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Grenada to commemorate 40th anniversary of death of Maurice Bishop

GRENADA announced plans on Wednesday to hold a commemoration to mark the 40th anniversary of the assassination of Maurice Bishop, the country’s first left-wing leader, murdered during a coup on October 19, 1983.

The head of the nation’s 50th Anniversary of Independence Committee, Dr Wendy Crawford, said the remembrance will be part of the celebration of the five decades of the island’s political independence.

Full details of the programme of events will be released in early October. 

Over the past year, the Grenadian government reported that it was moving forward with plans to declare October 19 a holiday to commemorate the assassinations of Bishop and several members of his cabinet in 1983, which led to the collapse of the People's Revolutionary Government. 

Prime Minister Dickon Mitchell, who was present at the announcement, defended the decision to honour Mr Bishop's death as the country gears up to celebrate independence from Britain on February 7, 1974.

Mr Mitchell said: “Our perspective of marking October 19 as a holiday is, in fact, that we recognise the sombre nature — the tragic nature — of what happened and that we reflect on it and understand what happened.”

Maurice Bishop was a politician and lawyer who, together with leaders of that Caribbean island, led a process of opposition to the US-backed military dictatorship of Eric Gairy through the New Jewel Movement.

In 1979, he led a revolution, defined by its democratic, anti-oligarchic and anti-imperialist character, and became prime minister.

After a US-backed coup against him promoted by the head of the army, General Hudson Austin, and the support of deputy prime minister Bernard Coard, Mr Bishop was murdered on October 19, 1983, along with 15 of his companions, including his wife, the minister of education Jacqueline Creft.

Less than a week later, on October 25, the United States invaded the island to consolidate the coup.

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