316. Telegram From the Embassy in Barbados to the Department of State1

1321. Subject: Grenada: Request by Revolutionary Government for U.S. Arms. Ref: A) Bridgetown 1303; B) Bridgetown 1318.2

1. (C) Entire text.

2. We believe Revolutionary Government’s request for U.S. arms to repel alleged invasion by Gairy or other adversaries, while possibly based on real expectation that such U.S. arms would be forthcoming, may mask real RG intention to elicit U.S. rejection, thereby freeing RG to obtain arms from countries more ideologically compatible. We believe RG may in fact already have approached Cuba or been offered arms by Cuba.

3. In this elementary game, USG like RG must concern itself with record. We recommend Department should draw out consideration of the RG’s request as long as possible. I shall attempt to get more details of request. When and if we decide to turn request down we should make public statement. Bishop gave us opportunity to do so by his own advance publicity (ref A) that he would seek U.S. arms. We consulting with UK and Canadians here. UK will also draw out consideration of GOG request for arms. UK High Commissioner Stanley is suggesting that UK offer to send military or police experts to survey Grenadian needs. Canadians thus far have not received arms request.3

  1. Source: Carter Library, National Security Affairs, Staff Material, Freedom of Information/Legal, Kimmitt, Box 9, Grenada, 4–6/79. Confidential; Niact Immediate; Exdis. Repeated for information to London, Ottawa, and Port of Spain.
  2. In telegram 1303 from Bridgetown, April 6, the Embassy reported an April 5 press conference held by Bishop, in which he discussed an alleged plan by former Prime Minister Gairy to seek assistance from Cuban exiles and seize the island of Grenada. (National Archives, RG 59, Central Foreign Policy File, D790157–1117) In telegram 1318 from Bridgetown, April 9, the Embassy reported on Bishop’s April 7 request for U.S. arms. (National Archives, RG 59, Central Foreign Policy File, D790163–0508)
  3. In telegram 89103 to London and Ottawa, April 10, the Department instructed the Embassies to contact the host governments and urge them to “reassure Bishop and his government and perhaps give him minimal levels of protection and assistance.” (Carter Library, National Security Affairs, Staff Material, Freedom of Information/Legal, Kimmit, Box 9, Grenada, 4–6/79) The British offered to send one police and one military adviser to Grenada. (Ibid.)