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Educational Development in Post-Invasion Grenada

by Robert G. Zakula, MA

Grenada, a small nation in the Eastern Caribbean, was caught up in the Cold War. From 1979-83, the People’s Revolutionary Government (PRG), led by Prime Minister Maurice Bishop, attempted a socialist transformation of Grenada. On the one hand, the PRG made progress in social services through state-led programs, most importantly health and education. On the other, the state committed human rights abuses and repressed political freedoms. Over these four years, the island’s revolution was jeopardized by the PRG’s relations with other socialist states, like Cuba and the Soviet Union. The island was in the United States’ “backyard” as well. On October 19, 1983, in a coup led by PRG hard-liners, Bishop, his civilian supporters, and several cabinet members were massacred. The U.S. saw in Grenada an opportunity to win a small victory in the Third World, and more so in Latin America. On October 25, President Ronald Reagan ordered a military operation to “rescue” American medical students and to establish a democratic government.1 By some estimates, around 90% of Grenadians welcomed the invasion and supported a transition to democracy.2

Many historians assume that U.S.-Grenada relations declined after the invasion or ignore this period altogether. Despite relative scholarly neglect, this study hopes to fill the historiographical gap on U.S.-Grenada relations after 1983 by examining America’s influence through narrow, localized development on the island. This study argues that the U.S. used its “soft” power of foreign aid to work with Grenada in creating a consenting relationship to achieve progress based on an American model of development, which had mixed successes and unintended consequences. As the cornerstone of U.S. foreign policy, overarching goals were to improve and modernize Grenada through democratic politics and a western-style free market system, but also to show that social development was more effectively accomplished through private entities rather than top-down, state-led efforts. This process directly shaped the island’s infrastructure. On the whole, post-invasion investments from the U.S. government were estimated at $120 million or more.3 Private contributions provided further additional funds to the project.

Although the U.S. assisted Grenada on multiple areas within its society, this article specifically examines Grenada’s experience with post-invasion education development. It addresses particular actions to undo the revolution and the Grenada government’s limited alternatives. More so, U.S. initiatives, both government and private, are an incredibly important focus. The United States Agency for International Development (USAID), the Peace Corps, corporations, non-governmental organizations (NGOs), and non-profits played a major role in attempting to shape the island’s education sector along American lines. Most education programs were positive. Some of the most successful ones were implemented by private organizations and development workers who operated on the ground alongside the islanders. Their work improved learning environments, school conditions, literacy, and teacher training. As a result, many Grenadians became attracted to the American model of social development. In the short term, this model worked. But when U.S. funding ended, some programs became unsustainable. The results were quite ironic—American altruism and the desire to institute self-reliance left a small nation with some untenable policies and furthered its dependency after the Cold War ended. Thus, the island essentially relied on external assistance for numerous objectives in education.

Within the international dynamics of the Cold War, Grenada’s post-invasion relationship with the U.S. mirrored many aspects of other developing nations, willing to accept assistance in support of the global crusade against communism. However, within the by and large unpleasant history of American policy toward Latin American and the Caribbean, the Grenadian experience was inconsistent and a unique story of cooperation. While some Latin American nations pledged support, many were undemocratic—hardly models the U.S. could point to in terms of accomplishments. The Reagan administration’s inconsistencies toward the region were characterized by its perilous decisions to fund the Contra war against the Sandinistas in Nicaragua and prolong pyrrhic civil wars in El Salvador and Guatemala.4 In contrast, the majority of Grenadians openly welcomed the American presence, and they had the agency to go along with the suggested development programs. American officials saw Grenada as a model for modernization for other developing nations and determined success by the effectiveness of the projects on the island itself, if Grenadians bought into them, and whether this development influenced Grenada’s neighbors. Yet, the Grenadian model never extended beyond the confines of the Eastern Caribbean. Some surrounding islands were attracted to the post-invasion development scheme, but this was limited. Notwithstanding the drawbacks with some modernization programs, the majority of successes stayed on Grenada.


Following the U.S. intervention, the interim government carried out particular actions to undo the revolution and ended or reduced funding of particular PRG programs in public education. Post-invasion officials were in line with American goals and saw the PRG’s education policies as projecting and enforcing a socialist political and ideological agenda. Cuts were also made for budgetary reasons. On a whole, spending on education was lower than under the PRG. Officials continued free milk and lunches policies, but only for impoverished students. Complimentary school uniforms were provided under the same conditions. Adult literacy also suffered a severe reduction in funding. The Centre for Popular Education, which stressed a socialist message, was renamed Adult Continuing Education. In all, most government-funded public education programs were decreased or discontinued, while the number of private and religious schools increased.5

In addition to the reduction in state-supported programs, the interim government embarked on an unofficial campaign to remove any trace of socialism within the island’s society, especially in the educational sector. While the government’s appointed Advisory Council members never declared or instituted a wholesale program to get rid of Grenadian radicals and communists, they targeted people and materials in schools and public spaces. As former revolutionary and agricultural analyst Ferron Lowe asserts, “They were trying to wipe out that phase of history [the revolution] from our heads.”6 Throughout 1983 and 1984, the interim government destroyed communist records and literature. Foreign teachers, most of whom were Cuban, were sent home. The government also reinstated head school teachers who had been removed or left the island during the revolution. Under the PRG, many of these teachers, based on Christian beliefs or anti-Communism, refused to teach Marxist-Leninist doctrine and to integrate political education into classroom instruction.7

Suspicions of communist infiltration into Grenada’s schools and society continued during the administration of Herbert Blaize, who became Prime Minister in the first post-invasion election. In October 1988, customs authorities seized four cartons of progressive and radical literature from an American visitor, a labor unionist, who was supposedly associated with the Socialist Workers Congress. U.S. citizens called and complained about the lack of civil liberties to the Grenada police commissioner.8  In the following year, Blaize passed an order that officially banned eighty-six books on the island. A number of books were declared threats to the people because the authors espoused “foreign ideologies.”9 Among the banned books were speeches by Fidel Castro, biographies of Malcolm X, and academic works on U.S. interventionism. In fact, some of the books had been used for university-level instruction in Grenada and at the University of the West Indies, which served the English-speaking Caribbean. The literature was systematically removed from library shelves and bookstores. Sometimes the government sought and seized people’s personal collections. Grenadians and tourists alike had books taken at the airport or rejected from importation. The book ban resulted in a number of regional and international protests over how the Grenada Government handled political and social freedoms.10

Even though the majority of Grenadians welcomed the transition to democracy, Grenadian officials felt that, if educational and social restrictions were not in place, another socialist revolution could happen. Therefore, Grenada’s post-invasion governments believed it was necessary to rid the island of any far-left or communist-leaning thought and academic works that tested the new state. Officials believed they were appeasing the American cohort, but doing so actually agitated some Grenadian, American, and other foreign nationals. They saw it as a counterproductive measure in terms of educational development, because information should have been open and available for use even if they disagreed with it. The Grenadian state actions against academe like the book ban illustrated the violation of liberties that western democracy was supposed to uphold.


Many Grenadians were concerned about youth and young adults who had dropped out of school or joined the militia during the revolution. In mid-1984 various island churches created the New Life Organization (NEWLO), a two-year program that integrated these Grenadians back into society. Islanders were devout, so many people were supportive of this program. Church leaders taught courses on social and spiritual growth as well as job skills. Training included fields in artisanry, masonry, plumbing, and electrical wiring, among others. In addition to Grenadian church leaders, the Peace Corps, a U.S. government volunteer agency committed to development, assisted with NEWLO. However, Peace Corps members were tacitly involved in the religious-affiliated reintegration program. Other than NEWLO, most Peace Corps volunteers taught language arts, mathematics, and science in the island’s schools. According to Former Governor General Paul Scoon, they were noticeable American figures in classrooms and were vastly appreciated by Grenadian teachers and students. Others worked in libraries, museums, agricultural offices, and health services, openly working alongside Grenadians.11

Throughout the mid-to-late eighties, Grenada saw a substantial increase of American volunteers, as dozens were sent to the island to assist. Regarding the Peace Corps, the post-invasion Minister of Education, George McGuire, stated “We always welcome the Peace Corps volunteers here in Grenada. There’s always a role for the people with a missionary zeal to work [and] to support the initiatives of the government.”12 Winston Whyte, an entrepreneur and former political prisoner under the PRG, added that the Peace Corps “fit[s] into disciplines that we need” and volunteers “live where they teach and people love them.”13 In spite of limited Peace Corps involvement, to many Grenadians, NEWLO was seen as a success and served two purposes. The organization gave a second chance to the younger generation and showed them how to be responsible, caring citizens. It also discouraged socialist thought and realigned young people along Grenada’s social conservatism and Christian values.14

Similar to NEWLO, the Blaize administration created the Youth Skills Training Project (YSTP). Since the government’s policy was to educate students to enter the workforce, teachers and government employees trained over fifteen hundred school dropouts. However, the Grenadian state supported the training primarily because they believed a young workforce would be appealing to U.S. businesses. According to De Grauwe, the YSTP “planned to train…school leavers in two years, primarily for employment in American factories to be set up in Grenada.”15 In spite of Grenadian hopes for foreign investment, however, most U.S. businesses did not invest in the island nor did they employ Grenadians. Scoon explained,

“The expectations of Grenadians soared high. They could see a great influx of American investors. They dreamt of intense economic activity with a number of small-scale industries, increasing employment opportunities and a buoyant economy. Needless to say they failed to see the transformation of their dreams into reality.”16

Yet, the YSTP worked temporarily because it placed eleven hundred students in jobs.17 While the YSTP succeeded in training dropouts, technical training remained extremely low. The government was concerned about increasing a workforce in order to decrease the high unemployment rate, as well as to appeal to American foreign investment from corporations. The latter never reached the island, and unemployment remained relatively high throughout the late eighties. The job cuts in the public sector, a major employer under the PRG, contributed to this. Unemployment statistics in the post-invasion years were between 30-40%, compared to the PRG’s estimate of fourteen percent.18 Accordingly, the YSTP was not a sustainable long-term model for the island’s workforce.

Higher Education

In contrast to some of the government’s anti-socialist measures in public education, officials allowed some flexibility in university-level education. During the revolution, many young Grenadians were provided with university scholarships from the Castro regime to study medicine in Cuba. Some Cuban-trained Grenadian doctors, like Terrence Marryshow, publicly spoke out against the post-invasion governments’ anti-socialist measures. The government did not want to employ individuals who were critical of their policies and banned them from practicing medicine for a few years after the invasion.19 On the other hand, at the discretion of the Grenada government, students who wanted to continue studies in Cuba could do so. This was decided upon despite the fact that the U.S. mandated Grenada cut formal diplomatic relations with Cuba. Grenadian medical students who wanted to return to Grenada were integrated into a nominally state-run health system that emphasized privatized care, as advised by the U.S.20 In addition, St. George’s University, an American-owned medical institution on the island that Reagan justified for intervention, re-opened its doors to Grenadian students in the post-invasion years. Lloyd Noel, former PRG political prisoner and outspoken lawyer during the post-invasion period, candidly remarked “The biggest thing in the Caribbean as a U.S. financial interest is St. George’s University.”21 The effects of this education restructuring and medical training later influenced plans to privatize health care.

In addition to medical studies, other forms of university-level education were in popular demand, although these were non-existent at the time. An American corporate consultant observed that “[t]he lack of sufficient vocational/technical skills schools and/or business management schools inhibits the ability of the local populace to support increased investment.”22 Because Grenadians felt a need for some type of university system on the island and hoped to train the population for human capital and to attract foreign investors, the Blaize administration founded the Grenada National College (GNC) in 1987. The GNC was a state-funded school that integrated academic, technical, and vocational education. Grenadians considered it to be an institution of national pride.23

In addition, due to the high demand to study outside Grenada, the U.S. established a scholarship program to help university students, matriculated or not at the GNC, study in the States.24 As long as the government aligned with a particular Cold War ideology, Grenadians were rewarded with opportunities to study at the university level throughout the revolution and after the invasion. The Grenada government allowed students to study overseas, regardless of location, because particular types of university education were not available on the island. The GNC solved some of these issues, and perhaps it accomplished what the YSTP could not—degree program offerings and higher wage job training. The GNC was also a sustainable, on-island institution. At the same time, Grenadians depended on modernized nations for much of their university-level education. As shown in these cases, the island during the post-invasion years depended largely on foreign assistance, and most of it came from the U.S. However, economic and social aid, as it was made available, improved educational development in higher education in the short-term.

Pre-Primary Education

Within pre-primary education, the post-invasion government experienced some moderate success, but not without external aid. The Blaize administration saw the need for pre-primary education and proposed to increase the number of preschools. For example, in 1986, Mcguire, the Minister of Education, opened a large pre-primary school and teacher training center in St. George’s. USAID provided funds to renovate the interiors and exteriors of the buildings, while UNICEF supplied monies for building materials and playground equipment.25 Due to budget constraints and the plan’s cost, the government needed outside funding to see the project through. Once again, Grenada relied on international aid to complete projects that were crucial, but this was not bad in itself. The U.S. financed the school because it modernized the island’s education system, provided services that were nonexistent beforehand, and attempted to instill self-reliance through teacher training. The pre-primary school in St. George’s was also one of the few projects that UNICEF contributed to, and it did so out of humanitarian concern. Any United Nations assistance, however, was perhaps limited because of its unanimous disapproval of the U.S. invasion in 1983.

Teacher Training

Despite the success of the pre-primary center, nation-wide teacher training remained problematic, just as it did during the revolution. Over 60% of teachers were untrained or not certified. Due to either ignorance or concerns about the revolution’s socialist-oriented education policies, the post-invasion governments terminated the PRG’s teacher training programs. During the revolution, the National In-Service Teacher Education Program (NISTEP) guaranteed proper certifications for those who completed a two-to-three year program. In addition, the Community School Day Program (CSDP) allowed teachers to train during class time while providing students with skills training, like artisanry.26 A Grenadian official, a former teacher and adviser, said that “a lot of innovative ideas emerged [during the revolution]” and initially supported the PRG’s efforts.27 These programs were creative attempts to achieve proper and efficient teacher training. The interim and Blaize administrations did not have island-wide alternatives to the programs they cut out of the state budget.

Nevertheless, officials claimed that teacher training was a major priority in post-invasion development. Instead of creating a national plan, the Grenada government chose to take part in a U.S. teaching program that instilled democratic values and learning standards. As applied to Grenada, historian Odd Arne Westad explains Third World officials’ desires for an Americanized education plan and why the U.S. willingly accepted their appeals:

“[I]t is not surprising that much work was set to provide a theoretical model of Americanism to rival that of Communism. Both academic and government authorities stressed the need for such a model in education at home and in work abroad. Third World elites…were looking for a new concrete form for their states and societies, and it was the duty of American[s] to produce one.”28

In part, the Ministry of Education requested assistance, but USAID also conducted needs assessments and explained what improvements Grenada had to make. The needs assessment suggested that Grenada’s teacher training was limited and poor and that U.S. developers should help expose teachers to American-style education through personal and professional contacts. During the summer months, Grenadian teachers participated in President Reagan’s Presidential Training Initiative for the Island Caribbean (PTIIC). Grenada was designated one of the first training projects under the initiative, which Reagan announced during his trip to Grenada in 1986.29 Paul White, USAID’s education chief, said the idea “developed out of concern about the large number of people from the Caribbean basin who were being offered scholarships by Communist countries.”30 A consultant for Creative Associates, Inc., an American company that assessed the program, wrote that the “experience was to provide trainees with additional exposure to U.S. educators, education system, and educational resources.”31  The experience was also designed to give trainees an overview of U.S. life, government, and citizenry. Development officials had political motivations to train Grenadians along American lines, but also acted upon their altruism to improve classroom instruction. The U.S. provided that modernization model through the PTIIC.

Roughly sixty-six Grenadians were provided with American-style education and funding to implement learned abilities in the classroom. The Grenadian teachers first trained in St. Thomas, where they felt at ease instructing in an island setting that resembled their own. The teachers, under the guidance of educators from Grambling and Florida State Universities (FSU), then toured schools in the U.S. They gained knowledge in rigorous curriculum and lesson planning and educational psychology. Grenadian teachers then practiced their new skills in U.S. schools and received credit from FSU for completing the program. In addition, they dined and shopped in New York, Philadelphia, and Washington, D.C., including Tyson’s Corner Mall. The Grenadians also visited the United Nations and African-American Institute, where they met ambassadors and learned about Black history. The U.S., Grenadian, and various Caribbean islands published news about the teacher training initiative. The U.S. Information Agency (USIA) distributed reports, radio stations broadcasted updates on the Grenadian experience in U.S. cities, and articles appeared in Grenada’s and surrounding islands’ newspapers, all of which supported the program. Although a small example, officials wanted the world to see what the U.S. was doing to help developing nations.32

The trip exposed the Grenadian teachers to the American lifestyle and education system, and U.S. officials anticipated this would lead to positive developments in Grenada and elsewhere. The U.S. wanted to strengthen ties with Third World citizens, like the Grenadian teachers, through “scholarship diplomacy” and noted that many teachers “generated strong positive responses to the United States.”33 U.S. developers hoped that the initiative encouraged “more extensive and favorable linkage between U.S. citizens and their third-world counterparts.”34 The Creative Associates consultant reflected a view that was typical of other Americanization efforts around the world:

“Through the contacts, the trainees might also become aware of our way of life, our democratic institutions and, especially, the U.S. programs that are education-action oriented. As a consequence, the trainees stand a stronger chance of becoming positive catalysts for the social, economic, and political well-being of the Caribbean Basin.”35

Westad places U.S. education efforts into another international context. He writes, ‘“global development education’ meant teaching the world to open its markets and encourage the growth of local private capital. Development was a matter of choice, and the model was the United States and its free enterprise.”36 U.S. developers and educators shared this model through their exchange program for Grenadian teachers. The teachers not only acquired proper training, skills, and planning, but were also exposed to the supposed benefits of the free market.

Although the post-invasion officials claimed that teacher training was the foremost priority in the social sector, they neglected in practice the island-wide crisis of teacher training. They cut some of the most important programs that attempted to improve it because of associations with the revolution. Instead of creating a solution by and for Grenadians, the government relied on the U.S. to solve the problem. Grenadian officials sought more standards as a result of the U.S. training program. They also wanted to implement a sense of democracy and a capitalist work ethic in classrooms. In return, U.S. officials sought to use Grenadian teachers as envoys for pro-American sentiment. One of the first places to start was the classroom. Grenadian teachers could, in turn, share their experiences, potentially shaping Grenadian students to think positively about their neighbor to the north. Although another short-lived form of aid, to the U.S., the PTIIC was seen as a success in the late Cold War.

Limited Gains

Grenada’s post-invasion governments had obstacles and few successes in their approaches to education. The Blaize administration’s efforts were supposed to be “politically neutral… to help keep the desired status quo.”37 Otherwise, it is obvious that the government’s policies to receive foreign assistance were politically driven by anti-communism. In part, it was to prevent another socialist revolution. Officials also wanted to appease the U.S. and show that the island was doing its part in “cleaning up,” which sometimes violated civil liberties. Many Grenadians were glad to have democracy returned, but some were disillusioned by the actions of their elected officials. Noel commented that pleasing the U.S. was a misguided effort to continue receiving aid.38

Because of the focus on reversing the revolution by cutting or reducing programs and targeting radicalism, the government lacked the foresight to overcome other educational problems that plagued the island. Sometimes officials relied on the U.S. to deal with problems, like teacher training, although it is probably unrealistic to assume that they could develop all education expertise without external support. Due to budget problems, Grenadian officials also needed outside funding for extensive school projects and renovations. Any new education policies were geared towards contributing to the workforce. To De Grauwe, “a climate of calm returned and discipline was restored. On the other hand, this period was characterized by a lack of enthusiasm and commitment.”39 Notwithstanding Grenada’s limited gains with the NEWLO and YSTP programs, pre-primary schools, and the GNC, the post-invasion governments were heavily dependent on foreign aid, marred by impractical implementation and an overall lack of interest in education.

Facilities and Public Space

In addition to the Grenada government’s policies, many of which were reliant on U.S. funding, USAID improved and modernized school facilities. Officials assigned to USAID’s Basic Needs Trust Fund (BNTF) assessed schools around the island’s parishes. They found that the schools had “perennial problems,” such as faulty maintenance, dilapidated buildings, and substantial health concerns. Two examples cited were a roof which had asbestos and a termite-ridden building. The Grenada government, recognizing the dire need to upgrade and improve students’ learning environments, approved of USAID plans to renovate over two dozen schools. Workers replaced roofs, doors, windows, floors, electrical wiring, and waste facilities. They also replaced furniture and painted classrooms. Parents and students saw substantial improvement in school conditions. As a result, enrollment increased, which inadvertently created overcrowding. USAID and community educators did not account for insufficient classroom space, nor was the problem properly addressed. Teachers had to use libraries, garages, and stages for the rise in student numbers.40

The Basic Needs project made numerous schools considerably better and enhanced students’ environments. However, officials and workers used previous enrollment numbers and did not expect a sharp rise in new students. Improving the island’s schools had unplanned consequences, which essentially created new problems in conditions. To Grenadians, high enrollment was a good problem to have, as teachers and students believed the school upgrades and new learning environments were essentially a beneficial project. This type of modernization was a success in low-cost development, though unsustainable due to overcrowding issues.

Furthermore, private businesses worked alongside USAID toward educational development. In the mid-eighties USAID’s Learning Technologies Project (LTP) and the Control Data Corporation (CDC), an American computer firm, wanted to test the practicality of computer-assisted instruction. U.S. development officials and businessmen saw an opportunity to use Grenada as a model for social services with integrated technology. Both groups believed technology could positively affect student learning and boost the market for education-related computer sales in the Caribbean. The Ministry of Education allowed the CDC to operate in Crochu, a small, rural village. A USAID analyst wrote, “the resemblance of Crochu to other Caribbean classrooms made the experiment transferable.”41 Crochu villagers and the parish priest, Father Ed Conlon, viewed the computers as a positive step in community education. The program, however, did run into problems in the first couple of years, such as limited electricity and crashed hard disks. Ants got into some of the hardware and even ate the glue in the keyboards.42

Nonetheless, computers introduced audio and visual learning and improved competency in math and language arts. Illiterate adults also used the computer lab to improve basic skills. A USAID worker wrote, “The results from Crochu would provide an early benchmark of the effects of the computer-assisted instruction on learning in primary schools in developing nations.”43 Even after USAID and corporate funding ended, villagers kept the program running with donations from parents and Father Conlon’s diocese. In less than a decade, however, the computers and materials were defunct. According to development analysts, the program could have shown that educational technology in developing nations was sustainable—at least in the short-run.44 Additionally, by using Crochu as a prospective model for technological and educational modernization, USAID and businesses pushed private sector initiatives to open up new markets in the region.

In addition, numerous American voluntary organizations contributed literature to help development efforts in education. Organizations donated somewhere between 50,000 and 100,000 books, worth millions of dollars, during the post-invasion years. Grenadian newspapers highly publicized two examples. In 1987, the Brother’s Brother Foundation from Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, donated over 10,000 books, for teacher instruction and student activities, to the Ministry of Education. The doctors who ran the organization visited Grenada on a number of occasions.45 In 1990, St. Luke’s Episcopal from Rhode Island shipped over five tons of books. The churchgoers visited Grenada on a few missions throughout the eighties and saw an immediate need to build libraries and fill bookshelves. The donations were expected to increase students’ learning and reading abilities and also influenced a significant government effort to establish libraries in all the parishes on the island.46 Through their altruism, both organizations hoped to improve the island’s social and educational standards, as well as increase public access to learning materials. The book donations exhibited a sense of humanitarianism that was implemented by non-profits and removed from a top-down state policy. These examples demonstrated that some of the most successful kinds of aid were from private entities, whose members understood local problems first-hand and were not necessarily associated with large state initiatives.


During the revolution women’s educational development and rights were highly valued, but in the post-invasion years these were deemphasized and considered secondary. In part this was because there was decreased public spending. Limited funds could not support a large-scale women’s development program. It was also pursued less vigorously because some of the grassroots women’s organizations during the revolution were socialist-oriented. As Marryshow recalled, the National Women’s Organization, which played a significant role in advocating for women during the revolution, was quickly dismantled after the invasion.47 Statutory maternity pay and time off, guaranteed by the revolution’s maternity leave law, was significantly cut back. However, the Ministry of Women’s Affairs remained part of the government. Adult literacy programs stayed open and benefitted both illiterate women and those who pursued continuing education, although funding was significantly reduced.48

Despite the view that women were vital and greatly contributed to Third World development, USAID and the Grenada government paid scant attention to gender issues. Compared to the large sums of assistance for other projects, it is clear that the Grenada government and USAID placed a low priority on women’s development after the invasion. A USAID-funded gender program supports this claim, which was to promote “gender sensitization [and] to improve the position and status of Grenadian women.”49 Various Grenada government offices received a small $12,000 grant. Organized by USAID and Grenadian women officials, the funds were used for various educational workshops around the island. The workshops addressed changing gender roles in Grenada’s society and engaged local communities in discussions about perceptions of male-female relationships.50

Development policy is one thing, course of action another. The limited assistance was perhaps a precaution to prevent radical Grenadian women from gaining political and social momentum. Women had substantial influence and impact during the revolution, but the government essentially stalled or ignored women’s educational development in the post-invasion years. All of these measures were contradictory to what development workers believed—women, as mothers, voters, community volunteers, and entrepreneurs, were fundamental to the advancement of a developing nation. This relates to contributions of women in foreign relations history: If gender was new terrain, women in international development (WID) and the recognition of “local knowledge” were invaluable in understanding both the advancement of women on the global scene and local conditions.51 In Grenada, there was little to none.


Americans had good intentions to implement economic and social aid and improve the general welfare of the island, and many did so through a variety of government and private-sector methods. It also helped that Grenadian officials gave Americans free license to modernize their country. Numerous programs modernized urban and rural schools, improved teacher education, increased literacy and technology, and attempted to reduce village poverty. Because of such projects, many Grenadians were attracted to the American model and had positive responses towards the improvements.

U.S.-led development also had unintended consequences. In addition to Grenadian officials’ own inefficiency and lack of clear policies, the island increased its dependency because of what U.S. policymakers believed the island needed. While the Grenada government offered university education through the GNC, officials saw an influx of American scholarships and students sought to study in the U.S. With regards to such assistance, Westad writes that “in many cases the investment in education seemed not to pay off in terms of economic development, and [many students] returned to low-paid government jobs or to unemployment.”52 Furthermore, Grenadian officials showed an unwillingness to create programs and upgrades for themselves and instead depended on the U.S. for funding and guidance. This was seen in the teacher training agenda, which had a short-lived run. Some projects overlooked potential problems. For instance, increased interest in modernized, renovated schools led to overcrowding and makeshift classrooms. Others failed to notice the importance of women in education and offered little assistance. The Grenadian budget and villagers also could not sustain U.S.-implemented projects after funding ended. Many education policies had flaws and were therefore too dependent on U.S. support.

Through Americanization, the U.S. certainly improved school conditions and instituted programs that affected particular villages, but much of that work ended or became unsustainable when development officials’ obligations were fulfilled and funding was terminated. This situation reflected the notion that while Grenadians hoped to progress through their own efforts, they depended on external sources to bolster their education system. Grenadians realized that their position was caught between a will to pursue education entirely on their own and dependency on external assistance. Many Grenadians believed that their society could progress through further educational development, especially if they could do it themselves. Mirroring the aspirations of much of the Third World, Grenadian consultant Eddie Frederick simply stated, “Education will take us [Grenada] out of poverty.”53 However, the final years of the Cold War in Grenada reflected something else. Former youth revolutionary and Minister of Foreign Affairs and Tourism Peter David, recognized that the island’s status was one of dependency. He stated that Grenada was “very limited in the resources we have [and we felt the] loss of preferential treatment. The very survival of our country depends on relations with [the U.S. and] other countries.”54 The island’s officials therefore became overly dependent on American aid, because Grenada could not have developed all the expertise, particularly in education, needed to run the island in the post-invasion era.


After the Cold War ended, the U.S. government determined that Grenada was strategically unimportant and removed the vast majority of its assistance. Formal relations and development aid dwindled in the nineties. Westad points out that “Reagan’s Grenada adventure was precisely the sense that control of the ‘Island of Spice’ did not much matter.”55 Once the U.S. backed out, the IMF and World Bank stepped in and implemented aid through loan programs. This was a comparable situation to other Third World nations that accepted assistance during and after the Cold War. Some private organizations stayed behind, and USAID continued to fund various development initiatives. Most of the money went towards constructing rural roads, improving schools, and community programs.56 The assistance did not remotely match the amount provided in the immediate post-invasion years. Grenada usually received no more than $30,000 from USAID per year.57 At one point the Clinton administration considered closing the U.S. embassy as a cost-cutting measure, but decided to leave it open due to strong objections, for various reasons, from Grenadian elites, Republicans, and the Congressional Black Caucus.58 The demand was high for a U.S. presence both on and off the island. Even though the U.S. no longer saw Grenada as important, the embassy remained open. However, it did not serve as a means for further development.

Some Grenadians felt cheated because they did not receive additional aid. The lack of U.S. contributions left many islanders with bitterness and a desire for a prolonged American presence. Whyte reflected that the U.S. “restore[d] order and [left] you back to your own designs unfortunately. It’s a terrible mistake…and the United States disappears and they disappear in a way which does not leave fond memories.”59 However, he also stated that “humanitarian aid does not sink into the consciousness of people,” acknowledging that Grenadians may not have realized the extent to which the U.S. was involved in many sectors of society during the post-invasion development project.60 Permanent funding was an unrealistic expectation of Grenadians, but many still desired Americans to be there on the island.

Grenada was subject to U.S. interventionism based on a presumed national security threat, even though it was small and weak. Nonetheless, while eliminating socialism, U.S. officials, development workers, and businesses, along with Grenada’s post-invasion governments and locals, sought to make Grenada a slight model for modernization among developing nations. Most foreign capital never reached the island, although Grenada’s surrounding Caribbean neighbors requested similar American development assistance.

This ground-level model never carried over into the rest of Latin America or Caribbean, making Grenada an anomaly in U.S.-Latin American relations. The U.S. did not accomplish many consenting relationships in development in the region, nor did many countries welcome Americans to operate on the ground. While the U.S. sought to expand free markets and encourage private growth, many Latin American countries contrasted this by pursuing state-led economies and a controlled marketplace. If the U.S. intervened, it was to restore some sort of political democracy or pursue regime change, usually in favor of authoritarian states. Post-invasion Grenada was therefore a unique case that was not easily transferable to other countries in the region.

Based on a few positive examples, it seems that the most successful projects were implemented by private organizations. As this study has shown, the U.S. government often contracted NGOs to achieve development goals. Many were attuned to foreign policy objectives, especially those connected to USAID. Some operated independently as non-profits and charities. As compared to the U.S. government’s lofty goals, many of these aid workers had specialist knowledge of Grenada’s local conditions. Workers could better reach the marginalized populations that the government could not. As a result, Grenadians cooperated and bought into these projects because of the limited resources and funds it took to run them. These low-cost initiatives benefited their local communities better than large, state-led development projects. Regarding foreign aid, non-governmental and private organizations were altruistic, corporate, humanitarian, and sometimes extensions of foreign policy. They were meant to promote development, alleviate poverty, and encourage state and private investment. At times, those funded by the U.S. government were expected to meet U.S. political, economic, and social agendas.61 In connection to scholarly appeals for localized approaches to development, Grenada was no exception to these designs, as showcased by the numerous private entities that operated on the ground in the post-invasion era.

Many American-run projects were foreign responses to perceived problems in Grenada. This was a recurrent problem during the Cold War, even with Third World cooperation. Sometimes the U.S. implemented modernization programs without looking at the potential results, overlooked local conditions, or disregarded long-term implications. In regards to Third World development, by studying examples of modernization and nation-building we

“enrich our understanding of the relations between North and South that shaped the East-West conflict of the late-twentieth century—and much else besides, including the self-perception of societies whose representatives sought to project their own ideals of  modernity onto the ‘lesser developed’ societies.”62

This relates not only to Third World interventions during the Cold War, but also American-style methods in the Middle East and elsewhere today. The Grenadian experience, through localized cases, points to the varied successes and failures of U.S.-implemented development on the world scene.

Grenadians and Americans reached numerous modernization goals, but many of these projects were unsustainable or faltered once U.S. support was removed. In the short-term, Grenada achieved success in emulating the American model of development, but only as a slight appendage to the U.S. Grenada had limited success after intervention based on a collaborative relationship to achieve development goals. It also helped that Grenada was democratic and open to assistance. Many Grenadians were therefore attracted to the American model. They openly welcomed U.S. presence to help develop the island in the post-invasion years, reflective of their post-colonial dependency on foreign assistance and a desire to advance themselves after recent crises. Even after funding was pulled, many Grenadians demanded that the Americans return.

The U.S. attempt to make Grenada a model for modernization did not necessarily fail. But it produced mixed results. The political democracy the U.S. hoped to encourage resulted in ineffective governance. Significant advancements in the island’s infrastructure and social services occurred, but many of these were unsustainable after U.S. aid ended in the early nineties. In part, the Cold War was over. But the U.S. no longer saw Grenada as the model it could have been, and there was little to no foreign investment from American or western businesses. The Grenadian government did not have the budget, nor the expertise, to prolong many of the U.S.-implemented development programs.

With a population of only 100,000, Grenada was an easy target for American intervention, although the invasion itself was undeniably questionable. Regardless, Grenadians supported the transition to democracy and numerous American-led development initiatives, despite consequent problems of ineffectual governance and unsustainable foreign aid. Notwithstanding the dependency issues and limited foreign investment after the Cold War, the available evidence indicates that Grenada’s post-invasion development was not a complete failure. The U.S. did not transform Grenadian society or turn the island into an advanced country, but Grenadians were better off than before—at least in terms of education modernization. They were dependent on outside aid, but much of the expertise needed for development was not available on the island. Despite the uneven successes, compared to other interventions in Latin America and the Caribbean, Grenada was somewhat successful. Pointing towards new trends and complexities in foreign relations studies, Grenada is certainly, then, an important showcase that displays the achievements, consequences, and unintended outcomes of American foreign policy and local development strategy in the late Cold War.63End.


Works Cited


Periodical Articles

“10,000 more books,” The Grenadian Voice, 18 July 1987, p. 2.

“$1.5 M on projects under Trust Fund,” The Grenadian Voice, 17 November 1990, p. 36.

“25 YEARS OF PEACE CORPS,” The Grenadian Voice, 6 September 1986, p. 8.

“84-thousand dollar school opens,” The Grenadian Voice, 26 April 1986, p. 5.

“American dollars may be buying trouble for Grenada: US support threatens to undermine the island’s independence,” The Guardian, 20 February 1986, p. 8.

“A plea for Dr. Terry,” The Grenadian Voice, 8 April 1989, p. 4.

“Books from Rhode Island,” The Grenadian Voice, 17 February 1990, p. 3.

“Communist books and posters seized,” The Grenadian Voice, 22 October 1988, p. 1.

“Gov’t officially bans 86 books,” The Grenadian Voice, 22 April 1989, p. 1.

“Grenadians Welcomed Invasion, a Poll Finds,” New York Times, 6 November 1983, p. 21.

“Peace Corps expands in Grenada,” The Grenadian Voice, 16 March 1985, p.3.

“Reduction in CD funds from USAID,” The Grenadian Voice, 30 April 1994, p. 19.

“Teachers in U.S. Programme,” The Grenadian Voice, 14 July 1987, p. 3.

“U.S. Embassy to remain open,” The Grenadian Voice, 21 May 1994, p. 3.

“US to fund nine projects,” The Grenadian Voice, 28 May 1994, p. 3.

Government and International Organization Documents

U.S. Agency for International Development. Education Development Center. Computer-assisted Instruction in Grenada: High-tech Success and Sustainability Against the Odds, by Andrea Bosch. Contract Agreement No. DPE5818C000044. Learning Technologies for Basic Education Study. Washington, D.C. May 1994.

U.S. Agency for International Development. Grenada Teacher-Training Project: Final Report, by Karen M. Vander Linde, Jacci Conley, and Patrick Scully. Project No. 5380640, 9311054. Creative Associates International, Inc., Study. Washington, D.C. 30 September 1986.

U.S. Agency for International Development. Mission to Grenada. Limited Scope Grant Project Agreement: Project Development and Support. Project No. 5381001. St. George’s. 26 September 1990.

U.S. Agency for International Development. Office of Caribbean Affairs. Prospects for Growth in Grenada: The Role of the Private Sector. Interagency Report. Washington, D.C. 5 December 1983.

U.S. Agency for International Development. Regional Development Office/Caribbean. An Impact Assessment of the Subprojects under USAID’s Basic Needs Trust Fund (BNTF) Project in Grenada, by Michael R. Taylor. Project No. 5380103.

Letters, Diaries, and Memoirs

Scoon, Paul. Survival for Service: My Experiences as Governor General of Grenada. Oxford: Macmillan, 2003.

Oral Histories

David, Peter. 2009. Interview by author, 23 June. Tape recording. St. George’s, Grenada.

Frederick, Eddie. 2009. Interview by author, 27 June. Tape recording. St. George’s, Grenada.

Government official. 2009. Interview by author, 1 July. Tape recording. St. George’s, Grenada.

Lowe, Ferron. 2009. Interview by author, 26 June. Tape recording. St. George’s, Grenada.

Marryshow, Terrence. 2009. Interview by author, 20 June. Tape recording. St. George’s, Grenada.

McGuire, George. 2009. Interview by author, 30 June. Tape recording. St. George’s, Grenada.

Noel, Lloyd. 2009. Interview by author, 22 June. Tape recording. St. George’s, Grenada.

Whyte, Winston. 2009. Interview by author, 22 June. Tape recording. St. George’s, Grenada.


Journals and Articles

Cullather, Nick. “Modernization Theory.” In Explaining the History of American Foreign Relations, edited by

Michael J. Hogan and Thomas G. Paterson, 212-220. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2007.

Engerman, David C., and Corinna R. Unger. “Introduction: Toward a Global History of Modernization.” Diplomatic History 33, no. 3 (June 2009): 375-385.

Grauwe, Anton De. “Education and Political Change: The Case of Grenada (1979-89).” Comparative Education 27, no. 3 (1991): 335-356.

Hoganson, Kristin. “What’s Gender Got to Do with It? Gender History as Foreign Relations History.” In Explaining the History of American Foreign Relations, edited by Michael J. Hogan and Thomas G. Paterson, 304-322. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2007.


Ferguson, James. Grenada: Revolution in Reverse. London: Latin American Bureau, 1990.

Grandin, Greg. Empire’s Workshop: Latin America, the United States, and the Rise of the New Imperialism. New York: Metropolitan, 2006.

Smith, Brian H. More than Altruism: The Politics of Private Foreign Aid. Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1990.

Weber, Cynthia. Simulating Sovereignty: Intervention, the State, and Symbolic Exchange. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1995.

Westad, Odd Arne. The Global Cold War: Third World Interventions and the Making of Our Times. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2008.


1. Odd Arne Westad, The Global Cold War: Third World Interventions and the Making of Our Times (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2008), 345.

2. “Grenadians Welcomed Invasion, a Poll Finds,” New York Times, 6 November 1983, p. 21. Another poll, conducted in early 1984, showed that 86% of Grenadians still believed the intervention was good. Found in Cynthia Weber, Simulating Sovereignty: Intervention, the State, and Symbolic Exchange (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1995), 113.

3. James Ferguson, Grenada: Revolution in Reverse (London: Latin American Bureau, 1990), 39.

4. For detailed explanation of the Reagan administration in Central America refer to “Going Primitive: The Violence of the New Imperialism” in Greg Grandin’s Empire’s Workshop: Latin America, the United States, and the Rise of the New Imperialism (New York: Metropolitan, 2006), 87-120.

5. Ferguson, Revolution in Reverse, 89; Anton De Grauwe, “Education and Political Change: The Case of Grenada (1979-89),” Comparative Education 27, no. 3 (1991): 346-8.

6. Ferron Lowe, interview by author, tape recording, 26 June 2009, St. George’s, Grenada.

7. Paul Scoon, Survival for Service: My Experiences as Governor General of Grenada (Oxford: Macmillan, 2003), 212, 165; De Grauwe, “Education and Political Change,” 347.

8. “Communist books and posters seized,” The Grenadian Voice, 22 October 1988, p. 1.

9. “Gov’t officially bans 86 books,” The Grenadian Voice, 22 April 1989, p. 1.

10. “Gov’t officially bans 86 books,” p. 1.

11. Scoon, Survival for Service, 209; “25 YEARS OF PEACE CORPS,” The Grenadian Voice, 6 September 1986, p. 8; “Peace Corps expands in Grenada,” The Grenadian Voice, 16 March 1985, p. 3.

12. George McGuire, interview by author, tape recording, 30 June 2009, St. George’s, Grenada.

13. Winston Whyte, interview by author, tape recording, 22 June 2009, St. George’s, Grenada.

14. Scoon, Survival for Service, 209.

15. De Grauwe, “Education and Political Change,” 348.

16. Scoon, Survival for Service, 207.

17. De Grauwe, “Education and Political Change,” 348.

18. Ferguson, Revolution in Reverse, 77.

19. “A plea for Dr. Terry,” The Grenadian Voice, 8 April 1989, p. 4.

20. Scoon, Survival for Service, 209, 272.

21. Lloyd Noel, interview by author, tape recording, 22 June 2009, St. George’s, Grenada.

22. U.S. Agency for International Development, Office of Caribbean Affairs, Prospects for Growth in Grenada: The Role of the Private Sector, Interagency Report, Washington, D.C., 5 December 1983, p.23.

23. De Grauwe, “Education and Political Change,” 348.

24. Scoon, Survival for Service, 209, 272.

25. “84-thousand dollar school opens,” The Grenadian Voice, 26 April 1986, p. 5.

26. De Grauwe, “Education and Political Change,” 340, 347-8.

27. Interview with a government official, tape recording, 1 July 2009, St. George’s, Grenada.

28. Westad, The Global Cold War, 32.

29. U.S. Agency for International Development, Grenada Teacher-Training Project: Final Report, by Karen M. Vander Linde, Jacci Conley, and Patrick Scully, Project No. 5380640, 9311054, Creative Associates International, Inc., Study, Washington, D.C., 30 September 1986, p. 5-8, 57.

30. Grenada Teacher-Training Project, p. 57.

31. Grenada Teacher-Training Project, p. 21.

32. Grenada Teacher-Training Project, p. 1-9, 21-4; “Teachers in U.S. Programme,” The Grenadian Voice, 14 July 1987, p. 3.

33. Grenada Teacher-Training Project, p. 6, 21.

34. Grenada Teacher-Training Project, p. 35.

35. Grenada Teacher-Training Project, p. 58.

36. Westad, The Global Cold War, 32.

37. De Grauwe, “Education and Political Change,” 347, 352.

38. Noel, interview by author; “American dollars may be buying trouble for Grenada: US support threatens to undermine the island’s independence,” The Guardian, 20 February 1986, p. 8.

39. De Grauwe, “Education and Political Change,” 350.

40. “$1.5 M on projects under Trust Fund,” The Grenadian Voice, 17 November 1990, p. 36; U.S. Agency for International Development, Regional Development Office/Caribbean, An Impact Assessment of the Subprojects under USAID’s Basic Needs Trust Fund (BNTF) Project in Grenada, by Michael R. Taylor, Project No. 5380103, Bridgetown, July 1994, p. 2.

41. U.S. Agency for International Development, Education Development Center, Computer-assisted Instruction in Grenada: High-tech Success and Sustainability Against the Odds, by Andrea Bosch, Contract Agreement No. DPE5818C000044, Learning Technologies for Basic Education Study, Washington, D.C. May 1994, p. 7, 19.

42. Computer-assisted Instruction in Grenada,p. 14, 17, 22.

43. Computer-assisted Instruction in Grenada, p. 24, 26.

44. Computer-assisted Instruction in Grenada, p. 7.

45. “10,000 more books,” The Grenadian Voice, 18 July 1987, p. 2.

46. “Books from Rhode Island,” The Grenadian Voice, 17 February 1990, p. 3.

47. Terrence Marryshow, interview by author, tape recording, 20 June 2009, St. George’s, Grenada.

48. Ferguson, Revolution in Reverse, 89-90.

49. U.S. Agency for International Development, Mission to Grenada, Limited Scope Grant Project Agreement: Project Development and Support, Project No. 5381001, St. George’s, 26 September 1990, p.1.

50. Limited Scope Grant Project Agreement, p.1.

51. Kristin Hoganson, “What’s Gender Got to Do with It? Gender History as Foreign Relations History,” In Explaining the History of American Foreign Relations, edited by Michael J. Hogan and Thomas G. Paterson (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2007): 306.

52. Westad, The Global Cold War, 93.

53. Eddie Frederick, interview by author, tape recording, 27 June 2009, St. George’s, Grenada.

54. Peter David, interview by author, tape recording, 23 June 2009, St. George’s, Grenada.

55. Westad, The Global Cold War, 367.

56. “US to fund nine projects,” p. 3.

57. “Reduction in CD funds from USAID,” The Grenadian Voice, 30 April 1994, p. 19.

58. “U.S. Embassy to remain open,” The Grenadian Voice, 21 May 1994, p. 3.

59. Whyte, interview by author.

60. Whyte, interview by author.

61. For more information about government aid and private sector development refer to Brian H. Smith More than Altruism: The Politics of Private Foreign Aid (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1990).

62. David C. Engerman and Corinna R. Unger, “Introduction: Toward a Global History of Modernization,” Diplomatic History 33, no. 3 (June 2009): 385.

63. For further study refer to Nick Cullather, “Modernization Theory,” In Explaining the History of American Foreign Relations, edited by Michael J. Hogan and Thomas G. Paterson (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2007): 212-220; and Engerman and Unger, “Introduction: Toward a Global History of Modernization,” 375-85.


Rob Zakula
Rob Zakula

Rob Zakula is a doctoral student and teaching assistant in the History Department at Binghamton University, NY. He focuses on foreign relations and researches Cold War policy, interventionism, and development. Rob acquired an MA in History from Central Washington, where he instructed university writing. He has taught at public and private institutions overseas and in the states, has received numerous scholarships and travel research grants, and is a member of the Society for Historians of American Foreign Relations, Phi Alpha Theta, and Phi Kappa Phi. As personal interests, Rob has contributed articles on environmental history and activism, as well as frequently backpacks the outdoors and abroad.

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