War and Conflict


What happened in Grenada?

On October 24, 1983, about 3,000 U.S. Marines and U.S. Army rangers landed on the Caribbean island. The number included about 300 military personnel from neighboring Antigua, Barbados, Dominica, Jamaica, St. Kitts-Nevis, St. Lucia, and St. Vincent. The arrival followed the October 12 through 19 coup in which Prime Minister Maurice Bishop (1943–1983) was overthrown and killed by a hard-line Marxist military council headed by General Hudson Austin.

While the United Nations and friends of the United States condemned President Ronald Reagan (1911–2004) for the action, American troops detained General Austin and restored order on the island. Governor-general Sir Paul Scoon (1935–) formed an interim government to prepare for elections. Most of the U.S. military presence was withdrawn by December 1983, with nominal forces remaining on the island through most of 1985.

President Reagan justified the tactic by citing that the coup had put in danger American students on the island, but prevailing political conditions on tiny Grenada were more likely to have inspired the show of force: Increasingly stronger ties between Grenada and Cuba had made many American officials nervous; they feared the island would be used as a way-station for shipping Soviet and Cuban arms to Central America.


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