On this day in Caribbean history, October 20, 1983, Grenada’s Prime Minister, Maurice Bishop was murdered.

The commander, Gen. Hudson Austin, said on the state-run Radio Free Grenada that a ”revolutionary and military council” had been formed and that any Grenadians found on the street would be ”shot on sight.”

Mr. Bishop had been put under house arrest a week ago, but was freed by a throng of his supporters today and went to the Fort Rupert army headquarters, where some of his supporters were being held.

General Austin, a member of the Central Committee of the New Jewel Movement that brought Mr. Bishop to power in a 1979 coup, said three other members of Mr. Bishop’s Cabinet, a union leader and another man also had been killed. He said that ”many others” were shot and that two soldiers lost their lives.

Bishop was born in Aruba to Grenadian parents, Rupert and Alimenta Bishop, and migrated with his parents to Grenada in 1950, when he was six years old. He was a pupil at Wesley Hall Primary School and after a year moved to St. George’s Roman Catholic Primary School, from where he went on scholarship to the Roman Catholic Presentation College. In high school, he won the Principal’s Gold Medal for outstanding academic and general all-round ability. Leaving school in 1963, Bishop worked briefly as a civil servant at the Government Registry, before going to London to study law. He attended Gray’s Inn and earned his law degree from the London School of Economics, University of London. He began post-graduate studies at King’s College London but left this prior to being called to the bar in 1969, he practiced law in the UK for two years, co-founding a legal aid clinic and developing his interest in campaigns against racial discrimination, especially against West Indians in England.

Returning to Grenada, he became active in politics. In 1973, he became head of the Marxist New Jewel Movement (NJM) political party. He was elected to parliament, and for several years he held the position of leader of the opposition in the Grenadian House of Representatives, opposing the government of Prime Minister Eric Gairy and his Grenada United Labour Party (GULP).


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