Welcome to Maurice Bishop International Airport
Published Jun 14, 2009 9:09 PM
Grenada’s international airport was renamed after Maurice Bishop on May
29. It would have been the late revolutionary leader’s 65th birthday.
Thousands of Grenadians rallied the next day at the airport to celebrate.
Bishop’s 94-year-old mother, Alimenta Bishop, was there. So were his
partner, Angela, and their children, Nadia and Johnny. Many people wore
T-shirts with Bishop’s face and the slogan “A dream come
true.” (Grenada Herald, May 31)
Grenada lived through a nightmare when the U.S. invaded on Oct. 25, 1983.
President Reagan sent 7,000 troops and two aircraft carriers to attack a
country with only 110,000 people. U.S. planes bombed the Richmond Hill
Psychiatric Hospital, killing 47 patients. The Pentagon claimed “armed
patients and staff” were ready “to resist our forces.” (WW,
Nov. 10, 1983)
For a country dependent on tourism, having an airport that can handle jet
aircraft is a necessity. Grenada Prime Minister Maurice Bishop sought and
received Cuban assistance to build the airport.
Reagan claimed it was going to be a Soviet air force base. Bishop pointed out
that a Miami firm spent nine months dredging the site. ABC’s
“Nightline” program repeated Reagan’s stupid lie.
Grenadians remember the truth. During the country’s 2008 election,
Grenada Prime Minister Tillman Thomas promised to rename the airport after
At the rally Thomas called the airport “a lasting testimony of Caribbean
solidarity as displayed by the hardworking Cuban technical cooperation
team.” (The Barnacle, June 3)
Cuban Vice President Estaban Lazo Hernandez spoke about Maurice Bishop and his
friendship with Fidel Castro. Other honored guests included Dominica Prime
Minister Roosevelt Skerrit and St. Vincent and the Grenadines Prime Minister
Dr. Ralph Gonsalves. (Juventud Rebelde, June 1)
“Grenada and Maurice have come home symbolically and in reality. ... This
belated honor to an outstanding Caribbean son will bring closure to a chapter
of denial in Grenada’s history,” said Dr. Gonsalves. (Grenada
Herald, May 31) Gonsalves had been Bishop’s friend. He led protesters at
the University of the West Indies when revolutionary historian Walter Rodney
was kicked out of Jamaica in 1968.
Revolutionary gains under Bishop
The “chapter of denial” Prime Minister Gonsalves referred to is the
Grenadian Revolution. Maurice Bishop led members of Grenada’s New Jewel
Movement in overthrowing Eric Gairy’s dictatorship on March 13, 1979.
People rejoiced. Among the victims of Gairy’s cruel regime was Maurice
Bishop’s father, Rupert Bishop, who had been murdered. Gairy was a
crackpot who lectured the U.N. General Assembly about UFOs.
The revolution went to work. Three out of four families received interest-free
loans and low-cost building materials to fix their homes. Schools were
repaired. Free books, school uniforms and hot lunches were provided for the
first time for the poor. Health care was made free and the number of doctors
and dentists doubled. Within four years the island’s unemployment rate
fell from 50 percent to 12 percent.
Cuban aid and Cuban volunteers were indispensable. Aid was also given by the
Soviet Union, socialist countries in Eastern Europe, the Democratic
People’s Republic of Korea, Libya and Syria. Grenada was also becoming a
socialist pole of attraction for African Americans.
Grenada’s revolution meant the most to Grenada’s women. “The
very first decree of the revolution was to outlaw sexual victimization and
exploitation of our women in return for jobs,” said Maurice Bishop during
his speech to thousands at Hunter College in New York City on June 5, 1983.
Jacqueline Creft became minister of education.
Four months later Bishop was shot by his own comrades. U.S. imperialism’s
escalating hostility—punctuated by genuine threats of
invasion—turned Grenada into a political pressure cooker. The New Jewel
Killed along with Maurice Bishop on Oct. 19, 1983, were Fitzroy Bain, Norris
Bain, Jacqueline Creft, Vincent Noel and Unison Whiteman. Reagan exploited this
tragic event to launch his racist invasion.
Twenty-six years later Grenada repudiated Reagan by renaming its airport after
Thousands of Grenadians live in New York City. The New York Times refused to
print anything about this politically important act of defiance. Neither did
the Washington Post.
Corporate media censorship couldn’t prevent flight attendants from
announcing, “Welcome to Maurice Bishop International Airport.”
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