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Grenada UN vote shows island leans toward Soviets

When the United Nations General Assembly voted 104 to 18 to "strongly deplore" the Soviet intervention in Afghanistan, two of the countries voting against the resolution were Caribbean islands.

One, naturally, was Cuba, the Soviet Union's longtime Western Hemisphere ally.

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The other was Grenada, a small island near the coast of South America, which in recent months has been edging more and more into the shadow of Cuba. Grenada had been expected to vote either in favor of the resolution condemning the Soviet action in Afghanistan or, at least, to abstain on the issue.

With its support of the Soviet Union, the island renowned for its nutmeg is seen by Caribbean observers as having fallen definitely into the Soviet orbit.

The implications of this move on the rest of the Caribbean islands are many.

Grenada in 1974 led the Windward and Leeward Islands into independence from Britain -- and Dominica, St. Lucia, and St. Vincent and the Grenadines have followed in the years since. Antigua, St. Kitts, and Nevis are to follow suit this year.

In its first five years of independence, Grenada was ruled by Prime Minister Sir Eric M. Gairy, a somewhat erratic figure who believes in flying saucers and extraterrestrial visions. Some said his rule was dictatorial, a charge that helped the left-leaning New Jewel Movement, headed by lawyer Maurice Bishop, to seize power in March of 1979.

Since that coup d'etat, Grenada has moved steadily leftward. Contacts with Cuba have increased and those with the Soviet Union have begun. For instance, in December, a three-member Soviet trade delegation spent a week on the island, discussing two-way trade and the possibility of Soviet technical and economic assistance to the country.

Observers close to the talks said the Soviets were particulary interested in obtaining Grenadan nutmeg, cocoa, and bananas in exchange for Soviet armored vehicles, which the British have refused to supply the new government.

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More than 250 Cubans are on Grenada at the moment, the majority of them construction workers helping to rebuild Pearls Airport on the island.

But of equal interest to Carribbean observers have been the leftist pressures on St. Lucia and St. Vincent and the Grenadines.

On St. Lucia, Prime Minister Alan Louisy, a moderate, has refused to step down as head of government and allow his deputy, left-leaning George Odlum, to take over. Mr. Louisy says that Mr. Odlum has met with Grenada's Prime Minister Bishop and that the deputy Prime Minister sent 12 St. Lucians to Grenada for military training.

Meanwhile, St. Vincent and the Grenadines is still recovering from a December rebellion on Union Island that had leftist overtones.


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