GRENADA AT 50
There is a Lot to Celebrate
As Grenadians celebrate the 50th anniversary of their hard-won independence there is a guest who is absent from the festivities but whose ghost is ever present.
That person is Maurice Bishop, former leader of the Peoples Revolutionary Government of Grenada and of the New Jewel Movement.
Along with Fitzroy Bain, Jacqueline Creft, Unison Whiteman, Vincent Noel, Keith Hayling, Norris Bain and Evelyn Bullen, Prime Minister Bishop was slain on Fort Rupert, St George’s on the 19th October 1983. The Revolution collapsed shortly thereafter. Six days later the US launched a ferocious attack on Grenada. That invasion was fiercely resisted by Grenadians but the Americans eventually prevailed.
The Americans secured the remains of PM Bishop and those killed alongside him. To this date they have not returned the remains nor offered to the families of the deceased; the people of Grenada nor its government any explanation. The relatives of the slain have sought to have the bodies of their loved one returned to them but have achieved no success.
In 2019 Grenada – Forward Ever launched a campaign, entitled Return The Remains, demanding that the US government release the bodies. Despite our best efforts the US government has refused to engage with us. We have been informed that they have also declined to discuss this important issue with the Government of Grenada or the families of the deceased. So, on the 7th February 2024 we called on the PrimeMinister of Grenada to take steps, at a government level, to secure the release of the remains from US custody. This letter is copied below.
The Right Honourable Dickon Amiss Thomas Mitchell
Prime Minister of Grenada
Prime Minister’s Office
February 7, 2024
BY LETTER AND EMAIL
Dear Prime Minister,
Re: Open Letter Requesting the US Government be Called on to Return the Remains of PM Maurice Bishop to the People of Grenada
In my capacity as Secretary of Grenada – Forward Ever (G-FE) I wish to congratulate you, your government and our fellow Grenadians on this most auspicious day, the 50th Anniversary of Grenada’s independence. This freedom, fought for and won in 1974, is to be celebrated by Grenadian after centuries of kidnapping of its people and their enforced servitude on the island.
However, today we are reaching out to you to use your best endeavours to call on the government of the United States to return to Grenada the remains of Prime Minister Maurice Bishop and those slain with him.
The background to this request is well known to you and summarised in our previous correspondence of the 3rd November 2022.
We are now entreating you to use all means at your disposal to persuade the US government to publicly accept that they have a duty and responsibility to return the remains of our brothers and one sister to their families and the people of Grenada. Whatever political views are held in respect of the Revolution, led by Prime Minister Maurice Bishop, it is unconscionable and macabre for the United States, a country that espouses such high morals, to retain the bodies of these Grenadians.
It is over 40 years since these bodies were removed by US forces from Camp Fedon, Calivigny, as recorded by many and reported by Martine Powers’ investigative podcast series in The Washington Post entitled “The Empty Grave of Comrade Bishop.”, see https://www.washingtonpost.com/investigations/2023/10/23/empty-grave-comrade-bishop-podcast-guide/ and The Institute of the Black World 21st Century https://ibw21.org/editors-choice/grenada-maurice-bishop-missing-remains/.
Were the Government of the United States to refuse, or were unable, to return the remains of those slain on the 19th October 1983, the minimum we must demand is a full and transparent investigation into what the Reagan administration did with the remains of our citizens after their recovery by the US armed forces. It goes without saying that a full, public apology to the families of the deceased as well as to the people of Grenada should be demanded in any event.
This is not an unreasonable request, as it is something that the Government and citizens of the USA would demand of Grenada had we unearthed and secretly hidden the bodies of President Abraham Lincoln, George Washington or any other American leader.
We also understand that the images of PM Bishop and Prime Minister Eric Matthew Gairy will adorn a set of new EC$50 notes, to be introduced into circulation later this year. It would be fitting if the remains of PM Bishop and those killed with him could be put to rest in his homeland by that date.
Alternatively, it would appear incongruous, were the people of Antigua & Barbuda, Dominica, Saint Kitts & Nevis, Saint Lucia, Saint Vincent and the Grenadines, Anguilla, Montserrat and Grenada to be presented with a representation of two popular former leaders on their high value currency, yet with one, the location of whose remains are unknown to the Government of Grenada. The image that this situation will present to the wider world would appear to be bizarre and not in keeping with the duties of a government.
We are aware that you and your colleagues are going to be extremely busy over this period but, with respect, please give this important matter the urgency and priority it deserves.
Yours, most respectfully
Kwabena Dennot Nyack
Secretary of Grenada – Forward Ever
On behalf of Grenada – Forward Ever
cc: The High Commissioner for Grenada to the Court of St. James, Her Excellency Rachér Croney.