No longer on nightly news, Grenada tries to put memories behind
Three months after the United States-led invasion and with the arrival of 1984, the marines and the television crews have gone but Grenada is still there.
For many observers, the evacuation of several thousand invasion-force soldiers and the scene of hundreds of reporters elbowing each other for stories is only a memory. And even in Grenada, residents are reverting to normal, spending more of their time and energies on the everyday details of their lives and less time contemplating the amazing events that came hurtling down on them in September, one on top of the other.
For those outside of Grenada, who still occasionally think of the island in spite of its mysterious disppearance from their television screens, a series of questions may remain.
Whatever happened to the US occupying forces? Are any of them still there? How long will they stay?
How about the interim government? How well is it doing? How about the man from the UN agency who was supposed to head it? What about elections? And Bernard Coard, the man who overthrew Maurice Bishop in the first place, what has happened to him?
Here are some answers.
There are between 275 and 350 American soldiers in Grenada. All of them are support personnel, but they include an important contingent of the military police. The rest of the contingent is made up of medics, logistics personnel, administrative and support personnel. The remainder of the peacekeeping forces are what is left of the Caribbean contingent of the original invasion forces, the Caribbean Peace Force, some 400 to 500 men, most of them Jamaicans and Barbadians.
The first group of local Grenadian police are scheduled to begin training this month. It will probably take six months to a year for them to be fully trained and able to take over from the American support and Caribbean peace forces. Until such time, these forces are expected to remain on the island.
According to State Department officials, many island residents still fear that when the forces leave, extreme radical groups will emerge from the woodwork and attempt to disrupt the system.
Although some islanders and foreign observers expressed their apprehension at the number of people picked up for brief interrogations by the occupation forces in late October and November, local observers now say that the number of arrests has fallen greatly.
On Christmans Day Nicholas Braithewaite, the head of the Advisory Council, as the provisional government is called, addressed the people of Grenada in a radio speech. Among other things, he spoke of elections and indicated that in spite of the desires of some Grenadians to be ''left alone'' by politicians a while longer, elections will be held in a year's time. He called for the people to participate in the election campaign, and to demand constitutional guarantees of an apolitical civil service, free speech, and an impartial judiciary.
How well is the interim government doing? Reasonably well, observers say. It is made up of technocrats who rule by committee. Their main aim seems to be restoring national unity. Some Grenadians feel the council has been too technocratic, not providing enough leadership and deferring political decisions.
But it has just taken two of the most difficult decisions on its agenda, first agreeing on the timing of elections, and second, the decision, also announced by Braithewaite in his radio interview, to complete the international airport former Prime Minister Bishop was building with Cuban and other help (and which now will probably be completed by a consortium of nations including the US).
Another development outsiders probably missed is that the head of the Advisory Council, Mr. Braithewaite, is not the man from the UN who was originally asked to take the job. That man, Alister McIntyre, the second in command of the United Nations Development Program, declined, ostensibly for health reasons.
Finally, there is the question of Bernard Coard, the hard-line Marxist whose overthrow of Bishop led to the invasion. He is still under detention in Grenada's capital city of St. George's, and evidence is being gathered for a trial in which his responsibility for the deaths of Maurice Bishop and some 200 other people in the ''Fort Rupert massacre'' will be considered. The trial will probably be held within a few months.