Thursday, February 19, 2015

Who Bombed Radio Free Granada?

That was us actually. The United States of America bombed Radio Free Granada. QSR Card  from here: [SOURCE] If you want to get really specific, it was Ronald Regan who issued the order. So lets go back in time to 1983. The invasion of Grenada was a small and brief military action. Grenada is a small Caribbean island with a population of under 100,000 people. For comparison that's less than College Station, TX. In 1974, after 400 years of European colonialism, they gained independence from Britain. However, they still retained the Queen as their head of state. There was a faction of course that still wanted real deal, full-Monty independence. It was called the New Jewel Movement (NJM.)

In 1979, while their Prime Minister, Eric Gairy was out of the country the NJM staged a coup. By the time he got home there was a new Revolutionary Government led by Maurice Bishop. On March 13th Maurice Bishop seized RFG and Station Manager Jerome Romain was arrested. Bishop addressed Grenada at 09:48 AM:
"Sisters and Brothers, 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 a 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 single shot being fired."
 Later that year, a faction broke off the NJM and  Bishop was arrested. He escaped but was later killed. His death was announced by Austin Hudson at RFG. The Grenadian army decided this was the right time for them to take over, a third "coup" in under a year. The Organization of Eastern Caribbean States (OECS) then only 2 years old, decided that they would like the United States to come in and "help."  Did I mention that Ronald Regan didn't like their Airport? More here.

Ronald Reagan had taken issue with their airport. He believed it was a threat due to the "Soviet-Cuban militarization" of the Caribbean. For the record that airport was built mostly by the British, but Libyans and Cubans were also employed on the project. The public given reason for the invasion was the protection of 600 American medial students on the island. But it had more to do with the NJM being Marxists and friendly with Cuba. Regan really had a thing about commies, and the OECS were not thrilled either. So Regan sent in the military, cue Operation Urgent Fury. More here.

In 1983 Grenada didn't have a full radio dial exactly.  Radio Free Grenada (RFG) had only signed on in 1961. The station was cobbled together out of  vintage WWII cast-offs from Britain and from donated parts. It operated on short wave on 15.045 MHZ, 19 Meter Band with a 75,000-watt Soviet-Built transmitter. It only broadcast between  1730 and 2100 hours. More here.

The American invasion commenced at 05:00 on 25 October 1983. The Radio station was empty and off air at that hour. Contemporary reports state that by 06:15 AM, Navy SEALS had blown up the station. Their back up transmitter at Morne Rouge was destroyed by aerial bombardment later the same day.  There was nothing left.  However, after the American invasion was complete, Station Manager Jerome Romain was finally released from prison. He resumed his post as Director of the Government's Information Services and by 1984 was reporting on their new elections. The Americans installed a new 50-kilowatt  transmitter and began broadcasting American rock music under the name "Spice Island Radio." If you want further reading, the book The Grenada Revolution in the Caribbean Present by Shalini Puri covers this story in detail.