Operation Urgent Fury

On this day in 1983, in what is today known as Operation Urgent Fury, the United States of America and its Caribbean allies invaded the State of Grenada, six days after Prime Minister Maurice Bishop and several of his supporters were executed following a military coup d’état.

The invasion was led by the United States, on the Caribbean island nation of Grenada, which had a population of about 91,000 at the time and is located 160 kilometres north of Venezuela, resulted in a U.S. victory within a matter of days.

It was triggered by the internal strife within the People’s Revolutionary Government that resulted in the house arrest and the execution of the previous leader and second Prime Minister of Grenada Maurice Bishop, and the establishment of a preliminary government, the Revolutionary Military Council with Hudson Austin as Chairman.

The invasion resulted in the appointment of an interim government, followed by democratic elections in 1984.

The country has remained a democratic nation since then.

In 1983, an internal power struggle began over Bishop’s relatively moderate foreign policy approach, and on 19 October, hard-line military junta elements captured and executed Bishop and his partner Jacqueline Creft, along with three cabinet ministers and two union leaders.

Subsequently, following appeals by the Organisation of Eastern Caribbean States and the Governor-General of Grenada, Paul Scoon, the President Ronald Reagan Administration in the United States quickly decided to launch a military intervention.

U.S. President Ronald Reagan’s justification for the intervention was in part explained as “concerns over the 600 U.S. medical students on the island” and fears of a repeat of the Iran hostage crisis.

The invasion was criticized by several nations including Canada.

British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher privately disapproved of the mission and the lack of notice she received, but publicly supported the intervention.

The United Nations General Assembly, on 2 November 1983 with a vote of 108 to 9, condemned it as “a flagrant violation of international law”.

The date of the invasion is now a national holiday in Grenada, called Thanksgiving Day.

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