The Grenada Revolution Online

Bishop Speech - New Year’s Address to the Nation
The Revolution Moves Forward
(1 January 1981)

Sisters and Brothers, we begin the year 1981 which has been declared by the People’s Revolutionary Government as the year of Agriculture and Agro-Industries, with a greater degree of national unity and collective determination to build a New Grenada where peace, freedom, justice and goodwill abound.

The past year has had its ups and downs, successes and failures.

Although it was a year when all our people suffered pain and sorrow at the death of the eight [8] patriots and the injury of dozens more at the dirty hands of vicious, counter revolutionary terrorists, nonetheless, in many areas of national life, progress was made in 1980.

Some of this progress was spectacular, some reasonable and modest, and in certain areas we did fall short of our goals and targets.

Altogether, however, our people gained valuable experience, got more of their fundamental rights fulfilled and our revolution persistently moved forward in spite of the efforts by imperialism and its reactionary agents here and abroad, to slander, destabilise and disrupt our process.

In 1980, we witnessed continuous strides in the construction of our International Airport. The Grenadian and Cuban workers in fraternal unity displaying exemplary efforts to ensure that the first stage is completed by November or December this year.

But perhaps the Revolution’s most impressive advances in 1980 were in the areas of Public Health and popular education.

Thousands of poor working people benefited directly from these gains. For the first time in our history, the masses can now enjoy free basic medical care at governmental hospitals, clinics and health stations around the country.

Instead of one dental clinic as before the Revolution, our people now have the services of seven [7] dental clinics, one for each parish.

Over forty [40] persons are now being treated daily by eye specialists at the Eye Clinic, and for the people of Petit Martinique, 1980 produced regular and very often weekly visits of doctors and dentists.

The equipment, medicines and supplies in our two [2] hospitals were much improved last year, but the high prices our poor masses are forced to pay for medicine remain an area of vital concern for the Revolution and this problem must be seriously addressed in 1981.

Similarly, the question of improving the quality of food and nutrition for the poor and working masses will demand much greater attention in the new year.

We can state with pride and satisfaction that in 1980, over 50 thousand Grenadians received various forms of free medical care from our patriotic Grenadian doctors, some of whom returned to the homeland since the Revolution, and from the hard–working Cuban doctors, who in the true spirit of internationalism are assisting our Revolution.

Last year we repeatedly stressed the important link between Education and Production.  We pointed out that we could not truly be liberated, that we could not raise our standards of living, that indeed we could not build a modern, prosperous nation unless all our people were properly educated, and had acquired the vital skills necessary for the construction of the new society that we are trying to build.

We said over and over again that we will continue to repeat in 1981, the indisputable truth that we would only be able to lift our people out of poverty and backwardness by increasing the production of material goods and services, and further that we will only raise production and beat back ignorance, superstition and damaging rumours by raising our educational levels and broadening our awareness and consciousness.

In 1980 we began to apply these concepts in a concrete and practical way.

For example, school fees for secondary schools were lowered to $12.50 per term, thereby easing the financial burdens of educating their children on many poor and working parents.

And this year we confidently expect that as from September [1981] secondary education will become absolutely free in our country.

The number of scholarships to secondary schools have doubled over the past year and the total number of children now receiving secondary education has increased, especially since the opening of the Bernadette Bailey Secondary School in Happy Hill in September last year. And this of course was only the second Government Secondary School to be launched in over three hundred years.

At present, over two hundred [200] of our finest sons and daughters are studying at universities abroad. And this number is expected to be increased in 1981.

In a few years these young Grenadians will return to our homeland as doctors, dentists, engineers, economists, linguists, scientists, agriculturalists and agronomists, skilled conscious patriots service the masses and strengthening the Revolution.

Comrades, 1980 also witnessed the start of our In–Service Teacher Training Programme which seeks to vastly improve the teaching standards of our Primary Schools, creating the new teacher for the new society.

Of great significance and short term value to the economy are the many production oriented training programmes which got off the ground last year - programmes in Fishing, in Cooperatives, in Agriculture, Tourism, in the Public Service and in the Militia and the Police Service.

In August of last year [1980] we began the battle against illiteracy and ignorance, launching the Centre for Popular Education [CPE] and we are now well on the way to ridding the national of this historical social disease. This programme will of course continue until our country becomes entirely free of this evil.

In 1980 also, the Year of Production and Education, waste, inefficiency and corruption had been substantially reduced on the state farms, thereby making it possible for more farms to turn out a profit than before.

Also on the state farms last year [1980], the Government introduced the  policy of equal pay for equal work performed by women workers, and a profit sharing scheme to benefit all workers on state farms that make a surplus.

The rehabilitation and replanting programme in the agricultural sector has been reasonably successful, with more seed and plants given to farmers this year that ever before the Revolution.

In 1980, we have been able to further diversify our agricultural crops to the point where we even exported modest quantities of lettuce, grapefruits, oranges, eggplants and mangoes.

We opened our Coffee Processing Plant and completed the construction of our Agro–Industrial complex, which would soon start producing canned fruits and juices for domestic consumption and for export.

In the area of fishing, not only  have we begun to increase our catch, but we are also now smoking, salting, drying and filleting our own fish for local consumption.

This achievement brings tremendous prospects for reducing our large import bill for fish and fish products.

In Tourism, 1980 saw an increase in the number of stay over visitors and indicators are that the 1981 season would be the best in several years.

Improvement in the delivery of social services to our people was stepped up in 1980. More Primary School children received free milk than in 1979.

Three [3] new Community Centres with facilities for public meetings, film shows and recreational activities were also built.

And over 500 poor workers received house repair materials through the National House Repaid programme.

A new Maternity Leave Law, giving our women workers a right to be paid during pregnancy by employers was sponsored by the National Women’s Organization (NWO) and they were heartily supported and passed into law by the People’s Revolutionary Government after prolonged public debate.

Direct social benefits were brought to our working people also, in the form of stable prices for basic imported products such as sugar, rice and cement. This was made possible by the effective functioning of the National Importing and Marketing Board [NMIB], which was set up after our glorious Revolution. In fact, our current price of 68 cents per pound for brown sugar is the lowest in the Eastern Caribbean.

The Marketing Board has also been responsible for the export of certain cash crops to foreign markets, and late last year it purchased a ship which will soon be made operational for transporting local products to other parts of the region.

Tens of thousands of dollars worth of material like lumber, cement, blocks, stones, nails, galvanise and so on were given by the Ministry of Communication and Works to voluntary work brigades all over the country which continued in 1980 to fix roads, build bridges and retaining walls, clear drains and cut overhangings.

We sincerely hope that these work brigades will continue in 1981 to perform their heroic voluntary, un paid work on Sundays.

Their contribution to the national reconstruction process deserves the recognition and admiration of all of our people, and their inspiring example should be emulated in the coming year.

Improved financial services for our people were made possible last year by another creation of our Revolution - the National Commercial Bank (NCB) which registered remarkable growth in 1980, opening new offices in St. George’s and substantially increasing its financial assets.

Operating as the bank of the people, N.C.B. was able to make loans available to more of our working masses at reasonable interest rates and to other depositors, higher rates on their savings and accounts.

In 1981, with the people’s support, N.C.B. is sure to continue its impressive growth.

In the New Year, the National Co–operative Development Agency (NACDA), another institution created by the Revolution, will push ahead with the objective of marrying idle lands to idle hands.

We expect NACDA to make an impact on our chronic unemployment problem with the establishment in 1981 of more productive cooperatives in agriculture, in handicrafts and in other areas.

And we take the opportunity to appeal once again to our unemployed brothers and sisters to join or to form co–operatives under the guidance and training of the comrades at NACDA.

The people in our sister island of Carriacou are facing the New Year, pleased and proud at the development projects, some of which were completed and others begun in 1980, for example, the Carriacou airstrip has been resurfaced and a special task force equipped with modern machines is engaged in expensive road repair and is preparing the ground work for bringing electricity to more villages in Carriacou.

The grassroots People’s Democracy, which found expression with the coming of the Revolution, was strengthened in 1980, with many more people joining mass organizations, joining the militia and getting involved in the Community Health and Education Councils.

In short, exercising the fundamental civil rights to participation on a day to day basis i the running of their villages and communities.

Membership in the National Youth Organization [NYO] and the National Women’s Organization [NWO] substantially increased las year and it is expected to increase even more in 1981 as more and more of our people understand the importance of being organised, mobilised, vigilant and prepared to build and defend the Revolution.

This unique form of democracy, made possible only by our March Revolution, has brought a new sense of dignity and self respect to the poor and working people of our country.

In the area of Sports and Culture, our people continue to find in 1980 meaningful channels for creative expression.

Our sportsmen, our artists, our poets and musicians supported consistently by the Revolution, have raised their levels of performance and skill.

We expect that the Centre for Popular Education [CPE] and its literacy programme will continue to act as a major stimulus for increased cultural and artistic expression for the coming year.

Comrades, you can recall that the People’s Revolutionary Government (P.R.G.) inherited a shattered economy and a bankrupt treasury, all left behind by the dictator Gairy.

However, despite this tremendous obstacle, we were able to announce to the nation in an unprecedented budget address from Queen’s Park, a 1980 budget for $103 million which cut income taxes for 30% of our population.

This budget was made double the last one under Gairy, with $43 million put aside for capital Expenditure to crease productive capacities, employment and social services.

On the international front in 1980, the Grenada Revolution strengthened the prestige it enjoys among progressive, revolutionary and peace loving people all over the world.

By maintaining a principled Non–Aligned foreign policy based on respect for national sovereignty and non–interference in the domestic affairs of other countries, our Government wishes to continue peaceful and fruitful relations with all countries, except the most blatantly fascist countries of the world, like South Africa.

Our country in 1981, will continue to play an active part in various international forums, the United Nations, the Non–Aligned Movement, the Organization of American States, Socialist International, the Caribbean Community, the Association of African, Caribbean and Pacific States and the Commonwealth.

Along with others, we continue to press for a New International Economic Order, and also for a New International Information Order and to end all forms of military aggression, intimidation, fascism and backyardism.

Comrades, as we prepare to face the challenges of 1981, let us do so with sober and realistic expectation for the amount of national progress we can made in the New Year.

Simply to maintain the economic and social standards we achieved in 1980, will be a struggle that will test our patriotism and revolutionary commitment and will demand the fullest of our creative energy.

The hard reality is that our economy is still dependent to a large extent on the economic of the major imperialist powers. They dictate how much they will pay for our cocoa, nutmegs and bananas, while at the same time they put high prices on manufactured goods and foodstuffs which we import.

We will continue to aim this year to lessen this stifling dependency.

As you all know, the price of cocoa on the world market has fallen and will continue to remain low in 1981. This does mean less revenue and less foreign exchange to be earned by our country.

While cocoa prices fall, the price of technology which we vitally need to develop our economy and which we have to import is constantly rising.

The price of imported oil is expected to rise by 50% and so too are freight and shipping costs.

What then can we do in 1981 to fight these common economic problems?

First and foremost, we must increase production, especially in the areas of Agriculture and Agro–Industries. It is for this reason that 1981 has been declared the year of “Agriculture and Agro–Industries”.

In conjunction with increased production we must struggle  for the complete eradication of corruption, we must guard against waste and we must strive towards higher levels of efficiency and performance in our work places, and in our schools.

In addition, we should become more conscious and knowledgeable about how the Grenadian economy is structures, how it functions and how we can work together to strengthen it.

In this year of Agriculture and Agro–Industries, certain key tasks lie ahead.

We need to product more food, for local use and for export and to rehabilitate our cocoa, our coconut and other fields.

We must being the thousands of acres of idle lands under cultivation, engage in the production of animal feed, using local raw materials that are wasting, expand propagation of plants and step up our forestry operations.

In 1981, the Revolution will continue to struggle for better socio–economic conditions for agricultural workers and farmers and for improved educational and informational services to suit their needs.

Sisters and brothers, another priority for this year must be the organisation and mobilisation of the masses to get more involved in the programmes of the Revolution.

In the present dangerous regional and international situation, we must prepare ourselves for the certainty that our country will be under further attack by reactionary forces and for the possibility of military aggression.

Under such dangerous circumstances, it is imperative that our people be equipped and ready to defend our country against possible external aggression.

This means in practice that in 1981 we must upgrade the quality of training and preparedness of our People’s Militia.

All patriotic Grenadians should therefore come forward from tomorrow for possible selection for advance militia training as a member of the People’s Militia.

Sisters and Brothers, Comrades, on behalf of all the comrades of the People’s Revolutionary Government, I wish to extend solidarity and best wishes for a peaceful, productive and happy 1981.




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