The Grenada Revolution Online

Bishop Letter to President Reagan
(11 August 1981)

[Letterhead - Grenada - Prime Minister]

August 11, 1981

Mr. President:

Once again it is my solemn duty to address you to express our continuing concern about the present state of relations between the Government of the United States of America and the People's Revolutionary Government of Grenada. I do so in yet another attempt to put into focus the matters which in our view militate against the improvement of relations between our two countries, in the hope that reason will prevail and that relations could be restored to an acceptable level.

The People's Revolutionary Government has always wanted, and still wants good relations with the Government of the United States of America. There are very compelling reasons for this. My Government is firmly and uncompromisingly committed to the pursuit of peace through principled relations and cooperation with all countries in the world and particularly with those countries who are out immediate neighbours. As you know, a considerable number of citizens of the United States of America resides in Grenada at the present time and an even greater number of them visits our country each year as tourists. Moreover, a significant number of our nationals also lives in your country. Further, contrary to certain notions currently in vogue, it must be very obvious that Grenada, a small country of 133 sq. mls. And 110,000 people does not, and cannot possibly, pose any threat to a country as big and highly developed as the United States of America.

Mr. President, my Government lays down no conditions precedent to the improvement of relations between our two countries. However, we have always insisted, and will continue to insist that relations between our Governments must be premised on the well-established principles of legal equality of states, mutual respect for sovereignty, territorial integrity, ideological pluralism, non-interference in each other's internal affairs and the right of every country to develop its own processes in its own way free from all forms of outside dictation or pressure.

Consistent with those principles, the People's Revolutionary Government of Grenada has done everything in its power to encourage the development of normal relations between our two Governments. When we learnt that you had been successful in the 1980 elections for the Presidency of your country we had hoped that, as an incoming president anxious to take a fresh look at the foreign policy of your country, you could be relied upon to take a dispassionate, critical and reasonable view of the issues which separate our Governments in our mutual quest for cordial relations.

Motivated by this consideration, my Government immediately despatched a congratulatory message to you and was greatly encouraged by your response to that message indicating that you looked forward to 'a mutual effort to promote friendly relations between our two nations'. Bolstered by this assurance my Government extended an invitation to your country's Ambassador resident in Barbados to come to St. George's for the purpose of initiating discussions, calculated to promoting and developing friendly relations between our Governments. We were, quite understandably, very disappointed by your country's failure to respond affirmatively to our invitation. We felt that we had lost a timely opportunity for constructively commending the proves of dialogue which is an imperative requirement for improving relations between our Governments.

Again, on the occasion of your inauguration to office as the 40th President of your country, I sent a message congratulating you on behalf of the Government and People of Grenada and reassuring you that my Government looked forward to developing cordial relations with the Government and People of the United States of America. Regrettably there has been no positive response by your Government to any of the indications of our desire for cordial relations with your Government. On the contrary, your Administration has consistently demonstrated an overtly hostile attitude towards the people and Government of Grenada.

Although under President Carter's Administration, relations between the United States of America and Grenada were somewhat less than cordial, nevertheless the mechanism existed through which both Governments could, by an exchange of views, seek to improve those relations. The proposal made by President Carter on March 23, 1979 to accredit Miss Sally Shelton as Ambassador to Grenada was readily approved and agreement was accordingly conveyed on 6th April, 1979.

On the other hand, the Government of Grenada is still awaiting an acknowledgement of receipt of its request for agrement (sic) of the United States Government to the proposal to appoint Mr. Jimmy Emmanuel, a Career diplomatic officer, as this country's Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary to your country. This proposal was submitted on January 29 1981 in substitution for the request made on January 15, 1980 for agreement to the appointment of Ms. Dessima Williams, which in like manner, was not even acknowledged.

Mr. President, in response to the many initiatives taken by my Government to normalise relations between our two countries, the United States Administration has demonstrated indifference and hostility to the People's Revolutionary Government in a variety of ways. In what seems to be a systematic and concerted propaganda campaign against us, members of your Administration have persistently made false, malicious and misleading statements, (which they must surely know totally lack any factual foundation) concerning our development process and particularly in regard to our international airport project.

We were quite frankly very alarmed by the massive diplomatic campaign which your Administration mounted in order to dissuade certain countries and international organizations from attending the Co-Financing Conference which we convened in Brussels on 14th and 15th April, 1981 with the help of the European Economic Community Commission, for the purpose of mobilizing financial support for our new international airport. Unfounded and unreasonable fears have been expressed that, because of the proposed length of the runway strip of the new airport and the small size of the existing tourist plant in Grenada, the new airport is being constructed for other than economic reasons. We wish to reassure you, as we have already assured several of your officials that we have no intention, and have never had any intention, of using this modest international airport for any purpose other than as the means of developing our relatively untapped tourist potential and for the development and expansion of regional and international trade in fresh fruits and vegetables and agro-industrial products.

We believe, in all humility, that this international airport is the most important project that we need to undertake to achieve further economic development. In fact, we see it as having the same socio-economic significance as the construction and expansion of the railway system had to your own country in the 19th Century. The length of the runway when completed will be 9,000 feet which will be the same length as the runways in Antigua and Trinidad and will be shorter than almost all the runways in other countries in the region where similar facilities exist.

In addition, concurrently with the development of our airport facilities, my Government is giving active consideration to the improvement and expansion of the existing tourist plant and is at present giving serious study to several proposals which have been submitted as a result of surveys which have recently been undertaken.

My Government is also painfully conscious of the increased efforts by your Administration to cut off our traditional aid possibilities both regionally and internationally with a view to strangulating our fledgling economy and to subverting the political, economic and social process which we have instituted. By way of example, I wish to refer to a few of these incidents.

Following the devastating damage inflicted to the banana industries in all four Windward Islands (Grenada, St. Vincent and the Grenadines, St. Lucia and Dominica) by Hurricane Allen in 1980, the Windward Islands Banana Association which is an umbrella organization comprising the four islands banana societies, applied to the Government of the United States of America through the appropriate agency for assistance to rehabilitate the banana industries in all four islands. Aid was granted for the purpose for which it was sought but in the express condition that no part of the funds allocated should be made available to rehabilitate the banana industry in Grenada.

During the months of January and February 1981, following the visit to Grenada by staff members of the International Monetary Fund (I.M.F.), my Government successfully negotiated a three-year Extended Fund Facility for Special Drawing Rights of $6.3 million U.S. currency (equivalent to $21 million East Caribbean currency). This facility was, and still is, required to assist the Government of Grenada in implementing a programme designed to fundamentally restructure the local economy. On March 25, 1981 the United States Director on the Board of Directors of the I.M.F., on somewhat specious grounds, asked for an indefinite postponement of my Government's request. Our application to the Fund was prepared and recommended by the technical staff of the Board and approved by the Management of the Fund and was listed for consideration at a meeting of the Executive Director of the Fund which was scheduled to take place on March 27, 1981.

More recently, Mr. President, in a further demonstration of its economic aggression against Grenada, your Administration attempted to deny Grenada's having access to funds which your Government proposed to make available to the Caribbean Development Bank to finance 'basic human needs' projects. Your Government's proposal to the Bank was clearly intended to bar our tiny, underdeveloped island from benefiting from financial aid disbursed through a regional institution which has been established for the express purpose of providing financial assistance to regional governments and undertakings. We are also aware of other initiatives currently being taken against our interests in other regional bodies.

Mr. President, I wish to refer to one other matter of the deepest concern to the Government of Grenada which seems to demonstrate your Government's hostility and indifference to the vital interests of Grenada. There are abundant credible reports currently circulating about the activities of mercenaries who are at this moment being trained on United States territory for deployment against certain regional countries including Grenada. It is impossible to believe that the law enforcement agencies in your country are not privy to those reports. Convincing evidence in support of the veracity of these reports recently came to light when a number of mercenaries were intercepted near the Mississippi state line just as they were about to embark on an invasion of the Commonwealth of Dominica, one of the four Windward Islands. Statements made by some of the persons who were apprehended reveal that the primary objective of their operation was the invasion of Grenada and that Dominica was going to be used by them as a base from which to conduct operations.

Mr. President, you are no doubt aware of Resolution No. 35/48 which was adopted by the United Nations General Assembly on December 4, 1980 and which established an Ad Hoc Committee on the drafting of an International Convention against the Recruitment, Use, Financing and Training of Mercenaries. This Committee comprises thirty-five Member States, including the United States of America.

You are also doubtless aware of United Nations General Assembly Resolution No. 35/35 adopted on November 13, 1980, operative paragraph 7 of which reaffirms that the practice of using mercenaries against national liberation movements and sovereign states constituted a 'criminal act and that mercenaries themselves are criminals'. This Resolution calls upon the Governments of all countries to enact legislation declaring the recruitment, financing and training of mercenaries on their territories to be punishable offences, and prohibiting their nationals from serving as mercenaries, and to report on such legislation to the Secretary General of the United Nations.

The United Nations Resolutions to which I have referred quite clearly show the degree of odium and reprehension with which the international community regards mercenaries, feelings which I am sure the Government of the United States of America shares.

It is the firm belief of the People's Revolutionary Government of Grenada that the passage of legislation in the terms outlined in operative paragraph 7 of United Nations Resolution No. 35/35 of November 14, 1980 would contribute significantly to measure which are necessary to deal with the question of mercenaries. My Government accordingly appeals to you to ensure that the necessary legislation is enacted by your Government and to take firm action to prohibit the recruitment, financing and training of mercenaries in your country.

Mr. President, it seems to me that the foregoing amounts to a virtual declaration of war by your Government against the Government and People of Grenada. When a Government of your power and influence chooses to embark on a conscious campaign of propaganda destabilization and economic warfare against a small, poor non-aligned country like outs it must raise serious concerns and questions for our people and, must also have a devastating effect on the economy of our country and thus affect its Government's modest, but totally resolute, efforts to end poverty and raise the quality of life of its people. When, on top of this, mercenaries training on your territory even boast of their plans to invade out country, without being subjected to any form of legal action, then I am sure you will agree with me that the conclusion I have been obliged to make, is, in the absence of any contrary statement from you, eminently reasonable and justified.

If you should choose to allow this letter also to go unanswered as happened to my earlier letter to you of March 26, 1981 referring to similar unhappy developments and requesting high level discussions, then we shall have to conclude that your Government does not desire even normal and minimum relations with my Government, in which event we would be obliged to consider further measures necessary to advance, consolidate and defend the social, political and economic transformation process which we have undertaken in Grenada.

In the hope that you will respond to this letter before the end of September, I repeat my earlier call for urgent high level talks with a view to exploring all possibilities for normalizing relations between our two Governments.

Mr. President, please accept the assurances of my highest consideration.

Yours faithfully,

[handwritten signed signature - Maurice Bishop]

Prime Minister

President Ronald Reagan
Executive Office of the President
White House
1600 Pennsylvania Avenue, N.W.
Washington, D.C. 20500,

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