Coup d’état -School Cancelled (13Mar, 1979) – Grenada, W.I.

March 13th 1979 …This was the day of the bloodless Coup that took place in Grenada, West Indies.    I will tell you about my day that day -or just a small portion of it.

My brother and I walked to school everyday and March 13th was a Tuesday and we arrived at school right on time maybe even a little early to find only a handful of students and teachers there and a bit of a hush as the Headmistress and teachers talked in hushed tones.  Eventually we were informed that we needed to go back home because there would be no school for the day as there had been a Coup overnight.

We walked back home and told our parents that school had been cancelled because there had been a Coup.  They didn’t believe us and insisted that we go back to school.  We weren’t in the habit of lying to them but I guess this just seemed too unbelievable.  We finally convinced my dad to turn on the radio.

There was no TV back then and the only radio was from a few am radio stations that were local to the island.  Sure enough, the news confirmed our story.  My dad stayed home from work and we all listened to the radio and the news most of the day.


13 March 1979,
 Radio Free Grenada,
Maurice Bishop, Address to the Nation

Maurice BishopBrothers and Sisters,

  This is Maurice Bishop speaking.

  At 4.15 am this morning, the People’s Revolutionary Army seized   control of the army barracks at True Blue.

 The barracks were burned to the ground. After half-an-hour  struggle, the forces of Gairy’s army were completely defeated, and  surrendered.

Every single soldier surrendered, and not a single member of the  revolutionary forces was injured.

 At the same time, the radio station was captured without a shot  being fired. Shortly after this, several cabinet ministers were captured in their beds by units of the revolutionary army.

A number of senior police officers, including Superintendent Adonis Francis, were also taken into protective custody.

At this moment, several police stations have already put up the white flag of surrender.

Revolutionary forces have been dispatched to mop up any possible source of resistance or disloyalty to the new government. I am now calling upon the working people, the youths, workers, farmers, fishermen, middle-class people, and women to join our armed revolutionary forces at central positions in your communities and to give them any assistance which they call for.

Virtually all stations have surrendered. I repeat. We restress, resistance will be futile. don’t be misled by Bogo DeSouze or Cosmos Raymond into believing that there are any prospects of saving the dictator Gairy.   

Eric Gairy, apparently sensing that the end was near, yesterday fled the country, leaving orders for all opposition forces, including especially the people’s leader, to be massacred.

Before these orders could be followed, the people’s revolutionary Army was able to seize power. This people’s government will now be seeking Gairy’s extradition so that he may be put on trial to face charges, including the gross charges, the serious charges, of murder, fraud, and the trampling of the democratic rights of our people.

In closing, let me assure the people of Grenada that all democratic freedoms, including freedom of elections, religious and political opinion, will be fully restored to the people.

The personal safety and property of individuals will be protected. Foreign residents are quite safe and are welcome to remain in Grenada. And we look forward to continuing friendly relations with those countries with which we now have such relations.

Let me assure all supporters of the former Gairy government that they will not be injured in any way. Their homes, their families and their jobs are completely safe, so long as they do not offer violence to our government.

However, those who resist violently will be firmly dealt with. I am calling upon all the supporters of the former government to realize that Gairy has fled the country and to cooperate fully with our new government. You will not be victimized, we assure you.

People of Grenada, this revolution is for work, for food, for decent housing and health services, and for a bright future for our children and great grand-children. The benefits of the revolution will be given to everyone regardless of political opinion or which political party they support.

Let us all unite as one. All police stations are again reminded to surrender their arms to the people’s revolutionary forces.

We know Gairy will try to organize international assistance, but we advise that it will be an international criminal offence to assist the dictator, Gairy. This will amount to an intolerable interference in the internal affairs of our country and will be resisted by all patriotic Grenadians with every ounce of our strength.

I am appealing to all the people, gather at all central places all over the country, and prepare to welcome and assist the people’s armed forces when they come into your area. The revolution is expected to consolidate the position of power within the next few hours.


4 Responses

  1. susieshy45 says:

    Never knew of this history of Grenada. Thank you for increasing my knowledge by sharing.

  2. Merrilyn Shoemaker says:

    Wow! Did you have to sneak out of the country or were the people kind to your family? What did your dad do? Perhaps I’m asking too many questions but…quite an experience!

    I must have met you the school year after this because I graduated in 1980. Man, Bonny. What a potentially traumatic situation to be in and then transfer to USA and start school. I’ve been really impressed with these blogs. You seem to always be focused on adding knowledge or insight or an angle on love. No moaning or groaning in your messages that I’ve seen so far. Thanks for sharing!

    By the way, I can’t find the blog that describes your work so I’ll write here. The statement that the job had made you more humble really has had me thinking this week. I believe I lost a job (back when) because of self-righteousness. Now, I have to admit I was working my way out of that contract work but hadn’t expected to not be called back. I don’t think leaving on an off note is ever a good idea but lack of humility will do that. So what I’ve been thinking about is “What is humility?” I mean in my day to day experience. Had a very relaxed but businesslike 19 year old look at one of my big lawns to give me an estimate. He was really good at listening even though he was the “expert.” When I got done, he told me how he mowed the edges and the results and asked if that would be ok. Wow! Listening and patience are good starting points. What did you mean when you said your job made you humble? I imagined it was “You do what you gotta do to get what needs to be done, done.”

  3. ibdunn says:

    The coupe happened in March -we left in June. My mom and us kids. I remember my mom asking me if I still wanted to go to Prin. My reply was – you’re asking me if I want to leave Grenada! The answer is NO! “Course not much choice in that. We moved to Wichita where her brother was living for the summer and then we moved to St. Louis where my sister and brother and I started at the Upper School in Sept of ’79. The most traumatic part of it was not the coupe or even the move but it was super hard being a freshman in such private school where every word I said was replied to with ‘what?’ because of my accent. No uniforms and classes that were easy in comparison and students that didn’t seem to care about learning. I graduated in ’83. I don’t remermber if we met when I was in high school or not – I am pretty sure we got to know eaach other during your sr year @ prin but maybe iy was during my return to college. I went back to school in 1990 I think it was and your dad and i were friends via the physics department and the solar car !! He and I were loosely involved in the solar car project as I recall.

  4. ibdunn says:

    My work is aircraft mechanic – in aviation section.

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