314. Memorandum From Robert Pastor of the National Security Council Staff to the President’s Assistant for National Security Affairs (Brzezinski) and the President’s Deputy Assistant for National Security Affairs (Aaron)1

SUBJECT

  • Update on Grenada (C)

As you know, on March 22, we recognized the new government in Grenada,2 following the lead of several countries and the U.K. One of the major considerations which led to our decision was the early promise made by the island’s new leader, Maurice Bishop, to conduct free and fair elections soon. Besides being concerned about the unconstitutional means the New Jewel Movement used to take power, we were concerned about the political orientation of the new government’s leaders, who were variously termed “Marxists,” “Socialists,” or “Cuba-oriented.” (C)

Frank Ortiz, our Ambassador to Barbados accredited to Grenada, called on Bishop last Friday and his interview sheds some light on these questions.3 Bishop indicated that the new government:

—was pleased with the speedy recognition by the U.S.,

—wants to have friendly relations with the U.S.,

—is interested in the continuation and expansion of U.S. aid to Grenada through the Caribbean Development Bank,

—wishes the Peace Corps to remain, and

—will assure the protection of U.S. citizens and property on Grenada. (C)

On the issue of the timing and nature of elections, however, Bishop was less forthcoming. He said that general elections would not be held soon, and that an election of a constituent assembly would probably come first. He confided that the new government was considering two options: (1) to continue with the current governmental model (which he termed “farcical” and implanted by a foreign culture), or (2) to adopt a new system of “peoples’ assemblies”, patterned after what he called the ancient Greek model. He totally opposed outside observers [Page 774]to the elections, though he promised to consult with his colleagues on the issue and give us an answer. (C)

It is apparent that the new leader of Grenada is very idealistic, if not ideologically molded. He admits to being a “socialist,” but acknowledges the virtues of “pragmatism.” We have reports that he may be more moderate than some of his colleagues. He is obviously trying to maintain a good relationship with the U.S., but his proclivities to “revolutionize” the political system in Grenada may lead him toward a “Cuban model”, which in turn may lead to closer ties with, if not dependence on, Cuba. (C)

I am concerned about Bishop’s talk of “peoples’ assemblies,” and have spoken to Vaky and his deputy, Brandon Grove, about it. He will send cables to our Ambassadors in Barbados, Trinidad, and a separate one to Jamaica, suggesting that we begin an on-going dialogue with these countries in order to encourage them to take the lead in approaching Bishop. (C)

If David shares my concern, I would recommend that he convey it to Newsom.4 I am not sure that Pete5 is moving on this issue as quickly as he should.

  1. Source: Carter Library, National Security Affairs, Staff Material, North/South, Pastor, Country, Box 23, Grenada, 3/1/79–3/15/79. Confidential. Sent for information.
  2. See footnote 4, Document 313.
  3. See footnote 5, Document 313.
  4. At the top of the first page, Aaron wrote on April 4, “I will call. We should warn against Cubans going into Grenada.”
  5. Vaky.