by Donella D Hosten
October 25 remains a date etched in the memory of many Grenadians, Cubans and Americans who lost loved ones during the1983 invasion, 34 years ago.
In this light, the Cuban Government, through the Cuban Embassy in Grenada held an inaugural memorial ceremony as they paid tribute to the 24 Cuban workers who lost their lives during the American invasion, while working to build Grenada’s now International Airport.
An official ceremony was held on the top side of the Maurice Bishop International Airport on Wednesday, 25 October 2017. Addressing the gathering was Cuba’s Ambassador to Grenada Maria Caridad Balaguer Labrada, and, according to her, ‘this memorial is a symbol of friendship between Cuba and Grenada.’
Although it was a quite a long journey to set up the memorial site, they (Cubans) are happy to have a place in Grenada to honour 24 workers who lost their lives. She mentioned briefly that this was made possible through the support of the Government and people of Cuba and Grenada, Cuban friends, the Airport Authority and other Cubans who are working in Grenada.
Minister for Health, Social Security and International Business, Hon Nickolas Steele represented the government and paid tribute to the lost Cuban workers. “This date signifies many things to many Grenadians,” he said, and that this event recognises the various tragedies as well as a ‘tumultuous period in our history.’
Additionally, the minister noted that ‘this day is also used to commemorate, to remember, to give thanks [and] to look forward to our future,’ based on the occurrences of 1983. He believes that people have the freedom to choose to celebrate this day in different ways, and for different reasons.
In relation to the strength of the relationship between Cuba and Grenada, despite the loss of Cuban lives 34 years ago, the minister affirmed that the bond remains close. “So close is that bond, that blood has been shed,” and, according to him, this can be considered as the ultimate sacrifice. “Sacrifices continue to be made by the Government and the people of Cuba and the Government and people of Grenada in making sure that [the] relationship bears fruit for our people.”
To conclude the memorial service, wreaths were laid by Grenadian and Cuban officials and delegates.