Politics and Civil Discourse in the Eugenia Era: Dominica’s Involvement in the Grenada Revolution.
Rationale for choosing this topic:
The Eugenia era was always viewed as a controversial time in Dominica and the rest of the Caribbean. Personally I have taken quite some interest in this time period due to previously nurtured interest in politics. Relations in Grenada have also led me to learning a bit about the turbulence that took place in the time of the People’s Revolutionary Government. It is in research that it was found that Dominica did play a part in these times and hence the reason for choosing this topic.
- Known information about the topic:
Grenada gained independence in 1974 under the leadership of Eric Gairy from the United Kingdom. During his reign, civil turmoil was an unfortunate event that took place. Political energy in this small nation was high even though Gairy had won the elections in 1976 the opposition of the day did not see it as a fair victory. This civil turmoil resulted in protest action between the personal gang of Eric Gairy and the New Jewel Movement. Later in the decade the New Jewel Movement began plotting to overthrow the government of the day and to show that they meant business, party member received out of country military training. In the absence of Gairy under the control of Maurice Bishop, the revolution began on 14 March 1979 and the government was overthrown. This marks the commencement of the new power the People’s Revolutionary Government. However more power struggles were on the agenda. The underling of Bishop, Bernard Coard, took over putting Bishop under house arrest. This brought about immediate and massive protests against his confinement leading to his escape and reentrance into the post of government. Again he was to be overthrown and this time the job was to be done permanently. He was murdered along with many persons who were seen as loyal to him. After the execution of Bishop Hudson Austin-another product of the New Jewel Movement-dissolved the existing government and in his power formed a revolutionary military council with him as chairman to take control of the country. He then made a radio announcement in which he stated "The Revolutionary Armed Forces were forced to storm the fort, and in the process the following persons were killed: Maurice Bishop, Unison Whiteman, Vincent Noel, Jacqueline Creft, Norris Bain and Fitzroy Bain among others." During that same announcement he informed the public of an island wide curfew for a total of four days and that no one is to leave their house, all work places were to be closed except essential service. It was then that he stated that anyone found outside during this time will be shot on sight. The governor-general, Paul Scoon, was placed under house arrest as well. By several Caribbean entities the United States was appealed to for assistance. It was also later brought to light that Governor General Scoon also requested to assistance through diplomatic relations. This is the reason for which he was put under house arrest. Through the combined force of the United States and the Regional Security System an operation codenamed Operation Urgent Fury was put in place to invade Grenada. The US put forward that this invasion was done at the request of certain Caribbean Prime ministers namely Tom Adams of Barbados and Dame Eugenia Charles of Dominica. This invasion was however condemned by several other powers. Under his power Bishop began construction of the Point Salines International airport with financial assistance from Britain, Cuba, Libya, Algeria, and other nations. The idea first came about when Grenada was still a British colony. The US was however against the construction of this as it was seen mainly as a Soviet-Cuban military tactic in the Caribbean. The 9000 foot runway would be able the largest of soviet aircrafts increasing the transportation of weaponry between Cuba and the Soviets. Bishops government claimed that the new airport was to increase tourism in Grenada and better the agro export ministry. Apart from that the other airstrip could not be expanded to due to mountainous landscape of the island and the nearby ocean. The US sent in representatives to retrieve information to confirm their allegations and they found that the airport was not being built with any negative intentions in mind. This was released in the following statement, “... based on my personal observations, discussion and analysis of the new international airport under construction in Grenada, it is my conclusion that this project is specifically now and has always been for the purpose of economic development and is not for military use. ... It is my thought that it is absurd, patronizing, and totally unwarranted for the United States government to charge that this airport poses a military threat to the United States' national security.” The United States President at the time continued in his effort to discourage Soviet-Cuban militarization of the Caribbean by issuing warnings about the long runway being constructed. The invasion began on 25th October 1983. Departure of soldiers came from Grantley Adams International Airport before daybreak, the destination, Grenada. Fighting went on for several days and the number troops on island increased by the day. The Grenadian revolutionists were joined by the Cubans in order to combat the invasion troops. Based on US reports their opponents were partly prepare and this operation pointed out some weaknesses that lie with the American Forces. In this invasion Dominica played an important part as being one of the only two countries advocating the assistance from the United States. Dame Eugenia Charles saw it as a personal importance that she and the country of Dominica stand behind Grenada inputting in place what was never present a democratic system where the people actually choose their government. She let known this stand on 25 October 1983 saying, “…….this means that our people there are not safe. It means that Grenadians had never been given the chance to choose for themselves the country that they want. And, therefore, it is necessary for us to see to it that they have the opportunity to do so. To do this, we have to isolate the persons who have committed the acts that they did last week, in killing off most of the Cabinet. And we have to ensure that, in fact, an interim government of persons of, not political greed, but persons who are good administrators and who are Grenadians who can run the country for a few months for the pure purpose of putting the country back on the democratic status, so that elections can take place as soon as possible.”
- Information that would like to be known:
What was Dame Eugenia’s real motivation behind wanting to bring into Grenada what wasn’t present at the time? Why did she seek the help of the United States? What fostered the relationship between Dominica and the United States that it only took Dominica and Barbados to get the United States to invade Grenada?
- Intended Audience: This information is intended for persons who insufficiently informed about what really occurred during the Grenada revolution and Dominica’s true position during the Grenada revolution.
Part 2: Research Questions
What communication occurred between the United States, Dominica and Grenada before during and after the time of the invasion and why did they happen? This would help in answering why the ise was so prompt to answering the request and reveal possible other motivations to Dominica wanting to help Grenada.
How many Dominican troops were sent to Grenada and what is the present population of Dominicans living in Grenada? This would help in answering how deeply Dominica would have wanted to get involved in the situation that occurred in 1983 and whether invasion resulted in migrations to further diplomatic relations in Grenada.
What ties did previous Prime minister of Dominica Patrick John have with Grenada and for how long were those ties present? This would help to answer whether the previously attempted coup in Dominica would have anything to do with Dominica’s participation in the Grenada invasion.
This digital publication will take on the form of a knowledge site that will make public, information that otherwise persons would not have been aware of. Apart from digital research files and documents that surfaced during those times would be tried to be made public. An example of a primary source that has already been identified is a recording of the radio announcement that was made by Hudson Austin after the killing of Maurice Bishop. On the site will be mappings of original landing areas in Grenada of American and Caribbean troops. Timelines of Dame Eugenia’s acts during that time will be made available and public. Attempts will be made to make available posters and public notices of the day with interactive texts. If possible interviews will be conducted of people who were at the time in close contact with the late Dame Eugenia Charles. If any retrievable audio recordings of communications can be made retrieved they will be made available.