The island was invaded by forces from the United States purportedly at the behest of Dame Eugenia Charles, of Dominica. Five other Caribbean nations participated with Dominica and the USA in the campaign, called Operation Urgent Fury. Although the Governor-General, Sir Paul Scoonlater stated that he had requested the invasion, the governments of the United Kingdom and Trinidad and Tobago expressed anger at having not been consulted.
The forces quickly captured the ringleaders and hundreds of Cuban advisors (most of whom were labourers working on the construction of a majorairport for the island). Grenada is more than 1,000 miles further away from the US mainland compared to Cuba, but was felt to be a substantial threat to the US. A publicised tactical concern of the United States was the safe recovery of U.S. nationals enrolled at St. George’s University. In addition, the island of Grenada could have become a corner of a triangle comprised also of Cuba and Nicaragua, both also declared enemies of US interests at that time. Some claim these three countries could have militarily controlled the deep water passages, thereby controlling the movement of oil fromVenezuela and Trinidad and Tobago (supplies then considered vital by US military planners). But this rationale was not asserted as a justification of armed invasion.
After the invasion, United States gave $48.4 million in economic assistance to Grenada in 1984, and the CIA secretly spent $650,000 to aid a pro-American candidate in that year’s election.
Seventeen members of the PRG and the PRA (army) were convicted via a Court set up and financed by the USA. Fourteen were sentenced to death, eventually commuted to life imprisonment after an international campaign. Another 3 were sentenced to 45 years in prison. These 17 have become known as the Grenada 17, and are the subject of an ongoing international campaign for their release. In October 2003 Amnesty International issued a Report which stated that their arrest and trial had been a miscarriage of justice. The 17 have protested their innocence consistently since 1983. The campaign for “justice” for the 17 is the subject of a 60 minute documentary “Prisoners of the Cold War” (UK, 2006, www.silvercityfilms.co.uk), which explores the idea that the continued confinement of the 17 reflects the post-traumatic state of the island as a whole. Hence the 17 remain frozen as “prisoners” of the Cold War.
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