In Grenada, Leaving the Facts Behind

The New York Times‘ Travel section featured a February 8 piece by Ned Martel headlined, “In Grenada, Leaving the Past Behind,” where the reporter refers to the 1983 U.S. invasion of the tiny Caribbean nation. A more accurate headline might have read, “Leaving the Facts Behind.” Here’s how Martel summed up the invasion story:

In 1983, American satellites peered down on Point Salines, the southwest corner of Grenada, and detected a newly paved lane toward the sea, plus some nearby armaments and fuel tanks. Cubans had arrived on the island, abetting some coup plotters who captured and then executed the prime minister, and the Reagan administration realized they were watching a hostile military base under construction, some 1,500 miles southeast of Miami.

That’s a garbled version of the case for the invasion made by Ronald Reagan, who claimed that he was forced to invade because Grenada was building a military airport at Point Salines as a way station for Soviet planes, and because the coup was endangering U.S. citizens there.

The reality? Reagan loathed Grenada’s popular and Cuba-friendly prime minister, Maurice Bishop, and had been planning an invasion of the island for some time. When Bishop was deposed in an internal coup, Reagan used the event, the airport story and the danger to Americans on the island as pretexts for invading (and imposing a “friendly” government).

Of course, Reagan was lying: The airport was Grenada’s new international airport, designed by a Canadian firm, financed by the British government and Grenada’s neighbors, and no secret to anyone. As far as the danger posed to Americans, the chancellor of the medical school that many of the Americans on the island attended charged that the greatest danger his students faced was from the the U.S. invasion.

And what of the Cubans Martel said were there to help topple Bishop? They were almost all workers, there at Bishop’s invitation, sponsored by Cuba’s pro-Bishop government.

Instead of referring to its own archives, where some of Reagan’s Grenada deceptions were debunked years ago, the “paper of record” is adding new misinformation to its Grenada file.

About Steve Rendall

Senior Media Analyst and Co-producer of CounterSpin Steve Rendall is FAIR's senior analyst. He is co-host of CounterSpin, FAIR's national radio show. His work has received awards from Project Censored, and has won the praise of noted journalists such as Les Payne, Molly Ivins and Garry Wills. He is co-author of The Way Things Aren't: Rush Limbaugh's Reign of Error (The New Press, 1995, New York City). Rendall has appeared on dozens of national television and radio shows, including appearances on CNN, C-SPAN, CNBC, MTV and Fox Morning News. He was the subject of a profile in the New York Times (5/19/96), and has been quoted on issues of media and politics in publications such as the Chicago Tribune, Washington Post and New York Times. Rendall contributed stories to the International Herald Tribune from France, Spain and North Africa; worked as a freelance writer in San Francisco; and worked as an archivist collecting historical material on the Spanish Civil War and the volunteers who fought in it. Rendall studied philosophy and chemistry at San Francisco State University, the College of Notre Dame and UC Berkeley.