Distinguished guests, sisters and
Comrades today is the 8th
of April and I’m sure that
for all of us, this day is going to be a day that will have
will keep in our memories for a long time to come.
Certainly for us in the government, I
think there will be at
least three reasons why today the 8th of April,
why this day is
going to be long remembered by us.
IMPORTANCE OF 8TH
The first reason of course relates to the
fact that this is the
day that Otway House, or rather the newly renovated Otway House, is
formally opened, and that is surely a very significant reason to
A second reason for us, is that today, in
fact, our government
undertook a very important planning exercise; an exercise that is
at the Dome in Grand Anse; an exercise that involves about 40 of the
enterprise entities; met in 10 different workshops during the course of
an exercise that was very, very useful, that saw the beginning of the
of the draft change of our three year plan, for 1983, 1984 and 1985.
That was in fact the reason comrades, if I
may say so, that the
Cde. Minister of National Mobilisation and myself were a bit late in
The first two events I’ve spoken of
comrades, are events which
are very important for all of the workers of our country.
The opening of Otway House is very
obviously an event that has
tremendous relevance for the working class of Grenada.
The dock workers as had been said by other
speakers before me,
but I think cannot be oversaid – the dock workers have been in the
the years of leading the struggle against dictatorship in our country,
been in the vanguard today of the fight to bring a new dawn to our
Grenada, and I think all dock workers deserve to be highly
and applauded for the role they have played over the years.
The opening of Otway House would obviously
also have a tremendous
relevance to dock workers because this building will mean that the
for furthering the cause of economic democracy, for furthering the
worker democracy in our country, will be greatly advanced by the fact
now have much better surroundings and conditions than they’ve ever had
This hall appropriately named after Louis
Masanto – I am certain
in the future will be a hall where many very important meetings will be
very substantial discussions will take place in the future, as the dock
workers, and no doubt from time to time, other members of our working
come together in this hall to discuss matters of concern to them.
Otway House, too, has tremendous emotional
significance to all of
us in Grenada.
Certainly to all of us who remember the
period of 1973/74; to all of us who remember November 1973 when the
22 in which the Seamen and Waterfront Workers Union played a leading
formed; to all of us who remember January 1974, when for three weeks a
and sometimes a third of our population, every single day, Sundays
marched in the streets with one voice calling for an end to the
All of these marches either began from
this spot or ended at this
spot; and we can never forget comrades, the many stirring speeches that
delivered just a few yards away from where we are all standing and
Who among us can ever forget the 21st
of January 1974
when in a last desperate attempt to end the freedom marches of the
dictator sent his Mongoose Gang and the criminal elements within the
Forces to shoot us and beat us, the assembled marchers.
Who can ever forget comrades on that
memorable day, that dozens
of our people were brutalized, were humiliated, were tear-gassed; that
our leading patriots was in fact murdered on that day.
All of these thing, Otway House today
helps to symbolize and
certainly constitute the reasons that, for us, Otway House and the
Waterfront Workers Union will always hold a very cherished place in the
and in the minds of this government and of our people.
Comrades the third reason – It’s the only
one I haven’t mentioned
so far – that today the 8th of April will
certainly have some
significance for the people not just of Grenada but I suspect much more
the Caribbean, or certain parts of the Caribbean.
The other reason why this day will be
important, is because this
morning a man landed in Barbados, a man who is the President of the
States of America, Ronald Reagan; a man who came to this part of the
this time for a very clear reason, reasons which it is quite obvious
absolutely nothing to do with the development of our people.
This third event that marks today the 8th
will also affect the workers of Grenada and the workers of the
But, unlike the first two reasons, unlike
the start of the three
year planning process, and unlike the formal opening of Otway House
other event I’m describing will have only negative and adverse
the workers of our region.
There can be no doubt about that because
the intent of this trip
as indeed the intent of recent fostering (sic) was in fact always
ensure that the region once again was so many states, that our region
had struggled so hard to guild over these hundreds of years of slavery
colonialism will be reshaped, will be remodeled after the image and
those who were always our oppressors.
There is no doubt at all that this visit
will have significance
for the workers of our region, but his significance must be seen in the
of recent announcements and a recent action by the United States of
Ronald Reagan is the President.
REAGAN’S VERSION OF THE CARIBBEAN BASIN
We know comrades that only on the 24th
under two months, some six weeks ago, President Reagan standing up in
Organisation of American States announced a particular plan of
what he called development, for this region.
That plan is today now as the Caribbean
It is the United States version of that
[The wishes and the demands of the people
of the region.]
It is a plan that was fashioned and shaped
in the United States
with a view to furthering the national interest of the United States.
Comrades, when this Caribbean Basin Plan
speaks as It does of
deciding for us in the Caribbean, that the dominant sector of our
be the private sector, that is a form of interference.
It is a matter for the people of the
region to decide what levels
of private sector investment, of state sector investment, of
investment that each people and each country wants.
It is a matter for the people of the
region to decide how much
foreign private investment they are going to allow into their own
under what terms and what conditions.
Nobody outside of the region has the right
to dictate that for
And yet one of the most dominant aspects
of this whole overall
plan is precisely the fact that it is premedit (sic) exclusively one
almost say on private sector investment.
There is no account at all being taken of
development, of the need to build roads, and bridges and dams, of the
airports need extending and in some cases international airports need
built; of the fact that foreign private investors in any event will not
our countries in a context where that kind of infra-structural
not yet taken place.
This plan does not take that into account.
This plan does not also take into account
the fact that private
sector investment of a foreign character can often be unfair, and can
effect of swallowing up, and destroying local private investors, in a
where the foreign investment is allowed to come in without conditions
without any kind of rules whatsoever.
The kind of foreign investment in other
words that Ronald Reagan
and his people are today speaking about.
Comrades we need to be very clear also,
that when they speak in
the United States today of $350m being allocated for the entire region
Central America and the Caribbean – the so called Caribbean Basin –
they are talking about is absolute chicken-feed; it is absolute
hand-out and we
need to be very clear on that.
By the time the figure has been broken
down the $110m to El
Salvador, the $100m between Costa Rica and the Dominican Republic, the
Jamaica and so on – by the time they have finishing doing all of that
left for the Eastern Caribbean countries by their figure is $10m.
$10m for seven countries.
Seven countries with a population of over
half a million people
to share $10m is what this great United States plan amounts to.
Half a million people – ten million
That means $20 per person for the whole
year; divided down
further we see that it comes down to less than $2 a month to each
person in these
That means in face comrades that broken
down to a weekly figure
it comes down to about 40˘ a week for every person in these seven
islands or to
about 6˘ a day.
That is what this great mighty Caribbean
Basin strips down to
when the figures are in fact examined in a hard, cold way.
REAGAN’S INSULT TO THE PEOPLE OF OUR REGION
And comrades I think, too, it is very
important, when we think
over the next few days about the meaning of this presence in Barbados
over the next few days, where several Caribbean Prime Ministers have
hold discussions with President Reagan, we need to bear in mind and to
mind very, very clearly that what this presence also does is that it
the people of our region in a number of very fundamental ways.
First of all a major insult to the people
of Barbados in terms of
the way in which the visit has been executed; the helicopters because
are too narrow for the President to drive on; the imported limousine
Barbadian cars are too old and rickety and you can’t take a chance; a
hospital being imported because the hospital and medical staff at
not able to look after the President’s health; food being imported,
imported and we understand even toilet paper being imported as the
would have to suffer no discomforts whatsoever.
Certainly that is a major insult to the
people of Barbados. A
people in fact who have justly prided themselves over the years on the
of living, which over the years they have been able to acquire.
Likewise, when we consider the fact that
President Reagan in
formulating this plan, has chosen to leave certain countries out of the
Cuba, Grenada being the three notable ones, we need also to pause to
the fact, that here is someone outside of our region trying to
determine for us
in the region how we must utilise resources that are made available to
Here is someone from outside of our
region, trying to come down
to our region to tell us how we must define and describe our region.
It is in a sense obviously to use
geography in a political way to
try to tell us that the geography which we have inherited is not a
which the United States can accept because they have the right even to
which countries belong to this Caribbean Basin and which do not.
That again is definitely an insult to the
people of our region.
It is also an insult to the people of our
region when President
Reagan goes off to Jamaica, as he did yesterday, and the leader of the
Opposition, Michael Manley, and his entire party are excluded
any form of meeting or discussion with the President in total violation
same rules of Parliamentary procedure, and what not that are so highly
It is obvious that this has come about in
that way because
President Reagan, on more than one occasion, has attacked Michael
chosen to try to slander the work of the PNP government when they were
power, and tried in that way to make the people of Jamaica lose
that party and in Michael Manley as a leader.
Likewise, comrades, when President Reagan
chooses to come down to
our countries, come down to our region, and to stand on our soil in
region; to use it as an occasion to attack our country, that too is a
insult to our people.
ANOTHER ATTACK ON GRENADA
We understand that only this afternoon, or
sometime today, we
heard the news very briefly on Radio
Antilles earlier on that Reagan in Barbados used the opportunity of his
presence there to launch yet another attack on our own country, once
chose to speak of the lack of so-called democracy in Grenada.
RESPONSE TO THE ATTACK ON GRENADA
We want to say to Reagan from this
platform here and now, within
a few minutes of having heard the statement, that the kind of democracy
speaks of and the kind of democracy that he practices that we in
not in the least bit interested in that kind of democracy.
A democracy which fires 10,000,000 workers
because that is the
number of workers that are out of work today in the United States.
A democracy which in one blow fires 14,000
controllers and then moves to decertify their Union.
A democracy which cuts the social benefits
that the poorest people
and the poorest workers in the United States have received.
A democracy which closes down hospitals
and closes down schools.
A democracy which cuts back on medical
care, a democracy which
cuts back on food stamps for the poor, a democracy which removes
subsidies, a democracy which cuts farmers subsidies, a democracy in
that is aimed at removing all of the rights which the workers and the
the United States from the time of Franklyn Delany Roosevelt’s
fought for, have struggled for, and have gained over these last 40
That brand and version of democracy is not
a democracy that we
are interested in when we speak of democracy.
At the same time of speaking of this
democracy, the Reagan
Administration moves to wage war against several different countries in
region; moves to give open and active support to the fascists that are
El Salvador, for example, moves to give open support to the
Haiti and in Chile; in South Korea
the racist and fascist in South Africa.
That version of democracy, is a version
that again we can do
When he speaks of democracy, and uses the
so-called democracy to
tax the people of the United States in order to be able to spend $214
on defence, on arms, we say that kind of democracy is no democracy at
When they speak of democracy, under which
they can steal taxpayers
money in the United States in order to prop up their rich friends, then
not regard that as democracy.
Indeed democracy that Lincoln spoke of,
government of the people,
by the people, for the people, it is obvious that what Reagan’s
is government of the rich, by the rich, for the rich and against the
That is what he means by democracy; that
is the kind of democracy
that free Grenada can certainly do without.
So comrades, today, we certainly believe
(sic) will have
tremendous significance in years to come for these reasons.
Certainly the fact of this opening this
afternoon, certainly the
fact that the dock workers will now once again have the opportunity to
their meetings in these conditions, to be able to expand their union,
able to bring more education to their members, to be able to discuss
trade union business in this atmosphere, I think it will be a lot for
Union democracy, for trade union development, and for the overall
rise in the consciousness of the working class of our country.
Bro. Chapplin (sic) informed me when he
spoke; he mentioned a donation
which his organisation was giving to the Seamen and Waterfront Workers
this very auspicious day.
I do not have a similar material donation
to offer the workers of
Grenada and to offer the leadership in the Seamen and Waterfront
But I know I can speak with the full
support of all of the
comrades in the Party and Government, when I say that our donation to
Seamen and Waterfront Workers Union, will be our full, our firmest and
unswerving and unwavering support for the cause of the worker in our
for the cause of trade unionism in our country, and for the advance of
democracy for all of the workers of Grenada, and that donation I think
So comrades, let me also end for formally
President, your secretary your leadership and also all of the members
Seamen and Waterfront Workers Union, for all of the effort that was put
getting Otway House what it is today.
Let me say that our government greatly
salutes this work that you
have done and believes it will make an extremely important contribution
cause of building our county, to the cause of moving our country
being the new and just Grenada that all of us want to see built.
LONG LIVE THE SEAMEN AND WATERFRONT
LONG LIVE THE DOCK WORKERS OF GRENADA!
LONG LIVE THE GRENADA REVOLUTION!