Grenada was originally inhabited by Arawak Indians, but they were killed or displaced by warrior Caribbean Indians. English merchants tried to found a colony in 1609, but the Indians forced them away from the island.
In 1650, the French governor of Martinique, who had bought Grenada, founded a settler estate in Saint George’s. The Empire came under the French crown in 1674 and was French colony until 1762. British colony 1762–79 and 1783–1958. Member of the West Indian Federation 1958–62. From 1967 associated state within the British Commonwealth.
Grenada gained full independence in 1974, and Eric Gairy of the Grenada United Labor Party (GULP) became prime minister. See abbreviationfinder for geography, history, society, politics, and economy of Grenada. Gairy had been notorious for corruption and violent politics for 30 years, and collaborated with, among others, Pinochet in Chile. The opposition was the Black Power- inspired New Jewel Movement (NJM) led by young lawyer Maurice Bishop, as well as the New National Party (NNP), led by Herbert Blaize. NJM developed to be very influential as the dissatisfaction with Gairy grew and NNP proved to be a weak party.
The New Jewel Movement was organized as a vanguard where contact with the population went through mass organizations. In 1978, NJM established a central committee on Leninist party structure. Similar movements were found in many of the Caribbean islands, but nowhere did they gain the popularity of Grenada.
In March 1979, while Gairy was visiting the United States, NJM seized power and proclaimed revolution. As the new prime minister, Bishop introduced a number of reforms in agriculture, fisheries, payroll systems and trade unions. At the same time, emphasis was placed on combating corruption and illiteracy. The revolution aroused anxiety about several of the other small islands in the Caribbean that were afraid that Bishop would strengthen the radical opposition there.
Concerns increased in the United States as Grenada established cooperation with Cuba, the Soviet Union and the GDR and joined the Organization of Alliance Free Nations. The elections were waiting, and Cuba prepared Grenada to be prepared for invasion. Cuban assistance to the partially EC- funded construction of a new airport at Point Salines raised further concerns in the US, which severed diplomatic relations, did its utmost to sabotage the economy and put pressure on Western Europe to liquidate development aid to the island.
The problems were noticeable and dissatisfaction was growing in 1983, and Bishop himself was in conflict with the radical faction of NJM. In September 1983 Deputy Prime Minister Bernard Coard took over as leader of the party. Coard placed Bishop under house arrest with the help of his army, which he controlled with General Hudson Austin. On October 19, Bishop was released by several thousand followers and taken to the Army headquarters, Fort Rupert. The army attacked the fort and many civilians perished. Bishop and some other ministers were executed in the courtyard.
General Austin proclaimed a revolutionary military council, but the army’s actions in the following days spread fear over the island kingdom, and neither Cuba nor the Soviet Union would support the coup makers. In this situation, President Reagan decided to send 6,000 American soldiers to Grenada, officially to evacuate American medical students. The invasion was legitimized with the support of the six member states in
The Organization of the Eastern Caribbean (OECS), and a provisional government was immediately established by Governor Paul Scoon, who in arrears issued a request for US military action. The invasion forces barely met any resistance, but still suffered relatively large losses. Internationally, the action was strongly condemned. Grenada’s population was largely relieved to get rid of Coard and Austin. They were convicted in 1987 for the murder of Bishop.
A provisional government was set up under the leadership of Nicholas Braithwaite and elections were promised the following year. Herbert Blaize (NNP) won the election in 1984 where the remnants of the New Jewel Movement also participated. Grenada became the center of American interests in the Caribbean, and what was achieved with four years of revolution was quickly transformed into the old. The United States funded the completion of the disputed airport in an effort to make Grenada a tourist destination for Americans. US companies were encouraged to invest and otherwise significant financial support was provided by the US.
Economic and political development
Despite the financial support, unemployment increased; it was over 30% at the beginning of the 1990s. A decade later, unemployment had dropped to 10%, but close to one-third of the population still lived below the poverty line. Grenada was at that time among the Caribbean countries with the fastest growth in the economy, with the tourism industry and oil extraction as important contributors; Banana production is another focus area.
But the vulnerability also emerged when Hurricane “Ivan” in 2004 caused the worst natural disaster in man’s memory; Nine out of ten buildings on the main island of Grenada were destroyed. The tourism development was considered in advance to approach the tolerance limit for the natural environment. The financial support from the United States and the United Kingdom has gradually fallen sharply. Grenada has been listed on an international blacklist for lack of efforts against money laundering and other financial crime, but after targeted work was deleted from the list in 2002.
After the 1990 election, the coalition took over the National Democratic Congress with Nicholas Braithwaite as prime minister. However, the NNP regained power in the 1995 election, and in the 1999 election, the party gained 62.4% of the vote and all 15 seats in the National Assembly. The party won one more trick victory in the 2003 election, with eight seats. Keith Claudius Mitchell from NNP was prime minister from 1995 to 2008, re-elected in 2013. With stability and national community as the foremost objective, Claudius is the longest-serving prime minister in the history of Grenada.
At the beginning of the new millennium, a truth commission was established following the South African model, with the intention of healing the wounds after the revolutionary period of the 1970s and 1980s.