The Grenada Revolution Online

Bishop Speech - Together We Shall Build Our Airport - (29 March 1981) - National Broadcast - Radio Free Grenada

Good evening Sisters and Brothers of Free Grenada. As I talk to you tonight our Revolution is just two weeks into its third year of achievements and progress for our people. Yet, as we continue to bring benefits to our nation we equally continue to be threatened by those opposed to progress for our people. The latest attacks on our country have come from none other than the rich and powerful United States of America which at this very moment is engaged in an all out massive and vulgar attempt to dissuade various countries and organizations from attending a co-financing conference to be hosted by the European Economic Community and aimed at raising vital financing for our International Airport Project at Point Salines.

Sisters and brothers, we must all understand that this conference due to be held on the 14th and 15th of April [1981] in Brussels is vital for the completion of our International Airport. In order to demonstrate how important this conference is I would like to share with you a few vitally important points about our International Airport Project. To begin with sisters and brothers, we must all be clear that this project represents the biggest and single most important project for our future economic development. In fact, as you all know, this represents the single biggest project ever undertaken in the history of our country. More than this, we must understand that the idea for the project has been with various Grenadian Governments for twenty-five years or so, a reality that can be proved from the existence of numerous airport study projects dating back several years. However, with our popular revolution of March 13, 1979, the People's Revolutionary Government set out with seriousness and determination to transform the dream of our International Airport into a concrete reality.

Needless to say, we understood the monumental nature of this task and as such right from the beginning, we have been pursuing various avenues in our effort to see our airport completed. In this regard, from the earliest days, we raised with just about every country and donor organization that visited us, including the United States Government itself, our desire for assistance in the building of our International Airport. In fact, initially, we met with so little positive feedback that at one stage we even considered at Cabinet level the virtual impossibility of a totally self help approach to the project through the formation of a local task force to tackle this vital project.

Fortunately this proved not to be necessary as, following conversations that I had with President Fidel Castro, the Leader of the Cuban Revolution, at the Non-Aligned conference in August 1979 and again at the United Nations in October of that same year, the fraternal government and people of Cuba agreed to assist whatever local efforts we could make with their own selfless and critical contributions. In this regard, it was clear from the outset that our fraternal friends in Cuba could help only in certain fields within their possibilities covering four major areas:

  1. Skilled manpower not available in our country;

  2. Vital equipment, such as graders, bulldozers and other such heavy equipment;

  3. Some Technical expertise;

  4. Some cement and steel.

These were obviously vitally important areas of assistance and when the promised aid started arriving in November 1979,, all Grenadians were sure that our Ancient Dream of our own International Airport was at long last on its way to reality.

At the same time, sisters and brothers, it was clear that despite this vital and important fraternal aid, there were many other areas of need that would be needed for our airport to become a full reality. Thus, it was certain from the beginning that we would still need assistance to complete:-

  1. The runway - a section needing much oil and asphalt;

  2. The Terminal and Tower Complexes;

  3. The communications and Navigational equipment;

  4. The additional infra-structure in terms of roads, electricity, pipe-bourne water etc. and;

  5. Of course, the new hotels that we would need to get built rapidly to ensure that we had a sufficiently large capacity to accommodate the greater number of tourists.

In addition, it was clear that considerable sums of money would be needed to complete the project. This year alone, for example, we will need 32 million dollars to keep the project going forward on schedule.

Given the reality of all these additional needs, our government has been consistently asking additional assistance from various sources over the last two years. Hence, you will recall my trips to the Middle East countries of Algeria, Libya, Syria, Iraq, an effort that raised over 19 million (U.S.) dollars in cash assistance alone, most of which has been earmarked or already used up for the airport project. We have also had valuable assistance from Venezuela which pledged and has almost completed delivery of 10,000 barrels of gas-oil towards the project and even as I speak tonight a Venezuelan team is in our country to explore further areas of assistance.

We are also still hoping that a joint application of Grenada and St. Lucia in 1980 last year for communications equipment assistance for this project will be approved in due course by the ten member states of the European Economic Community.

From St. Lucia and Aruba we have also had valuable cooperation from their respective airport authorities in the granting of tours and several evaluation discussion of their airport facilities as guidelines for our own project.

At the same time, we are actively discussing with various local, regional and international private investors and with certain countries around the world the possibility of building more hotels, either as joint ventures with our Government or individually on their own. These talks are going well and some positive results should be announced soon. Similar negotiations are also under way with regard to the creation of an Air Grenada National Airline, the granting of route rights to international airlines and the obtaining of the different types of equipment that would be necessary to ensure the completion of the project.

It must also be pointed out that even after work on the project formally started just over one year ago [1980], we continued to raise the matter of further assistance for the project with the U.S.A., as indeed with several other countries around the world. The meaning of all this is that despite all our efforts we still have to raise much more money and find more technical and other assistance if our airport is to become a concrete reality. It is for this reason that the pending co-financing conference, being hosted by the E.E.C. is so vital. And it is also for this reason that we as a people need to make sure that this conference comes off and is a tremendous success.

Sisters and brothers, we as a people have agreed that the expansion of our tourism industry is vital to the development of our country. We recognize tourism's overwhelming importance in creating jobs for those who are still unemployed as new hotels, restaurants, entertainment facilities and shopping areas spring up. We recognize the increased market for our agricultural and agro-industrial products. We see the benefits to our artisans proceeding from the expanded sales of handicrafts and other souvenir items. We also recognize the importance of tourism in offering opportunities for the expansion of our private sector as well as the benefits to the people from the public sector's investments in tourism.

In short, the development of our tourism industry will bring with it previously unconceived development to our country and benefits to all our people. And indeed several studies to date have confirmed the tremendous potential which Grenada has because of our natural and unspoilt beauty, our superb beaches and our warm, beautiful and friendly people.

And it is the International Airport which will bring all this tourism development, as well as providing vital air-freight facilities for exporting our farmers' perishable produce, providing our own people with a vastly more convenient facility for air travel, and in short, enabling the building of our country in a thousand different ways. One has only to look at our sister island of St. Lucia, where the construction of an International Airport was the major turning point in speeding that country's economic development in recent years, to understand what an international airport means to a nation's development potential. That is why our slogan is "The International Airport Project Unites all our people, Benefits all our people".

Sisters and brothers, I know that you must be asking yourselves the question: "Why should the United States, the richest and most powerful country in the world, go out of its way to deliberately sabotage the development of our country, one of the smallest and poorest countries in the world? Why should it seek to deny to another country that same development which it enjoys? Why, when it is fully aware of the honesty of our government, our smashing of corruption since the Revolution, the genuine benefits which our people have been receiving during the past two years, and the unity of all of our people behind this airport project, why should it declare economic warfare against our country and our people in this manner, not only denying us economic assistance but even trying to persuade other countries to deny us assistance?

Sisters and brothers, what we must be clear about is that we are living in a dangerous period, a period in which the policies being pursued by the present United States administration pose to the world with a real threat to international peace, a period in which aggressive attacks may be mounted against individual countries, a period in fact in which there is a real threat of World War 3 affecting all of mankind. And Grenada is not the only target. During the past six to eight weeks, the United States has totally cut off all shipments of wheat to our sister country Nicaragua. In Nicaragua today there is virtually no bread; the people face the prospect of widespread hunger. The United States has similarly cut off all food aid to Mozambique. In an even more aggressive stand, the U.S. administration has made clear to the world its desire to support the South African backed guerillas in attacks against the Angolan Revolution and people and in the face of world-wide shock and anger has strengthened its own relationship with this foul, racist, apartheid regime in South Africa.

Here, in our region again, the United States for the first time in history has begun a policy of providing credits for the purchase of military equipment by Eastern Caribbean Governments as part of heir global plan of stepping up the arms race. Moreover, we in Grenada have experienced constant illegal "spy flights" by aircraft over our country in recent weeks, and also a stepping up of economic piracy by large fishing trawlers operating illegally in our waters.

Most repugnantly, we have seen the massive stepping up of U.S. military assistance to the brutal junta in El Salvador, and alongside it a new U.S. policy which states that all those who fight for freedom and justice against that repressive government are to be labeled 'terrorists' and to be butchered with American military help. This means that increasingly thousands of Salvadorean people will be murdered in coming weeks just as Archbishop Romero and the four nuns were murdered last year. And when the European Economic Community began sending humanitarian assistance on a non-political basis in the form of food and medicines to victims of that war in El Salvador, the United States Government demanded that they cease such assistance. Fortunately, this demand was rejected and we in Grenada want to be among those who warmly congratulate the E.E.C. on the principled manner in which, after investigating the situation, they continued their humanitarian assistance to the war victims of El Salvador.

But Sisters and brothers, we must face the fact that the present United States administration even against the will of their own people is firmly opposed to the rights of all Independent countries to act independently and to conduct their affairs in their own way. Indeed, this administration is even trying to force the developed European countries to tow their line and to follow their dangerous and misguided foreign policy positions. Most especially, it is opposed to those underdeveloped countries like ours which are struggling for their national liberation, economic independence and economic and social development. This administration want to rule the world alone, they want all countries to bow to the United States, and countries like ours which are firmly non-aligned and determined not to be in anyone's backyard immediately become the target of their aggression. This is the reason why they are attacking us economically and with so much negative propaganda, they hope to cause suffering to our people, so that when our people feel the pain of no work and less benefits they would turn against their government, thus giving the opportunity to overthrow our popular people's revolution and put in a Gairy-type government which would sell out our people's national interests; a government which would permit the increased exploitation of our people and return Grenada to the days of subjugation, oppression and exploitation.

The United States understands the importance of our International Airport and this is why they have declared economic war against us. But we also understand the importance of our International Airport, and we as a people must therefore mobilize and fight back to defend our interests. This present situation definitely calls for a massive, all out effort by all section of our people to ensure the continuation of our airport project.

The P.R.G. has already begun the process of contacting the member countries of the E.E.C. and all other countries and international organizations invited to the conference to re0emphasize to them the importance of this project to our country. What we are now asking all of our people to do is the following:-

(1) First, that all organizations, including those of the hotel sector, the business sector, the trade unions, the professional and service organizations, the churches, the women, youth,, student, community and other organizations - all should immediately issue public statements in support of the Airport Project. These will not only be published locally in radio, and newspapers, but will also be taken by Grenada's representatives to the co0financing conference which it to be held in Brussels on 14th and 15th April [1981].

(2) We are also asking our Grenadian nationals and our friends abroad to publicly condemn the U.S.'s efforts to sabotage Grenada economically and seek to put pressure on the U.S. administration to change its policy towards Grenada.

(3) Thirdly, the P.R.G. has decided to hold a massive public rally at the International Airport site in Point Salines on Sunday April 12th at 2.00 p.m. This will provide an opportunity for all our people to demonstrate, by their presence, the overwhelming support, which the Airport Project enjoys. Free transport will be provided by the P.R.G. and it will thus also provide an opportunity for our people, especially those from the rural villages, to see for themselves the tremendous progress which has been made on the construction of the airport in one short year and the amazing new face of the Point Saline peninsula.

Sisters and brother, we owe it to ourselves, we owe it to our country, we owe it to future generations yet unborn to ensure that this project goes ahead. Further, we owe it to our friends around the world, those who have already rendered valuable assistance and those who intend to make a contribution in the future to continue the struggle for our airport. We certainly owe this to our Cuban sisters and brothers, our Venezuelan friends, our friends in Algeria, Libya, Syria and Iraq, and most of all at this particular time, to our friends in the Secretariat of the E.E.C. and in the member countries of the E.E.C. who are so unselfishly and generously assisting us with the organising of this conference, as indeed they have assisted us so often in the past.

Sisters and brothers, as we reflect on why the rich and powerful United States of America should try to stop the economic development of our small and poor country, I ask that you reflect on the history of our nation and on the history of our revolution. As you do so, I am sure that you will agree that our history has been a consistent one of determination to struggle and win despite the odds. That was the lesson of Fedon, that was the meaning of the struggle of Marryshow to develop a West Indian identity and consciousness, that was the significance of Butler's victory in firmly establishing the role and importance of the working class and in winning for them the fight to have their unions recognised, that was why in 1973-1974 our people struggled so defiantly and so bravely against Gairyism for an end to brutality, corruption, superstition, repression, exploitation and dictatorship, and that was, of course, why on 13th March 1979 our people finally rose up in a united way to take power into our own hands and to begin the long, hard process of national reconstruction, peaceful and progressive development and economic and political justice for all of our people.

With that in mind, sisters and brothers, I ask that you all join in the battle to make sure that our airport is successfully completed despite the tricks maneuvers and threats of the rich and the powerful, for as we always say, no force on earth can stop the forward march of a determined, conscious, organised, vigilant and united people.


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