Grenada Invasion: Anniversary of historic 1979 uprising marked

World Today

Thirty-six years ago on March 13, revolutionary forces led by Maurice Bishop overthrew the Prime Minister of Grenada. The coup led to another Cold War conflict, involving Cubans and Americans.

CCTV America’s Stephen Gibbs filed this report from St. George’s, Grenada.

Grenada Invasion: Anniversary of historic 1979 uprising marked

Grenada Invasion: Anniversary of historic 1979 uprising marked

Thirty-six years ago on March 13, revolutionary forces led by Maurice Bishop overthrew the Prime Minister of Grenada. The coup led to another Cold War conflict, involving Cubans and Americans. CCTV America's Stephen Gibbs filed this report from St. George's, Grenada.

Highlights:

  • In 1979, Maurice Bishop, a British-educated lawyer, seized power in Grenada as the leader of a popular leftist uprising, Bishop promised widespread social welfare programs and banned most political opposition. Among his backers was the Cuban President Fidel Castro.
  • Castro described Bishop as a “true revolutionary,” and was quick to offer him financial and logistical aid.
  • Among other projects, Cuba assisted with the funding and construction of an airport, which it said was to facilitate tourism to the island. The U.S. president at the time, Ronald Reagan, claimed the runway was being built for military use.
  • Reagan justified a threat of military intervention by the fact that there was a medical school, with 800 American students, right at the end of the runway.
  • By 1983, plans for a U.S. invasion were well underway. An opportunity to act came when Maurice Bishop was murdered by extremists within his own party. Operation “‘Urgent Fury” was launched.
  • Within days, 45 Grenadians, 25 Cubans and at least 19 U.S. military personnel were dead. The U.S. had the upper hand, with all the Cubans rounded up.
  • Many historians believe the invasion of Grenada was a turning point for the foreign policies of both the United States, and Cuba.
  • For the U.S., the episode in Grenada helped bury the ghost of Vietnam, and convinced many in Washington that an interventionist foreign policy could be justified.
  • Cuba, in the years to follow, was arguably far more cautious about exporting, or appearing to export its revolution.