A Momentous Month
R. Rose - Eye of the Needle
March 15, 2024
A Momentous Month

As we observe National Heroes Day/Month, I can’t help but reflect on a wider scale that March is also important for at least one of our neighbours, Grenada. It was on March 13, 1979, that the Caribbean witnessed the first and only popular Revolution under the leadership of Maurice Bishop in Grenada.

It was a development that had tremendous implications for the wider Caribbean and will long remain in the annals of our history. Even though the Revolution ended in a bloody internal strife, opening the way for US military invasion in 1983, the Grenada Revolution will remain forever etched in Caribbean history.

But like a bad headache which will not go away, the plight of the Haitian people has again forced itself to the forefront of the Caribbean and international agenda this March. Following months of turmoil during which the country became ungovernable with popular pressure which forced the eventual resignation of the unelected Prime Minister, Ariel Henry, an urgent CARICOM meeting of some leading Heads of Government, including our own Dr. Ralph Gonsalves, with representatives of the governments of the USA, France, Canada, Brazil, Mexico as well as of the United Nations was convened to try and find a solution.

Ever since Haiti created history by becoming the first country to get rid of chattel slavery and European colonialism in 1804, the Haitian people have literally been under siege from colonial powers, old and new. It has been reduced to being one of the poorest countries in the world and its people continue to suffer miserably under all kinds of dictators, crooks and criminals.

Repeated military interventions by the USA in both the 20th and 21st centuries have failed to break the cycle of dictatorship and repression to the extent that Haiti has today become ungovernable, its people refusing to continue to suffer hunger, poverty, underdevelopment, and foreign domination.

The latest crisis is what has prompted the CARICOM leaders, much criticized by their own people for failure to find a solution, to arrange the meeting, held Monday in

Jamaica. An official release after the meeting stated that Ariel Henry had resigned and that governance will be in the hands, temporarily, of a Transitional Governance Council on which will sit representatives of the major political parties, business community and civil society.

This Council will be charged with the responsibility of “paving the way to a peaceful transition of, power, a continuity of governance, and for developing an action-plan for near-term security and the road to free and fair elections”.

What the CARICOM statement has not spelled out is how is peace to be restored. Already US sources are talking of their military security plans, but does the agreement give the USA a carte blanche in that regard?

US military interventions in Haiti in 1915 when it even took over the country, in 1994, 2004 and 2015 have not changed the situation in Haiti as far as the plight of the Haitian people are concerned. What will be different this time?

But for the moment, back to our own National Heroes Day activities. It is reassuring to see that the government has followed up on its plans to acquire Balliceaux. We, the people of this country must loudly indicate our firm support for this move, don’t leave it up to Darkie Williams and the Garifuna Foundation alone, they are already making a solid contribution, for which I loudly applaud them.

Before I conclude, I want to draw attention to an issue that I have raised time and again concerning our lack of consistency and continuity in honouring our heroes.

Both George McIntosh and another patriot, Captain Hugh Mulzac have been put forward as possible candidates for National Hero status. This is National Heroes Month, but do you know that both patriots were born in the month of March 1886? McIntosh was born on the 6th, Mulzac 20 days later, the 26th. Each year those dates pass without much murmur. Is that how we honour our patriots? We must go deeper than this on the surface approach, it is not reaching to the roots, not being grounded among our people.

That same applies to Paramount Chief Chatoyer. While we lobby for other to join him as National Heroes, have we done enough to ground this concept among our people, our children in particular? I recall that a Minister of the government which preceded this one, in the 20th century, had told the nation that the government of the day was planning to get a proper statue of Chatoyer done, I believe it was in Venezuela he mentioned. We are a quarter of the way into the 21st century and nothing more on our National Hero except the obelisk and portraits. Surely, we can and must do better, before we even think of new National Heroes.


  • Renwick Rose is a community activist and social commentator.