The Grenada Revolution Online

Bishop Speech - Otway House Celebration, 8 April 1982

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Distinguished guests, sisters and brothers, comrades.

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 significance and 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 APRIL, 1982

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 being formally opened, and that is surely a very significant reason to remember the date.

A second reason for us, is that today, in fact, our government undertook a very important planning exercise; an exercise that is taking place at the Dome in Grand Anse; an exercise that involves about 40 of the state enterprise entities; met in 10 different workshops during the course of today; an exercise that was very, very useful, that saw the beginning of the process 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 getting here.

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 vanguard over the years of leading the struggle against dictatorship in our country, and have been in the vanguard today of the fight to bring a new dawn to our country, Grenada, and I think all dock workers deserve to be highly complimented, saluted 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 opportunity for furthering the cause of economic democracy, for furthering the cause of worker democracy in our country, will be greatly advanced by the fact that they now have much better surroundings and conditions than they’ve ever had at any time before.

This hall appropriately named after Louis Masanto – I am certain in the future will be a hall where many very important meetings will be held, where 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 class, 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 great revolutionary period of 1973/74; to all of us who remember November 1973 when the Committee of 22 in which the Seamen and Waterfront Workers Union played a leading role, was formed; to all of us who remember January 1974, when for three weeks a quarter and sometimes a third of our population, every single day, Sundays included, marched in the streets with one voice calling for an end to the dictatorship.

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 were delivered just a few yards away from where we are all standing and sitting now.

Who among us can ever forget the 21st of January 1974 when in a last desperate attempt to end the freedom marches of the people, the dictator sent his Mongoose Gang and the criminal elements within the Armed 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 one of 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 Seamen and Waterfront Workers Union will always hold a very cherished place in the hearts 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 so of 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 United States of America, Ronald Reagan; a man who came to this part of the world at this time for a very clear reason, reasons which it is quite obvious have absolutely nothing to do with the development of our people.

This third event that marks today the 8th of April will also affect the workers of Grenada and the workers of the Caribbean.

But, unlike the first two reasons, unlike the start of the three year planning process, and unlike the formal opening of Otway House today this other event I’m describing will have only negative and adverse implications for 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 designed to ensure that the region once again was so many states, that our region which we had struggled so hard to guild over these hundreds of years of slavery and colonialism will be reshaped, will be remodeled after the image and likeness of 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 context of recent announcements and a recent action by the United States of which Ronald Reagan is the President.

REAGAN’S VERSION OF THE CARIBBEAN BASIN PLAN

We know comrades that only on the 24th of February, under two months, some six weeks ago, President Reagan standing up in the Organisation of American States announced a particular plan of development, or what he called development, for this region.

That plan is today now as the Caribbean Basin Plan.

It is the United States version of that plan.

[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 economy must 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 cooperative sector 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 countries and under what terms and what conditions.

Nobody outside of the region has the right to dictate that for us.

And yet one of the most dominant aspects of this whole overall plan is precisely the fact that it is premedit (sic) exclusively one could almost say on private sector investment.

There is no account at all being taken of infra-structure development, of the need to build roads, and bridges and dams, of the fact that airports need extending and in some cases international airports need to be built; of the fact that foreign private investors in any event will not come to our countries in a context where that kind of infra-structural development has 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 have the effect of swallowing up, and destroying local private investors, in a context where the foreign investment is allowed to come in without conditions and 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 of Central America and the Caribbean – the so called Caribbean Basin – that what 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 $50m to Jamaica and so on – by the time they have finishing doing all of that what is 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 dollars.

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 seven islands.

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 today and over the next few days, where several Caribbean Prime Ministers have gone to hold discussions with President Reagan, we need to bear in mind and to bear in mind very, very clearly that what this presence also does is that it insults 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 the roads are too narrow for the President to drive on; the imported limousine because Barbadian cars are too old and rickety and you can’t take a chance; a whole hospital being imported because the hospital and medical staff at Barbados are not able to look after the President’s health; food being imported, water being imported and we understand even toilet paper being imported as the President 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 standard 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 plan; Nicaragua, Cuba, Grenada being the three notable ones, we need also to pause to reflect on 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 us.

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 geography which the United States can accept because they have the right even to defend 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 altogether from any form of meeting or discussion with the President in total violation of the same rules of Parliamentary procedure, and what not that are so highly touted in the region.

It is obvious that this has come about in that way because President Reagan, on more than one occasion, has attacked Michael Manley and chosen to try to slander the work of the PNP government when they were in power, and tried in that way to make the people of Jamaica lose confidence in 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 this region; to use it as an occasion to attack our country, that too is a major 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 again 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 that he speaks of and the kind of democracy that he practices that we in Grenada are 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 air traffic 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 housing subsidies, a democracy which cuts farmers subsidies, a democracy in other words that is aimed at removing all of the rights which the workers and the poor of the United States from the time of Franklyn Delany Roosevelt’s Presidency have fought for, have struggled for, and have gained over these last 40 years.

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 our own region; moves to give open and active support to the fascists that are ruling El Salvador, for example, moves to give open support to the dictatorship in Haiti and in Chile; in South Korea  to the racist and fascist in South Africa.

That version of democracy, is a version that again we can do without.

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 billion on defence, on arms, we say that kind of democracy is no democracy at all.

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 we do 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 democracy is, is government of the rich, by the rich, for the rich and against the poor and working people.

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 hold their meetings in these conditions, to be able to expand their union, to be able to bring more education to their members, to be able to discuss their trade union business in this atmosphere, I think it will be a lot for Trade Union democracy, for trade union development, and for the overall growth and 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 Union on 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 Workers Union.

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 the Seamen and Waterfront Workers Union, will be our full, our firmest and our most unswerving and unwavering support for the cause of the worker in our country, for the cause of trade unionism in our country, and for the advance of economic democracy for all of the workers of Grenada, and that donation I think is an important one.

So comrades, let me also end for formally congratulating your President, your secretary your leadership and also all of the members of the Seamen and Waterfront Workers Union, for all of the effort that was put into 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 to the cause of building our county, to the cause of moving our country rapidly into being the new and just Grenada that all of us want to see built.

LONG LIVE THE SEAMEN AND WATERFRONT WORKERS UNION!

LONG LIVE THE DOCK WORKERS OF GRENADA!

LONG LIVE THE GRENADA REVOLUTION!

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