071_G17_InFocus_Grenada

Global_17

In Focus Grenada Relaxing in Grenada Despite its history of armed rebellion and staunch resistance against much larger nations, the country has a reputation for being very chilled out, even by Caribbean standards Neil Ford Caribbean islands are well known for their laid-back way of life and this image has helped to promote the region as a popular tourist destination for the stressed-out urban dwellers of North America and Western Europe. Grenada takes this approach one step further and is even regarded as having a relaxed pace of life by the residents of neighbouring Caribbean countries. Some locals describe it as ‘a place to be, not to do’ yet it has been the backdrop for historic events that were far from tranquil and which have helped to create a very distinctive culture today. Many Grenadians are proud of their country’s tradition of resistance. Although not a lot of people agreed with the policies of the People’s Revolutionary Government (PRG), which ruled from 1979 until 1983, many have respect for the way leader Maurice Bishop refused to cave in to pressure from the USA to end his socialist programme of reforms. During the Cold War events of that period, Grenada’s standoff with Washington was regarded as the ultimate David versus Goliath contest. This independent streak goes back many generations. In the wake of fi rst the French Revolution, and then the Haitian Revolution, a wave of slave rebellions broke out across the Caribbean. In 1795, a landowner of mixed French and African heritage, Julien Fédon, led a group of slaves against British forces in an attempt to create a black republic to match that of independent Haiti. The 14,000 rebel slaves who fl ocked to Fédon’s side seized control of the entire island with the sole exception of the capital, St George’s. However, 7,000 of them were subsequently killed when British reinforcements crushed the opposition and retook the island. Fédon himself was never caught and he is now regarded as a Robin Hood fi gure in Grenada – a folk hero who fought for what was right and represents the best of Grenada. His legend was widely cited by the PRG revolutionaries and earlier during the campaign for improved working conditions and self-determination that gathered steam after World War II. The 1951 general strike saw many buildings burnt down, but universal adult suffrage was introduced later that year and wages gradually increased. After the collapse of the Federation of the West Indies in 1962, local Grenadian politicians began to work towards full independence, which was achieved in 1974 after six-anda half years of home rule. Today, national pride tends to take on a sporting rather than political hue. The most popular sport is cricket and, along with most other anglophone countries in the Caribbean, Grenada is a member state of the West Indies Cricket Board. The construction of the US$40 million National Cricket Stadium in St George’s was fi nanced by the government of China. It opened in 2000 and is now one of the West Indies’ home grounds, seating 20,000 fans and providing one of the venues for the 2007 Cricket World Cup. There are active cricket leagues in Grenada itself and several local players have represented the West Indies including, in recent years, top order batsman Devon Smith, wicketkeeper batsman Andre Fletcher and fast bowler Nelon Troy Pascal. There is also a tradition of athletics on the island, particularly in the 400 metres, in which Alleyne Francique took silver at the Grenada through history 1650 French settlers arrive in Grenada and establish a colony. The present capital, St George’s, is founded 1498 Christopher Columbus sights a small group of islands, which he names Grenada after the Spanish city of Granada. The island is occupied by Carib Indians, who had driven out the earlier Arawaks 1651 The last of the island’s native Caribs throw themselves from the cliffs at the island’s northern tip, rather than surrender to the French 1783 Grenada is ceded to Britain in accordance with the Treaty of Versailles. African slaves arrive and are forced to work on the islands plantations 1833 Slavery is abolished 1974 Grenada achieves independence. Eric Gairy becomes the country’s fi rst Prime Minister 1979 Eric Gairy (above) is ousted in a coup led by Maurice Bishop’s left-aligned New Jewel Movement. Bishop attempts to improve ties with Cuba and the USA 2004 Grenada is struck by Hurricane Ivan. The island is 90 per cent devastated, with a national disaster declared 1983 Bishop is ousted and executed by former left-wing allies under the instruction of General Hudson Austin, who objects to the attempts to improve ties with the USA. US troops invade the island global f i rst quar ter 2014 www.global -br ief ing.org l 71 


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