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Biography: Bernard Coard


Bernard Coard
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Bernard Coard was born in Grenada on 10th August 1944. Coard studied at the Grenada Boys Secondary School where he met Maurice Bishop.

As a young man Coard developed an interest in politics and in 1962 joined with Bishop to form the Grenada Assembly of Youth After Truth. Twice a month Bishop and Cord led debates on current events in the Central Market Place in Grenada.

Coard moved to the United States to study economics and sociology at Brandeis University in Massachusetts. In 1967 he moved to England and studied political economy at Sussex University in Brighton. While in England Coard joined the Communist Party.

Coard taught for two years at schools in London. In 1971 he published his book How the West Indian Child is Made Educationally Subnormal in the British School System. After completing his doctorate Coard moved to Trinidad where he taught at the University of the West Indies. He was also a visiting lecturer at the Institute of International Relations at St. Augustine.

In 1976 Coard returned to Grenada and soon became active in politics and joined the New Jewel Movement (NJM), an organization created by his boyhood friend, Maurice Bishop.

On 13th March 1979, the NJM took over the nation's radio station. With the support of the people the NJM was able to take control of the rest of the country.

Influenced by the ideas of Marxists such as Fidel Castro, Che Guevara and Daniel Ortega, Maurice Bishop began establishing Workers' Councils in Grenada. He received aid from the Soviet Union and Cuba and with this money constructed a aircraft runway to improve tourism.

Bishop attempted to develop a good relationship with the United States and allowed private enterprise to continue on the island. Coard, the Minister of Finance, disagreed with this policy. He also disliked Bishop's ideas on grassroots democracy. On 19th October, with the support of the army, Coard overthrew the government. Maurice Bishop and most of his ministers were arrested and executed.

President Ronald Reagan, who had been highly critical of Bishop's government, took this opportunity to intervene and sent in the United States Marines. The initial assault on 25th October, 1983, consisted of some 1,200 troops, and they were met by stiff resistance from the Grenadian army. Heavy fighting continued for several days, but as the invasion force grew to more than 7,000, the defenders either surrendered or fled into the mountains.

Bernard Coard, along with Phyllis Coard, Selwyn Strachan, John Ventour, Liam James and Keith Roberts, were arrested on 31st October 1983. The leaders of the coup were put on trial in August 1986. Along with 13 others, Board was sentenced to death. This sentence was commuted to life-imprisonment in 1991.

His wife, Phyllis Coard, was also sentenced to life-imprisonment. While in prison Bernard Coard has developed a programme of education for the 300 inmates of Richmond Hill Prison.

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