The Grenada Revolution Online

Bishop Speech - Seamoon
6 May 1973

[Comment: The text of Bishop’s speech below is taken from an original document with attention to word-for-word copy-editing. Much of the text is confusing.]

Maurice Bishop speaking:

It is my pleasure to welcome you to the “people’s convention” on Independence. As I am the Secretary to the New JEWEL Movement it is my pleasure to welcome you this afternoon to the “people’s convention on Independence”.

It is the duty of every Grenadian to participate in discussions on Independence and as such do your duty it should not be necessary to thank you for attending this afternoon yet we are fully aware of the fact that in the case of serious repression and brutality by the Governmental cases in Grenada today that every person attending this convention this afternoon is in same rights as you are. It is very great risk in Grenada in fact you can step out of your home and in this situation it is very heartening to see so much faces here this afternoon; and in any case that notwithstanding the serious political and economic mess that Grenada now finds itself in there is still hope for this country.

We should now thank the proprietors of Seamoon for allowing us of using their premises. We are particularly happy that this convention is being held in Grenville, because one of the main feeling in Grenada today it is necessary to do something about the serious emphasis of placing everything important in the city of St. George.

It is originable that the Government in Grenada to begin to challenge forward defensive with the aim to fancify the town. The main risk in Grenville as a whole is also very important that the people of Grenville are curious and has the striking in the struggle for the liberation of Grenada.

One hundred and fifty years ago the rebellion which is now gone down in history as the “padenia insurrection: is being raged in Grenada one of the main battles take place right here in Grenville and the State in padenia we believe is here with us today with series of the serious intimidation and the serious level of conciseness and militancy urgently facing us today.

Now is my task this afternoon to talk on the subject of meaningful against meaningless Independence. This reminds me of a very simple task, it advised simple complain what we do correct a way in approaching the question of Independence to ensure that when we do get Independence that Independence will be meaningful and to look also at the same method which this Government has chosen for us to approach this question of Independence a method which must present in any Independence being meaningless. I wish first of all to deal with the question in three different ways.

First of all I wish to look at what has been happening in Grenada in the last five years ago, secondly what is happening today and finally what the Government has been saying what it intends to do after Independence so that we can project and make sensible prediction about what sort of Independence this Government has in mind for us the people of Grenada.

First of all let us try to consider what has been happening in Grenada in some detail, for I know first of all that all of us because we all live in this country and because from day to day we have to show in all the deprivations in all the suffering and have to protect certain cost of living despite the use in prices and all the problems in the society I know it is not necessary due to the fact I have to say too much in order to establish that Grenada is in fact in a mess today; all of us live in societies, all of us know.

Neverthe less, let us look at some of the abuses which have been taking place in Grenada over the last five, six years. We are still within areas of abuses which we have to go through every day, the first area of abuse in relation with the public service and in particular in relation with the Police Department and the Civil Service.

Let us start by looking into what is happening with the Police Department. Now we have a situation in Grenada today where as the last five, six years we have had about seven different Commissioners of Police and every single one of these culprits have come from outside of Grenada. I will refrain from using in my opinion that which has become necessary for this Government to ignore the well respected, intelligent faithful man with integrity who are Grenadian in our Police Department and now we have to send outside of Grenada to bring in a Chief of Police.

A lot of you will know that in Grenada we have men like Mr. Steven BASCOMBE, a man that every Grenadian I sure will agree is a man with undoubted ability and great integrity. But this Government has no use for men of ability and men of integrity. A man like Mr. Stephen BASCOMBE must leave the Police Department.

Others must have been sacked or they must resign because they are men of conscience; because in the Police Department I have a list here of twenty two different policemen over the last year or so have had to leave the Police Department. We have people like Sergeant ROSE, Inspector ALEXANDER, A.S.P. ROMAIN, Assistant Superintendent ROBINSON, Inspector CHARLES, Inspector St. Bernard CHARLES, Corporal Linus CHARLES, Corporal GILL, Inspector DE RAVENIERE, Sergeant NECKLES, Inspector ROMAIN, Constable ACHIE, Corporal ROBERTSON, Commissioner ROBERTS, recently Mr. DAVID has been transferred apparently; plus Mr. BASCOMBE, Inspector FRANCIS, Sergeant BAPTISTE, Sergeant JAMES, Sergeant FRANCIS.

Now if I give you the list establishing the fact like this and the fact that the serious threatening which Pharaoh has began to use shows grievance to this country.

It is now necessary that this Government to go outside of Grenada to get Chiefs of Police because these men do not have to be responsible to Grenadians. These man therefore can afford to listen to the orders given by Lucifer and his disciples and to tell them if this situation occurs carry these orders out and then as something happens they choose the guts to stand up and may well you are not going to carry out this particular order because immediately they will be out of the island.

As we have been going around the island recently, and as people [unclear] coming up to our platform and speaking we have observed that [unclear] main complaints has been the question of the Police, and in [unclear] the question of the Chief of Police. All around the island [unclear[ have been saying that the ugliest man in Grenada today is the Chief of Police. Whereas the fact that Mr. BARROW has been a ugly man is not my concern, I haven’t concerned. However, what I am concerned with is the ugliness of his ways, and the ugliness of his character and the way in which he allowed himself to be manipulated by Lucifer and his enemies that is what I concern.

Then we turn to the Civil Service will return to the Police later on. When we turn to the Civil Service we see the same depressive conditions existing. We find that over the last couple of years in Grenada the Civil Service has been seriously threatened and seriously threatened. We find that in the Civil Service, great Civil Servants simply that they are able to carry out certain orders, orders which conflicts with their duty to the people by whom their ability, those Civil Servants also are being rapidly sacked, dismissed, forced to resign or transferred. This is the same depressive pattern in the Civil Service.

Again we have a list of them and we have to prepare a comprehensive list and yet to that little list we have names of seventeen Civil Servants who have got to be dismissed or got to resign against this is their conscience.

To recall in area of the Public Service, the abuses that exist are extremely serious enough, and in no reason to this affairs is the fact that the Public Service Commission and the Public Service Board of Appeal this is which that governs, designed to ensure that the Civil Servants can appeal to then and to obtain justice and in face so heavily concerned by the influence by Lucifer himself. As it is no longer possible for them to carry out their duty properly and impartially.

A certain measure by which there have been very serious breaches and very serious abuses in Grenada recently has been a period of depress has been declared as a threat; and we know that’s traditional in Grenada we have been a very law abiding people.

Many Grenadians in fact, are so law abiding that when they meet the threat and to defend themselves they can fit it to the opposite person. People coming from outside of Grenada are always very shocked and very impressed by the level of awareness of Court procedure of Grenadians as a whole understand.

Now this has to do with the whole process of our socialization, the way we have grown up and the things we are going to understand and the things that we are going to cherish. So if we have a situation developing in Grenada today as we are helping you where people no longer can respect nor detests or so, there must be a very serious reason for it.

Now we are saying that the reason is clear and the reason has to be with an aching disregard, aching contact, aching arrogance in which this Government and in particular Mr. GAIRY himself has been [unclear] the Court. Time and time again when the Courts have returned [unclear] this Government has seen to it to pass these decisions aside [unclear] pass a law to collect rebels decisions one want to say in such a [unclear] of affairs it is not a surprise that people are having difficulty [unclear] respecting the Courts anymore. Let us look as some example, the first example I must deal with related to the Cocoa growers.

There has been a Cocoa Board in Grenada now for quite a long time. In 1969 this Government took control of that Cocoa Board first time they have taken control where as the people they have tried to get elected in the Cocoa Board have lost the election.

The Government therefore runs to the Courts to ask the Courts decisions that, that person should in fact have been elected; whereas it is significant to our listeners in the High Court is that the then Attorney General of Grenada a man called Keith ALLEYNE, told the Judge face to face at point blank that it doesn’t really matter what you say here Mr. Judge because whatever you say so will again put that man on the Cocoa Board.

We thank the Government subsequently for the length he stayed. There is a second example which we will note, and that example is better known to Miss SYLVESTER because that has to do with a woman called Waple NEDD.

Now Waple NEDD won the last election as a candidate to run the fifteen seats; but before the elections she has been going around in her Constituency collecting the names on papers. She was therefore an enumerator for the election. Now under the Laws of Grenada where a person being an enumerator in one election can run as a candidate throughout the same election. The result was that Waple NEDD should not in fact have run for that seat.

The opposition party, the Grenada National Party (GNP) produced a case through the High Court asking the Judge to say that Waple NEDD was not properly elected. The Judge said that we are right, under our Laws it is not proper for this woman to be an accumulator in the election and then to have lost her seat in the same election so as a result of that there will have to be a new election for that seat.

But what did the Government do, we were expecting the Government in obedience to what the Court has said will appoint someone else to run for that seat in the bye-election, but not this Government. Therefore, Mr. GAIRY has passed a Law stating that even if he ran for a seat, even if you are an enumerator collecting the names of candidates in one election you can run for your seat in that very same election. In other words what the Government was telling the Court was to hell with you and your decision. I didn’t care what you say as far as I am concern my woman Waple NEDD will run again.

Now you see, the same principle applies in relation to the manner in which this Government is trying to get the Courts to get involved in sorts of cases in which they should not be involved. I referred now in particular to the famous nurses case in 1971 and now recently the La Sagesse trial.

Now in the nurses trial in the third instance around November 1970, some twelve nurses went out through the streets of St. George’s one Saturday morning protesting conditions at the hospital. Well these nurses were not saying what they wanted their salary for themselves, all they were saying was that the hospital was in a mess there are not medical facilities and therefore it is time that we collect these.

The response of this Government was to be interviewing the Ministry of Health when the one thousand demonstrators have gathered and to address all these demonstrators. The response of this Government was elected to put on trial forty one demonstrators and all sorts nonsensical charges; charges for riot and insisting to riot, disorderly behaviour, all sorts of things. All these cases are thrown out at the High Court.

And then recently, we have an example of the La Sagesse trial, where in the situation where certain members of the St. David’s Community again to protest the manner in which an Englishmen Lord BROWNLOW has went on the coast to a beach in St. David’s La Sagesse beach and have said that Grenadians will no longer use the road to go to that beach.

Well, you will imagine that a Government will be thankful to every citizen who will go and demonstrate this grievance in that way, but not this Government. We were then arrested and charged another thirty-two persons and charged with all the legal nonsensical charges, and then all these charges were thrown out. The points I am making in relation to these charges is that all these charges were the same with political questions in my view ought not to be tried in Courts of Law unless at the same time there are clear breaches of the Law.

In my instant situation were there any clear breaches. The Government therefore were simply using the Courts as a means of trying to threaten and to keep down the persons who are willing to come out and stand up for their rights.

Now you see also that there have been some serious abuses recently by the Government in the area of attempting to take all the powers in the society into their own hands. The main question of circularization, the Government alone controlling everything again you can see that at definite levels.

The first level we can look at is the question of local Government. We have had a situation in Grenada whereas over the last fifty or sixty years in the main parishes are District Board, and these District Boards were functioning and performing useful service in that they are allowing people an opportunity to participate in the Governmental affairs and to make some decision themselves. But this Government’s more concerned with making sure that people will not vote at all and therefore keep away and abolish all the District Boards. But in Grenada today we no longer have any form of local Government.

Secondly, we can see this in relation to the Cooperative Society. In Grenada there are three crops, three export agricultural crops; bananas, cocoa and nutmeg. From since 1937 all these crops have been organised in a co-operative society or association where employments have cause the production of these crops are abled themselves to meet and to decide on the work done in these three areas.

Now the Government again is not happy with that, they want to be in a position where that concerns their control all the field export association, all the marketing association themselves. In 1969 they took control of the Cocoa Association, and in 1971 they took control of the Banana Society and 1971 also they make two attempts to take control of the Nutmeg Association, and so far the only association that they are not able to take over has been the Nutmeg Association.

Another very serious abuse has been the fact of Premier of this country Mr. GAIRY while at the same time being Premier, being President of the largest Trade Union in the island. Now this is not a very serious and wide-spread abuse. On the other hand we have a situation here where is my instructions in many Civil Branch Departments and very many radio results around the island and many people boxing plants and various places where there is union or Civil Service are in control they are given instruction that only those who have a union card shall be employed.

We have a situation last year in Grenville when Kirpalani opened and Kirpalani’s was looking for something that desperately about twenty workers, but Lucifer made more than six hundred workers come from all around the island to come for work. Owing to the fact of that his union employed a couple more thousand dollars because every single worker had to find a four or five dollars necessary to join the union so that was the whole result of that.

Now we have a whole situation recently which in fact inviting that for a strike, Mr. GAIRY is not satisfied with the fact that his union although the largest union reign themselves in the agricultural workers.

Now the agricultural workers I mean those in most important section in the working class in the entire country. Yet the agricultural workers do not have control over certain essential services like lights and telephone and the Harbour and Cable and Wireless, and the airport and areas like that.

But Mr. GAIRY is very anxious in fact to control the workers in his zone; what he has been doing recently is that he has been making very serious and very deterrent efforts to take all these weavels from the other unions that are now organising them to being then across into his union.

In fact in February of this year he hired a number of buses brought down with the boxing plant workers, the banana boxing plant workers from all around the island and taking them to St. George’s and telling them that they must joins this union or get out of the banana boxing plant because he is in control of the banana society, and his boys are now in control of the banana society, and he will tell his boys who to sack and who to keep. Now placed with this kind of situation, with authority of these banana boxing plant workers who are not [unclear] union.

A couple weeks ago a massive strike was held in Grenada [April 5-6 – Electric, telephone, utilities] where [unclear] one of the main questions at stake was the question of Mr. GAIRY’s trying to take control of all the workers that are in union, and the workers came out for three days and show boldly that they are not prepared to put up with this sort of situation, and they went on strike and eventually the man had to back right down.

Of course we all know that nobody can rely on any promise people like that make and therefore the workers whereby are preparing themselves for at any time at some stage in the future another effort will be made to take over their union that’s the chief concern what he would have done.

Now one of the most important areas of the Police which we have seen in Grenada in the last five years [1968-1973] has meet with respect to violation by the constitution under which we are governed. Grenada has rectified a Constitution a written document which sets out various things like rights, the duties, the privileges very citizen in the State and is suppose to regular certain important areas of the State such as the Public Service Commission and so forth, by the time that this Government has embarked on the policy of destroying and undermining many of the main provisions of the Constitution.

Let us see some example. We state out first of all by looking at the last election by the last election we report a number of irregularities, for there are four or five irregularities in the last elections which were particularly serious and these are ones I want us to look at very briefly.

First of all the question advertising the list of voters prior to the election. Now under the Laws of Grenada every year there should be a timely revision of the voters lists. Every year people should realise and see and to put these people down on the voters list.

Well, this Government did not do that in three years between 1969 and 1971; and in only a couple of months before the election that they then made a mad and hurried rush to get some names down and in the process in fact left out a great number of names.

The list for voters have not been prepared as they should have been. The Government gave only eight day for their people to go around and collect the names, and in those eight days three of the days were public holidays.

In fact we have a situation where although the list of voters have not been revised for two years previous, the two ’72 yet the people has only twelve days in which to collect the names of all the people in the island and that again clearly indicates what was intended that was an amount of names have been left right from the start.

We find again that when the boundaries commission was appointed to revise a number of constituencies to make an increase at the time for victory, this Government solved it to put a Syrian, Moses NAHOUS [?] to be a member of this commission. Very seriously I say was the question of what actually happened on voting day. [Unclear] Laws of Grenada, a person going to cast his vote must be able to [unclear] in a manner which is secret, that is that nobody must be able to know who you voted for.

In the last elections the papers used for voting were so thin that no matter how many folds you put on the papers all the people inside there will know right away who you voted for. In an island as small as Grenada, in an island where there are plenty victimisation and where there is so much fear a person who walks in the tent to vote for a particular candidate and then he walks in to you and he sees four or five GAIRY people facing him he will immediately change his mind and put his (X) someplace else, that is a very strong point, and that we say is a very serious breach, in fact of the Laws under the Constituency of Grenada.

How again we find that there have been very, very serious breaches of the Constitution with respect to re-unite and the preparation of the estimates of the revenue and expenditure which have become just before the budget is read out every, these estimates of revenue and expenditures are suggested to be read out at the end of every year, and for the last number of years this Government have refusing to do so all the time.

There is one other area which I will like us to look at, and that has to be the area of the control of Institution in Grenada that is during a mass media. Now we have a situation in Grenada where the West Indian Newspaper now dealing with the question of the control of Institution in Grenada, and again we see the serious things that has been taking place during the last five or six years in Grenada.

First of all is the Radio, Radio Lionel, now that radio, radio lionel is now a complete and sole property of the Government of Grenada, and it’s again the press of the Government and what the Government to accept and what the Government wishes to admit comes over that radio.

Now we see that last year [1972] the Government acquire the second only daily newspaper in Grenada the West Indian, then again they have their newspaper, the Horizon and they have another newspaper, the Farmers Weekly which mainly consists in fact of Government propaganda, and as for the three independent papers which are independent of Government control that the JEWEL, the Torchlight and the Vanguard.

What this Government had been doing is trying to give them a whole number of libel actions against these papers to try to press them out of business. In the last two or three months to date the JEWEL newspaper had been served three High Court writs by this Government.

Articles, hand bills with Mr. GAIRY fantastic lies and has listed out a number of cases and so on before 1967 when he wasn’t so rich but he wasn’t very happy about that and he has a libel cast to answer on that.

And there he had some articles too dealing with, in fact that several officers in the Civil Service have been given a rare deal. Government had promised to get them loans of three percent to arrive at the figure and then in fact changed its mind together with the Royal Bank to loans work up to something like ten percent interest, and then send travelling officers to the Royal Bank where apparently they also were not happy that we published this so we have libel writ to answer on that.

So what we see very clearly here is that there is a very definite and a very determine intention in public on the part of this Government to impact entirely control the flow of news so that they along will in a position to say what is right and what is wrong. We can well shut up and close our lips and say nothing. This is the very clear intention of this Government, and this certainly the New JEWEL Movement will not put up with.

We will now deal with another very serious area of abuse that has to do with the sort high afforded salaries which has been paid to these Government Ministers. Now we have a situation in Grenada today where Lucifer and his band of Ministers and each getting about thirteen or fifteen hundred dollars a month. Lucifer himself works for something like three thousand dollars a month not checking what he is getting for entertainment and not checking what he gets from his Rock Gardens and Terese and so on. We just talk about his official salary. Now that salary is something like more than a hundred times, something like more than three hundred times in fact the average salary to the average Grenadian.

Resolution Read By Mr. Verna ISAAC]

WHEREAS the people have not been involved in discussing the constitution, and WHEREAS no attempt has been made to involve the people, [the page stops]

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