The Grenada Revolution Online

Hudson Austin

Immediately following the tragic days of October 1983, Hudson Austin became the Bad Guy of Grenada with a mean, swarthy, pugilistic photograph in wide circulation and a recording of the RMC curfew speech given over Radio Free Grenada at 9:10 p.m. on 19 October 1983. The two paragraphs below were part of the Austin's Curfew Radio Announcement read by Austin with a gruff and gravelly voice:

“Let it be clearly understood that the Revolutionary Armed Forces will govern with absolute strictness. Anyone who seeks to demonstrate or disturb the peace will be shot. An all day and all night curfew will be established for the next four days. From now until next Monday at 6:00 p.m.

No one is to leave their house. Anyone violating this curfew will be shot on sight. All schools are closed and all workplaces except for the essential services until further notice.”

General Austin would head the Revolutionary Military Council, formed at 3 p.m. that Wednesday, 19 October 1983, according to Adkin,

“because of his military rank, because of his popularity within the PRA, and because, until the last few days, he was well known as a long-standing Bishop supporter. Austin was the obvious choice for a figurehead.”

Sir Paul Scoon met with Austin Friday morning, 21 October 1983. Scoon, in his book "Survival for Service" describes Austin as looking "tired and forlorn." On missions ordered by others, Austin completed them. Hudson Austin was a man who did not stop completion of his tasks. His reputation at the time was of a busy man.

Austin, also known as "The General," met that same Friday with Dr. Geoffrey Bourne of the St. George's School of Medicine administration to give his guarantee of the safety of the students and extend aid during the curfew.

POST-INVASION IMAGE SET FIRM

After U.S. forces arrived and the Revolutionary Military Council people and others were captured, photographs circulated in Grenada as posters showing Hudson Austin among other Grenadians, captured, stripped to the waist, manacled and blindfolded while in the occupying forces' custody. These photos were most likely a quick creation of the U.S. Army's 1st Psychological Operations Group from Fort Bragg, North Carolina. Psy-Ops in Grenada based its premise on winning the hearts and minds of the general populace.

In a 5 November 1983 CBS News poll, which sampled 304 Grenadians in thirty locations on the island. The survey revealed that eighty-five percent said they or their families were in danger while the power of General Hudson Austin remained while only eleven percent said they were not.

Fidel Castro drew together a crowd of a million in the Plaza de la Revolución in Havana on 14 November 1983. Castro delivered a speech in which he once again lauded Bishop and condemned Coard and Austin. He accused Coard and Austin of being members of what he called the "Pol Pot Group".

Grenadian Calypsonian Valentino in "Saga of the PRA" accuses Austin and Coard of having turned "a dream into a nightmare," "orchestrated a crucifixion" and reversed revolutionary process.

CAPTURE

Austin's capture did not occur until 28 October 1983 or October 30 in another report. A unit of the 82nd Airborne Division carried it out. Grenadians revealed the capture location at a house of East Germans at Weatherhaven on Westerhall Point. Troops found Austin inside the house with Layne and Cornwall and with two white men of unknown identity. US forces flew all their captives to US ocean warships, Austin first to the USS Guam. US forces later transferred Austin again.

On 6 November 1983 General Hudson Austin flew in a helicopter from the USS Saipan to the Queens Park football stadium in downtown St. George's. Autorities tranported Austin to the Richmond Hill Prison, under the control of the Caribbean security forces with continued questioning by US intelligence agents.

WHO IS HUDSON AUSTIN?

General Austin, the military chieftain, did not come out of this looking good. His post-invasion image does not match in severity the less-publicized image of a man liked by his troops and who tried to get along with all sides. People report Austin was trembling during the curfew radio announcement. This image is not to deny Austin's ability to act in an opposite manner.

Hudson Austin, at a height of 5' 9", was a popular military leader, a near father-figure to those under his command, a non-ideological commander with a direct, and sometime crude, use of language and an innate ability to teach and explain. According to Beverley Steele in her book Grenada: A History of its People, Austin "was a well-respected lay preacher in the Methodist Church."

WHERE IS HE NOW?

Austin was released from Richmond Hill Prisons 18 December 2008 The Grenada 17 where once he was a warden at that same facility under Gairy. In 1973, Austin had met his future friend Maurice Bishop while Austin was on guard duty and Bishop was a political prisoner.

FROM THE PARISH OF ST. PAUL

Hudson Austin, or ‘H.A.’ as he was known, was from Madigras, St. Paul's. He was born in 26 April 1938 in one account. In another account taken by the C.I. Department of the Police, Austin's year of birth was noted as 1936, being born in Morne Jaloux and educated at the Morne Jaloux R.C. [the Roman Catholic] school. One account has him attending Presentation College. The account taken by the C.I. department notes he attended GBSS.

It of note that Hudson Austin was older than the rest of his comrades who were born, generally, in the 1950s. He studied general construction via International Correspondence School, and highway and airport construction at Bennet College.

A member of the Grenada Volunteer Constabulary, Hudson Austin was a former army corporal under the Gairy administration with construction engineering education at the Jamaica Institute of Science and Technology which led to graduation. He became a corporal in 1958. He received military training during a 6-month course at the U.S. military base in Chaguaramas, Trinidad in tactics, reconnaissance, weapons and map reading. Back in Grenada from 1960-1969, Austin was a correctional officer at Richmond Hill Prisons until he was let go by the Gairy government. During the early 1970s Austin was in sales with a British-American insurance Co. for about 2 years. He worked with Gordon Brathwaite as a construction engineer, eventually working on his own Road Construction Company Ltd.

Hudson Austin's home was searched repeatedly by the police in the 1970s. For example, on 9 January 1975, there was a pre-dawn police raid on his house in Mardi Gras. Security found no arms or ammunition. On 9 April 1975, Gairy forces charged Austin of stealing fifty .303 rifles from PBC between Monday 28 May 1973 and Wednesday 30 May 1973. Adonis Francis, Detective, Constable Gilbert (Ag. Cpl) and others on 20 June 1973 found a bag with a rifle behind Austin's house - a .303 s/n 86039; Police No. 119. Austin was fingerprinted again 31 July 1974.

When the 14-person Provisional Revolutionary Government (PRG) was formed on 16 March 1979, Hudson Austin was one of its leading members, and Commander of the People's Revolutionary Army (PRA). At that time, he was married with three children.

Hudson Austin was the Commander of Revolutionary Armed Forces, the PRA Commander-In-Chief and General of the Armed Forces since late 1981 or 1982. He was a member of the PRG, the Central Committee of the NJM and a member of the NJM Politburo, Minister of Defense. He had been a member of the New Jewel Movement since its inception in March of 1979.

Austin was Minister of Construction and Public Utilities. Road engineering was one of his skills and in his early days with the PRG, he was Minister of Labor and Airport Construction Supervisor with varying titles encompassing communications, public works and labor.

BLOODY SUNDAY

Like Radix and Simon Daniel, Austin was one of six members of the NJM, who on 18 November 1973, went to Grenville to hold a meeting. Inspector Belmar and Defence Forces set upon them. Austin, Radix, and Daniel were able to race up the stairs to H.M. Bhola's apartment. Security forces beat Bishop, Whiteman, and Strachan with wood sticks of heavy density and with pistol butts.

Belmar then returned to the Bhola house demanding surrender from Austin, Radix, and Daniel. Belmar and others transported the three and placed them in the same cell as their comrades. Selwyn Strachan, in an interview in ‘The Free West Indian’, said: “I could recall that Comrade Austin had Comrade Bishop in his lap, bleeding profusely. The underpants Comrade Austin was wearing changed colour from white to red.”

MILITARY TRAINING

In 1977-78, Austin received military training in Guyana along with eleven other Grenadians. The information that Austin had additional training in Cuba is speculative at this time. Supposedly, the group trained in secret in Guyana. Some knew of them as the ' Twelve Apostles'. Austin has stated that he had military training in Trinidad.

A group of select cadres had been training for an attack on Gairy's police for some time. The Bureau called a final vote and Coard, Austin, and Louison won. After the Bureau made the decision to go ahead, Austin personally commanded the successful raid on the army True Blue Barracks and seizure of Radio Grenada 13 March 1979. One observer reported that Austin wanted to liquidate as many as possible of the opposition, but Bishop sought a bloodless coup. After True Blue, Austin took a party of his men off to capture Radio Grenada, a mile or so back towards St. George's at Morne Rouge.

During the time of the People's Revolutionary Government (PRG), Austin took training in the Soviet Union.

TRAVELS

Austin traveled 27 October 1980 to Havana to finalize and sign a treaty for the delivery to Grenada of "special" military equipment from the USSR. The Soviet Union and Grenada signed a secret military assistance agreement in Havana. The accord called for the delivery of 5 million rubles of arms and ammunition to Grenada without charge. The arms were delivered through Cuba

From 4 June to 17 June 1981, General Austin spent two weeks in Vietnam where he received training in reeducation of prisoners and rehabilitation of anti-social elements. Following this visit, Austin represented the NJM and PRG at the second anniversary of the Nicaraguan Revolution.

On 5 September 1983 General Austin went to North Korea with 2nd Lt. George M. Cherebin. Because of the crisis in the NJM Party and flight difficulties returning Austin from Korea for the 17 September 1983, “Cde. Austin said, it was only right that he abstain because he arrived late in the meeting." Quotation from the Extra-Ordinary Meeting of the Central Committee, Saturday 17 September 1983, Grenada Documents: An Overview and Selection, p. 112-39 taken from original Grenada Document 000123.

A report dated 12 September 1983 concerning a telex received [from Cde. H. Austin to Cde. Prime Minister] via Cde Fennis Augustine, High Commissioner in London reads as follows:

Will not get flight out of North Korea before 13th. Flight from Paraguay to London not yet confirmed. Arrival home may be 16th.

At one point, Austin and Cherebin flew on BWIA International Executive Class. In a report to the Central Committee upon arrival home, General Austin wrote:

Our trip back to Korea took us through Moscow, Prague, Amsterdam, London, Barbados and St. Vincent was marked by improper planning, of thus causing many delays. We arrived in Grenada on the evening of Friday 16th September.

Hudson Austin was one of the prisoners called the Grenada 17. The remaining 7 of the Grenada 17 were released 5 September 2009. Among them was Hudson Austin.

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