For the first time in 37 years, the annual event marking the assassination of Prime Minister Maurice Bishop was attended by a revolutionary figure with strong ties to the faction of the New Jewel Movement (NJM) blamed for the bloodbath at Fort Rupert, since restored to its original name Fort George.
President of the Senate, Chester Humphrey was spotted among the invited guests which included a strong contingent of Cubans working and living on the island who attended the annual ecumenical service.
A source who attended the event told THE NEW TODAY that Sen. Humphrey was not invited to speak at the event which attracts mainly surviving family members and close associates of those who were executed in the October 1983 bloody massacre on the fort.
One of the organisers later said it was the first time that Humphrey who supported ex-deputy Prime Minister Bernard Coard being elevated to Joint Leadership of the NJM alongside Bishop had attended the pro-Bishop function.
“We were surprised that he was present – it was the first time that he ever attended our event,” he said.
The sermon was preached by Catholic priest, Father Ronald Holder who is from Barbados, one of the island that took part in the U.S-led military intervention to topple the coup leaders responsible for the murder of Bishop.
Among the persons present were the resident Ambassador of both Cuba and Venezuela to Grenada, as well as Ambassador Dessima Williams who served as Grenada’s envoy to the Organisation of American States (OAS) during the 1979-83 Grenada Revolution.
The service which took place on the Top Square of the Fort where Bishop and three Cabinet ministers were executed, is held each year by members of the Maurice Bishop and October 19th, 1983 Martyrs Foundation.
The shooting of Bishop, who led the People’s Revolutionary Government (PRG) and some cabinet ministers and supporters triggered off an American-led invasion of the island six days later on October 25, 1983 and the arrests of the coup leaders.
Bishop had himself seized power in 1979, when his New Jewel Movement (NJM) overthrew then Prime Minister, Sir Eric Gairy, in the first coup in the English-speaking Caribbean Community (CARICOM) grouping.
Four years later, Bishop was put under house arrest by a faction in the NJM that was loyal to his Deputy Prime Minister, Bernard Coard following a dispute over Joint Leadership of the party.
Foundation member Dr. Terrence Marryshow has lamented the fact that 37 years later, there’s still no closure for the families of those killed.
“There is still no closure, and particularly for the families and victims of October 19th, 1983. There has been closure for the perpetrators, they have been freed, they are living their best lives,” said Marryshow.
“A lot of innocent Grenadians were gunned down, some lost a limb, lost an eye and they continue to suffer. Up to this day, we are still no closer in terms of getting what will lead to the recovery of the remains of Maurice Bishop and his cabinet colleagues who died on October 19th, 1983.
“We know what happened up to a point, the onus is now on the Americans to come forward and tell us what they have done with the remains,” said Marryshow, who is of the firm belief that identifying the missing remains of Bishop and his cabinet colleagues will not only bring closure for their families but the entire nation.
Bishop, along with some of his cabinet ministers, including Norris Bain, the father of current Minister of Culture and Sports Yolande Bain-Horsford, and an unknown number of people died during what was termed a palace coup staged by Coard.
Coard was among 17 people who were convicted for the killings but they have since been released from prison after serving time following a re-sentencing in 2007 ordered by the London-based Privy Council, the island’s highest court at the time.
Coard’s Jamaican-born wife, Phyllis, who was also jailed, died in her homeland last month.