September 25, 2007

ON JUNE 23, U.S. POLITICAL OFFICER JOHN Butler was shot to death in Grenada's police headquarters. Also gunned down was Grenada Police Commissioner Cosmus Raymond. The alleged assailant, St. Vincent police official Grafton Bascombe, died almost immediately in Grenadian police custody from "cardiac arrest." Butler reportedly was at police headquarters to investigate alleged irregularities in the handling of financial compensation to the region's governments for participating in U.S.-sponsored military maneuvers. Eight days before he died, tourists were awakened from their plush hotel beds by U.S. C-130 transport planes roaring over Grand Anse Beach. U.S. helicopters were ferrying troops and supplies from a warship anchored off Quarantine Point in what resembled a re-enactment of the botched "surgical strike" that began the 1983 invasion. Such military exercises have been held in the region annually ever since the 1981 trial run (practiced on Puerto Rico) for the invasion of Grenada. Frequently the games involve forces from Jamaica, Great Britain, Puerto Rico, and member nations of the Organization of Eastern Caribbean States. Even as AID funds dry up, military money remains plentiful. The United States has sponsored a "Regional Security Force" and placed Special Service Units (SSUs), U.S.-trained paramilitary forces, in Eastern Caribbean police forces. They are mobilized for anti-marijuana raids, as well as in times of domestic political tension. SSUs were sent from neighboring islands to Grenada when the verdict in the trial of those accused of killing Maurice Bishop was to be announced. And in Dominica, the local SSU was called out during a 1987 dispute over land rights between the Charles government and the indigenous Garifuna (Carib) people. One Dominican voiced a prevalent suspicion: "The SSUs were set up to have an allegiance to the United States over and above their loyalty to our own countries."

Tags: Grenada, police, military aid

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