Thanksgiving Day in Grenada: A love-hate political game with America and Cuba

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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.

By Hudson George

Every October 25 is Thanksgiving Day in Grenada, in celebration of the United States of America army invasion that got rid of the People’s Revolutionary government, the Americans saw as a threat to its foreign policy in the Caribbean region. This year marks 36 years since the invasion.

Ever since, Grenadians are playing the love-hate political game with Cuba, even though most of them love the American dollar and American lifestyle. Some Grenadians, most vocal anti-American critics, I may add, have migrated to the Big Apple and living comfortably.

Whenever a plane lands at Maurice Bishop International Airport, in Point Salines, the most visible site passengers can see is St George University, an American own institution on Grenadians soil.  And if those passengers are aware of Grenada’s political history, they will know that the airport was constructed and funded by socialists and communists’ countries, for whatever reason we can only keep on guessing.

However, the American administration under president Ronald Reagan claimed that the airport was built as a transition point for the Russians and Cubans to land military aircraft on their way to South America countries to spread communism. This is a topic that is still up for debate even though the cold war is over.

After the United States military took full control of Grenada, most Grenadians wanted president Reagan to annex the country and make them US citizens. Most did not care about their countrymen who died in battle, fighting against the US army.

They even went as far as saying God bless Papa Reagan. Placards read the alphabetical letter C for Communism and C for Coard. During that time they did not remember Maurice Bishop was Cuban president Fidel Castro’s chosen one to rule Grenada for life. Yet still, many blamed Bernard Coard for influencing Bishop into the communist’s bloc.

Furthermore, many Grenadians were delighted when the Americans set-up their Embassy in Grand Anse, St George, and educated Grenadians who wanted to visit the US, received multiple indefinite visas.

The US military presence bought a sense of relief and peace among Grenadians and many were asking those in authority to execute Coard and his communist gang. However, after the interim government led by Nicholas Brathwaite reintroduced a multi-party system and democratic general elections, Grenadians were given the privilege to vote for a political party of their choice; president Reagan withdrew most of his military forces.

The Embassy was closed after the Herbert Blaize New National Party (NNP) came into power, months after and Grenadians had to travel to Barbados, again, to get US visas. And, even though democracy was restored, the element of the democratic process is still missing. Grenadians are not given the right to vote in local government elections. There are no elected mayors and district board members for the various towns.

Additionally, after eleven years of anti-Cuban political propaganda; in 1994, Grenada resumed diplomatic relations with Cuba. And now, the love-hate game between Grenada and Cuba continues. Ordinary Grenadians now realise, they need medical health assistance from Cuba, plus young Grenadians are given scholarships to study in Cuba.

So basically, I think  Grenadians are politically confused in terms of what they want for themselves and Grenada overall.  Presently, some Grenadians are complaining that the government is selling the country to rich foreign investors. Besides, there are no elected opposition parliamentarians in the lower house.

With this year’s Thanksgiving Day celebrations, the government and people of Grenadian are caught between a rock and a hard place because, Grenada is a small country that needs assistance and foreign investments.

So, the best thing the Grenadian government can do is, to play their diplomatic cards carefully.  Americans, Cubans, and Grenadians fought and died during the invasion. Therefore, they all must agree to compromise, show honour and respect for their citizens who died in the conflict.

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