Grenadians welcome US troops and aid
St. George's, Grenada
For the moment, as one observer of the local scene stated, ''Grenada is having a love affair with the United States.'' The average Grenadian seems genuinely relieved to have been saved from the doubtful future offered him by Bernard Coard and the Revolutionary Council. He also is gleefully anticipating the new economic well-being he hopes will result from the American-led invasion. (US officials Wednesday announced a $3 million financial aid program to Grenada, which will initially be targeted toward repairing island roads and the water system.)
Even the nurses and inmates at the mental hospital accidentally bombed by US armed forces seem to be less interested in talking about the attack than in discussing the beautiful new asylum that they are confident the US will build.
With hoards of foreign reporters combing the island for dissent, the picture emerging at the end of the day when journalists gather to compare notes is that although some Grenadians have reservations about the intervention, the substantial majority of islanders supported it.
Some observers, however, wonder how long this blissful state will last. One North American teacher who has lived on the island for a year says, ''People are jubilant now about the invasion, but I wonder how much of this isn't based on unreasonably high expectations.
''The Grenadians I speak to seem to expect that the US will not only continue all the projects on the island begun by the East bloc countries but also substantially increase the wages of the projects' workers. Won't these exaggerated hopes inevitably lead to frustration?''
Perhaps not. US officials in Barbados estimate that Grenada will receive $10 -to-20 million a year in economic aid from the US alone. If some of the West European countries and international organizations continue the assistance they gave before Prime Minister Maurice Bishop was overthrown and killed, Grenada might find itself receiving even more money than it got under Bishop. (Grenada received $20 million a year in foreign assistance when Bishop was in power.)
On the other hand, Grenadians' ''love affair'' might end in disillusionment if final aid appropriations from Congress are closer to $10 million than to $20 million and if some of the socialist-oriented West European countries decide to reduce their aid out of disapproval of the US intervention.
Some islanders, however, already express mixed feelings about the US-led invasion. Many express surprise at the scale of the intervention.
One young island woman who had supported Bishop said, ''People didn't like the military council, and there was a sort of release when the invasion came. But no one expected them to come in with so much firepower. Some people expected the invasion, but not like that.''
Some Grenadians were particularly surprised by the American aerial bombardment of the mental hospital area (located next to the Grenadian police and army stronghold of Ft. George) and bombardments in the Grand Anse area near the Grenadian television and radio stations. Some observers say some government ministries were also hit.
A young woman from St. Kitts, married to a Grenadian, sat on her balcony saying, ''Grenadian have gone through a traumatic experience. Some people haven't slept since the Wednesday when Bishop was killed - I spent the first two days of the invasion last week under the bed with my baby.''
Although relieved, many Grenadians have not yet assimilated what has happened to them. In less than three weeks, they witnessed Vice-Minister Coard's anti-Bishop coup, several days of turmoil and mass pro-Bishop demonstrations; the exhilaration of Bishop's liberation from house arrest, the brutality of a the massacre of Bishop and several aides and other Grenadians, a week of curfew and arrests under the military government, and finally a foreign invasion.
The trauma is felt especially by the young, for many of them were Bishop's strongest supporters. They had the greatest emotional investment in his regime, and they seem to be most concerned over Grenada's future.
One young Bishop supporter, a woman working for the government telecommunications office, said, ''People are glad for the invasion - but they are still concerned. Educated people and uneducated people, they all have their concerns. The uneducated divide into two groups, those who are joyous about the invasion, and those who are relieved but concerned about where they are heading.
''They are concerned about jobs, lots of them worked for the government, lots of them worked for places that were bombed or taken over like the radio and TV stations, or the Grenada Beach Hotel.
''Everyone,'' she continued, ''is concerned about leadership. Who will lead us after Bishop? The people I talked to are not in favor of the Revolutionary Council, and do not wish for return of Gairy. (Bishop instigated a coup that ousted Eric Gairy as prime minister.) Some of them find that colonial rule under Scoon (the governor-general) would be a step back. At present there are no serious political parties.''
She went on to say that some Grenadians worried that many of the positive social changes initiated by Bishop would not be kept. ''Will there still be free education in schools? Will there still be aid to buy uniforms and books?'' she said.
A young electrical worker repairing a street lamp was asked, while watching American helicopters flying overhead, what he thought about all this. He said, ''Fine, very good - I'm very happy.''
When asked what he wanted for Grenada's future, he said, ''I want us to be under American rule, then we'll be safe.'' He went on to say he was a fervent Bishop supporter. ''Bishop was a fine man.''
In addition to wiping out pockets of resistance, the intervention forces have also been picking up some Coard supporters. Among others they have detained are Coard's executive secretary, Lana Macfield, who was arrested along with her brother, Donald. Macfield had been second secretary in the Grenadian Embassy in Cuba. Reports say that detainees are being interrogated by Jamaican and American intervention troops at Ft. George.
There is still some scattered fighting in the countryside and there was some sniping in the outskirts of St. George's. Wednesday morning two local schools were evacuated after they received bomb threats. Some Grenadians believe such threats will soon end. Others foresee that ''troublemakers'' could continue isolated terrorist activity for a long time.
In the meantime, Governor-General Scoon called on all Grenadians to turn their arms in by Nov. 4. The number of people who comply might give a clearer picture of how long it will be until peace returns to the island.