrade Bishop was reluctant to move away from his petite-bourgeoisie position of being a Social Democrat and convert to Democratic Centralism which meant travelling on the course with the others towards communism.
The General was also able to shed some light on the timing of Coard’s proposal for Joint Leadership with Bishop of the NJM with him being in charge of the more powerful organ which is the Central Committee and Bishop relegated to chair only the Political Bureau of the party.
It seemed that it was important for the Deputy Prime Minister to be promoted alongside the “Comrade Leader” prior to the 5th anniversary of the Grenada Revolution as Bishop would have consolidated his prestige and power with the opening of the International Airport at Point Salines to coincide with the visit of Cuba’s late leader, Fidel Castro.
Coard’s influence of the process was also being eroded after his resignation in 1982 from both the NJM CC and Political Bureau and rise of Agriculture Minister, George Louison to take over the role of chief party ideologue.
On the surface, it looked like Coard had to try and make a big and dramatic comeback within the NJM and used his disciples – Lieutenant-Colonels Liam “Owusu” James and Ewart “Headache” Layne, and army Majors Leon “Bogo’ Cornwall and John “Chaulkie” Ventour to trigger the Joint Leadership proposal to save the Grenada Revolution as it was on the verge of collapse within a matter of six months.
This was a fallacy on part of the Coard group of OREL revolutionaries as no other party was able to function in the country to challenge NJM for State power.
THE NEW TODAY is forced to join with General Austin in coming to the conclusion that the tragic events that took place in Grenada 38 years ago was nothing but a naked grab for power by Coard and his followers.
Further evidence came from Austin when he said that as Commander of the army he did not know that Coard and Layne had given soldiers a modest increase of $30.00 on their pay cheque just before the attempt to seize power from Bishop.
Today, 38 years later the Coard followers are still at work by plotting and scheming to get another taste of State power in Grenada, Carriacou & Petite Martinique.
THE NEW TODAY wants to suggest that the events that took place during the period of the Grenada Revolution should be on the curriculum of our schools – both primary and secondary.
The period March 13, 1979 to October 25, 1983 is part of our history as it involved both good and bad lessons for the citizens of the country, especially the younger generation.
It is very unfortunate that some of the major players like Bernard Coard and those identified as linked to the secret cell group known as the Organisation of Revolutionary Education and Liberation (OREL) have been selfish and refused to come forward and give their story on the demise of the Grenada Revolution.