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Commentary: Grenada and ALBA
Published on February 10, 2014 Email To Friend    Print Version

By Hudson George

Following a particular political ideology as the norm for Grenada is a waste of time, similar to the old traditional belief that producing large amounts of agriculture products will make the economy grow and the nation will prosper. However, it is no hidden secret that the majority of Grenadians are comfortable with the present government’s decision to join ALBA.

Hudson George has a BA in Social Science from York University, Toronto, Canada. He has been writing since his early teenage years and now contributes letters and articles to a number of Caribbean newspapers
As a small country in the Caribbean Basin, Grenada cannot survive economically on its own without any assistance from richer nations. For example, Canada, the US and Mexico form the North American Free Trade Area (NAFTA) as their trading bloc. However, the Caribbean, Central and South American countries are not part of NAFTA. And while old colonial Britain is a member of the European Union (EU); therefore, those former British colonies have no other choice but to look somewhere else to find a trading bloc.

The late President Hugo Chavez of Venezuela created ALBA as an alternative to NAFTA and some of the English-speaking Caribbean countries are members of ALBA through the invitation of the Chavez-led government. On the other hand, Grenada, which is also a former British colony just 87 miles north of Venezuela, was not a member of ALBA until just recently. The Keith Mitchell government signed on as the newest member at a recently held summit in Cuba. According to news reports coming from the Spice Isle, Grenada will be a full member in a month’s time, when all the paperwork is done.

However, it is no hidden secret why Grenada as an independent country took so long to join ALBA, even though Grenadians are experiencing economic hard times, due to two major hurricanes and a global recession. However, based on Grenada’s past political history during the Maurice Bishop-led people’s revolution that was part of the Cold War era between the US, Russia and Cuba, some Grenadian politicians are nervous that it might upset the US if they advocate for Grenada to join ALBA.

In addition, with Hugo Chavez’s anti-American policy that is still popular among Venezuelan voters, it is obvious why the former NDC government led by Tillman Thomas refused to be a part of ALBA. And even though Mr Thomas associated himself with left wing political activists and politicians to defeat the Keith Mitchell NNP in the 2008 general election, his political loyalty to the US never wavered. Mr Thomas is not a practical politician as Dr Mitchell.

In addition, we can say that all leaders who governed Grenada after the people’s revolution find themselves obligated to please the US administration, due to fact that the US invaded Grenada and restored the traditional democratic system of government. However, some of those leaders understand the fact that they must be non aligned if they want to be successful and serve the people‘s interest. They realise that the US will not give Grenada enough financial aid and technical assistance as most Grenadians had expected after the invasion.

However, after the People’s Revolutionary Government (PRG) crumbled and democracy was restored in the tri-island state and the interim period ended, the Herbert Blaize NNP was elected to govern the country. Blaize’s NNP government was very much pro-America and anti-Cuba because the Cold War was still affecting Grenada politics; and the Grenadian people were very much confused about the power struggle and bloodshed that took place between the Maurice Bishop and Bernard Coard warring factions within the PRG.

During the course of Blaize’s NNP five-year administration, conflicts occurred between Blaize and some of his elected members of parliament. Blaize prorogued parliament to stay in office and he died during that period. Blaize’s successor Ben Jones finished the term and the Nicolas Braithwaite-led NDC party won the election. The NDC stayed on a similar political course as the former Blaize NNP, trying to please the US administration without rocking the political boat, while the Grenadian people’s well-being was compromised by the political elites.

The NDC government led by Braithwaite and later on by George Brizan suffered the same political fate as the Blaize and Ben Jones NNP. The NDC was defeated by Dr Keith Mitchell’s NNP in the general election. When Mitchell took office he made a sort of political shift and portrayed himself as a practical leader who recognised the needs of the people. Mitchell opened up relationships with Cuba. Fidel Castro was invited to visit Grenada. Castro visited Grenada and received the biggest welcome from the Grenadian people to a foreign leader. From then on, Cuba has been helping Grenada in health and education.

Now that Mitchell’s NNP is back in office after defeating the Thomas NDC government in the 2012 election, Mitchell seems to be making another practical decision by joining ALBA. He realises that Grenada needs financial assistance and cheaper oil and gas for local consumption. Therefore, if Venezuela is willing to help Grenada as Cuba is doing, the Grenadian people will be happy with Dr Mitchell’s decision to join ALBA.

Basically, Grenada is too small and underdeveloped to play big power politics. Grenada needs a practical leader that is willing to seek the best interest for the Grenadian people. Presently, Grenada is excluded from NAFTA and the only alternative is to join ALBA in the interest of the Grenadian people.
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Hudson George I don't know what basis or under what premise you Made the statement that the majority of a Grenadians support Grenada joining ALBA. There are thousands of Grenadian who don't even know what is ALBA. I am not aware that a referendum was held to determine if the majority of people agrees with a grenade joining ALBA. Venezuela can't buy basic items Including toilet pape Much less to support Grenada. Grenada won't get any significant support from ALBA. The United States remain the lone Super power. Dominica gphas support from the USAID as a result of the relationship with ALBA. Been more political don't necessarily mean that some decisions one make is in the best interest of Grenada. Joining ALBA might provide the NNP administration with some capital but there are many other factors apart from monies that government have to consider. The whole issue of emigration. Grenadians seeking employment opportunities in the USA. Regional security and the threat of terrorism . It would be interesting to see what benefits Grenada will be able to obtain from ALBA. Grenada should instead vigorously persue it's own exploration for oil and gas , not with the Russians but another credible oil exploration company. Hudson ALBA isn't the solution to Grenada's problem. A practical leader would have instead of looking for freebees would rally his people yo produce more. Grenada switched from China to Taiwan and to date the island have not received substantial aid from the Chinese. There is no transfer of technologies from China to Grenada, no major direct foreign investment. Whatever infrastructural aid the Chinese give must be done by mainland contractors etc. That to me isn't practical leadership. It's dependency. Cuba has provided Grenada with substantial assistance and still the country is in the red. Grenadians have to grow themselves to prosperity.

Hudson George:

Grenadianclass, my opinion has nothing to do with super power politics and all them kind of old time Grenadian politics. We have gone down that road too many times and it has not proven that your line of argument bring any economic progress to Grenada.

Russia, America has diplomatic relationship with Venezuela and Russia. America buys petroleum oil and gas from Venezuela. America also trade with Russia and Russia government allows American astronauts to use their space station and equipments to do space research, while you keep talking about Cold War politics.

As a Grenadian people, it is time that we grow politically and stop living in this old colonial bubble. Maybe you should ask yourself why Grenada and the other Caribbean countries are not included in NAFTA. You must as yourself, why the Americans are not buying Caribbean bananas?

I know you will never ask yourself those questions because you are afraid that you might to think beyond the box and you believe, f you can think openly, your friends will say you commit political blasphemy.

I guess that you take pleasure in watching Grenadians suffer, just to satisfy your political values but let me tell you one thing bro! My opinion has nothing to do with NNP versus NDC. My opinion is based on what I think is best for Grenada and Grenadians in general.

In Grenada some people pleasure is other people pain. So while you might be enjoy political pleasure with your political values as the only norms for all Grenadians, some are suffering and they want to find a solution to for better life.

In addition, I believe if a person want to cross a river and they waiting for a particular boat with special crew men to take them to the other side of the river and the crew and boat did not come to their rescue, the best thing for that person to do is find another boat with crew men that are willing to take them to safety, rather than die waiting in vain.


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