This section analyzes Paulo Freire in practice. Freire led the initiation of the literacy and education campaign in Grenada, beginning in 1979. According to his comments in Pedagogy of Hope, he was recruited by Grenadian government officials to put together their literacy projects and made two visits to Grenada, in December, 1979, and again in February, 1980.(1) He worked closely with the Minister of Education. His theories were applied, largely in what I believe is good faith, by practitioners and political leaders for four years, although as with any mass effort the line from leadership to the rank and file was sometimes jagged. Freire has never criticized this campaign nor the leadership of the coup which underwrote the program. To the contrary, Freire gave personal leadership to the project. He has praised the literacy campaign and the leader of the Grenadian New Jewel Movement (NJM), Maurice Bishop, and has equated Bishop to one of Freire's great favorites, Amilcar Cabral, leader of a similar coup and literacy program in Guinea-Bissau to whom Freire dedicates Pedagogy in Process.(2)
Freire claims this campaign and the people who implemented it claim him.
In this examination of practice, I will review the historical underpinnings of the New Jewel Movement in Grenada and the literacy-education program which grew from the combined efforts of the New Jewel leadership and Paulo Freire. I will pay particular attention to the role of leaders, the kind of critical education that was created, the issue of open critique versus centralist demands, and the hardly hidden curriculum of national economic development, driven by the theory of productive forces, that was the base of the model. I will also look closely at the openness Freire proclaims, which may be overridden by the closed nature of the systems he helps to create, and I will note again the efforts to link literacy, consciousness, and social change which do contain insights to press forward analysis and action.
I must record at the outset that I participated in a marginal
way in the NJM literacy program. My original interest was sparked
by friends in my hometown, Detroit, who were familiar with the
situation in Grenada and gladdened by the revolutionary change in
governments. I traveled to Grenada three times, once in November,
1980, for a period of twelve days, once in March, 1983 for a
planned trip of two weeks that was reduced to six days due to a
death in my family, and finally from 3 May to 19 May, 1994. During
the initial trip, I met with Grenadian teachers and worked on the
development of literacy packages with, among others, Jacqueline
Creft, later the island's Director of Education who joined Freire
in developing the literacy program.(3) On the second trip I quickly
became disillusioned with the command-style state of the NJM and
the People's Revolutionary Government (PRG) but was buttressed by
the spirit and kindness of the Grenadian people who were
extraordinarily compassionate to me. However, on leaving, it was
quite clear that the PRG was desperately isolated from the mass of
people. I was deeply offended by the U.S. invasion of Grenada, an
act which I felt was racist, unnecessary and simply belligerent, a
diversion from the massacre of U.S. troops in the Middle East and
in opposition to the needs of most American citizens. I led
demonstrations in Detroit against the invasion, including a sit-in
at the Detroit News which had editorialized for the assault on the
day before it occurred. My third trip was for the purpose of
research for this piece and, again, I was met by helpful people who
denied their own immediate interests to make my trip fruitful and
pleasant. Hence, I was originally supportive of the Grenadian
upheaval and I remain sympathetic to many of its participants and
the people of Grenada. I believe my work in Grenada made the
conclusions drawn in this paper, in many ways a critical
Grenada from the sky is a brilliant green. The whole country can be taken at a glance. It is only twenty one miles long, twelve miles wide. With less than 100,000 citizens stretched out on small land plots under a canopy of 60 foot high trees, it's population is less than Kalamazoo's. At the far southern point is a tiny black slash, the new airport at Port Salines.
Tourism and farming, mostly spices and bananas, have long been the main forces of Grenada's economy. For many years, the absence of an international airport, and the reasonable reluctance of many tourists to endure the barnstorming prop-plane flight from Barbados, dramatically hurt the tourist business.
On March 13, 1979, there was a peculiar revolution, more pointedly a coup, in Grenada, one unique in many ways, sadly typical in others. Because this nation is so small, because the change occurred so swiftly, and was as swiftly reversed, Grenada's experience is especially interesting for review. Freire played a key role in this laboratory effort for social change in which there is knowledge of the before, during, and after periods--sharp breaks which should provide a basis for reflective clarity. In order to understand this uprising, the educational work that was attempted because of it, and the political climate that created it, I briefly put the background of Grenada into a historical context.
The first recorded people on Grenada are Caribs, the nation eradicated finally by the Columbus invasion. The first Europeans came to the island, one hundred miles off the northeastern border of Venezuela, in the early 1600's. They were English, assaulted the indigenous Caribs, and found themselves driven back into the sea. But in the late 1600's, the French seized the island, the Carib defenders leaping off a cliff on the northern tip of the island into the ocean rather than being captured. By the mid-1700's the island was an integral point on the coffee/sugar-rum-slave triangle and conducting a booming trade with England, triple that of even New York State. Trade wars caused the island to shift flags, French to British, several times, but the main struggles--those which established the identity of the island-- were internal. Slave rebellions hit the planting class repeatedly. in the late 1700's, one rebellion led by the freeman Fedon, a literate small-landholder, paralleled the demands of the French revolution, with a decidedly militant Jacobin twist, "Liberty, Equality or Death!"(5) Fedon was crushed, seven thousand people of color murdered, but the resistance held out for 15 months.
In 1833 the Emancipation Act, following slave revolts all over the Caribbean, freed the mass of labors and, simultaneously, caused the importation of indentured workers from Malta and India--completing the racial mix. The introduction of spices and nutmeg, which grew rapidly in a climate with 12 feet of rain per year, caused the downsizing of many plantations and laid the basis for what is today an agricultural economy rooted both in large and small landholdings. Many cultivators work both for a large landholder and for themselves on smaller plots of their own.
In the same decade, James Monroe declared the Caribbean a North American lake and within the purview of American, not European interests. Grenada, lying in the midst of strategic deep-sea channels and, later, air routes, was to one day feel the power of Monroe's prescience.
The Catholic Church built a strong base in Grenada. By the 1850's "some 84% of the population were Roman Catholics and as Roman Catholic schools opened, the population rushed to them". The Church recommended the eradication of the French patois adopted by the mass of people and contributed to the stratification of the school system by race and class. The Church proposed that the bible be the only text of instruction.(6)
Even so, Grenada remained a Crown Colony under direct rule from London represented by a Governor with direct powers. Only large landholders were franchised, a situation which continued until early 1950. Given that the vast majority of Grenadian citizens were locked out of the political process, it's no wonder that they turned to extra-parliamentary activity, trade union organizing for example, to redress their grievances.
In 1951, a dashing populist leader, Eric Gairy was arrested for leading a general strike. Huge crowds gathered and eventually, after two weeks of fighting, won his release. Continuing his trade union work, linking that to the franchise, Gairy rose from organizer to elected official and finally to Chief Minister in 1967.(7)
But by then whatever had been of his egalitarian visions were quite gone. Gairy proceeded to make himself rich, at the expense of most Grenadians. He was a Rosicrucian mystic, bathing in blood and promising to walk across Grenada's Martin's Bay. He squandered the tiny country's treasury on investigations of Unidentified Flying Objects. He womanized. And he locked out everyone but a narrowing group of supporters through a system of economic rewards and terror.(8)
Gairy employed a group of thugs, modeled after Haiti's Ton Ton Mou Coups, to beat and even kill at any sign of opposition. Gairy enjoyed close relations with most of the dictators of the southern hemisphere, from Duvalier to Pinochet, as well as the giant to the north, the United States. Withal, large numbers of poor peasants looked to Gairy for leadership and hope. Gairy had a base. He lived in a mansion overlooking the nation's most beautiful bay and imagined that he might be a god.(9)
But all was not peaceful in Gairy's heaven. There were plenty of people around who wanted what they saw as their fair share. Merchants, lawyers, doctors were every bit as excluded as workers and peasants. The children of those sufficiently wealthy to do so were educated abroad and came back to find no room for their skills--or ideas. One of those young people was Maurice Bishop, born in 1946. Bishop's father, Rupert, a business man, was killed in an anti-Gairy demonstration. Maurice Bishop was trained in Grenada's Catholic schools and educated as a lawyer in England where he was deeply influenced by Caribbean author C.L.R. James, Marx, Lenin, and Hegel.(10)
Locked out of serious political work in his country, Bishop in many ways followed Gairy's path, but with an honesty and respect for the people that Gairy never did more than pretend. Tall, charismatic, a brilliant public speaker but no political in-fighter, Bishop began his career with the public defense of organizing unionists--particularly nurses whose 1970 strike was attacked by the Mongoose Gang and who were arrested for resisting the attack.(11)
Using this and other public forums, and an organizational structure called the New Jewel (Joint Endeavor for Welfare, Education and Liberation) Movement which was formalized in 1973, Bishop too built a mass popular base, for himself and his political party. New Jewel was, in the eyes of its leaders, a Marxist-Leninist vanguard party with exclusive membership, a clear commitment to democratic centralism and working class power. But New Jewel was riddled with contradictions.(12)
NJM was a purported Marxist-Leninist working class party in a country with virtually no industrial base and a tiny working class. It was led by well-educated children of the nations's upper middle class. It built a popular base among both middle class and poor people, but the party itself feared their leadership and desires--even their membership--and, as a purist vanguard, worked to keep them at more than arms length.(13)
Two tendencies in New Jewel were represented by its two key leaders: Bishop, a popular mass leader, eclectic Marxist, and Bernard Coard, a doctrinaire political infighter modeled after Stalin and far more dedicated to centralism than democracy. The two were friends from childhood and firmly united in their mutual Grenadian nationalism. Coard was the son of the most highly placed civil servant in the Grenadian colonial service. A Brandeis graduate who wrote his thesis on the systematic tracking of West Indies students by race and culture in Britain, Coard married Phyllis Evans, heir to the Jamaican Tia Marie liqueur fortune, reputed to be even more doctrinaire a Stalinist than her husband. The radical rhetoric of the New Jewel would never keep pace with its more conservative surroundings and roots. Nor would it ever resolve its own deadly internal contradictions.(14)
New Jewel wanted ideology in all ways. It linked itself with the Socialist International, to which Freire's Workers Party now also belongs, created deep ties with Cuba--especially through a close friendship between Bishop and Castro, and at the same time courted Soviet support. While the tendency in the U.S. might be to see these allegiances as folds in the same cloth, the reality is that in this period there was frequently bitter rivalry between the groups---and New Jewel played a dangerous balancing game. Nevertheless, the NJM followed the Cuban model, a tentative independence yet finally reliant on Soviet support.(15)
While Eric Gairy once said, "He who opposes me opposes God", it was clear not long after independence was won from, or granted by, Great Britain in 1974 that at least among humans Gairy was growing unpopular. New Jewel steadily won elections, despite repeated attacks from the increasingly desperate and isolated Mongoose thugs. As Gairy looted the treasury for his own bizarre pleasures there became less and less to parcel out, and fewer and fewer people willing to tolerate things as they were. Unemployment was rampant.(16)
On March 12, 1979, Gairy left the island to meet with, interestingly, Kurt Waldheim of the United Nations, later exposed as a Nazi war criminal. On the 13th in a nearly bloodless coup that cost but one life and involved less the 200 participants, the New Jewel Movement seized state power in Grenada. It was an extremely popular uprising, but the brief and temperate struggle of New Jewel also meant its political base was extraordinarily thin. NJM was willfully vanguardist. At the time of the coup, only 45 Grenadians could be counted as members and; four years later, that number grew by but 20.(17) Even so, thousands of people paraded through the population center, actually a tiny town overlooking the bay: St Georges. New Jewel had promised jobs, education for all, health care, dental care (of which there was virtually none on the island, rising from the slave-myth that black people have no dental carries) and a new beginning, in short, a chance for the masses of people---including the middle class, to take charge.(18)
From the outset, it was clear that Maurice Bishop's mass popularity was pivotal to New Jewel's acceptance. People were drawn toward Bishop, but while NJM held mass meetings to discuss matters like the economy, there was never any serious question that decision-making in Grenada flowed from the top down.(19) NJM was the only legal party. Bernard Coard played a background role, moving into the interestingly conservative role of the nation's banker where, in a brief period, he stabilized the national economy and lowered the percentage of Grenada's debt service to 3.5%, the lowest in the Southwestern hemisphere and 1/10 of what it is today. During Coard's tenure, remarkable for his "financial acumen and his honest, efficient and cautious management", Grenada received a glowing report from the World Bank and, more demonstratively, received loans from the often impecunious International Monetary Fund.(20) The construction of an international airport, vital to the New Jewel program, required an incredible act of will, against the grain of most of the capitalist world. The driving will here was Coard's who is sometimes reified as an apparatchnik, a party automaton, but whose works provide evidence for a much more serious critique.(21) While Coard favored a mixed economy, nationalizing some key industries like the fisheries, he also pressed had to turn the vast majority of landholdings into workers' cooperatives. For a workers' party to survive long, it was important to create a working class and here education was expected to play a vital role. Coard's goal, at every turn, was socialism established on the base of national economic development, which itself depended on the theory of productive forces. The New Jewel economy was modeled on the Soviet New Economic Policy under Lenin, a transitional program to build capitalism under a benevolent guiding state.(22) The New Jewel leadership saw itself as "way, way ahead of the people" ideologically.(23)
But the visible and popular measures were led by Bishop and his companion, Jacqueline Creft, the mother of Bishop's son, Vladimer. Bishop took main responsibility for translating the New Jewel programs to the people---to bring news of the new day care centers, plans to rebuild schools, and the announcement of the arrival of Cuban medical assistance, doctors, nurses and trainers as well as an exchange program to train Grenadian medicals in Havana. And Bishop took on the task of enlisting Canadian, Libyan, and Cuban help in constructing an international airport, the vital link in national economic development, if not self-sufficiency.(24) This was not the Albanian turn, a serious effort at wholly independent socialism in one country. What Bishop and Coard sought to accomplish for Grenada was a new, nationalist, form of colonization, clearly more sophisticated than the Cuban approach.
Delivery to meet the high expectations of the Grenadian people would have been difficult in itself, but the party predicted and received the immediate hostility of the United States. The Grenadian coup was the first of its kind in the English-speaking Western hemisphere and was not welcomed by the U.S.. It's important to remember that the New Jewel leaders were acutely aware of the implications of the Monroe doctrine--that the U.S. and its CIA had crushed the democratically elected government of Guatemala in 1951, had overthrown and murdered the elected government of Allende in Chile, had invaded Cuba to attempt to overthrow the popular government of Fidel Castro and later tried repeatedly to assassinate him, had engineered the removal of the Jaggen government of Guyana in 1964, and had invaded Santo Domingo with Marines in 1965 to support a rightist junta.(25) New Jewel leaders, particularly spokesperson Bishop, warned of U.S. intervention from first moments of their takeover
The U.S. immediately began to warn tourists away from Grenada and, with the assistance of the government of Barbados, the jumping off place for most Grenadian flights, began to delay and harass those who tried to go. Every overblown fancy of the New Jewel leadership had a not-so-neurotic basis.(26)
New Jewel banned papers purportedly established by the CIA and jailed the country's most prominent journalist, Alistair Hughes. Formal elections were never held even though no one questions the fact that if Bishop stood for a vote he would have won convincingly.(27)
Even so, NJM sought to confiscate the state, not smash it. They established the Peoples' Revolutionary Government (PRG) which, as many locals knew, was merely "synonymous with the central committee of the NJM".(28) The state bureaucracy, including the teaching force, was largely left intact--with compulsory re-education programs. On my second trip to the island, I caught a ride with a fellow who told me his job was as a prefect of police. In response to my comment that the revolution must have made some big changes in his life, that this must be a fairly new job, he said "Oh no, not at all. I did the same thing for Gairy". Didacus Jules, a former education official in the PRG, notes that the PRG people forced to attend NJM re-education sessions were allowed to sleep through them, an interesting sectarian/opportunist link.(29) So, on the one hand New Jewel maintained the state bureaucracy, on the other hand refused to hold the elections which gave the bureaucracy its legitimacy.
Grenada even had its own Kronstadt. A gang of "ultra-leftists" who began to seize planter's estates were smashed by Grenadian New Jewel forces in the earliest days following the coup. Enemies of the revolution, inside New Jewel, became a prime concern.(30)
The Catholic Church played an ambiguous role during the period of the Bishop government. The church had a huge parishioner and educational base in Grenada. Most of the priests, at least according to New Jewel, openly opposed the NJM. They were placed on watch lists. Other priests, more subtle, requested help from the Vatican in the form of Catholic liberation theologists who could bridge the gap between Marxism and Christianity, yet assure the ascendancy of the latter.(31) The NJM never made totalitarian moves toward the church. No priests or church-members were executed or even long detained (there were hundreds of political prisoners under NJM, though there is no record of maltreatment, even from the most partisan voices opposing the PRG).(32)
When I arrived on my first trip, I was told nearly 40% of the adult population was functionally illiterate. I was to perceive, over time, that functional illiteracy statistics in Grenada, like many of the statistics kept on the island, were more than a stretch. My own experience was that the overwhelming majority of people, in the towns and countryside, could read fairly well, but that certain sectors of the population, especially people in small fishing villages, had been missed by previous literacy efforts.(33)
There were 60 primary schools, 20 secondary schools. The drop out rate was high but statistical records were dubious, kept by hand and unverifiable. Record keepers were acutely aware of the political nature of their jobs. They reported data that had partisan support. Most schools were connected with churches and most secondary schools charged steep fees. Only about 20% of the teachers had professional training and those who got it often immediately left the island.(34)
The facilities NJM inherited from Gairy were dilapidated--classrooms were falling apart. The curriculum was colonialist, that is, the majority of students lives at home were denigrated and denied while, at the same time, they were prepared for industrial work that simply did not exist. Education was a major New Jewel priority. The goal, as Bishop had stated early on, was to turn all of Grenada into one big popular school and, importantly, to win genuine democratic participation from the masses of people.
However, in describing the point of the project, Bishop said the purpose was, "..to develop the productive capacity of our society since it is only through an expansion in production that the standard of living, including the education system, can be improved".(35) But the mode and means of production were decidedly capitalist, in part because the PRG was apprehensive that the people who supported the NJM reform measures would not otherwise work, that is, capitalism with a kindly overseer was "necessary to avoid social and economic disintegration".(36)
Bishop was more pointed about the purpose of school under NJM just weeks later: "We must produce the skills that can be absorbed in our economy...we must produce the agriculturalists, the mechanics, the hoteliers, the engineers, the boat captains,..that we need to man our agriculture, our agro-industries, our fisheries, our tourism..."(37)
Further, NJM leaders reiterated their belief that what must first be developed is the productive forces of society, via science and technology, and that technological/industrial advance would necessarily lead to an early stage of socialism.(38) Another minor motive might be found in that some people in the illiterate population were seen by New Jewel as Gairy's political base.(39)
The New Jewel abolished the secondary school fees, began to initiate day care centers, started regular teacher training sessions one full day a week while the children joined local workers in examining the nearby factories, fisheries, and collective farms. But there were serious tensions with some of the traditional teachers who opposed the NJM curriculum. The Grenadian teachers conducted a wage strike in 1981. The new government pleaded poverty--and passed laws making public worker strikes illegal.(40) New Jewel also imported science and math teachers from the U.S.S.R. and Cuba.(41)
To combat adult illiteracy, NJM established the Committee for Popular Education (CPE). Unofficially, and later officially, CPE was led by Bishop's companion Jacqueline Creft and guided by the theories and person of Paulo Freire who came to Grenada twice on the invitation of New Jewel to initiate and provide leadership to the program. The CPE, in turn, was led by a group of six which picked, following the Freireian route, generative themes, rooted in NJM's politics interwoven with a phonetic approach to literacy. The CPE quickly wrote a textbook, "Let Us Learn Together" which was overseen by Freire and used to guide the program. The text focused on Grenadian nationalism and the sense Of "We are one people. We are one Caribbean", through linguistic and ideological pluralism. Additional themes in this textbook included the national airport as a development measure, the need for hard work and discipline, promoting saving habits at the nationalized bank, agricultural self-reliance and productivity, and "the revo brings more doctors". The "Let Us Learn Together" textbook was twinned with a teachers guide, "Forward Ever!" which stressed mutual respect between teachers and students.(42)
Didacus Jules, a former New Jewel official and now a respected researcher on New Jewel education rpograms, says 1,473 people were trained as volunteer teachers or worked in the CPE process which ended in 1981. This amounts to about one person in every 65 on the island, a rather astonishing figure. If illiteracy really was at a 40% level, there was one literacy worker for about every 27 illiterates in Grenada. This raises the question as to whether the CPE was primarily a literacy or political re-education program. There is no evidence as to what social classes were represented by this teaching corps.
Despite the massive effort, "results were not dramatic" according to Jules.(43) Actually, there is evidence that the real grassroots program here was the one that caused the demise of the CPE. People simply walked away, even when material incentives were offered to participants as they moved through the levels of the program. CPE was seen by some NJM leaders as a failure.(44) At the end of more than one year for the CPE, 881 people received certificates, a little more than half the number of trainers.(45) Still, at least 8,000 people, according to the current director of adult education in Grenada, Desmond Latouche, came into contact with the CPE and attended at least some sessions.(46)
The Grenadian textbooks created under New Jewel prove an interesting source. Textbooks are political items, and hardly dialogical ones. They take decisions from the hands of educators and place them in the hands of, at least, decision-making (and usually privilege-seeking) elites. Textbooks cannot meet the quadrant of learning established in Nearing and ostensibly followed later by Freire: an understanding of the particular circumstances of a student, an educator, and a local community coupled with the fourth pillar, a generalized paradigm that makes sense of what is at hand.(47) Instead, textbooks are a template to which the particularity of reality is subordinated. They are inherently directive and, whatever their substance, objectively disempower the people who use them. In this instance, the form of the textbook is a powerful as its substance. NJM was quite aware of the antagonism the party faced from many teachers and took a Taylorist tack--using textbooks to disempower potential opposition--rather than finding a way to win the mass of educators to NJM's position. In the case of Grenada, the CPE textbook template was cracked by Grenadian reality. Nevertheless, Freire led this process, approved of it, and has never criticized it.(48)
The later development of Grenadian primary textbooks (Marryshow Readers--named after a Grenadian nationalist journalist) also followed a Freireian model: the process claimed to involve the local parents, students and teachers, drew on the local language and resources (the study of water, for example) and tried to value local language traditions. Jules acknowledges that the politics of the Marryshow Readers were just somewhat watered down from the textbooks used with adults. The Marryshow readers hardly contradict the line of New Jewel. Textbooks stressed ,"we are all in this together", or, in a literacy reader, "The revolution has room for all of us", (presumably an olive branch to the Mongoose Gang). The readers also pressed all-Caribbean unity. This supra-nationalist stance, we are all in this together, is pivotal in the analysis underlying this review. Just who is in it together with whom, and why, is at issue.(49)
The Grenadian textbooks, as described by Jules, did mildly address sexist and racist practices in a way that began to understand criticizing patriarchy and white supremacy. The Marryshow Readers did portray women as other than cooks. They did not portray white people as the only actors in life, or as bosses. However, an analysis of the Marryshow Reader Infant 1B Textbook titled "Step Forward" in my possession shows adult women portrayed 18 times: 2 times washing clothes, 1 time hanging laundry, 1 time watching a baby, 1 time watching kids play, 1 time waiting for a bus, 1 time riding (perhaps driving) on a bus, 2 times resting, 3 times holding a baby, 6 times gardening in the yard of a home (portrayed as work in the written text).
Adult men are portrayed 20 times: 6 times working on fishnets, 3 times gardening (portrayed as work in the written text), 3 times playing with kids, 2 times resting, 2 times riding a bus, 2 times waiting for that bus, 1 time catching fish, 1 time repairing a bike.
Without decoding, it should be clear who remains the primary historical subject within the Havana-printed Marryshow Reader).(50) Women do not leave the home and work. Men are involved in production.
The Marryshow Reader 1C, also in my possession, follows the same gender-coded approach.
There is nothing in any of the textbooks that would help a student discover how value is created, how it is appropriated, the material base of alienation, or suggesting worker control of the work places or production processes.
Following the CPE program, the NJM established the National In-Service Teacher Education Program (NISTEP). The program had grand designs, to re-train the 70% of the teaching force that had little training. Participants were initially volunteers, receiving wage increases as they moved along. Soon, however, attendance was required and many teachers reported resentment at the commanding style of some of the (often much younger) NJM- NISTEP leaders.(51)
The effort in Grenada relied heavily on trying to influence thought, without the social practices that underpin ideology. For example, New Jewel officials loudly claimed that unemployment dramatically dropped in post-coup Grenada; but the jobs were necessarily paid at sustenance levels, and vast wage gaps remained in place. Unemployed men were drawn into the expanded military. The industrialization plan rang hollow when fisheries cooperatives fell apart after the second year.
There were no major economic shifts under the PRG, except construction which, due to the airport, showed a dramatic 20% increase. At the same time, there was a 7.3% decline in the indigenous livestock/fishing industries.(52) New Jewel, claiming to battle inequality, reified inequality in new ways. While the NJM proclaimed proof of its egalitarianism by cutting the allowance of government ministers by 30%, there was little real change in income distribution during the PRG period. Actually, after the first months, "the biggest gain in aggregate income achieved went to top functionaries in the PRG".(53) On tiny Grenada, it is not hard to find the veils of power transparent. The people noticed that the new leaders had the best homes.(54)
As time went by, the already-isolated NJM, rather than build a popular base, chose to isolate itself further, pointed fingers at one another for the failures of the projects, blamed the people for not accepting progressive leadership, and turned more and more to outside help. NJM officials traveled the world urging other nations for funding--and heavy weapons. The U.S.S.R. was forthcoming with tons of the latter, arms personnel carriers to SAM's, but no money for the airport. The U.S.S.R. trained young Grenadians at the Lenin School and at KGB institutes--and envisioned Grenada as a training center for pro-Soviet action in the hemisphere. The Soviets became "cynical" with their largesse, demanding that the NJM not do things to upset the imperial division of the world.(55) The Soviet front in the U.S., the Communist Party U.S.A., sent its dignitaries, including educators like Angela Davis, to Grenada to celebrate anniversaries of the revolution and used its limited influence to pass local U.S. proclamations honoring NJM.(56) The Vietnamese chipped in with intelligence and military training.(57) Early in the PRG's life, "without a doubt, the greatest economic success was in obtaining loans and grants from other governments and international organizations". In the PRG period, of $62.3 million total grants, Cuba gave $36.6 million. Iraq gave $7.2 million (and plenty in kind. Grenadian school children were given thousands of exam books with photos of "The Leader President Militant Saddam Hussein" on the cover.) Of $47.3 million in loans, Libya gave $10.4 million. Of $15.5 million in military grants, the U.S.S.R. gave more than $10 million. Even with the growing influx of outside help, by 1982, the PRG faced renewed high unemployment, unstable prices, production for profit, and inequities in wage distribution: capitalism.(58)
Soviet cynicism goes beyond hard-headed direction as to what not to do. It involves what is to be done. There is evidence that the U.S.S.R. used Grenadian NJM leaders within the Socialist International, as well as within the U.N. to press the Soviet's interests.(59) For example, the little colony of Grenada, in the midst of the ocean of one colossus, supported the Afghan invasion. Later, after the U.S. invasion, Grenada refused to support sanctions against South Africa.(60)
By the time of my second visit to Grenada, the promises from the NJM were ringing empty with the people. A celebration of the anniversary of the revolution was a tragi-comedy. A small outdoor stadium was sparsely filled with a crowd from the military, civil servants, the uniformed nurses (ever-loyal to Bishop), and children. NJM officials (and I) sat in shaded seats while the crowd in the hot sun happily ignored speeches from PRG leaders and foreign dignitaries--until Bishop spoke. Then, even with reality peering cruelly over his shoulder, the crowd came alive with his speech promising that "those who do the work now hold the reins", hardly the case, even in the hot stadium, but still appealing to the sense of hope and the attack on alienation that carried New Jewel for fours years.
All was not barren vows. The preventative medical system was still intact, reaching into hundreds of Grenadian homes, mostly because of the highly respected Cuban doctors and nurses---respected by the masses of people but held in contempt by many in the traditional Grenadian medical force. Interestingly, the several hundreds of medical students in an American owned off-shore med school on the island seemed to never have interrupted their parties as the revolution flowed and ebbed. They kept alone, in splendid isolation on the beach.(61)
The plan to restore Grenadian public school facilities, at first, brought results, but by 1982 some local officials tended to use the building materials on their own homes. Nothing had been done to reduce class size in K-12 from its 31-1 pre-revolutionary levels. School was, in the base economic sense free.(62)
In 1982 the U.S had carried out a practice invasion of a nation code-named "Amber" (Grenada was known as part of the Ambergine Islands) in a remote area of Puerto Rico. In '82 and '83 a series of terrorist bombings targeted key New Jewel leaders. The American Institute for Free Labor Development and the local Seaman's Union (both with ties to the U.S. CIA) consistently opposed every significant NJM move.(63) There were reports of deep tensions within the New Jewel hierarchy--with Coard and the majority of members of the NJM Central Committee attempting to discipline the free-wheeling Bishop who was repeatedly criticized, and was self-critical, for his unrestrained approach to democratic centralism, his willingness to make promises with no hope for delivery, his lack of attention to detail, and his "idealism". The Hegelian left met the Hegelian right in an insoluble contradiction: mechanical materialism versus unattached idealism embodied in the persons of Coard and Bishop. In this case, internal contradictions appeared to drive external tensions.(64)
On October 12, 1983, the rifts inside the New Jewel Movement came to a head. Bernard Coard, with the approval of the majority of the Central Committee, seized control of the party and had the much loved Bishop arrested for betraying the revolution. Bishop was apprehended in his own house and sentenced to be held incommunicado for a period unknown.
Hundreds, perhaps thousands, of Grenadians marched on the house, freed Bishop, and carried him to a nearby fort where they planned a rally. Coard, now the head of the East-German trained Grenadian Army, unleashed a group of armored vehicles. The soldiers fired on the crowd which panicked and almost immediately dispersed, an untold number leaping to their death over a sea wall about one hundred feet over the ocean. Bishop, who had refused to arm the people, ordered his companions not to return fire. The Army then re-arrested Bishop, Creft, Norris Bain, and a group of others, put them against a wall and killed most of them with semi-automatic rifle fire. There is evidence that Jacqueline Creft, a former school teacher, was beaten to death later. Bishop's body was never found. There has never been an accounting of all of the dead. Grenadians simply know their friends and relatives went to the demonstration and never returned.(65)
The NJM Central Committee then issued a communique saying it was now in charge, that it would soon hold a constitutional election and that a dawn to dusk curfew would be enforced for a period uncertain. Bishop supporters went into hiding and began to organize a movement to overthrow Coard--a movement which would likely have had a mass popular base if only because it was crafted around Bishop's martyrdom. Castro immediately denounced the coup leaders and likened them to the Khmer Rouge. Only the Soviet Union was supportive of the Coard group actions.(66)
On October 23, 10 days after the self-coup, more than 50 U.S. Marines in Lebanon were killed by a terrorist bomb. The Marines retreated to the sea--a grotesque reminder of the colossus with a feet of clay.(67)
On October 25, under justification that the Soviet Union was
building a secret military airstrip on Grenada and that the lives
of American medical students on the island were in danger; the U.S.
caused the leaders of the nearby Caribbean nations to call for a
"rescue mission". The notion that "we are all one Caribbean people"
came back and bit New Jewel. The U.S. sent thousands of Marines and
Navy Seals to invade an island the size of Kalamazoo---in clear
violation of international law. There is no question that the
invasion received the support of most Grenadians who felt besieged.
But there is no evidence that anyone of concern to the U.S.,
including the medical students, was in real danger after the
internal coup. To the contrary, people felt safe--until the U.S.
hit the beaches. The medical students and the director of the
school denounced the invasion on world band radios and continued to
do so until they were briefed by American intelligence agents
after the invasion.(68)
While there was considerable support for the invasion, there was also much stiffer resistance than the Americans expected--from the Cubans who had a different sense of critical consciousness. The Coard government, denounced early on by Bishop's friend Castro, held on for several days. The Cubans, caught between national pride and not wanting to die fighting a government their own leader had attacked; put up a sharp defensive battle until their safety to return to their homeland was guaranteed. Most Grenadians welcomed the invasion.
The invasion itself set new standards for U.S. military actions. The press was simply not allowed near the action--not within 50 miles. A couple of reporters did rent boats and risk the open seas to see the action, but the reportage to the American people was completely controlled by the military--a limited form of literacy meant to correct errors in text made during the Vietnam invasion.
This meant, for example, that the press did not see the operation which was, as admitted years later, grossly bungled. The press did not see the fact that during the invasion, the U.S. bombed a mental hospital killing some 30 people.
There are a variety of interpretations of the implosion of the New Jewel Movement. I find none of the written records (the Grenada Documents speak for themselves in but a limited fashion) to be satisfactory. Coard told me, in May, 1994, that there was "nothing more to say. It was a Greek tragedy".(69) Didacus Jules indicates Coard is self-critical, saying New Jewel's leaders should have paid more attention to the masses of people.(70) In my interview, Coard did not repeat this criticism. No thorough-going explanation was offered at the trial of the New Jewel Central Committee which was charged and convicted of Bishop's murder.(71) Freire, while he does not name Coard, does say that Bishop was assassinated by the "sectarian, authoritarian, fanatical, incompetent left". Freire also says that Bishop lived a life of "consistency between what he said and what he did". (72) But Freire's comments do not help unravel Bishop's long standing uncritical allegiance to these same people, Coard et. al. ; nor does Freire's observation provide clues into what systematic foundations existed for the Coard group to come into power.
External pressure, especially the U.S. tourism blockade, damaged New Jewel; but it was only the internal weakness of the party that made its destruction possible. NJM leaders promised the people that the masses would take control of their work, their lives and their consciousness, then put the people to work for the Central Committee's privileged notion of socialism through national economic development. Eventually, this built a base for the kind of cynicism that caused Grenadians to welcome the invading U.S. army, despite the fact that New Jewel had given them schools, dental care, doctors, vaccinations and housing. No critically conscious people rose up against the invasion. The people of Grenada were willing to place their fate in the hands of Ronald Reagan. This was the result of an ideological error which led to social practice, in the name of protecting revolutionary theory.
Even so, I must underscore my perception that in the early days of New Jewel, I believe I encountered people more hopeful about the possibilities to take chances and improve their lives than I have ever met anywhere else. But today there is a sense of despair in Grenada, expressed by nearly every person I interviewed at length. People no longer believe their actions can influence their own lives.
Following the invasion, the U.S. installed a government led by a conservative who had, in 1974, opposed Grenadian independence from Britain. The modest land reforms were reversed. Unemployment, already rising, virtually exploded. The educational reforms were renamed, continued in form but stripped of the New Jewel political messages, and finally largely abandoned--though clearly much of the hope that lay beneath them was abandoned some time before. The U.S. made multiple promises to the Grenadian people, better schools, better health care, jobs, tourism--a remarkable adoption of the New Jewel program. The Cuban doctors and medical workers were driven away, though some of the Grenadian doctors trained in Cuba returned to their Grenadian homes. This group includes Terry Marryshow, grandson of the man who gave his names to the Readers, and now the leader of the Maurice Bishop Political Movement, connected to the Trotskyist U.S. Socialist Workers Party; a double irony. The U.S. finished the airport. Hundreds of U.S. troops and intelligence agents remained on the island. A second invasion came in the form of Christian evangelists and Army psychological operations teams. These operatives have found it necessary to build on, not attack, the name of Maurice Bishop. Many of NJM's programs were renamed, later dropped. NISTEP became INSTEP and disappeared.(73) One product of the invasion, the phone system, a direct line to the U.S. from nearly anywhere on the island, remains intact. In late 1984, a U.S. backed coalition government won a parliamentary election, crushing the Maurice Bishop People's Movement fifteen to one. MBPM got less than four per cent of the vote. No serious commentator disputes the openness of the election which must be seen as a reflection of the critical consciousness of the Grenadian people.(74)
The U.S. promises dwindled year by year. Then the U.S.S.R. imploded as well. And any reason for U.S. government concern for Grenada vanished. In 1990, the Agency for International development left the island. In 1994, the U.S. said it would close its Grenadian embassy--to save money. Today, emigration is one of the key sources of the Grenadian economy. More than two thousand people leave each year and send money home. Others return to retire and build large villas. More Grenadians live outside the country than in it. Drugs are now an acknowledged key part of the new economic development. Officials admit Grenada is a key shipping point, but the island itself is not awash in cocaine or marijuana beyond a few sellers trolling the tourist beaches. There is considerable concern that the Columbian drug cartels will influence the late 1994 Grenadian elections.(75) It is possible that a returned Gairy or his representatives will carry the vote. The MBPM is isolated and split by internal differences, Trotskyists versus social-democrats. Because Grenada is rich in soil and water, and because the country's people have a tradition of small landholding and mutual support, Grenada is not overrun by homeless people or hungry children begging as in, say, Washington, D.C., or Sao Paulo. For the tourist interested only in beaches and appearances, it remains a paradise. But even with dubious counts, unemployment is estimated at 40-50%.(76) The island's superstructure is coming apart. Thousands of Grenadians are forced, each day, to collect and carry water because the pipelines are collapsed. The education system remains grossly underfunded and school fees are fully restored, resulting in an intensified stratification of kids by income levels. Class size in Grenada now averages about 37:1, up from 31:1 in pre-PRG years.(77) Aid from other countries is disabled by the laissez faire attitude of the government. Two fishing boats given to the Grenadian government by the Japanese sit fallow in the harbor, sold to private vendors who did not know how to run them. There are few books on the island. The nation's library is scantily stocked. An offer to ship cargo-containers filled with classic books was rejected by a post-PRG education minister who refused to share half of the cost for shipping.(78) The official estimate of illiteracy on the island is "between 3 and 6%". Highly-placed teacher leaders argue it is "at least 30%".(79)
The Grenadian case provides an example of Paulo Freire's literacy projects, not merely in theory, but surrounded with all the complexities of social practice. In practice, ambiguity about primers translated into the production of counter-interactive textbooks. In practice, the impenetrability of critique through critical consciousness became nationalist Stahknovism, piece work in the name of development. I underline the role of leader-elites, the top-down nature of the literacy project which pretended to rise from the bottom up--like the budget process, the binary roles of ideology and the demands for national production, the fear of the people from middle-class elites coupled with a mechanical economist/technological approach to social change, the reliance on talk to settle or mollify material differences. There was nothing dishonest about the actors in this tragic series of events. I note the respect paid to Coard's economics and the internationally recognized concern for the mass of people that was so much a part of maurice Bishop. To the contrary, it appears these were well-intentioned people working with a flawed and inherited, and uncritiqued, theory. The theory that all the actors agreed upon, with varying secondary differences, led to their social practice. This was not the divorce of theory and practical work, it was the logical extension of theory to practice. I also underline that the primary problem of New Jewel was internal. If we are to comprehend dialectics, it is the internal which is the pivotal point of change, and the irreconcilable contradiction in New Jewel led to its implosion. It also sabotaged the literacy effort.
My last visit to Grenada in May of 1994 was made fruitful by the kindness of Grenadians who set aside vacations to make it possible for me to conduct interviews and inquiries in their country. I was given free rein. Government officials answered my questions and urged me to others for verification. Private citizens were initially somewhat restrained, probably for good reason. Often, after lengthy sessions, private citizens would express to me their sympathy for the imprisoned Coard group, saying they had been jailed long enough and should be allowed to leave the country. Then they requested anonymity. I agreed to the requests on this topic. I note only a general response that most people I met, by far, want Coard and his cohorts freed. Some leaders of the current government, and newsperson Alistair Hughes, are less forgiving. But even if Coard and his colleagues ere freed, most people also want them to leave the island. Grenadians have seen power shift rapidly and know record keeping is not neutral. Just as there are no non-partisan books about Grenada, it is unlikely that there are non-partisan investigators. I asked questions which derived from my interest in the Promethean formula developed by Freire which I analyzed in Chapter Two. What is literacy? Why carry on a literacy campaign? What are the levels of literacy? How would you describe critical consciousness? What should motivate a literacy campaign? Why should we want people to read? How would you envision liberty? Given the nature of the questions, some of those interviewed surely made assumptions about my own views, some correct and some not. One government official, after the interview, assumed I was a Republican. I am not. When people asked me my views on particular issues, I gave particular and honest replies. I asked people what they had done during the PRG, what its goals were, as well as their individual goals. I asked educators what materials they used, why, how they taught, where they learned their pedagogical methods and why they adopted them, and what kind of literacy/consciousness they tried to create. I asked them to tell me what the main goal of their work was. I asked them to describe the attitude of people toward education. I asked them what kinds of political consciousness exist on the island now, for example, do you support the U.S. intervention or are you involved in, or supportive of, opposition groups today? What are the policies of those groups that you like or dislike? I tried to locate people who were involved in the literacy programs as teachers, students, and administrators.
Power surges in Grenada rendered my camcorder, and my laptop computer, useless. I found many people put off by my tape recorder so I put it away after conducting two interviews on tape. While to some it may seem a counter-qualification, I feel compelled to reveal that I have trained as a union organizer for the last twenty years. In that period, I was involved in three campaigns that did not succeed--and substantially more victories. Each of the losses came from not carefully listening to the people involved. I have been trained in, and honed, listening and reportage skills. I believe I am alert to the need to attempt to accurately reflect what people tell me. I am acutely aware of the need to struggle to minimize the application of my wishes to their comments. Successful organizing campaigns are based on what the local people say.
After we spoke, after each interview, I set aside at least an
equivalent amount of time to record what was said. I wrote by hand,
a practice long recognized by anthropological investigators like
Clifford Geertz and education researchers like Harry Wolcott.(80) The
lengthy hand-written notes are in my possession. In the next
chapter, I have summarized and paraphrased what I was told. If this
results in the "thick description" that Geertz characterizes, then
I have had success. I tried to faithfully record what the people
said, and not to steer them onto my paradigm. But, unlike Geertz,
I acknowledge that I have a paradigm, and what it is. I find
Geertz's affected reliance on particularities, and denial of the
constant presence of interpretive paradigms, to be somewhat
disingenuous. I agree with Geertz that cultures are infinitely
complex, and reliable access to cultures is the lynch-pin
investigators must discover.(81) I also agree with Geertz that it is
the detailed examination of cultures, and its recording, that is of
use to other researchers who might discover other meanings in my
work. I think the people who gave me access, especially Desmond
Latouche and Angela James, did so in the spirit of giving me as
much data as possible in the time I would be with them. They
encouraged me to investigate a variety of paths, each originating
from a different perspective. They had no special axe to grind
except to help me seek what is true about Grenada. They had
opinions on how that could be done, and what was true, but they
posed their positions as only part of a greater whole--a most
sophisticated approach. I believe my writing of interviews that
follow accurately reflects the statements of the participants, and
that the data they gave me, in their eyes, was true.
1. Paulo Freire Pedagogy of Hope p168,169.
2. Freire locates himself in Grenada and makes the equation of Bishop equals Cabral in Pedagogy of Hope p171. That Freire was the key educational leader who trained other educators in the literacy and education programs in Grenada is indicated on p57 of the NJM sponsored book of key NJM speeches and documents, "Grenada Is Not Alone", (1982) Fedon Publishers, Grenada, in this author's possession. In addition see, Gordon K. Lewis (1987) Grenada, The Jewel Despoiled, Johns Hopkins University Press, Baltimore p27. The similarities between Bishop and Cabral are indeed remarkable. See Jack Mcculloch (1983) In the Twilight of Revolution, Routledge, New York p100 for a description of Cabral's more sophisticated but virtually equivalent position on the Theory of Productive Forces. Cabral, too, was assassinated: see Mustafah Dhada (1993) Warriors at Work, University of Colorado Press, Denver p47. Both books contain extensive bibliographies.
3. Paulo Freire Pedagogy of Hope. Freire discusses his work in Grenada on p170-174.
4. The very term, "invasion" as opposed to "rescue mission" is a signal to the politics of the user in Grenada. At the same time, I record the remarkable bias of the written record from Grenada. Several of the books I encountered were clearly so partisan that they had questionable value. The book edited by Michael Ledeen (1984) Grenada Documents, released by the U.S. Department of Defense, Washington D.C., purports to be a simple compilation of the documents seized by the U.S. government following the invasion in 1983. Taken as a whole, this collection is likely a real treasure trove. However, Ledeen, who was deeply involved in the Iran-Contra affair (see Mike Yard--1984--Iran-Contra, Monthly Review Press,p41) so poisons the selection with commentary, for example declaring that the Port Salines airport was unquestionably for military use, against the grain of all critique post-invasion, that his selection of documents is in question. p6. Even so, it is correct to say that the documents which are there, speak for themselves. The Westview Press publication, Grenada and Soviet/Cuban Policy (1986) is marred by calls to fund the National Endowment for Democracy (p221, 238, 248), a front for the American Institute for Free Labor Development which itself a front for the Central Intelligence Agency (see Beth Sims, 1992, Workers of the World Undermined, South End Press, Boston p25-26).Hence this note records that all commentary is partisan, and commentary on the Grenadian invasion/rescue mission is especially so.
5. I found the meticulous history of George Brizan's (1984) Grenada Island of Conflict, Zed Books, London, to be the most rewarding of several others. See p59 for the Fedon Rebellion.
6. Brizan p180.
7. See Brizan p328. Freire must have been struck by the comparison of Gairy to Vargas whose paths were so close.
8. Lewis, Jewel Despoiled p18.
9. Gordon Lewis (1987) The Jewel Despoiled, Johns Hopkins University Press, London p18. Also Peter Dunn (1985) American Intervention in Grenada, Westview Press Baltimore p6.
10. O'Shaughnesy p47. Bishop so admired Lenin that he named his son, Vladimer. Grenada Documents p16. Re:Bishop's father p81.
11. Hugh O'Shaughnessy (1984) Grenada an Eyewitness Account, Dodd MEad, New York p45.
12. James Ferguson (1993) Grenada: Revolution in Reverse, latin American Bureau, London p109. For those interested in the hair-splitting and score-card keeping necessary to weave the way through international politics, it would appear that this book leans toward the Maurice Bishop Political Movement, a front group for the Trotskyist Socialist Workers Party. The Headquarters of the MBPM is covered with SWP material. See p109.
13. Lewis, The Jewel Despoiled p192
14. See re: the friendship of Coard and Bishop,Kai Schoenhals (1985) Revolution and Intervention in Grenada, Westview Press, Boulder p23. For Coard's admiration of Stalin, Grenada Documents, p17.
15. NJM's relationship with the Socialist International is documented throughout the literature.See repeated references in Jiri Valenta (1986) Grenada and Soviet/Cuban Foreign Policy, Praegar Publishers, New York p509. Most authors are careful to distinguish aid from Cuba from aid from the U.S.S.R., a peculiar lack of attention to a simply extended funnel.
16. O'Shaughnessy p53.
17. O'Shaughnessey p85.See also Grenada Revolution in Reverse p109.
18. There are very few disputes about the nature of the coup. One summary is as good as the next. See O'Shaughnessy p77-79.
19. Peter Dunn (1986) American Intervention in Grenada, Westview Press, New York p8.
20. Peter M. Dunn (1986) American Intervention in Grenada, Westview Press, New York p8.
21. Jorge Heine (1990) A Revolution Aborted University of Pittsburgh Press p46.
22. Nicholas Dujmovic (1988) The Grenada Documents, Pergamon-Brassey's, International Defense Publishers, Tufts University, New York pxii.
23. Heine p46.
24. Valenta Grenada and Soviet/Cuban Policy p17. Bishop saw Libyan funding as pivotal. Valenta, no friend of the revolution, says there is no evidence for the claim of Soviet funding of the airport. Cubans were key to the construction and funding as well. To miss the aid chain of U.S.S.R. to Cuba to Grenada is a difficult abstraction of economic reality. It is true that there are interstices between the governments, but it is also true that in the chain, the links did not defy their source. Re: Albania, see Jan Myrdal, Albania Defiant, Monthly Review Press, New York p182.
25. Jenny Pierce (1982) Under the Eagle, South End Press, New York p290.
26. I was one of at least dozens of visitors to Grenada who were detained by Barbadian officials. My initial trip was held up for 24 hours as various officials prodded my luggage and inspected my books. When I arrived, I found most of the other North Americans I met experienced the same thing. On my second trip, Barbadian officials were even more interested in any printed matter I was carrying and tried to seize a copy of my journal. Liatt employees intervened on my behalf.
27. Sanford and Vigilante (1994) Grenada's Untold Story, Madison Books, New York p134.
28. Ferguson, Grenada Revolution in Reverse p109.
29. Jules in Critical Literacy p157.
30. Gregory Sanford and Richard Vigilante (1984) Grenada the Untold Story, Madison Books, New York p131.
31. Sanford and Vigilant, Grenada the Untold Story p127, 139.
32. Dujomvoi, The Grenada Documents p30,52.
33. Didacus Jules, a former NJM official, writing to praise the literacy campaign in Lankshear's (1993) Critical Literacy, Routledge, New York, says that "absolute illiteracy" was not really a problem in Grenada. He then indicates his sense of relative illiteracy as that being located in the peasant-worker population. Just how relatively illiterate Jules believes they might be is not clear. The appropriate inversion of absolute literacy might be better raised as a matter of relative functionality. All of this indicates that, while most (86%) Grenadians only completed primary school, there is a question in regard to the reliability of NJM's claims regarding the level of functional illiteracy. On the other hand, if the people in power believe you are illiterate and hence treat you as such, whether you are or not, is not the stigma of illiteracy still severe?
34. Notes in my possession. There are no accurate records of the numbers of teachers leaving Grenada, but this comment was made to me repeatedly. The National College was indeed training teachers, and they were indeed someplace else.
35. Didacus Jules writing in Lankshear (1993) Critical Literacy, SUNY Press, New York p136. Bishop listed three other goals: to develop critical appreciation, to improve abilities and not privilege, and to expand democracy. There is no question that in Bishop's mind, and in New Jewel practice, that these three revolved around production. Nor is there any indication anywhere that the purpose of the critique of privilege was aimed at Gairy, never at NJM. Jules is a former NJM official.
36. Jorge Heine The Revolution Aborted p103.
37. Kai Schoenhals (1985) Revolution and Intervention in Grenada, Westview Press, New York p53.
38. Tony Martin (1982) In Nobody's Backyard, Cuadernos Press, Havana p225.
39. Jorge Heine (1990) Revolution Aborted, University of Pittsburgh Press p279.
40. Interview with Desmond LaTouche, 5-12-94. laTouche is the current Director of adult education in Grenada and worked on the adult literacy programs.
41. Interview with Bernard Coard 5-12-94. Records in my possession.
42. Didacus Jules in Critical Literacy, p145-147. I reviewed a copy of "Let Us Learn Together" in Grenada at the National College. It was in a pile of magazines dating back to 1978. This was the only copy of the document I saw in Grenada. I copied the chapter heads and noted the themes and left it at the college. The librarian in the National Library stated that no copy of this textbook was available in the library.
43. Jules in Critical Literacy p149. Jules makes this comment in relation to other literacy campaigns, especially Cuba. I note that Cuba was the inspiration for the Freire model; it preceded his work and theories. Remarkably, there are few recorded successes of Freire's literacy programs. That in Guinea-Bissau had but a marginal impact, if the statistics are to be believed. Illiteracy dropped from a pre-Freire campaign rate of 95% to 88.6%, probably near the margin of error in any survey of this sort. The point here is not to demonstrate that Freire cannot teach people to read, or that phonics fails, but to suggest that his iconicization has given a great deal of weight to a part of the literacy-consciousness-liberation triad and not applied the critique that might support it. See Joshua B. Forrest (1992) Guinea-Bissau: Power, Conflict and Renewal, Westview Press, Boulder p136.
44. Anthony Payne, Paul Sutton and Tony Thorndike (1984) Grenada, Revolution and Invasion St. Martins Press, New York p112.
45. Greg Sanford and Richard Vigilante (1992) Grenada the Untold Story, Madison Books, New York p71.
46. Latouche interview 5-12-94.
47. Scott Nearing (1921) Education in Soviet Russia, International Publishers, New York p101.
48. Patrick Shannon has carefully charted textbooks and comes closest to suggesting their abolition. See (1994) Basal Readers, A Second Look, Richard Owen Publishers, New York p1. Hickling-Hudson (1988) believes the Grenadian educators did not faithfully follow the Freire model, indicating, for example, that the textbooks are directive and that the teachers trained by the PRG did not remain together as a cohesive group. Some teachers did not follow the Freire-NJM model. The vast majority did. Even so, there was no disagreement between the teachers, either those working with the program or those opposing it, that the purpose of the literacy campaign was, above all, national economic development. I believe the evidence is incontrovertible that the textbooks were indeed developed with Freire's leadership and that it made no difference whether or not the initial teachers endured as a group. Freire's own comments in Pedagogy of Hope (170-174) clearly indicate his participation and leadership. There is no hint of criticism of the textbooks from the campaign, or the campaign itself. By the time of his second visit, there can be no question that the textbooks were both created and a focal point of discussion. Given their training with Freire, it is reasonable to expect that some of the teachers attained sufficient critical consciousness to function on their own, or to independently reformulate their group. If this did not obtain, then at issue is Freire's ability to formulate serious success in critical pedagogy. To the contrary, I believe the Grenadian educators faithfully carried out Freire's plan which was fatally flawed by its inability to analyze the social reality which surrounded it, the binary of the ideology of the revolution and the reality of its social practice. What Hickling-Hudson does not raise is the possibility that some teachers, not trained by Freire or the PRG, would actively, if covertly, teach in opposition to the PRG's political messages. This did occur, as the interviews below will show. However, the respondents who indicated they themselves participated in this activity said that their efforts were unusual and isolated, apart from the mainstream which they believe was Freire's pedagogy.
49. Michael Apple, Linda Christian Smith (1992) The Politics of the Textbook, Routledge, New York p275. There is extensive analysis of the CPE and the teacher training programs in Anne Hickling Hudson (1988) Toward Communication PRaxis:Reflections on the Pedagogy of Paulo Freire and Educational Change in Grenada, Journal of Education v170 n2.
50. (1982) Marryshow Reader, Infant 1B, "Step Forward", Havana.
51. Sanford and Vigilante, Grenada The Untold Story p72. I met many NISTEP participants during my visits to Grenada. While many did complain about the NJM style of conducting classes, those same people expressed a near-wistful attitude toward Bishop and Creft. They did not feel that these two would approve of this behavior.
52. Jorge Heine (1992) A Revolution Aborted, University of Pittsburgh Press p93.
53. Re: 30% cut, see W.R. Jacobs, Grenada the Road to Revolution, Cuadernos Publication, Havana (1982) p130. This is a strident analysis from the Cuban CP's line but I believe the initial figure is correct. It was repeated to me as a policy by several people. Re: PRG income gains, See Jorge Heine (1990) A Revolution Aborted, University of Pittsburgh Press p101.I also note my experience that the best homes on the island were filled with NJM/PRG members.
54. This was a key matter of contention during my second visit to Grenada. While most people that I met still preferred New Jewel to Gairy, they felt that New Jewel leaders were taking one of the key commodities on the island, housing, for themselves. This was a visible issue, more publicly recognized than wage gaps.
55. Heine, Revolution Aborted p136.
56. I was in Grenada at the same time as Davis. The CPUSA had a strong influence, for example, on the Detroit City Council where one-time CP'er Coleman Young was Mayor. The Council routinely pressed the keys to the city on visiting Grenadians. See also Paul Seabury (1984) The Grenada Papers, Institute for Contemporary Studies, San Francisco p163.
57. The Vietnamese were training Grenadian General Hudson Austin how to deal with dissidents as the movement split apart from inside. See The Grenada Documents pxiii.
58. Heine Revolution Aborted p103. For statistical date see Heine p157.
59. Ferguson Grenada Revolution in Reverse p114. See also Seabury, The Grenada Papers p244.
60. Ibid. p114.
61. I visited the medical school on each of my visits. Through the entire period from 1980 to 1994, little has changed. Students always studied on the beach, had distant relationships with people in the community, and carved out their own area rarely to be interrupted.
62. Interview with C. James, former education official in the post invasion government, 5-12-94.
63. Ferguson (1994) Grenada, Revolution in Reverse p25.
64. There is a vast record of the documents of the NJM Central Committee which reflects the debate inside the party in relation to Bishop. There is no question that the majority of the CC opposed Bishop's actions. This does not mean, however, that at any given point they opposed Bishop. Moreover, Bishop criticized himself for the very things that the CC pointed out as his faults. See Seabury, The Grenada Papers p329.
65. Sanford and Vigilante, Grenada's Untold Story p2.
66. Sanford and Vigilante, Grenada the Untold Story p175.
67. Dunn/Watson, American Intervention in Grenada p61.
68. I found Ferguson's description of the invasion itself, in Grenada, Revolution in Reverse, to be satisfactory. See his introduction titled "Urgent Fury". In 1986, I interviewed one student who was at the medical school at the time of the invasion. He said that at the time of the invasion, one of the people the students had believed was an older student revealed himself as a member of the U.S. military and began to issue orders to them. He indicated the students felt no fear in Grenada until the invasion began. He told me that they were seized, put on a plane to the U.S. and told they had better be very grateful when they were met by reporters when the plane landed. He said the students acted as such because they feared for their lives--and careers. I withhold this student's name at his request as he still claims to fear for his safety. He is now a practicing medical doctor in the U.S. The director of the medical school initially denounced the invasion over his radio, hours later recanted. It is important to note that the medical school depends on U.S. students whose medical degrees are certified by the U.S.(see also commentary in Dunn/Watson, American Intervention in Grenada p60). There is also some collaborating evidence that CIA agents were operating in Grenada before the self-coup (see Lewis, the Jewel Despoiled p56)
There was nothing secret about the airport. Dozens of tourists were taken to it every day, given free rein to photograph, and were introduced to the Cuban construction workers. While Grenada does occupy a strategic position in the Caribbean, it appears to me the claim that the U.S. feared a major airbase there is groundless. I agree that the U.S. feared Grenada as a training ground for trouble-makers. I believe that the Lebanon embarrassment, coupled with the fact that the Reagan administration could rely heavily on racism to gain support for the Grenada attack, played a key role.
However, I also think there are indications to verify what one informant told me during my last trip to Grenada. Frank Hughes, brother of Alistair Hughes, and now a contracted communications expert for the Grenadian government told me that Bishop was beginning to deal with the U.S. He had recognized that the new airport was useless without tourists, who would have to come from the U.S. Thus, Bishop visited the U.S. and began to plan to remove Coard who had deep ties to the U.S.S.R. Hughes said Bishop met with Oliver North and Kenneth Dam of the State Department and engaged New Jewel's Norris Bain as a mutual contact for future work. This operation was blown, according to Hughes, by a mole within the CIA, Aldrich Ames (see Washington Post 2-23-94) who was later arrested. Coard, knowing about Bishop's turn through the KGB, had Bishop and Bain arrested and killed. This general line is verified piecemeal in Grenada's Untold Story, p175; Grenada Revolution and Intervention p114; Grenada Papers p152; American Intervention in Grenada p63; Grenada Jewel Despoiled p55. Coard emphatically denied this charge in my interview with him. North's office refused to return phone calls or respond to a letter. This claim would indicate Soviet/Cuban tensions in that Castro was reportedly shocked and angered at Bishop's death, Grenada's Untold Story p162. I must note that Hughes also believes there are people on Venus. However, I found the other information he gave me to be precisely on point. I could find no satisfactory answer to the question: if I take Freire seriously, who believes in God, why not treat Hughes in the same way?
69. May 1994 Interview with Coard in Richmond Prison. Records in my possession.
70. Didacus Jules writing in Critical Literacy p161.
71. Seventeen people are now in Richmond prison. Originally sentenced to hanging, their sentences were commuted to life. The following are now in the 18th century jail: Phyllis Coard, Bernard Coard, Hudson Austin, Selwyn Strachan, Vincent Joseph, Cosmos Richardson, Cecil Prime, David Bartholomew, Colville McBarnette, Christopher Stroude, Andy Mitchelle, John Ventour, Callistus Bernard, Lester Redhead, Leon James, Leon Cornwall, Ewart Layne.
72. Paulo Freire, Pedagogy of Hope p174.
73. My experience in May, 1994 demonstrated that Christian evangelists are now an important factor in Grenadian life and are giving the Catholic Church stiff competition. Evangelist churches are full and over-flowing on Wednesdays and Sundays. One of the two reliable television stations in the country is devoted to 24 hour evangelist programming. Ferguson's Revolution in Reverse provides a detailed examination of the psyops squads.p44,88,99.
74. Heine (1990) Revolution Aborted p281.
75. Interview with Frank Hughes 5-14-94.
76. New York Times 3-11-94. Interview with C.James, 5-15-94.
77. Interview with C. James 5-12-94.
78. Interview with Glen St. Louis, former PRG official. 5-9-94.
79. Interview with C.James 5-12-94 for official estimate. Interview with Clarissa Charles, president of the Grenada Union of Teachers, same date, for unofficial statistic.
80. I have attempted to follow in a path charted by Clifford Geetrz (1973) The Interpretation of Cultures, Basic Books, New York, see especially p19-24. In this sense, I have struggled to accurately report and write down, immediately, the details of the conversations. I have also attended to advice offered by Harry F. Wolcott writing in Eisner and Pushkin (1990) Qualitative Inquiry in Education, Teachers College Press, New York p128-135. Here Wolcott urges the method of note taking in place and immediately following interviews, and entreats attempts to record accurately, "or at least not get it all wrong".
81. Clifford Geertz (1973) The Interpretation of Cultures, Basic Books New York p6,453.