The Grenada Revolution Online

Bishop Speech, Excerpts, Caribbean Workers Conference, 9 January 1981

The following are excerpts from a speech given by Maurice Bishop, Prime Minister of Grenada, in January 1981 at a conference in Grenada’s capital St. George’s.

Dear Comrades:

In the name of the New Jewel Movement and the People’s Revolutionary Government, and in the name of all free peoples I welcome you to the warmth of our people, the beauty of our shores, and to our revolution.

We see the region as one entire indivisible entity, made up of people sharing essentially the same history, coming from the same geographical region and certainly today fighting the same battle in the backyard of U.S. imperialism.

After 400 years of colonialism, the condition of the working people of the Caribbean continues to be very much the same.

The transnationals continue to bleed our countries dry, leaving in their wake unemployment, illiteracy, poor housing, lack of proper health facilities, superstition, malnutrition and many other social illnesses.

Grenada, in common with most of the region, is still in the shackles of this vicious system.

But what distinguishes us in Grenada is that we have begun the task of trying to disengage from the clutches of imperialism . . . to begin the task of reclaiming our resources.

This is not an easy task.

Nearly everything we consume is imported.

We inherited an economic situation where the Gairy dictatorship practiced corruption on a massive scale, having done everything possible to destroy the Grenadan economy (and) to destroy in particular the agricultural sector, the backbone of that economy . . .

Agricultural development was and still is dominated by the imperialists.

This sector of the economy, responsible for over 90% of all exports and which brings in over 40% of all foreign exchange, was totally neglected.

At the same time the country’s infrastructure was never maintained and depreciated badly.

Miles of road deteriorated into dirt track and broken pipeline was never repaired.

The country’s social services were totally neglected likewise.

Hospitals were in need of repair . . . no proper medical facilities existed . . . medicine was often entirely unavailable . . .

The regime owed massive debts to both local and international financial institutions, money which was not used in the interest of national development.

The people of our country have made substantial improvements in the overall quality of their lives.

Unemployment has been cut in half.

We have passed a trade union act giving all workers the right to form trade unions, which have doubled in membership in the past 20 months.

We have also introduced the principle of profit-sharing in the 30 state farms . . .

This has stimulated the workers to become more involved and interested in lifting production, as they understand the problems and possibilities.

We have also introduced systems of emulation competition in those state sectors.

Every month the workers choose one of their members as worker of the month for their hard work, discipline and consistency.

The worker of the year was a simple, humble agricultural workers who had developed a technique of ridding the cocoa farm of a beetle by using a simple trap using the African bread fruit tree branches.

(This achievement) has shown what the revolution can do to help express the creative talents of the working people in our country.

The women of our country have also made a number of important strides . . .

The National Women’s Organization has grown by more than five times in the past year.

We have introduced the principle of equal pay for all women; also a maternity leave during the period prior to and immediately after the birth of a child.

We have completely outlawed sex discrimination with respect to all employment.

The Community Education Councils which have been established refurbished 66 primary schools . . .

As of September, secondary education will become entirely free.

A new secondary school has just opened (while) in the 400 years of colonialism only one was built by the British and in the 29 years of the Gairy dictatorship not one was built.

In 1978, three Grenadan students had the opportunity to go abroad to study, but now 214 Grenadian students are studying abroad.

In the area of health care, the number of doctors has just about doubled.

Instead of one, we now have seven dental clinics.

As of October, all Grenadans are able to receive entirely free of cost all hospital and health services.

The fraternal assistance which we have received from Cuba has been extremely important.

The Cuban team saw more than 70,000 patients last year and performed over 400 operations . . .

We wish to redirect health care to bring it to the villages where the people live and work instead of concentrating it in the three (sic) hospitals.

The Community Work Brigades have been very important in this area.

These work brigades came about in the first few months of the revolution as a result of our explanation to the people that, because of the situation we inherited, national reconstruction must be done by us in a self-reliant way.

When the roads, community centers or whatever needed repairing, we told the communities not just to come to us, but to form a community brigade to do voluntary work and then to come to the Ministry of Communication and give a plan of what materials . . . and technical assistance might be required . . .

This has been extremely successful . . .

Last summer, before the rains, 85% of the population was working on the weekends in community projects.

We (also) decided it was necessary to open up the whole process of budget discussion to as many people, particularly organized people and workers, as possible.

We invited the leaders of all the trade unions to sit in and discuss with the ministries and economic directors all economic matters such as production requirements, where to spend or cut, etc.

All the figures in the 1981 budget, from the highest earner down to cemetery fees, were exposed to these public workers . . .

We are also now holding talks with leaders of the trade union movement over salary raises.

We are trying to get across the very fundamental message that wages in the public sector cannot be increased automatically every year, rather that these wages have to be tagged to the question of production.

Without a doubt what the Reagan victory has meant is that the right wing in the region will become a million times bolder, hopeful, confident that the correct part is the condemned Puerto Rican model, the industrialization-by-invitation model . . .

Such puppets as Tom Adams of Barbados were willing to express their desire to carry out orders from Reagan hours before Reagan had actually won the election.

That reaction symptomizes and symbolizes the danger of the present period.

Destabilization was begun against the Grenadan revolution from the very first day and also has not stopped.

The propaganda, in fact, has stepped up . . .

The Great British and the Americans ganged together to deny our country from receiving hurricane rehabilitation assistance.

In a recent survey in New York, 19 of 25 travel agencies, when questioned about possible vacation plans for Grenada, said not to go to Grenada as Cubans and Russians were all over the place, everyone has a gun, there is barbed wire on the beach, you must wear a bulletproof vest when in town.

Seventeen of the 19 said that the State Department told them to say these things.

We recognize destabilization when the local counter-revolutionary elements, as small as they are in number, are able to use technology that is entirely alien to our country to plant a bomb aimed at wiping out the entire leadership at one blow, and which proceeds to cause physical and psychological injury to 97 of our people: 35 being hospitalized, 33 of the 35 being women, three dying.

Comrades, the Grenadan revolution pledges that we will remain loyal to our principles.

We will assist, within our means, to advance the progressive and pre-revolutionary processes in the world . . .

We believe that all revolutionaries are united by common principles, and all revolutionary struggles are one and indivisible.

When a Grenadan asked a Guatemalan several months ago what we could to in Grenada to help you in Guatemala he said the best way to assist us is to make sure your revolution in Grenada succeeds, is consolidated and continues to go forward.

We will do all we can to make sure the Grenadan revolution is not diverted, rolled back, destabilized, etc . . . but that the revolution goes on.

     

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