The Burning Spear 1981

Grenada: Nobody's Backyard

Source: The Burning Spear. Vol. 8 No. 3, May, 1981;
Transcribed: for by David Adams.

"Nature has placed us in the Caribbean and now the U.S. strategists are saying we are strategic. If that is news to them, it is not to us.we have always known we were strategic. The colonial schools taught about our Mother Country Africa, that people live in trees and eat only raw fish and cassava. But we know that no people can go through 300 years of slavery and still be as strong as we are unless they can rely on a strong civilization. And civilization does not mean more bars on each corner and little things to buy. Civilization means living in love and peace and unity with our brothers and sisters."

Thus spoke Consul-General Joseph Kanute Burke at a San Francisco Bay Area celebration of the victory of the people's revolution in Grenada. Led by Maurice Bishop and the New Jewel Movement, the people of Grenada have defied the U.S. and its neo-colonial stooges and gangsters, who have held a strangle-hold on Grenada since was supposedly set free from British colonial rule. The Grenadian revolution, led by African people, was the first English-speaking socialist revolution in the world. They have begun the tremendous task of building production (such as the fishing industry) that benefits the people instead of foreign extractors, of providing decent medical care and education to all the people of Grenada.

The celebration here was sponsored by the U.S.-Grenada Friendship Society, which has been working in many locations in the U.S. to build awareness of the changes taking place and to facilitate African and other peoples here having contact with the Grenadian revolution. It began with the film, "Grenada, Nobody's Backyard," which has been produced by the Covert Action Information Bulletin. The film showed the popular process of the Grenadian revolution and the many ways the Grenadian people are transforming their lives. It also reveals the extensive efforts of the U.S. government, through the CIA and its control over media and such front organizations as the "American Institute for Free Labor Development," to "destabilize" the revolution. The latter organization, which operates extensively throughout Latin American and recently lost two agents to assassins in El Salvador, is set up to terrorize and smash progressive union movements and call strikes and slowdowns against people's governments.

Destabilization is revealed and plainly explained through interviews with Grenadian officials and the evidence of bombings and terrorist acts that are being perpetrated against the Grenadian revolution. One group of plotters, trained by the CIA to attack the local power plant at the same time as three invasion boats were landed on the island, were intercepted and their arms and communications displayed. The film also includes interviews with Isabel Letelier of Chile, CheddiJagan of Guyana, Trevor Monroe of Jamaica and former CIA agent Philip Agee, to show the destabilization strategy as combining terrorism with economic blockade or disruption. The Grenadian revolution recognize that the only defense, the only effective response, is to inform the people at all times what is going on, to mobilize the masses of people to defend their gains, and to build the People's Revolutionary Army and the People's Militia.

Lionel Cuffee, of the Bay Area U.S.-Grenada Friendship Society, introduced the March 30 celebration at U.S. Berkeley with the announcement of solidarity messages from John George (Alameda County Supervisor), the U.S.-Vietnam Friendship Association, the African People's Solidarity Committee, the East Bay Solidarity Committee with Nicaragua, Guatemala News and Information Bulletin, and numerous trade union locals.

In his key-note speech, Consul-General Burke explained that Grenada is no longer simply regarded as an "Isle of Spice," but instead is setting a splendid example for the people of the world. And he said, "Wherever people are struggling for their own-determination, it is sure the enemy is trying to turn back the tide of progress, trying to spread false propaganda. And so that euphoria, which existed after the victory of our revolution in March of 1979, is still there but also our people have had to adopt a different stance. You saw the pictures (in the film) of the two sisters who were blown apart by a bomb at the rally being held on June 13 at Queens Park. I want to tell you that our people's new stance is one of resoluteness, discipline, and determination."

Speaking of the economic reconstruction, Brother Burke spoke of the building of the International Airport, which is the most ambitious construction project in the Caribbean. Much to the chagrin of the U.S. imperialists, this project is being carried out with extensive aid from Cuba, and construction skills and jobs are being obtained by Grenadians. He also explained, "Agriculture is the backbone of our economy since we're blessed with a fertile soil. Because of the legacy of slavery, many have the attitude of wanting to be far away from the land. Many, such as myself, have seen going to school as a chance to get a civil service job and movement up. But we must educate ourselves that the land is the basis of the economy and where our future lies. We are bringing back into production any land parcels of more than 50 acres. If they are not cultivated, we offer the owner that the government will lease or buy the land and set up popular cooperatives. We have set up co-ops in land, arts, baking, and fishing. Cooperative working is a value we have inherited from our African ancestry."

He also described the advances being made in the health field, and the aid that has arrived from solidarity organizations in the San Francisco Bay Area, Toronto, Montreal, and London as well as from African countries. The New Jewel Movement has also built the struggle for equality for women, and initiated the Year of Education with the slogan, "If you know, teach. If you don't, learn."

The tremendous internationalism of the celebration was also expressed by Carlos Vela of the Frente Democratico Revolucionario (FDR) of El Salvador, who expressed the solidarity of the people of Central American and the Caribbean in their common struggle. He explained that people should not be impatient, not expect simple and fast victory in El Salvador. He said, "When we speak of the struggle in Central America we would all like to learn of a victory in one or two years. But we are not fighting just a junta, we are not fighting just the oligarchy. We are fighting U.S. imperialism. Haig's military team from Viet Nam is commanding the army in El Salvador, therefore it is only a tool of the U.S. The International Monetary Fund has invested $600 million in El Salvador, therefore they run the economy. It will be a prolonged struggle, and the U.S. is preparing more blatant intervention. It is a long struggle ahead, but the victory also lies ahead and it will be our victory as well as for those who have stood by us."

In all, the celebration of the victory of the Grenadian revolution showed the determination of the people of Grenada and the entire region to set their own course, to target U.S. imperialism and counter its familiar disruption strategies with solidarity and renewed strength.