Truth and Reconciliation Commission
Grenada
Report on certain political events
which occurred in Grenada 1976-1991

VOLUME ONE

PART 2

Section 1:

Pre-Revolutionary Period 1976-1979

The years preceding 1979 have seen several situations of social unrest and political conflict in Grenada. This disruption of the nation's life and stability stemmed mainly from the autocratic style of the then Prime Minister Eric Gairy and repressive practices of his Government, the Grenada United Labour Party (GULP).

During those years, and notably in the period 1973-1976; there had been several demonstrations, strikes and public meetings organised by civil groups and trade unions to protest against these practices by the Government and its agents. Many of these demonstrations had been forcefully broken up by the armed forces and the police.

A tragic climax was reached in 1974 [Bloody Monday on 21 January 1974] when a public meeting and demonstration held in St. George's was brutally routed by the police and members of the infamous Mongoose gang. Several persons were killed, including Rupert Bishop, the father of Maurice Bishop who was later to assume leadership of the New Jewel Movement which staged a coup and overthrew of the Gairy Government in 1979.

In the same year 1974 [Bloody Sunday on 18 November 1973], Maurice Bishop himself and several leading members of the New Jewel Movement were brutally beaten. and severely injured allegedly by thugs accountable to Gairy.

The ironic phenomenon of these events was that they occurred within barely one year of Grenada becoming an independent State [Independence on 7 February 1974] with a new Constitution (1973) which contained comprehensive provisions for the protection and enforcement of the human rights and fundamental freedoms of Grenadian citizens.

But some positive aspects of the ensuing developments following the events of the 1973 Constitution which came into operation on [7] February 1974, were:

  • The political awakening of new political groupings and parties including the New Jewel Movement, the movement for the Assembly of People (M.A.P) led by Maurice Bishop, the Grenada National Party, the United People's Party and the Communist oriented OREL under leadership of Bernard Coard.

  • The formation of a coalition of groups and political parties in 1976 under the name of the People's Alliance, especially created to challenge Gairy and his GULP in general elections. This coalition won 6 of the 15 seats in. the House of Representatives.

  • The appointment (in December 1973) and hearing by the Duffus Commission during 1973 and 1974 to inquire into circumstances leading up to persons arrested and charged on 18 November, 1973; alleged police brutality of citizens, the breakdown of law and order in Grenada, breaches of the Constitution and matters concerning the administration of justice in Grenada.

There is much reason to believe that the appointment, hearings, findings and recommendations of the Duffus Commission helped to put some brakes on the progress of Government-activated-and-authorised atrocities; and indirectly weakened or softened the Gairy power machine, thereby allowing fuel to feed the fires of the Revolution which were to consume the Gairy regime in 1979.

The rule of the Gairy regime was the predominant bedeviling factor which dictated the national and political life in the 1973-1979 period and paved the way for the dramatic overthrow of Gairy and the succession to power and Government of the Maurice Bishop People's Revolutionary Government on March 13, 1979.

Next: Part 2, Section 2      Back: Part One, Section 3

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