Granada, 1983, the Hidden Cuban Martyrology / Somos+, Pedro Acosta
Somos+, Pedro Acosta, 19 January 2017 — Thirty-three years later, I
talked to more than 60 people under age 40 and with more than a 9th
grade education; none of them knew exactly what I was talking about.
I asked them: Do you know what happened on the island of Granada in
1983? Most of them looked at me like I was asking them to solve a
riddle. Some, the oldest, without being sure what I was talking about,
said they thought there had been a military intervention there. Only one
explained it to me, with middling clarity, because he had heard about it
from his family.
A little history lesson, well hidden! In October of 1983, the Chief of
the Armed Forces of that country, at the request of the party in power,
"The New Jewel," staged a coup d'etat and assassinated Prime Minister
Maurice Bishop and his entire family. The United States threatened, and
days later invaded the island.
A group of Cuban construction workers were there building an airport
along with a small group of Colonels sent by Fidel in its presidential
plane, AN-24 (el patico), had to confront the elite troops of the US
82nd Airborne Division. You, who went to build, without the slightest
right, without the simplest analysis and for the absurd chimera of
someone looking for a military victory over his eternal enemies, is
there weapons in hand and in mortal danger.
They did not have the right, nor the reason, nor the recurrent and often
I wonder, in a spectacular maneuver of my fantasy, and if, in the face
of an uncontainable push of the builders, the elite American troops
would have withdrawn: Who were we going to hand over power to? How long
would we have remained in that territory? What role would we play there
in the meantime?
We, like the ancestral custom of the regime, learned what happened
through foreign radio stations and, first of all, those of the "enemy."
Despite there having been Cuban builders there, and Maurice Bishop was a
great friend of Fidel, it was not until three days did we offficially
here what happened there, when the entire Cuban people had a different
version of the events.
The officers were meant to block the US troops from taking control of
the airport under construction, with the help of the builders. But the
undesirable things happened. When confronted with the American troops,
the immense majority of those who fought back were the construction
workers, while the military experts and "warriors" sent by the
Commander, Fidel Castro, including the chief of the troops, turned tail
and left the field to the civilians. Those Colonels, some of whom were
stations at the USSR embassy on this island, and others, wandering the
mountains and the city, were detained by US forces.
The Cuban military were cowards for not confronting the big boss and
telling him that they weren't willing to commit suicide as they were
being asked to do, and much less demand that others do it. And they were
traitors for allowing those inexpert builders to do it. They should
never have asked someone to fight. This was not their battle, and what's
more, incredibly unequal. They were asked to immolate themselves, and in
whose name? By whom and for what?
While our soldiers were fleeing the news was alienating. The disgrace
that was happening was also oversized, huge and fallacious. The last
thing they put in the mouth of a brilliant figure on Cuban radio and
television was that Cubans, defending their last redoubt, had offered
their lives, embracing the Cuban flag.
What really happened in Granada is know only to the Cubans who returned
with their lives from there, and they are the only ones who know the US
military committed with the Cuban officials. Speaking correctly, they
are not the only ones who know what happened, the international press
played up the Cuban disgrace.
Because in Cuba it is taboo to talk about Granada, it has not been
possible to get figures or data of any kind, I have only written what I
remember. I don't want to resort to foreign data.
There is no mention of Granada because, more than what is said, it was
the greatest blunder, among all the orders, of the now deceased comrade
Fidel, then Commander-in-Chief.
Also, the position and honor of a man, the head of the Cuban "troops,"
has come to be talked of and he is compared with the Bronze Titan:
"Emulator of Maceo." What a crime and how embarrassing!
In Granada, Fidel suffered his hardest, saddest and most sobering
defeat. But those who really suffered and felt it were the people of
Cuba, and particularly the families of those who uselessly gave their
lives and shed their blood in the land of others.
When will anyone ask forgiveness, publicly, to the mothers, wives and
children of the martyrs of Granada? When will the people of Cuba get an
explanation for such decisions. For the martyrs of Granada, there has
been no minute of silence, only suspicion and slyness, that has lasted
for more than thirty years.
Source: Granada, 1983, the Hidden Cuban Martyrology / Somos+, Pedro
Acosta – Translating Cuba -