People's Revolutionary Government (Grenada)

People's Revolutionary Government of Grenada

1979–1983
Anthem: Hail Grenada
Location of Grenada
CapitalSt. George's
Common languagesEnglish
Demonym(s)Grenadian
GovernmentUnitary Marxist-Leninist one-party socialist parliamentary constitutional monarchy
Monarch 
• 1979-1983
Elizabeth II
Governor-General 
• 1979-1983
Paul Scoon
Prime Minister 
• 1979–1983
Maurice Bishop
• 1983
Bernard Coard
• 1983
Hudson Austin
Historical eraCold War
• Communist rule proclaimed
13 March 1979
25 October 1983
Area
348.5 km2 (134.6 sq mi)
CurrencyEast Caribbean Dollar
ISO 3166 codeGD
Preceded by
Succeeded by
Grenada
Grenada
Today part of Grenada

The People's Revolutionary Government (PRG) was proclaimed on 13 March 1979 after the New Jewel Movement overthrew the government of Grenada in a revolution. The government suspended the constitution and ruled by decree until a factional conflict broke out, culminating in an invasion by the United States on 25 October 1983.

History[edit]

The New Jewel Movement (NJM) under the leadership of Maurice Bishop was the main opposition party in Grenada during the 1970s. In 1979, the NJM overthrew the government of Eric Gairy, which had ruled the country since independence in 1974. The NJM launched an armed takeover of the radio station, police barracks, and various other key locations in Grenada while Gairy was on a trip outside the country. The armed takeover was conducted by the People's Revolutionary Army (PRA), which had been formed in secret within the NJM.[1]

The NJM suspended the constitution and announced new laws. Maurice Bishop announced the formation of the PRG over radio, which organized a cabinet to run the country with Bishop as prime minister. All political organizations except for the NJM were banned, and membership in the NJM was thereafter tightly controlled.

Maurice Bishop expresses his objective: "We are a small country, we are a poor country, with a population of African slave descendants, we are part of the exploited Third World and, definitively, our challenge is to seek the creation of a new international order that puts the economy at the service of the people and social justice". The new government worries the United States, which had previously supported Eric Gairy, and whose ambassador warns: "The United States government would dislike any inclination on the part of the Grenadines to develop closer ties with Cuba

The regime is particularly active in developing social policies: a Centre for Popular Education is established to coordinate government initiatives in education, including literacy campaigns. The learning of Grenada Creole is allowed at school. Nevertheless, the Bishop government's tendency to marginalize the Church's role in education contributes to the deterioration of relations with the clergy. In the health sector, medical consultations are made free of charge with the help of Cuba, which provides doctors, milk is distributed to pregnant women and children. In economics, the authorities are setting up a system of financial loans and equipment for farmers, and agricultural cooperatives are being set up to develop the activity. The Bishop government is also working to develop infrastructure, including building new roads and upgrading the power grid. Finally, the government is attacking marijuana grow operations to promote food agriculture and reduce violence. The PRG established close relations with the government of Cuba, and with Cuban assistance began construction of a large international airport.

Internationally, Grenada is increasingly isolated. The United Kingdom suspends its economic assistance and the United States uses its influence to block loans from the IMF and the World Bank. The situation was also deteriorating internally: on 19 June 1980, a bomb exploded during a meeting during which Bishop was to intervene. The device killed three people and wounded 25. Bishop openly accuses "American imperialism and its local agents". However, the real responsibility of the CIA is uncertain; if it had indeed imagined destabilization operations, the Carter administration was opposed to them. In 1983, Bishop finally went to Washington to try to "negotiate peace".

Literacy and health statistics improved dramatically during Bishop's tenure, but economic woes led to a crisis. In 1983, internal divisions occurred within the central committee of the PRG. A group led by Deputy Prime Minister Bernard Coard, a hard-line militaristic element,[2] attempted to convince Bishop to enter into a power-sharing agreement with Coard. Eventually Coard placed Bishop under house arrest and took control of the PRG government. The removal of Bishop led to large popular demonstrations in different areas of the country. In the course of one of these demonstrations, Bishop was freed by the crowd, and eventually reached the PRA headquarters at Fort Rupert.

A unit from the PRA (People's Revolutionary Army) at Fort Frederick was dispatched to Fort Rupert. Fighting broke out between that force and the civilians at Fort Rupert resulting in many deaths. Afterwards, Bishop and seven others, including several cabinet ministers, were rounded up and executed.

After the executions, a new government called the Revolutionary Military Council, led by General Hudson Austin, was formed to rule the country and the PRG ceased to exist. This government nominally ruled for six days before being ousted by the United States invasion of Grenada.

References[edit]

  1. ^ Russell Crandall, Gunboat Democracy: U.S. Interventions in the Dominican Republic, Grenada, and Panama (Oxford, UK, 2006), 126.
  2. ^ País, Ediciones El (1994-08-19). "Reportaje | 'Apocalypso now'". EL PAÍS (in Spanish). Retrieved 2017-06-06.