The Multinational Monitor


N E W S   M O N I T O R


The Business of Invasion

by Jonathan Friedland

Several months after a force of U.S. and Caribbean troops landed in Grenada, political uncertainty and economic difficulties continue to plague the country. These problems are exemplified by a sort of catharsis that grips this eastern Caribbean island of just over 100,000 people.

As a result, the interim government is unable to make key economic decisions or to set a timetable for elections, which U.S. officials say should be held quickly. Meanwhile, a large number of unemployed youth sit listlessly in the streets of the capital.

"In many ways the spirit has gone out of the Grenadians," said Alan Bodie, a Canadian International Development Agency project manager who has been in Grenada for three years. "Under Bishop, everyone was working 23 hours a day. Now they are saying, `We are back to being a colony again.' "

The U.S. presence in Grenada is still a large one, with several hundred U.S. troops and government officials on the island. But it has not brought the benefits people here had hoped for following last October's invasion. Despite the fact that the United States will provide $57 million in aid over the next 18 months, there are signs that many Grenadians are beginning to resent their "rescuers."

The U.S. aid is providing few jobs, and many Grenadians view the direction of the Interim Council Government of Nicholas Braithwaite as being more in line with U.S. than Grenadian interests. "The Interim Council is not representative of the people," charged one local journalist. "The United States is calling their, tune."

U.S. officials deny this, however. "They are calling their own shots," said Ted Morse, a senior U.S. Agency for International Development (AID) official. -"You do a disservice to them by saying they are not making their own decisions. "

U.S. officials have urged Grenada to hold elections before the end of the year and have called on the Interim Council to reverse the increasing state involvement in the economy that characterized the People's Revolutionary Government (PRG) of the late Maurice Bishop. (See below.) Although an election date has not yet been posted, most people in Grenada assume that it will coincide with the U.S. presidential elections in November.

The Interim Council has moved ahead to change many of the tax and investment policies promulgated during the four years the left-wing PRG held power here, though, analysts admit, not enough to attract a substantial amount of foreign investment.

While the "re-privatization" of Grenada's economy doesn't seem to bother most residents, the prospect of elections being held before Grenada is ready does. "The national psyche has been deeply wounded by the events of the past year," said Winston Whyte, leader of the Christian Democratic Labour Party, one of the six parties planning to stand for parliamentary elections. "We have to exorcise hate before sound decisions can be made," he added, saying that he and most other political leaders would prefer that the elections be held next year.

Of the six parties vying for power, only three are well known by the electorate: former premier Eric Gairy's conservative Grenadian United Labour Party, Herbert Blaize's Grenada National Party (GNP), which headed a coalition government from 1962 to 1967, and George Louison's Maurice Bishop Patriotic Movement. Louison, the former agriculture minister in the People's Revolutionary Government, is the self-proclaimed flag bearer of the revolution.

At this point, many Grenadians give Gairy's party the best chance to take most of the seats in Parliament, despite his 14 years of increasingly corrupt and despotic rule, primarily because the GULP is well--financed and the other parties are badly splintered. "If the Americans force an early election," Louison warns, "Gairy might win, and they will create a monster."

U.S. officials here see the matter differently, however, saying that elections are key to bringing in foreign investment. "Grenada has got to get back on its feet," said one senior U.S. official. "We don't care when the elections are held--before or after ours-just as long as they are before the end of the year."

"We won't get serious large--scale investors here until after the elections," agreed Charles A. McIntyre, president of the Grenada Chamber of Commerce, "and we badly need them to revitalize the economy, which is in terrible shape. Bishop always said in his speeches that if the invaders came, he'd promise them scorched earth," added McIntyre, referring to the state of the economy. "As it turns out, he wasn't far wrong."

Unemployment, which officially stands at 33 percent but which officials here admit may be closer to 50 percent, has most Grenadian political and business leaders worried. "Quite a number of the young men were in the army, using a gun, getting a salary, respect and three hot meals a day," said Herbert Blaize, a former prime minister and leader of the GNP. "They have the ingredients of a big economic and security problem." The joblessness is already giving rise to anti-U.S. attitudes on the street, say observers here, with young Grenadians now beginning to taunt the small U.S. Army contingent on the island and to shout "CIA" as U.S. aid workers pass by.

Of the $57 million in U.S. aid being slated for the next few years, some $19 million are going towards the completion of the Point Salines International Airport, with only about $6 million to be used to repair the island's ruined infrastructure.

After the invasion, some $2 million was spent immediately on repairs and rehabitation. People here got used to the idea that there would be plenty of jobs in the long-term rehabilitation of the island's water, electricity and roads systems. "People's expectations were perhaps unreasonably raised at the start," admits one U.S. official.

"The $57 million is not creating much employment because it's being used to pay for imports for high-priority projects," said Dr. Victor Calender, an International Monetary Fund official seconded to the interim government. "The general thrust of the U.S. aid is really peanuts considering the needs of the economy," he added. "The U.S. is the one market and the one source of investors that can save this economy right now."

Calender and other economic officials argue that once election are held and political uncertainties diminish, U.S. investors will provide enough jobs to put the Grenadian economy back on its feet. "The thing that will attract investors to Grenada is that it is a successful American colony," said one AID advisor who asked to remain anonymous. "But the problems here are too big for the ideological approach I am seeing now."

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