Grenada's rulers seek to consolidate control, Marines sail toward island

By NICK MADIGAN  |  October 21 1983
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BRIDGETOWN, Barbados, Oct. 21, 1983 (UPI) - Grenada's new military rulers sought to consolidate control Friday as 1,900 Marines steamed toward the Cuban-backed island following a week-old coup that left as many as 15 people dead.

The 16-man ruling Revolutionary Military Council lifted a curfew for four hours to allow the island's 110,000 people to buy food and said none of the 1,000 Americans in the Caribbean nation was harmed during the fighting.

''Not one American citizen has been harmed, neither has any other foreign citizen in Grenada been harmed in any way,'' a spokesman for the military said, branding as ''lies'' State Department concerns for Americans' safety.

The spokesman said the military ''will not tolerate any such lies being used as a pretext for a military landing in Grenada.''

In Washington, Pentagon sources said a 10-ship task force carrying 1,900 Marines in the eastern Caribbean was headed toward Grenada to signal to the new Marxist rulers that the United States was ''concerned for the safety of U.S. citizens.''

''There are not going to be any landings or anything like that,'' one source said. ''This is not to be construed as a provocative act.''

Several Caribbean leaders, led by Prime Minister Milton Cato of St. Vincent, said they were ''alarmed and surprised'' by the movement of the U.S. flotilla, but others said the sending of Marines to the area was natural.

''I fully understand and expect that they should do that,'' said Deputy Prime Minister Lester Bird of Antigua. ''They would be remiss if they did not.''

Army troops on the Marxist-led nation 90 miles north of Venezuela broke up crowds during the curfew and took up posts with ''rifles at the ready'' at strategic points in the capital, St. George's, according to one foreigner.

''They were obviously alert and ready for trouble at any moment,'' the foreigner said.

At least 15 people -- including Prime Minister Maurice Bishop, three Cabinet ministers, two union leaders and four soldiers -- were killed in a shootout Wednesday at army headquarters, sources said.

Some witnesses said Bishop was executed after he surrendered to army troops supporting a more radical Marxist, Deputy Prime Minister Bernard Coard, the apparent leader of the coup within the ruling New Jewel Movement.

The State Department advised Americans to avoid travel to the island until the situation was ''clarified.'' It said all of the 1,000 U.S. citizens in Grenada were believed to be safe and apparently were not the target of any violence.

Cuba denounced the ''savage'' killing of Bishop and said ''the guilty deserve an exemplary punishment.''

U.S. officials have accused Cuba of involvement in the overthrow of Bishop, who accepted Cuban economic aid and was so close to Havana that he became known as the ''black Fidel Castro.'

At least three private citizens have been arrested including Grenadian journalist Alister Hughes, his businessman brother and Coca Cola plant manager Tony Rupert. Their fates were not known.

Caribbean leaders flew to Trinidad in preparation for a weekend emergency heads of government meeting of the Caribbean Community, a grouping of 13 former British colonies, to discuss sanctions against Grenada.

Jamaican Prime Minister Edward Seaga canceled diplomatic and trade relations with Grenada and called for Grenada's expulsion from the group, which is essential to the island's economy.

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