|Famous For:||Grenadian Rule|
|Died||October 19, 1983|
Grenadian leader and Marxist revolutionary. Born in 1944 to Rupert and Alimenta Bishop, Maurice grew up in the British-controlled Caribbean island of Grenada. Like many people in the country, Bishop led a poverty-stricken childhood.
After being a colony for 300 years, in 1974, Grenada declared independence. However, little changed for the island's people, for the local government (led by Sir Eric Gairy) was still very pro-British. Gairy was apathetic to the plight of the public in Grenada, and he stamped out dissidence with his strong-arm politics.
Bishop had formed the New Jewel Movement (NJM) in 1973, mainly from the merging of the Movement for Assemblies of the People (MAP) and the Joint Endeavor for Welfare, Education and Liberation (JEWEL). After the independence of Grenada, Bishop's NJM became the chief opponent party to Sir Gairy.
Though the island's population numbered below 100,000, Bishop and the NJM was able to rally tens of thousands against the dictatorship of Gairy. In retaliation, Gairy unleashed his fascistic henchmen, who called themselves the "Mongoose Gang." They were responsible for the deaths of many strikers in Grenada, including Maurice's father Rupert.
In 1979, Bishop and his allies learned of a plan put forward by Gairy to assassinate the NJM's leaders while the dictator was out of the country. In March of that year, they were able to thwart it with a bloodless siege which took over the nation's single radio station. With the mass support of the people, Bishop came to power and Gairy found himself without a regime to return to.
Bishop installed a revolutionary government that went to work organizing workers' councils and creating a very participatory government. He worked to develop the island, and received aid mainly from Cuba and the Soviet Union, and later — the Sardinistas of Nicaragua. One of the chief efforts of Maurice was the construction of a airplane runway in order to further tourism for the nation. 54
Bishop was closely influenced by the ideas of Cuban leader Fidel Castro and Nicaragua's Daniel Ortega. Being the only English-speaking of this Caribbean triad, Bishop hoped to appeal to the working-class of United States — especially the African-American population.
But Bishop's openly Marxist government ran immediately into criticism from U.S. President Jimmy Carter. And later, things only became worse as far-right Republican [[[Ronald Reagan]] was elected president. Reagan, who secretly supported the right-wing Contras (Counter revolutionaries) in Nicaragua, also tried stirring up what little opposition to Bishop there was. Though even the United Nations and the Oranization of American States condemned Reagan's policies, he continued undaunted.
Downfall and Death
Due to Bishop's non-abrasive attitude toward Reagan and his willingness to allow small private businesses to continue in Grenada, Bishop became the target of Bernard Coard, an extreme Stalinist and Minister of Finance. On October 19, 1983, Bishop and most other leaders of the government were rounded up by Coard and his military clique and executed. Bishop was shot dead in a small and isolated hut in the forest.
Coard's thirst for power had succeeded, but his success was short-lived. Reagan, seeing an opportunity to strike, sent in hundreds of American elite forces into Grenada on October 25. Many were killed. The US then re-installed former dictator Sir Gairy as leader of the nation. Reagan's aministration accused Bishop and Coard both of building the air strip in order to allow Cuba and the USSR to take over the island. As for Coard, he is occupying a jail cell in Grenada for a life sentence.
Bishop's government and life were cut short tragically by extremists from both ends of the political spectrum.