Born 29 November 1951, George Louison, known as G.L., hailed from the West Coast of Grenada - Concord, Black Bay, Cotton Bailey and Grand Roy.
He went to Grand Roy School where he led weekly debates, followed by school in Tanteen and was eligible for a scholarship to Grenada Boys Secondary School [GBSS]. He taught at St. John's Anglican School in Gouyave for a year before entering Grenada Teachers' College in late 1969, graduating in 1974 and returning to teaching in St. George's. He was a farmer with a love for the soil.
One of Louison's skills was working with youth. He formed Grenada Assembly of Youth (GAY) in January 1971 out of the National Youth Council. According to Thorndike:
"Catering in the main for the unskilled and poorly educated, GAY was complemented by the establishment of a Union of Secondary Students (USS)."
In 1973, George Louison was one of the early leaders of the newly-formed New Jewel Movement. He championed mass mobilization, mass education and mass participation. He had many links with Cuban and Latin American youth groups. He was an admirer of Fidel Castro.
Louison was youth coordinator for the Caribbean Conference of Churches [CCC] from 1974-1977, working with the adjunct group Christian Action for Development in the Eastern Caribbean [CADEC].
Louison's name had been one on the alleged list of people Gairy instructed to be arrested or eliminated after Gairy left Grenada 12 March 1979 via Barbados to meet United Nations [UN] officials in New York City about the International Year of the Child. Gairy was to return on 20 March 1979.
As an added fifth member of the trusted inner circle to make the decision for the takeover of the Gairy Government, Louison's vote, on the evening of 12 March 1979, broke the deadlock for deciding whether or not to go ahead with the action on True Blue Barracks. According to reports, Louison was not in the frontline assault on the barracks because he had given his weapon to a soldier involved in the initial attack.
Photo courtesy of Belgrafix.com
A couple days after 13 March 1979, George Louison represented Grenada at a regional Caribbean Economic Community [CARICOM] ministers meeting in Barbados. The CARICOM ministers issued a joint statement reaffirming that the affairs of that country were for the people of that country to decide and, accordingly, there should be no outside interference. That statement hinged upon the intention below, according to US State Department notes:
He was named on 16 March 1979 as one of a 14 person group comprising the Provisional Revolutionary Government (PRG). At a 25 March 1979 rally, Maurice Bishop appointed George Louison Minister of Education, Youth and Social Affairs, a position he held until the end of August 1983. He was also appointed Agriculture Minister in 1981. George Louison was a member of the Central Committee and Political Bureau.
"He [Louison] renewed publicly the PRG commitment to a return to constitutionality which he had also privately expressed to the ministers and which had been stated privately to foreign diplomats and publicly by other PRG leaders including Bishop himself. At the same time, as was noted in the minister's communiqué, Louison confirmed that preparations for elections would be a top priority
. . ."
During the summer of 1983, George Louison was studying in the GDR [German Democratic Republic]. He, along with others, was called back from their studies to Grenada for the Emergency Central Committee Meetings of September, 1983. When Maurice Bishop was accused of weak leadership, George Louison rejected this charge.
On 17 September 1983, Maurice Bishop, Unison Whiteman, Jimmy Emmanuel [Permanent Secretary of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs], and Don Rojas [Bishop's press secretary] flew to Basseterre for the St. Kitts-Nevis for independence celebrations and George Louison left for Eastern Europe [Hungary, Czechoslovakia, Moscow and East Berlin] to prepare for Bishop's visit planned for October.
In his writings, Grenada Foundation, Inc. George Louison and Kenrick Radix Discuss Internal Events Leading to the U.S. Invasion of Grenada, ©1984 Louison states:
"Unfortunately, I left the country on the morning of September 17, for three weeks. So I was out of the country when the meeting of full members of the party took place on September 25 and did not have a chance to put my position to them."
According to O'Shaughnessy,
"A meeting of Grenadians convened by Louison in Budapest was later taken as evidence by the Coard group of Bishop's and Louison's defiance of the Central Committee."
To join George Louison in Budapest, Maurice Bishop, Unison Whiteman, Don Rojas, bodyguard and security chief Cletus St. Paul and Shahiba Strong, chief of protocol, left Grenada for Havana on 26 September 1983 to fly to Belgrade and on to Hungary.
The return of the party, namely Maurice Bishop, Unison Whiteman and George Louison, occurred on 8 October 1983. The plane had come in from a scheduled stop in Havana, according to some reports, with additional passengers Cuban Ambassador Julián Rizo and Peggy Nesfield.
The returning party was allegedly met by deputy Cuban Ambassador Gaston Diaz, Gail Reed, chief of Personal Security Lt. Ram Folkes, and Minister of Mobilization Selwyn Strachan.
The story of George Louison's alleged role in influencing or not Bishop's acceptance of joint leadership has not been revealed in any verifiable form.
Events went speedily downhill from the time Bishop returned from Eastern Europe and Havana. Rumour was rampant.
As of 31 August 1983, Louison was Minister of Agriculture Agro-Industries and Fisheries until 12 October 1983. During that time, Louison was on the Central Committee and a member of the Politburo. As of 12 October, 1983 all of Louison's executive ties to the Peoples Revolutionary Government were cut.
G. Louison is supposed to have started organizing in earnest 12 October 1983. Negotiations for resolution of the question of Bishop accepting joint leadership began 15 October and lasted that Saturday, plus Sunday, and Monday, involving Unison Whiteman and George Louison with Bernard Coard and Selwyn Strachan. The talks would go on for five hours at a stretch.
The security detail of George Louison was taken away. On 16 October, George Louison was supposedly arrested with Kenrick Radix. Other accounts give this arrest date as 18 October.
George Louison was transported to the negotiation meetings and was available for phone and in-person discussions during the time of his arrest. Mediation attempts were also made by Michael Als, leader of the Trinidad and Tobago People's Popular Movement and Rupert Roopnarine of the Working People's Alliance of Guyana. The conflict regarding Bishop accepting joint leadership was not resolved.
An announcement over Radio Antilles confirmed the resignation of George Louison, and others, from the People's Revolutionary Government on the 18th.
On the fateful day of 19 October, George Louison was brought from either house arrest in Good Hope in the early morning by Corporal Shane Ross or from Richmond Hill Prison to discuss, for a couple of hours, the Central Committee's demands with Bishop. Maurice Bishop, Jacqueline Creft and George Louison, per some reports, had breakfast together.
Louison left Bishop to return to incarceration just before the crowds started gathering on Upper Lucas Street, supposedly upon the urgings of Cpl. Ross to get out of there quick, according to Paterson.
Another report states that later in the day, on the 19th, Radix and George Louison, from their cell at Richmond Hill Prison, saw a white flare go up from Fort Rupert.
Even later in the day, George Louison and others were reportedly taken from the 'goatpen' section of Richmond Hill Prison to a dungeon at Fort Frederick for two days before Louison was returned to Richmond Hill Prison on 22 October 1983.
Louison was not released from prison until 27 October when he was freed with others by US Marines, two days after US forces arrived and, as reported, after he was interrogated by US forces.
When the US military set up a press center at Marryshow House in November of 1983, both George Louison and Kenrick Radix met with journalists from all over the world to talk about the People's Revolutionary Government and the crisis of events.
In 1984, George Louison was one of three founders of the Maurice Bishop Patriotic Movement (MBPM) and was a 1984 election candidate. George Louison had migrated to London at the time of the next election in 1990. His brother Einstein T. Louison represented the MBPM from St. John's parish.
In Radix's legal office, Louison practiced law before he began legal studies in 1986 at Universities of London and Canterbury; also in the Caribbean. In 1995, looking to practice law in Grenada where he was admitted to the Grenada bar in 1992, one report wrote of the rumour that Louison would hold a top position as Solicitor-General in the Keith Mitchell government. The appointment was not made. He continued his legal practice in Trinidad and was admitted to the T&T bar in July 1993.
At the age of 51, George Louison died [13 May 2003] from a heart attack while jogging. His death occurred in Trinidad where he had been living and practicing criminal law.
He is survived by a large family, included in his kin are Barbara, Gertrude, Esita, Nelson, Einstein, Bowen, Gardenia, Garvey, Rudolph, Joy and Priestly. He was partner of Carla Mathison and the father of two sons.
A Eulogy in tribute to George Louison was given by his first cousin Jeanette DuBois on Monday, 19 May 2003. Courtesy Belgrafix.com
Also a Special Sitting of the Grenada Bar Association in tribute to George Louison. Courtesy Belgrafix.com
Remembering George Louison;
© 2003, Caldwell Taylor; reprint permission courtesy of the author
It was George's imperative tenor
"Move?" came a groggy croak from somewhere deep within me.
that heralded the advent of a gilded dawn.
"Comrade", he barked into the phone, "we move."
I shot a nervous glance at my watch—
It was near 4 o'clock of the morning.
We frickin move;
Wake up and round up you troops";
And he hung up.
Suddenly, it lashed me with the primal force of common sense.
"Ohho", said my inner voice,
"the hour has struck"....
George's voice will ever be an emblem
of that jewelled liaison with history.