Dubian Ade

Brief Histories: The New Jewel Movement (Grenada)

Dubian Ade
Brief Histories: The New Jewel Movement (Grenada)

The New Joint Endeavor for Welfare, Education, and Liberation group (NEW JEWEL) was established in March of 1973 in response to the deplorable economic conditions under Eric Gairy's neocolonial administration and Gairy's increasing corruption within the government.

Gairy had been pushing an agenda for Grenadian independence and began talks with the British Crown as early as 1970. Gairy had intentionally excluded the Grenadian people from the negotiations.  

Gairy had first come to prominence as the founder of the Grenada United Labour Party (GULP). Under the GULP ticket, Gairy had won the election of 1951 and was elected to leader of the G renadian assembly. Gairy had become the first Black Grenadian to hold that office.
Gairy's tenure as leader of the assembly was marked with serious corruption. So much so thatin 1962 the British colonial administration intervened in Grenada to schedule new elections. Gairy was defeated by Hurbert Blaize but was reelected to leader of the assembly in 1967 after economic conditions failed to improve. Grenada was granted its independence on February 7th 1974 after more than two centuries of British rule. Gairy had become the country's first prime minister.     

The new neocolonial administration had only exacerbated the already wide spread poverty in Grenada. Politicians were generously stuffing themselves at the expense of the people. Unemployment was sky high, health care was nonexistent, and the great masses of the people remained severely uneducated, with less then15% of Grenadians continuing to high school.   
The New JEWEL Movement was made up of a new generation of Caribbean activists and intellectuals who were profoundly influenced by the Black Power movement and the Third World Liberation movements of the fifties, sixties, and seventies.

New JEWEL was primarily concerned with the well being of the Grenadian people and had interests in improving health care, education, and standard of living in Grenada.
Maurice Bishop was a prominent and outspoken leader of the movement. Born in Aruba in 1944 and raise in Grenada, Bishop was educated in London. He was profoundly influenced by Malcolm X, Martin Luther King, Kwame Nkrumah and Walter Rodney. On his return to Grenada in 1970, Bishop formed the Movement for Assemblies of the People (MAP) which opposed corruption in the Grenadian government. In 1973 MAP joined forces with the Joint Endeavor for the Welfare, Education, and Liberation of the People (JEWEL), to form New JEWEL (NJM).

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The NJM began staging massive anti-Gairy protests. In 1974 six NJM members including Bishop were arrested and Bishop's father Rupert Bishop was killed during a police attack on protesters.     

New JEWEL ran Bishop in the 1976 national election. Gairy and the GULP narrowly defeated Bishop in what was believed to be a rigged election. Bishop was made into the Grenadian minority leader.

On March 13th, 1979 while Gairy was out of the country, Maurice Bishop and the NJM launched a bloodless coup to take the Grenadian government. The Peoples Revolutionary Government (PRG ) was installed with Bishop as the new prime Minister of Grenada. The PRG immediately made close ties with Fidel Castro and the revolutionary government in Cuba. Bishop and the The PRG enjoyed widespread popular support from the Grenadian people and especially from impoverished workers.

United States imperialist and anti-communist foreign policy imposed aggressive sections on trade with Grenada and crippled the economy further. A power struggle between Bishop and Deputy Prime Minister Bernard Coard resulted in Bishops house arrest on October 13th, 1983. S ix days later on October 19th a mass of over four thousand protesters freed Bishop and the other ministers imprisoned. Bishop and protesters marched to Fort Rumpert. While at Fort Rumpert gunshots were fired at protesters with many killed.

In the carnage Bishop and other leaders were recaptured and executed. On October 25th the United States military invaded Grenada and took control of the country.