The Grenada Revolution Online

Bishop Speech - Imperialism is the Real Problem
[13 July 1981]

A speech given before the OAS-PRG Conference on Small States held in Grenada by Maurice Bishop, standing in at the last moment for Bernard Coard.

Distinguished Guests,

Sisters and Brothers,


It is a great pleasure for me, even at such short notice - in fact, about one hour’s notice - to have the opportunity of addressing this important conference this morning.

You should have been hearing Comrade Bernard Coard, our Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Finance and Planning, but unfortunately Comrade Coard has not been enjoying the best of health in the last few days and as much as he would liked to be here this morning, he just could not make it.

I express his regrets and his best wishes to you.


Comrades, the question before us during this conference will be the question of the problems of small island and other developing states.

The problem of smallness of economies, land sizes and resources of developing Third World countries, like Grenada, is a problem which has been addressed on several occasions by several eminent people over the year.

It is a matter that has been looked at exhaustively in the United Nations, in the Organisation of American States (OAS), the Non–Aligned Movement and at several other international forums.

But, it is a matter which has not lost its importance and I am sure you will agree that there are several ways in which the subject can be approached.

My approach this morning will aim fundamentally, not at looking once again at the numerous structural problems which small countries like ours face, but at trying to look underneath that, to see what are the underlying realities, what are the real reasons for the difficulties that small developing Third World States which are very often also non–aligned states, have to face.

My own approach this morning will probably not be an entirely orthodox one but we feel very strongly that this approach is none the less a valid and indeed the correct one.

We contend, comrades, that the real problem is not the question of smallness per se, but the real problem is the question of imperialism.

The real problem that countries like ours face is that on a day–to–day basis we come up against an international system that is organised and geared towards ensuring the continuing exploitation, domination and rape of our economies, our countries and our people.

That, to us, is the fundamental problem.

We certainly can see that if, even briefly, we look at the history of exploitation of countries like outs, this will give us a clearer idea as to why we in Grenada maintain this position.


If we examine our region carefully, we will see that as long ago as 1812, the ruling circles in the United States of America, in pursuit of more land, in pursuit of expansionist ambitions, declared war on Canada and tries to seize all of the country to add to their own country.

A few years later, in the 1840’s, the ruling circles in the United States were at it again.

On this occasion, they invaded Mexico and seized over half of the territory of the people of Mexico.

What is today known as California, Texas, New Mexico and parts of some states were once part of the sovereign territory of Mexico.

In fact, on that occasion, the actual amount grabbed - if my memory serves me right - was 2.3 million square kilometres of Mexican territory.

In pursuit of these expansionist ambitions, in 1898, the ruling circles in the United States bombed their own battle ship in the harbour of Havana in Cuba, which was then a Spanish Colony.

They used that crime to argue that Spain had committed an act of aggression against the United States, and on this fabricated pretext, war was declared on Spain with the true aim being to seize Cuba, Puerto Rico, the Philippines and other areas in the World.

In World War I, which started in 1914 and ended in 1918, the United States waited until it was clear as to who would win the war, and then they joined the war against Kaiser Germany in 1917, to see how they could share in the booty of that inter–imperialist war.

During the second World War, powerful elements within the United States ruling class were debating seriously on which side they should enter the war on, whether to join the fascist Nazi Hitler against most of humanity, or to join the allies.

The decision was eventually made for them when the bombing of Pearl Harbour occurred, when the Japanese fascist allies of Hitler attacked the United States itself.

Later on, still in the 1940’s, they tried to seize North Korea and even toyed with the idea, under General McCarthy [Douglas MacArthur], of invading China in the early 1950’s, but the people of those two countries gave them a sound beating and sent them back to South Korea.

They took over colonialist control of Vietnam from the French colonialists in the early 1960’s, having helped to finance the French wars against the people in Vietnam, Laos and Kampuchea.

And, as we know, after years of heroic struggle the Vietnamese people were able finally in 1975 to run the United States imperialist back to their country.

In more recent times, in alliance with South Africa, they tried through CIA puppets, to seize Angola in 1975 and 1976, but once again they faced defeat.

Right here in our region in Latin America and the Caribbean, the U.S. has intervened through direct military force in different Latin American and Caribbean countries over 135 times in the past 100 years; a situation which historically was reinforced by the Munroe (sic) [Monroe] Doctrine of 1823.

We can recall Arbenz in Guatemala in 1954, Cuba in 1961, and the Dominican Republic in 1965, as examples of U.S. military intervention.

History is full of such examples, the recent and not so recent of these aggressive imperialist invasions.

What can we conclude from all of the above?

We believe it is fair and correct to draw the conclusion that the ruling circles in the United States, the big monopolies, the military–industrial complex and the different ruling parties which have fronted for them have always sought and continue to seek to seize everybody’s land, to exploit everybody’s wealth and to rule everybody’s land, to exploit everybody’s wealth and to rule everybody’s country.

Where they do not rule directly, like in the case of Puerto Rico, they rule through stooges and puppets like Gairy and Somoza, the Durante [Duarte] Junta in El Salvador, Duvalier, Pinochet, Pak Chung Hee, Holden Roberto, Jonas Savimbi, Bokassa, or like so many other similar names that we could go on calling for the rest of the morning.

They stop at absolutely nothing to achieve this in all countries of the globe, but what I think is particularly important of us to observe this morning is that their methods have had to change over the years.


The dramatic change in the world balance of forces was brought about by the triumph of socialism in many countries, the success of the decolonisation process and the victories of the National Liberation Movement worldwide and the growing importance of the working class in the capitalist countries.

These factors combined together have mean a shift - a fundamental and irreversible shift in the political, economic and military balance of forces in the world, and has strengthened the voice and role of world public opinion.

This has forced the imperialists to move from direct overt action (from the direct landing of Marines) to covert action, to the development of different techniques of destabilisation which are used against countries like ours.


These techniques of destabilisation which have been shaped and developed to a fine art by the Central Intelligence Agency, have been well documented over the years.

They have taken several different forms; there has been propaganda destabilisation, there has been political destabilisation, there had been industrial destabilisation, there has been economic aggression, mercenary invasion and of course, there has been the assassination of several leaders of progressive countries or parties.

The new last resort, which once again on becoming very current, is the use of mercenary forces instead of regular troops, while pretending these mercenaries have nothing to do with the country which has allowed them to use its soil as a base.

But, we know that no mercenary forces can mobilise, train, procure supplies, find arms or leave the particular base from which they have been training, without the knowledge of the particular country which has allowed them to use their soil for training.

In recent months, our country Grenada, a small, poor, developing, Non–Aligned, Third World country has been feeling the full brunt and impact of these techniques of destabilisation aimed against us.


Economic warfare, as it is well known, has openly declared against our country.

In fact, United States imperialism has embarked on a co–ordinated campaign of economic strangulation of Grenada.

This is designed to deprive our country of access to financial resources from bilateral, regional and international sources.

The tactics used by the imperialists include the following:

Firstly, we saw the attempted sabotage of the European Economic Community [EEC] hosted co–financing conference to raise 30 million U.S. dollars that were and still are vitally needed for the completion of Grenada’s International Airport Project.

The United States in this case, vulgarly pressured Western European Governments to boycott the conference.

We saw secondly, direct interference, by the United States Director on the Board of Directors of the IMF, resulting in the blocking of Grenada’s application for an IMF extended loan facility.

These funds are absolutely necessary for the implementation of numerous projects in agriculture, in agro–industry, in tourism, in housing and in other important areas of the economy.

Thirdly, due to political interference by the Reagan Administration, the World Bank has refused to endorse Grenada’s public investment programme, thus preventing the country’s access to International Development Agency (IDA) funding, totalling over 3 billion U.S. dollars, funding which was ear–marked for the International Airport.

Additionally, U.S. machinations have contributed to the vetoing of Grenada’s application for a loan under the IMF funds as earlier mentioned.

Everybody in this room will certainly remember the obvious fourth example.

Everybody in this room will certainly know that recently the United States tried to exercise political pressure on the Caribbean Development Bank [CDB], pressure aimed at getting the Bank, in violation of the principles of its own Charter, to accept money on condition that Grenada be excluded.

It must be noted here that there was absolutely no reason why such money could not have been given on a bilateral basis, a position that Grenada fully supports.

But, instead, an attempt was made to subvert a multi–lateral regional institution, an institution that was developed over a period of several years of struggle by small developing Caribbean countries seeking to attain greater collective force and strength in the world.

In other words, the aim was divide and rule, the aim was to try to subvert and divide regional institutions, the aim was not really to provide assistance to any of these countries.

We know too, comrades, that recently a major propaganda campaign has been mounted against our country.

Perhaps the very best example of the grossness and vulgarity of this campaign can be gauged from the CBS television programme; a programme in which this United States television crew came to our country, pretending that they were interested in filming the International Airport Rally held here two months ago [May 1981], when instead their real aim was to come to try to find the material on which they could spread their filthy, preconceived propaganda; propaganda which was aimed at trying to stop tourists from coming to our country.

Further, it was aimed at psychologically preparing the people of the United States for the eventual invasion of our country.

This massive campaign also has the objective of seeking to isolate Grenada in the region and the world.

A major reason for the propaganda campaign is to block our possibilities for external assistance. The evidence for this is massive.

We have see it in relation to a project ear–marked for Grenada that was being organised by the Caribbean Tourism Research Centre.

We have seen it in the attempts made by the United States to block the EEC Co–Financing Conference.

We have seen it is relation to the request for hurricane rehabilitation assistance when, once again, the United States in offering money to the Windward Island Banana Association [WINBAN] (an association comprising Grenada, Dominica, St. Vincent and St. Lucia) offered that money only in terms that excluded Grenada which was also damaged by the hurricane.

And it must be pointed out that this request was made, not by our Government, but by a regional organisation of banana farmers in the Windward Islands.

We have seen it, of course, in the recent CDB attempt which I have just mentioned.

But we should also note, and some of us may not know, that over the past four to six weeks this United States Administration has taken to summoning different Latin American and Caribbean Governments to Washington and there put pressure on them, using on the one hand bribery, and on the other hand threats, to try to force them to agree to their plan to isolate our country.

We have also seen recently that two Governments in the region were offered money for a particular project on condition that they would only receive this money if they first made a public statement agreeing that Grenada should be excluded.

It is to the merit of those Governments that they refused to go along with that call.

We have also seen in our country, as part of these techniques of destabilisation, a massive campaign of terrorism against our people.

This was evident in the June 19th bomb blast, a blast which was in fact aimed at the entire leadership of our Party, Government and Revolution.

There is absolutely no doubt at all that the hand of the CIA was in that bomb blast.

We saw it too on the 17th November last year [1980] when terrorists financed and supported by the CIA, in one night, killed five [5] of our patriots, four [4] in an ambush of their car, and the other comrade a few hours later in a militia camp on St. Patrick’s.

We have also seen recently, comrades, as part of this campaign of terrorism, an organised plot hatched in the United States that sought to use local reactionary and unpatriotic elements as the first stage in a wider plot aimed at overthrowing the Revolution.

They were made to pretend that they were launching a new newspaper, when in fact, the newspaper was but stage one in that wider plot which has at least eight [8] separate, but related, stages all aimed at overthrowing our Government and Revolution.

We have seen recently also a campaign to stir up political and industrial unrest within the country; to mobilise the parasites, the opportunists, the criminal elements which every country in the world would have, elements who, over the years, have shown their willingness to be used by the CIA.


We believe very strongly in Grenada, and our Government very fervently maintains the position, that the time has now come when economic warfare must come to be regarded as a serious breach of international law.

In just the same way that when countries sent their Marines and troops into other people’s countries, it receives international condemnation and is regarded as an outlaw act, we feel that the time has now come when economic warfare and economic aggression must also be elevated to the same level, must also receive similar condemnation from all forces, internationally.

We feel that a number of important international principles are violated whenever there is a concerted, systematic campaign of economic aggression against any country.

Certainly, the well–known principle of non–interference in the internal affairs of other states is being violated.

Certainly the principle that every country has a right to its full independence is being violated; certainly more than one aspect of the meaning of self–determination, another principle of international law is also being violated.

But, perhaps most fundamentally of all, and the most hidden principle of all, is the violation of the right of all countries to develop their own processes, free from all forms of interference, all forms of duress and all forms of intimidation by any outside country.

At least these four basic and fundamental principles of international law and international custom are being violated whenever acts of economic warfare are waged against any country.

We certainly believe very, very strongly that economic warfare is increasingly being developed as a substitute for, or at least a major complement to the direct landing of troops and therefore, it is as bas as the landing of troops.

We feel equally that the entire world must begin to condemn propaganda destabilisation as also being against the principles of international law, international custom.

This is so because propaganda war can never be taken in isolation and propaganda destabilisation, violence and terrorism usually help to lay the psychological and material basis for an invasion to come.

Propaganda warfare inevitably must affect the economic development of poor developing countries like ours.

Certainly, in the context of Grenada, a CBS television documentary containing as many lies and as much filthy propaganda as this one did, must have the effect in the short run of helping to keep tourists away from our country.

We also believe that the world must move to condemn attempts at political and diplomatic isolation aimed at trying to force other countries to toe their line; this form of political and diplomatic attack must equally receive the condemnation of the international community.

Needless to say, our position also is that he same must apply to those who allow their countries to be used to train and supply mercenaries.

In such situations, not only must the mercenaries be condemned as international outlaws, as pirates in the international community, but also those who harbour the mercenaries, they too must feel the full weight of international public opinion.

We can well ask the questions: How can we plan? How can we develop? How can we economically grow and satisfy the needs of our people when we are under several types of warfare directed by the biggest and mightiest country which is right at our door step and when we ourselves are one of the smallest and poorest countries of the world?

With fascist cynicism, this mighty country of over 250 million people, with the greatest wealth and armoury of any single nation, decides, consciously and openly, to crush our tiny nation of Grenada.

Can we do anything in this situation?

We believe that even in this grim situation that we face, a fight back is possible, and we feel that that fight can take place on two fronts.

In the first place, it will come from the unity and the determination of our people to fight to make a better life for themselves.

That is extremely important, the unity of our people.

This unity, this organisation and mobilisation of our people, the raising of the consciousness of our people, this increasing vigilance of our people; this unity, this organisation, this consciousness, this vigilance is our first and greatest weapon.

We can also fight back successfully if instead of having to face Grenada, a small country of just over one hundred thousand people [100,000], the imperialists are made to face a force of 3 billion strong as we build a powerful, worldwide, anti–imperialist alliance in defence of our independence, our freedom and our right to choose our own path.

This, we feel, is certainly possible and is precisely what is required to deal wit the situation that countries like ours face today.

The full weight of world public opinion and international solidarity can and will make a big difference.


Some of you may still be asking the question: How is all this relevant to an OAS-PRG Conference on Small States, and the problems of such States?

Our answer is that it is relevant because the key obstacle holding back the progressive development of our countries is not the physical fact of smallness.

The key obstacle is imperialism. That is the major problem.

We say it is relevant because whilst it is undoubtedly important to focus on the problems which small countries like ours have to face, that is useless, that is a total waste of time unless we also acknowledge that fundamental truth we will never break out of dependence until we work out joint strategies to break our dependence on imperialism.

We feel it is relevant because whilst we will all agree that objectively smallness is a problem, that while we will all agree that our lack of access to market is a problem, and that there are several other problems, serious problems, which hinder the development of our economy.

But nonetheless, we insist that none of these are the real problems.

The real problem is that United States imperialism, the United States ruling class, has always wanted to rule the world, has always wanted to grab everybody’s land, has always wanted to grab everybody’s resources and that with every shift in the balance of forces in the world, they have had to come up with new techniques, they have had to shift their tactics, they have had to move to overt action, like the landing of Marines, to covert action like the development of economic propaganda and mercenary techniques of destabilisation and aggression.

To us these are the real problems.

To us, therefore, in Grenada, while we are very very, very happy to welcome you all, while we certainly look forward with great anticipation to the technical results of your conference, we nonetheless issue this caveat from the beginning, that if this conference were to produce yet again only more documentation of a technical character, emphasising the usual structural difficulties which small countries like our face, then the conference would not have achieved enough.

For this conference to be truly successful, to be really meaningful to the people of the region, and people of the Third World, who find themselves in these difficulties, then we must being to show a new way forward by addressing what is the underlying and substantial cause of the problem that countries like ours face; and that problem is not the fact of smallness per se.

That problem is the fact of imperialism.

I therefore, formally declare open your conference and wish you the very best in your deliberations.

I certainly hope that you will find the time during the period which you have in our country to enjoy our modest hospitality, to experience the warmth and friendliness of our people and to feel and see the beauty of our country, and to see for yourselves the popular participation of our people in the new process that we are struggling to build.

Thank you very much.

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