Bishop Speech - Forward to Peace, Genuine Independence and Development in a United America - Our America
Address to Protocolary Session of Organisation of American States,
Washington, DC, 1 June 1983
The text below is copied from the speech transcript. Minor spelling errors and paragraphing breaks are the only changes from the original text.
We meet here at a time when the world and in particular the developing world which we so amply represent, is laced by an alarming array of social and economic problems which we must collectively confront in an effort to attain genuine progress and development for our peoples.
Yet this is also a time when genuine efforts are already emerging from among us to resolve the social, economic, financial and political problems with which we are confronted. These efforts represent a reserve of determination and will which is part of our American heritage.
A century and a half ago, the great Liberator, Simon Bolivar, the father of Pan-Americanism whose bicentennial we celebrate this year, spoke to patriots throughout the Americas of the importance of unity in the struggle for progress.
In his famous Jamaica letter written in Kingston in 1815, he stated, `Surely unity is what we need to complete our work of regeneration' and in 1819, delivering an address at the inauguration of the Second National Congress of Venezuela in Argentina, came the famous lines:
Today, 150 years later, as we seek to attain peace. justice and progress for the people of the Americas, we must respond to those echoes in the corridors of history. Indeed, even while we speak of the need for unity and the integrated development of our people, we do so with the knowledge that while we have shared historical experiences, the specific character and development of each State is different. Our unity is therefore based on mutual acceptance and understanding of each other's right to develop its own process as it deems best for the progress of its peoples.
In this region, we are a diverse people, of Indian, European, Asian and African origins. with an array of cultural and social patterns. What we acclaim and must cherish is our unity in the diversity that we represent.
The destiny of our English-speaking Caribbean is inextricably linked with that of our Spanish-speaking brothers and sisters. Not only Simon Bolivar, but also other great thinkers of our time have recognized that our future lies in the unity of our peoples.
In the early 20th Century, the Grenadian Theophilus Marryshow, the Father of West Indies Federation said:
Unity, Unity, must be our motto in all things. The blood of our citizens is varied: let it be mixed for the sake of unity.
As Simon Bolivar fought, at the beginning of the 19th Century, for the unity of Latin America, so too Marryshow fought at the beginning of the 20th Century for the unity of the Caribbean.
As inheritors of these great traditions, we have a duty: that is, as we approach the 21st Century. doing so with collective experience of national independence and with an anti-colonial perspective, our duty must be to harness the strength of unity that we represent and that we genuinely embody.
For only in unity can we earnestly fight to overcome the seemingly monumental difficulties of our region, `Our Americas', as Jose Marti, that great Americanist thinker, entitled our region.
In this regard we in Grenada place great significance on the signing of a Treaty in December 1982 which established formal relations between the Caribbean Community (CARICOM) and the Organization of American States. The basis for institutional interaction and exchange is most certainly being strengthened within our region.
Our American continent must not only be united, but we must have peace: a peace which brings economic and social justice, equality, and greater independence and freedom for all those down-trodden and oppressed.
Our entire region has a history of struggle for independence and freedom from domination. We cannot forget the first great Revolution in our hemisphere. when on July 4th, 1776, the Congress of the United States declared that 'These United Colonies are and of right ought to be free and independent States.'
The people of the United States fought bravely for their freedom against colonialism and exploitation, so that in 1783 England lost all her original colonies in North America.
Throughout our region the struggle for independence, progress, peace and genuine development has gone on. It has never stopped.
We are experiencing a natural historical continuum between these brave early struggles for independence and self-determination on the one hand, and the epic struggles of the people of our Americas on the other hand, of which the heroic and unconquerable people of Central America deserve singular mention.
We must continue to offer all our support for the achievement of real justice, economic well-being and social equality for all our people. For it is in attaining justice and equality that we can begin to realize peace, meaningful peace.
Yet another son of the Americas, Benito Juarez, helped to fashion a workable reality for us when he said: `Respect for the rights of the other is Peace.'
If we truly aim at peace and development for our region, at the individual development of each country and our collective progress as well, we must respect the rights of the sons and daughters of Sandino to seek their solutions to the problems of poverty, unemployment, illiteracy and under-development which have plagued their country for over a century since the attainment of independence in 1838.
We join international public opinion in supporting initiatives by the people of Latin America to the problems of our region. Contadora represents a significant step towards finding a solution to important dimensions of the problems in Central America. It offers concrete hope for finding a negotiated solution to our problems, and additionally re-emphasises the importance of peacefully settling disputes through dialogue and without resorting to the use of force or interference in the affairs of our neighbours.
Mr Chairman, today, the peoples of Central America, indeed the peoples of Latin America and the Caribbean, must be allowed to decide what process befits their particular experience.
Nicaragua has had a difficult past. For decades, its integrity has been trampled by the interventionist boot and from 1936 to 1979, by the unparalleled tyranny of a family dynasty.
Despite the popular and definitive character of the Sandinista victory of July 19th, 1979, the Nicaraguan people are not being left to develop their own process in peace and to find solutions to the problems which have plagued the country.
This is a matter of grave concern to Grenada. Moreover, Grenada shares in the broad international outrage at the provocation to which Nicaragua has been subjected over the last week. Similarly, and with equal seriousness, we decry the tremendous loss of life and the overall regrettable state of affairs in Central America.
We oppose any attempt to give support to those whose objective is to destabilize the Sandinista regime and to promote strife and discord in Central America. What matters is the future of the people of the Latin American region as perceived by the people themselves.
The region cannot be held to ransom or made to adhere to values and systems which others choose. The people of Central America will look at the experience of almost two centuries of their independence, decide for themselves why poverty and underdevelopment have pursued them so relentlessly and seek their own negotiated solutions to their problems.
I reiterate my country's support for the French-Mexican Declaration of 1981, an effort which seeks to bring together for dialogue all the truly representative forces in El Salvador.
Mr Chairman, Grenada again calls for peaceful solutions to all the region's border disputes, another legacy of colonialism which continues to adversely affect our peaceful and integrated development. The territorial integrity of Belize must be respected and the Belizean people left to pursue their own path to peace, progress and genuine development.
We also seek to ensure that all vestiges of colonialism are removed from our region. The foreign policy of Grenada is unequivocally anti-colonial. Our support for peace, independence and development automatically assumes opposition to the colonial situation which has so divided our peoples.
We extend full support to the Argentinean people in their struggle to retain the Malvinas Islands. It is an issue about which we cannot be apathetic. The Non-Aligned Movement has consistently supported Argentina's claim to the islands. Consistent with the United Nations resolution on the issue, and in the interest of a peaceful and speedy settlement, we call upon Great Britain to return to the negotiating table with Argentina.
Even as we concentrate on themes of unity and peace for the development of the region, we are aware of the severe economic and financial problems facing our countries.
A report prepared by the IDB shows that the GDP of Latin America and the Caribbean declined by one percent in 1982. Some of our countries have had to seek rescheduling of foreign debts.
We have felt the adverse effects of fluctuating international markets for our primary products. Now more than ever, we feel the urgent need for restructuring of the international monetary and financial institutions to make them more responsible to the needs of our developing countries.
Our interdependence is a fact of our existence as developing and over-exploited countries of the American continent, and we are deeply aware of the need to co-operate in order to secure social and economic benefits for our people and to secure peace in our region.
We sincerely hope that the meeting to be convened in Venezuela later this year will generate new and workable solutions to the region's deep economic and financial problems.
Because peace, independence and development are necessary for the progress of the peoples of the entire region, Grenada is particularly concerned about our relationship with the United States of America.
My government has consistently sought to establish and to maintain normal and mutually respectful relations with our powerful northern neighbour. It is an unfortunate historical fact that every effort on our part to achieve this has been ignored or rebuffed.
As a member of the Inter-American family, Grenada's purpose is to solve the social and economic problems which confront our people. We pursue a foreign policy of Non-Alignment which for us includes a real and ongoing diversification and expansion of our relations.
This explains our active involvement in the concerns of Latin America, seeking solutions to the problems of our Small Island States, advocating self-determination in a new political and economic framework, and acceptance of the principle of ideological pluralism.
I reaffirm what representatives of our government and people have said so many times before: that Grenada constitutes no threat to the United States.
We repeat that the new International Airport is a civilian project vital to the economic development of our country. It has been discussed and considered by successive Grenadian governments for the past quarter century and no less than six voluminous studies and reports have been done on its feasibility. The runway is the same length as St Lucia's and smaller than that of Barbados.
It is also a project which past United States and Canadian administrations have recognized as vital to the development of our tourist industry. We have received assistance for the project from countries throughout the world: and its importance to our economic development is unquestionable.
Our particular vision of the Americas is one which recognizes the right of member states to choose their own destiny and this same vision of ours accepts the possibilities of peaceful coexistence, diversity and a variety of political systems.
It is in this ideological spirit that we embrace Venezuela, Cuba, Nicaragua, Mexico, Barbados, Martinique and Suriname as all legitimate sons of the Americas. We cannot in principle subscribe to the attempt to isolate any member of our hemispheric family.
Pluralism is a reality of our region. We exist with different systems, different solutions, different approaches emanating from the common search for peace, true independence and meaningful development.
On another issue, Mr Chairman, we cannot express support for the US Caribbean Basin Initiative, since it deliberately seeks to exclude our country and others of the American family from economic benefits given to the region.
The unity of our peoples must not be compromised by attempts to divide us. We who have a history of colonialism already understand what it is to be divided by language and culture. We already know what it is to be fighting off the colonial legacy of mistrust. If assistance is to be given to an area designated the 'Caribbean Basin', then it must be given to all the countries of the area without discrimination.
In this regard, we take the opportunity to express our additional concern over the United States announcement that S4.4 million will he made avail-able as scholarship assistance through the OAS to countries of the Caribbean Basin, excluding Suriname, Nicaragua and Grenada.
The vision of an organisation with a people united in a common drive towards development precludes the toleration of such divisiveness, and an organisation which by its very existence gives substance to the dreams of Bolivar, must, we feel, not allow discrimination against any member state. This is a danger to our regional movement.
Mr Chairman, distinguished Ambassadors and representatives, the unity of our region must prevail. Member-states of the Organization of American States, represented at the Third Special Inter-American Conference, stated in a preambular paragraph to the `Protocol of Buenos Aires' that
A West Indies in a world like this must unite or perish. This is not the time for parish pump politics. We think nobly, nationally, with special regard for the first fundamentals of a West Indian unity, and a West Indian identity.
The countries of our Organization of American States must demonstrate respect for the principles of legal equality of all nation states, mutual respect for sovereignty, territorial integrity, ideological pluralism, non-interference in the internal affairs of other states and the rights of each country to develop its own process free from all forms of outside dictation and pressure.
Above all, our countries must work together actively in the promotion of peace, for without peace, our dreams of development will remain mere dreams. Without respect for internationally accepted principles, Central America will have no peace and will be doomed to continuous turmoil.
Grenada has always envisioned the attainment of peace in our region, and our Organization of American States has helped to give substance to that dream by unanimously adopting the IX General Assembly of the Organization of American States, a Resolution aimed at declaring the Caribbean region a Zone of Peace.
Let us all, inheritors of the compelling vision of Bolivar, Benito Juarez, Jose Marti, Marryshow and all those other heroes who fought for peace, progress and freedom, work together in this our America to ensure concrete and long-lasting solutions to the real problems of the region - to poverty, unemployment, illiteracy, disease and transnational exploitation of our resources. The vision of an America peaceful by virtue of its integrated development is still vibrantly alive.
Grenada reiterates its commitment to the Charter of our organisation. Our nations must proceed without confusion believing that we will achieve the goals agreed to in our Charter.
Mr Chairman, distinguished Ambassadors and representatives of our America, if we lose the war on poverty and underdevelopment and allow ourselves to move back into the darkness of enslavement, we will have to blame not the weapons of the enemy, but our own divisiveness.
Forward to peace, genuine independence and development in a United America - Our America.
the charter of the Organization of American States signed at Bogota in 1948, set forth the purpose of achieving an order of peace and justice, promoting solidarity among the American states, strengthening their collaboration and defending their sovereignty, their territorial integrity, and their independence. Our unity must be based on principles of justice, genuine independence, liberation, peace, and mutual respect.