37 years ago, Grenadians suffered what Is arguably the most tragic period in our entire history because it was on October 19 th 37 years ago when chaos, mayhem, ultraleftistism and insanity reigned when a Prime Minister who only hours before was freed from house arrest imposed by his captors was placed against a wall on Fort George with some of his cabinet colleagues and supporters and assassinated in cold blood. Just saying the numbers 37 almost conveys the impression of something that happened in the distant past but it could easily be 37 hours because the memory of that fateful day are still so very fresh in our minds that it still feels like yesterday. The wounds are still deep for many of us and even the pain now dull compared to 37 years ago, it is still ever present precisely because there has been closure for the perpetrators all of whom are free citizens today but there has never been closure for many of the victims and their families. Etched in our consciousness is the fact that this event could have been avoided only if the perpetrators who lived in a bubble at that time drunk on ideology, were able to appreciate the magnitude of support that the leader had among the people and that killing him and his colleagues was tantamount to committing political suicide.In fact this is what happened because the People’s Revolution of March 13th 1979 effectively came to an end on 19th October 1983.
The mindset of that ultraleftist group was maniacal, devoid of any sympathy, remorse or consideration for the sanctity of life, devoid of any consideration for the opinion of the masses who were the backbone of the revolution and who came out to show their support to their leader who had become the victim of a brutal incarceration at his home only days before and only because he wanted to raise some concerns about the irrational joint leadership proposal put forward by a member of the party which was adopted without may proper discussion or deliberation as to exactly how it would function in a practical way. This proposal became the gospel truth, the doctrine which not even the leader could question. They were prepared to kill and main and to have their way, totally at odds with the wishes and aspirations of the masses who wanted one leader and not joint leadership.
The ones who lost their lives 37 years ago,were the ones who took a stand, the ones who were considered as the biggest threats but who were prepared to defy the dictates of that nefarious group and in the process made the ultimate sacrifice. Today we honour their strength and their resilience and their invaluable contributions to the Grenadian people.
Since that Day Grenada has never been the same. The unity, patriotism, the sense of national pride, patriotism and volunteerism have been replaced by political strife, tribalism and disunity. The main tenets, values and principles of the revolution have all been destroyed and among the ordinary people who lived through that period there is a nostalgia for the good old days when people came together as never before to build this nation and invest In their future.
The perpetrators of those heinous crimes of 37 years ago have all been set free and living their best lives. Many of them have become writers and authors of books yet none of them have really addressed the pressing concerns of the Grenadian people to know exactly what transpired in those fateful days, the truth that many of them said was going to come once they were free. We are no closer today to learning the truth than we were 37 years ago.Many of them Instead of accepting the blame for the atrocities of that period have instead found scapegoats to justify their arbitrary actions and behaviour. Some have even sought to attribute blame to Comrade Fidel Castro for those events rather than themselves.
While we honour the sterling contributions of those who died on the Fort 37 years ago, we say in the same breath that Reconciliation has to be based on truth and especially in this time of a society that is sorely divided, only the truth shall set us free. It is extremely difficult to reconcile with those who today still have no remorse who have no regrets and still see them elves as having done nothing wrong and would do the same thing again if given the opportunity.
The story of Alexis Simon whose life has been a living hell. He is one who lost his left arm as a result of those events 37 years ago and my heart reaches out to him and countless others whose lives and futures have been severely impacted. Society has not been as kind to them as they were to the perpetrators. There are still many people and families still suffering , whose lives have been displaced and they have no one to turn to as Alexis Simon.
Many have died in the last 37 years waiting for some information on the whereabouts of their loved ones whose remains have never been recovered. Alimenta Bishop, Maureen Bishop, the mother of Fitzroy Bain, Bob Evans and Anthony Romain are among that list.
Once again, in the spirit Of reconciliation, the authorities are called upon to look into the case of Alexis Simon and others like himself who have been marginalized through no fault of theirs,in the spirit of reconciliation, we call on the authorities to undertake a proper commission of inquiry that would lead to information about the whereabouts of the remains of those who were recovered by the US military after the invasion. If they disposed of them in the sea or where ever, just tell us the truth, let us know what happened to them so that we can bring closure for those who have waited in vain for years. And finally in the spirit of reconciliation, as a tribute to those who lost their lives, we ask for that area of the forte here martyrdom took place to be converted into a proper museum that preserves the history of that period for posterity and for the future generations.Just as the holes in the wall have been covered up, so too will our history be covered up unless we do something about preserving it.
Our Cuban comrades who were caught in the aftermath of this tragic day and many lost their lives during the invasion deserve our thanks. We thank our Cuban comrades for their international solidarity and for giving us not only the biggest infrastructural project in the history of Grenada which is the Maurice Bishop international airport but for the assistance they have rendered and continue to render on behalf of the Grenadian people.
Finally let us all recommit ourselves to the spirit of unity and reconciliation and to building this beautiful nation of ours in the spirit and memory of Maurice Bishop and those who sacrificed their lives for all of us 37 years ago……………..Just Food for Thought!