Leaders of coup that destroyed Grenada revo demand release

Fred Feldman ffeldman at bellatlantic.net
Wed Jul 30 03:04:16 MDT 2003

The following AP dispatch reports that Selwyn Strachan and other
former leaders of Grenada's New Jewel Movement are again demanding
their release.  Their arrest, trial, and imprisonment was illegal and
a act of outrageous hypocrisy by the U.S. imperialists.

Led by Bernard Coard, Selwyn Strachan, and others,  a military and
party-based faction that had taken over the machinery of the New Jewel
Movement overturned the regime of Maurice Bishop in October 1983,
opened fire on the people when they attempted to free Bishop and
restore the revolutionary government, and murdered Bishop and other
leaders for resisting them.

This blow effectively destroyed the Grenadian revolution and dealt a
savage blow to the liberation struggle across Latin America and the
Caribbean.  The coup and the murders that followed made it possible
for the U.S. government to invade and occupy Grenada without effective
opposition.  In a bid for popular support, the occupation regime
jailed the leaders of the group and put them on trial for murder.
They have now been imprisoned for almost 20 years.

The U.S.-imposed occupation regime, which owed its existence to the
counterrevolutionary coup against Bishop, had no moral authority or
right to arrest these criminals, place them on trial or imprison them.
The trial and punishment of these popularly hated men was a further
blow to the sovereignty and rights of the people of Grenada.

On a related subject, I also think that the attempts of imperialist
governments in Europe to try and punish Argentine military officers,
who committed brutal crimes in the service of imperialism before,
during, and after the 1976 coup (supported on the Marxism List in a
recent posting by Armand Diego) is a violation of the sovereignty and
independence of Argentina.  "Human rights" trials in imperialist
courts are not a substitute for trial and punishment by the Argentine
people. They are the opposite. They are a further assertion of the
imperialist domination of Argentina which these killers were
fundamentally representing and protecting.

This was also my view of the arrest of the late Chilean dictator
Augusto Pinochet in Britain and the attempt to extradite him to Spain
for trial for his crimes in Chile.  And it will be my position on any
attempt by the occupation forces in Iraq to arrest and try Saddam
Hussein or any other surviving criminals of his regime (although the
murders of his sons indicates that the US occupiers prefer lynch
justice to any legal proceedings in the most prominent of these
Fred Feldman

Former Grenada leaders launch challenge
Associated Press
POSTED AT 1:01 AM EDT  Sunday, Jul. 20, 2003

St. George's - Three former Grenada government officials
imprisoned in connection with the 1983 execution of the
country's leader Maurice Bishop appeared in court for a
constitutional challenge to their sentences, a defence
lawyer said Saturday.

Former lieutenant-colonel Ewart Layne, former major Leon
Cornwall and former cabinet minister Selwyn Strachn appeared
in High Court on Tuesday and Wednesday, lawyer Keith
Scotland said.

Fourteen other men remain in prison in connection with the
case and the group is called the Grenada 17. The men rotate
in small groups during court hearings and the entire group
never attends the same hearing.

The men were arrested in 1983 and sentenced to death in

The government commuted their sentences to life imprisonment
in 1991. Scotland is arguing the decision was in effect a
pardon and under the constitution, the 17 men should have
been released from prison.

He said the men are also seeking damages for having been
kept in prison for the last 12 years since their sentences
were commuted.

Scotland is also questioning whether the governor general
who issued the arrest warrant had the authority to do so.

Justice Kenneth Benjamin did not make a decision, saying he
would need at least three months.

A motion to release three prisoners is also being considered
by London's Privy Council, the court of appeal for many
former British Caribbean colonies.

Grenada became a flash point in the Cold War after Bishop
led a bloodless coup in 1979 and installed a Marxist
government that turned to Cuba for aid.

In October 1983, a faction of the government staged a palace
coup. Bishop was killed by a firing squad Oct. 19.

Six days later, thousands of U.S. soldiers, marines and
paratroopers stormed the island at night in Operation Urgent

Former U.S. president Ronald Reagan said he ordered the
invasion to protect 650 U.S. medical students - even though
the students radioed that they felt safe.

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