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Identifier
Created
Classification
Origin
06BRIDGETOWN1258
2006-07-18 20:21:00
CONFIDENTIAL
Embassy Bridgetown
Cable title:  

GRENADA OPPOSITION TO U.S.: WE ARE NOT A THREAT

Tags:   PGOV  PHUM  PINR  PREL  KDEM  GJ  XL 
pdf how-to read a cable
VZCZCXYZ0013
PP RUEHWEB

DE RUEHWN #1258/01 1992021
ZNY CCCCC ZZH
P 182021Z JUL 06
FM AMEMBASSY BRIDGETOWN
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC PRIORITY 2952
INFO RUCNCOM/EC CARICOM COLLECTIVE
RUMIAAA/HQ USSOUTHCOM J2 MIAMI FL
RUMIAAA/HQ USSOUTHCOM J5 MIAMI FL
RUEHCV/USDAO CARACAS VE
						C O N F I D E N T I A L BRIDGETOWN 001258 

SIPDIS

SIPDIS

SOUTHCOM ALSO FOR POLAD

E.O. 12958: DECL: 07/17/2016
TAGS: PGOV PHUM PINR PREL KDEM GJ XL
SUBJECT: GRENADA OPPOSITION TO U.S.: WE ARE NOT A THREAT

REF: A. BRIDGETOWN 429

B. GRENADA 23

C. BRIDGETOWN 294

Classified By: Poloff Michael Kelleher for reasons 1.4 (b) and (d).



1. (C) Summary: The leadership of Grenada's opposition
National Democratic Congress (NDC) is anxious that the USG
understand the party is not led by unreconstructed communists
who want to turn the country sharply to the left. The
opposition leaders, several of whom were members of the
People's Revolutionary Government that ruled Grenada from
1979 to 1983, wish to keep open a line of communication that
will help the USG recognize that the NDC is not a threat to
democracy in Grenada. They are concerned that the USG has
been influenced by the rhetoric of Prime Minister Keith
Mitchell, who often warns that opposition leaders have not
disavowed their past and are intent upon somehow taking power
through undemocratic means. Several NDC leaders fear that
the USG could even attempt to prop up Mitchell's Government
in order to prevent their winning the next election. Such
anxiety demonstrates the high level of influence PM Mitchell
is thought to have in the U.S., as well as the degree to
which the former Marxist revolutionaries in the NDC remain
influenced by Cold War era thinking. End summary.



--------------------------


We Are Not a Threat


--------------------------





2. (C) The opposition National Democratic Congress (NDC) is
committed to democracy in Grenada and has not been hijacked
by the former communist revolutionaries in its ranks. This
is the message from Opposition Leader Tillman Thomas and NDC
Parliamentarian Peter David, who hope to dispel the effect of
the harsh rhetoric typically used by Grenada PM Keith
Mitchell and members of his Government to tar the NDC as a
threat to democracy (ref C). Convinced that the PM may have
created a negative view of the NDC among Washington
policymakers, the party leadership hopes to keep open a line
of communication with the USG through Emboffs and would like
to visit the U.S. during the coming year.



--------------------------


Would the U.S. Keep Us Out of Power?


--------------------------





3. (C) Opposition Parliamentarian Peter David expressed to
Poloff his worry that the USG would be uneasy about a NDC
election victory. Such an outcome in the nation's next
election, which is due by 2008, would see Grenada join
Dominica, St. Lucia, and St. Vincent and the Grenadines in a
Caribbean sub-region of left-leaning governments. While
these are admittedly small countries, David asked if the USG
might view such a development with alarm considering the
apparent move to the left in Latin America. In order to
prevent such an occurrence, David wondered aloud if outside
forces might financially assist PM Keith Mitchell's ruling

New National Party (NNP).



--------------------------


A Disillusioned Leftist


--------------------------





4. (C) Peter David described himself to Poloff as a
"disillusioned leftist" who has lost his taste for
revolution. While retaining a somewhat socialist political
philosophy and a degree of nostalgia for the heady days of
revolution in Grenada, David admits to having accepted the
reality of contemporary Grenada and said that the NDC would
work with the private sector to develop the economy by
expanding tourism and diversifying agriculture. He appears
to have respect for party leader Tillman Thomas, who David
believes is a man of principle willing to be held in a
People's Revolutionary Government (PRG) jail for over two
years during Grenada's revolutionary period in order to
uphold his beliefs. David described Thomas as
"incorruptible" in comparison to PM Mitchell, who many NDC
supporters believe is a political opportunist lacking in core
principles.



--------------------------


PM Called an Opportunist and Hypocrite


--------------------------





5. (C) To illustrate PM Mitchell's opportunism, several
knowledgeable observers told Poloff how in 1979 the future PM
was responsible for sending weapons from the U.S. to Grenada,
where they were used in the coup that brought the PRG to
power. Mitchell was bitterly disappointed when the PRG
failed to name him its Ambassador to the U.S., and then
turned on his former comrades to become one of the communist
regime's harshest detractors. This account of events could
not be confirmed but is believed in Grenada and frequently
used to lend credence to the hypocrisy behind the PM's
frequent warnings regarding the former PRG members in the
opposition.



--------------------------


Revolutionaries Pulling the Strings


--------------------------





6. (C) Critics of the NDC contend that party leader Tillman
Thomas is a puppet whose strings are pulled by a handful of
former PRG members that actually lead the party. Thomas,
however, denies that these individuals govern the party while
acknowledging their importance. The Opposition Leader
explained to Poloff how he invited several individuals,
including former PRG members and current MPs Peter David and
Nazim Burke, to join the NDC in the 1990s when the party's
political fortunes were poor. Thomas hoped that their energy
and intelligence would help reinvigorate the NDC, which it
appears they did. The NDC went from being completely shut
out of Parliament in the 1999 election to coming just a few
votes short of winning in 2003. Today, NDC Parliamentarian
Peter David is considered by many to be the most popular
political figure in Grenada.



--------------------------


The Political Prisoner and His Jailer


--------------------------





7. (C) Tillman Thomas and Peter David are the oddest of
political couples. Thomas is a former political prisoner
jailed by the PRG for starting an independent newspaper;
David is a former PRG member who remained in the Government
even after the 1983 assassination of Prime Minister Maurice
Bishop, the event that spurred the U.S. intervention. David
is a charismatic figure, a populist politician constantly out
in the streets of his constituency pressing the flesh. With
his shaved head and scruffy beard, the 49-year-old David
stands in sharp contrast to the 59-year-old Thomas, debonair
in a suit and neatly trimmed gray mustache. Reserved and
soft-spoken, Thomas presents a dignified character compared
to the fast-talking David.



8. (C) In Grenada's next election, Tillman Thomas will
present the statesmanlike face of the NDC, offering an
alternative to PM Keith Mitchell. Peter David's popularity,
however, makes him the bigger threat to the ruling New
National Party (NNP). In an attempt to neutralize David, the
Government has taken legal action to have him removed from
Parliament for having dual Canadian-Grenadian citizenship.
The matter is currently being argued in court (ref B).



--------------------------


Opposition May Win the Next Election


--------------------------





9. (C) The NDC could win the next election, according to
several political observers. The nation has had 11 years of
Keith Mitchell, during which Grenada has seen him go from a
shining light to a corrupt politician (ref A), in the opinion
of many. Even Mitchell's own Minister of State for National
Security, Einstein Louison, admitted to Poloff that the
Government has had a bit of a problem with corruption but
hastened to add that this is being brought under control.
Corruption, and the nation's weak economy, are sure to be key
issues that could help the NDC in the next election. The
problem for the opposition is a lack of campaign funds,
according to party leaders Thomas and David.



--------------------------


Comment


--------------------------





10. (C) The Grenada opposition's fear that the USG may view
it as too leftist, perhaps even as a threat to stability,
appears to come from an exaggerated perception of Keith
Mitchell's influence. The PM has been successful in
frightening some Grenadians with his warnings about the
former Marxist revolutionaries in the NDC, a tactic he has
used to great effect during elections. Opposition leaders
believe that the PM may have had similar success in scaring
the USG, when, in reality, Mitchell's PRG bogeymen and coup
d'etat rantings have had the effect of making him appear a
less than reliable interlocutor.



11. (C) Despite the PM's attempt to paint the opposition as
beholden to a cabal of extremists, the NDC has been
successful in presenting itself as a credible alternative to
the ruling party. The efforts of the opposition leadership
have been largely responsible for this result, although they
have received considerable assistance from a PM who, by both
the appearance and the real possibility of being corrupt, has
done a great deal of damage to the image of the ruling party
and himself.
KRAMER