GRENADA – 19 October 1983
Challenging the US Narrative About Grenada – October 19th 1983
INTERVIEWS WITH EYEWITNESSES
Everyone thought that they knew the story. The facts have now been heard, following a series of interviews with former members of the Revolutionary armed forces of Grenada.
A recording of the event is available at https://bit.ly/3q2C6G8.
On Saturday 27th November 2021 a Zoom meeting took place, which may, in retrospect, come to be considered as historic. This meeting challenged the US narrative about the events in Grenada of October 19th 1983. That was the day when Maurice Bishop, the much loved Prime Minister of Revolutionary Grenada was killed by members of the Peoples Revolutionary Army on Fort Rupert, St Georges, Grenada.
His killing occurred following a series of disastrous decisions by the Revolutionaries that ultimately led to the collapse of the Revolution. Since then the US Government, whose armed forces invaded Grenada within a few days of Maurice Bishop’s death, have assiduously propagated a simplistic narrative that painted the ruling party, the NJM, as a hard-line organisation that turned against its leader. That story was widely accepted by a variety of audiences.
Challenging the Narrative presented very compelling testimonies by former members of the Peoples Revolutionary Army (PRA), who were present on the 19th of October 1983. They related their recollection of the facts relating to what led to the tragic events. Moderated by Valerie Gordon-Williams, who was closely involved in many successful projects of the Grenada Revolution, the meeting heard from Chris Parke, a PRA officer and a candidate member of the NJM, who was present during this momentous period.
He was followed by Norlan James, the soldier who was on guard duty on the 19th October. He recalled in vivid detail the moment when the crowd, led by Maurice Bishop, arrived at the entrance to Fort Rupert, the PRA headquarters. Recounting how Maurice Bishop ordered the disarming of the soldiers, the breaking into the armoury and the distribution of guns to the crowd and the stripping and beating of a female soldier. In an emotional but controlled testimony he relayed the events leading up to the death of Maurice Bishop and the others including the threats made by supported of Maurice to kill the PRA soldiers present on the fort.
Also on the panel was Alan Scott, a member of the Committee for Human Rights in Grenada – UK. He is and has been closely involved in objectively assessing the events leading up to the October 1983 tragedy and the United States’, so far successful, efforts to control the narrative regarding the slaying of Maurice Bishop and others. He provided a step-by-step account of the series of decisions taken by the leadership of the Revolution, including Maurice, which, through circumstances that even now are unclear, led to the collapse of the Revolution.
John Calliste, a member of the team providing personal security to the leaders of the Revolution, and organiser of Challenging the Narrative, gave a compelling account of the confusion that arose on the day. He stated how the senior members of the New Jewel Movement, the political party that led the Revolution were in disarray following the storming of Maurice Bishop’s residence by a crowd that subsequently went with him to Fort Rupert on the morning of the 19th.
The meeting was attended by a number of relatives of the deceased who made an impassioned plea for the recovery of their remains and had their own recall of the events. The recollections of the former soldiers were not challenged by those present at the meeting.
The recording of the event is on the GEMFM.CA Radio Genesis Magazine at https://bit.ly/3q2C6G8 or https://www.facebook.com/groups/2010529092531714/permalink/2987671674817446/.