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News > World

Grenada Celebrates 45 Years of Independence From Colonialism

  • Grenada celebrates its 45th independence day.

    Grenada celebrates its 45th independence day. | Photo: Twitter / @sfa_csa

Published 7 February 2019

The Caribbean nation of Grenada celebrated its 45th year of independence from three-century-long French and British colonialism.

The people of Grenada celebrated 45 years of independence on Feb. 7 which was obtained in 1974. The Caribbean country was under French and British colonialism for more than three centuries.


Remembering Maurice Bishop and Grenada's Revolution

The island was spotted by Christopher Columbus in 1498 during his third trip to the Americas, but the Indigneous inhabitants of the island resisted the Spaniards fiercely, stopping any attempts at permanent settlement.

French colonists successfully made a settlement there in 1649 after brutally subjugating the Indigenous population, and exiling resistors or marginalizing the remaining population.

The British then captured the island from the French in the Seven Year's War and formally took possession of it in 1763.

Grenada became an important island for merchants when the colonizers commercialized nutmeg, cocoa, and cotton farms along with traditional sugar crops.

The independence movement of Grenada gained strength in the second half of the twentieth century when metalworkers organized and unionized.

Eric Matthew Gairy, a founding member of the United Grenadian Labor Party (GULP), raised his voice for independence and was backed by the United States.

GULP soon became a formidable political force in the country and in 1967 elections, he participated and won the post of the prime minister.

After that, he negotiated with the British for the independence of Grenada and in 1974, his efforts finally became successful, but he quickly became an authoritarian figure.

Grenada's revolutionary leader Maurice Bishop (middle) and Cuban revolutionary leader Fidel Castro (right). | Photo: teleSUR Archives

Bishop came to power on Mar. 13, 1979, as the head of the New Jewel Movement, which staged a bloodless coup against the U.S.-friendly regime of Eric Gairy.

Bishop's revolutionary forces then initiated a process of socialist reforms in which the government built schools, led a massive literacy campaign, sought to develop the countryside and provided employment to the people. According to a 2013 article by Bill Bigelow, thanks to the efforts of the revolutionary government, in four years the unemployment rate dropped from 49 percent to 14 percent.

Prime Minister Bishop also established close relations with the revolutionary governments of Cuba and Nicaragua, which put him in the crosshairs of U.S. interests that eventually led to an invasion of the country. 

In October 1983, internal divisions within the New Jewel Movement led to a dramatic split and the detention and subsequent assassination of Bishop.

This internal chaos in leadership in the country provided the pretext for the U.S. to order the invasion by approximately 7,600 soldiers, an overwhelming amount of troops for the tiny country. The objective of the invasion was the consolidation of a pro-U.S. regime after the assassination of Prime Minister Maurice Bishop.

Currently, Grenada is a part of the British Commonwealth of Nations. It has also moved closer to the Bolivarian Alliance of the Peoples of Our America (ALBA) and the Community of Latin American and Caribbean States (CELAC) in recent years.

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