On October 25th 2018 it will be thirty-five years since the USA and allies invaded the Caribbean island of Grenada, a Commonwealth country with a British Governor General, without the knowledge and against the wishes of the British Government.
Documents recently released under the thirty-year rule show conclusively that the justifications put forward by the United States Government to justify the invasion of this Caribbean island were false and bring into serious question whether the invasion was legal under international law.
The justifications given at the time by the US Government to justify the invasion were: –
1. That the request for intervention had been made by the then Governor General of the island, Sir Paul Scoon,
2. That Grenada was a potential threat to other islands in the region because of the construction of a military airbase, and
3. That there was a threat to US citizens and therefore the invasion was necessary to restore order.
Although it is the case that at some point Sir Paul Scoon signed a note seeking assistance, the released documents show that the note was written AFTER the invasion had taken place, not before it, and it seems clear that it was in fact brought to Sir Paul for signature by the invading forces after the event. In a letter to then Foreign Secretary Sir Geoffrey Howe the High Commissioner to the West Indies, Giles Bullard, wrote: “This attempt to give the intervention a retrospective legality reflects no credit on those concerned.”
Grenada is a small island and at the time of the invasion it had no air force or navy. The US Government claimed the airport under construction at Point Salines was a military installation which was intended for use by the Government of Cuba. In fact, the airport was wholly a civil installation to facilitate the growth in tourism.
The released documents include a very detailed Press Release from a UK company, named Plessy, who were one of the main contractors employed to construct the airport. In this document, Plessy explains at length the facilities required for a military airbase all of which were absent from the one being constructed. Remarkably, after the invasion the airport was completed to the original design.
The released documents show that there was no evidence that foreign nationals, or indeed Grenadians, were in any danger. The UK Deputy High Commissioner met with Sir Paul Scoon who confirmed US citizens were not in any danger but went on to voice concerns about potential loss of life if there was an invasion; during this meeting, he did not make any request for foreign assistance or intervention.
Bullard reported that the Revolutionary Military Council (RMC) were temporarily in control of the island after the tragedy on the fort; they made it clear that they were professional soldiers who had intervened to preserve law and order and has no desire for political power.
The bulk of the US citizens on the island were students at the medical school and they were given regular supplies of food and water. Reference in the documents is made to the RMCs intention to form a broad based interim Government and hold elections within a short period of time.
CHRG has documentary evidence that the RMC held a meeting with Sir Paul Scoon just before the invasion to discuss setting up such a broad based civilian Government within 14 days, and he offered to speak to some of the individuals who were proposed.
In the circumstances, the legality of the invasion of Grenada under international law is seriously in doubt. CHRG now calls upon the US Government to compensate those who suffered loss as a result of their illegal intervention.
Further information can be obtained from CHRG. Please see details below.
(Secretary of CHRG, UK)