By Lloyd Noel
Our tiny tri-island state of Grenada, which was the first of the OECS states to receive its independence from Great Britain in 1974, then went on to create worldwide history in February 1979, when the (NJM) New Jewel Movement seized political power from Eric Gairy’s (GULP) Grenada United Labour Party, only to destroy itself with mass killings on the 19th October 1983, which opened the door for the US forces to invade the island on the 25th October to restore peace, and to safeguard the US medical students at St George’s University.
Lloyd Noel is a former attorney general of Grenada, prominent attorney at law and political commentator
That very short description of our tiny islands political history, dating back 30 years ago when Grenadians in their thousands had left the Islands to seek employment in England, and later on improved themselves educationally, while assisting their relatives and families back in Grenada – that state of affairs was the main cause of our people surviving the chaos and confusion of October 1983.
But the people survived, and the happenings, as well as the political and legal circumstances that unfolded thereafter, took their natural courses.
The presence of those thousands of US and Caribbean forces on the island, as well as those on the US ships just offshore, made a lot of difference to the happenings thereafter; and that scenario was greatly assisted by the dispatch of all the Cuban and other leftist comrades on the island during the revolutionary period.
It must not be forgotten that in the rescue mission by the US forces, 17 of its soldiers lost their lives on our island, and a monument in their memory is prominently displayed on the St George’s University medical school campus at True Blue in St George.
Now we are celebrating 30 years since the rescue mission of those dark and terrible days of our revolutionary experience in the seventies and eighties – and the question begs itself, what have we achieved in all those years?
True enough we have gone past those days of terror and brutality by the Mongoose gangs of the Gairy days, and the PRA soldiers of the NJM revolution, and the law has been allowed to take its due course – as far as arrests and charges and detention are concerned.
And while we have since gone back to government under our constitution, and our Parliament has been in operation with the members thereof duly elected and nominated subject to that constitution, the economic conditions and living standards of our people leave a whole lot to be desired, after all those peaceful years.
Political parties have come and gone, and governments have changed over those years – based on the candidates they put up, and the campaign promises they made leading up to the election day – but our bitter experience has been that those promises were nothing more than mere nice sounding words and phrases, and the majority fell for them by voting those candidates into Parliament and government, but the promises made to get them there remain just that.
And in this our 30th year since those dark and dismal days of killings, and brutality, and detention without trial by those in control of the guns and bullets, we also had another election in which two main parties put up 15 candidates each, and the current controllers won all the seats.
And here we are, eight months since that clean-sweep victory, and the voters who made that possible are waiting patiently and hopefully that some benefits will come their way – sooner rather than too very much longer.
This disappointment by those now in control thus far is even more embarrassing to their members and supporters, who fell for the promises and gave them total control of the nation’s affairs – only to realize that all the nice-sounding thousand jobs to be provided by the ready and waiting foreign investors with millions to dish out was as empty as the treasury they inherited.
So now that the damage has been done, with nothing to fall back on to relieve the situation, it is a straight case of trying to find some available alternatives to help cushion the resulting disappointments.
The news from the Government Information Service last week was that the P.M. left for the USA and England to meet with different sources in an attempt to raise some $300 million, so as to get various projects up and running, to help provide some needy job opportunities for the many thousands of unemployed waiting and hoping.
Where and from whom those millions will be coming from, only the PM and goodness knows – but it is no secret that things are so bad, and getting worse with no relief in sight anytime soon that everyone desperately hopes some good Samaritan will turn up, somewhere on the journey overseas, to come to the assistance of our people.
We are also waiting for the Budget and Estimate provision, due to be delivered by the PM and Minister of Finance in Parliament on December 6.
And no doubt whatever figures he provides will be accepted and voted for in Parliament – because there is no opposition to say or question otherwise.
But the dollars will have to come from somewhere, because we cannot raise them here at home anytime sooner or later.
We heard recently of the government plans to lease its four agricultural estates to local investors so that they can provide the needy jobs, and revive our once very productive nutmeg, cocoa and banana crops for exports.
Where the local investors will be getting the funds from to lease those estates is anybody’s guessing game.
But we are in desperate need of so many things and, after 30 years of return to normal behaviour, we should be seeing some better days ahead.