Archive (Reagan Library)

Grenada: Reagan letter to Thatcher (thinking of intervening) [declassified 2000]

Document type: Declassified documents
Venue: Augusta National Golf Club, Georgia
Source: Reagan Library: Executive Secretariat NSC: Records Country File (UK vol.V)
Editorial comments: Despatched 1847 GMT 24 Oct 1983. A copy was sent on 12 Dec 1983 to the new US Ambassador in London, Charles Price.
Importance ranking: Key
Word count: 596 words
Themes: Monarchy, Defence (arms control), Foreign policy (Americas excluding USA), Foreign policy (USA), Foreign policy (USSR & successor states), Law & order, MT contacts with Ronald Reagan

Declassified S98-002#602
By CAS, NARA, Date 7/21/00


White House Situation Room

Via Cabinet Office Channels WH08192

October 24, 1983

Dear Margaret,

I have followed closely the political turmoil in Grenada in recent days. I know that you share my concern for the impact which the killing of the leadership there has had on our friends in the Western hemisphere, particularly on the democratic governments of the English-speaking Caribbean states. The prospect that the blood-stained group who appear to be the only authority on the island could perpetuate their power also raises questions about the welfare of the people of Grenada themselves, as well as our own nationals resident there.

The members of the Organisation of Eastern Caribbean States (OECS) have raised similar concerns which are, of course, magnified by their proximity to and limited ability to defend themselves against the threat which Grenada now poses. They have a well founded fear of aggression by or subversion from Grenada, or the possibility that their own democratically-constituted governments may be challenged by some who might seek to imitate the example set by General Austin and the [end p1] People’s Revolutionary Army if this situation is not rectified. The nations of the OECS have unanimously decided to pursue a collective security effort to restore peace and order in Grenada and have formally requested United States support and participation. I understand that a similar request was to have been presented to Her Majesty’s Government/

I am writing to inform you that I am giving serious consideration to the OECS request. On Sunday, October 23, 1983, I dispatched a Special Emissary, Ambassador Francis McNeil, to Bridgetown to confer with Prime Minister Adams and other OECS and Caribbean leaders regarding their plans. I understand that they have already assembled forces in Barbados from the various island nations. Ambassador McNeil has informed Prime Minister Adams that the United States firmly endorses the political objectives of their proposed operation, namely, to restore order and security so as to permit the formation of a provisional government which would hold early elections.

We believe that Her Majesty’s Governor General in Grenada Sir Paul Scoon could be a key figure in this operation, since he is the only remaining voice of legitimacy on the island and should be the one who designates a new provisional government. Such a government could be formed shortly after the collective security forces lands in Grenada. It is also important that free and fair elections be held as early as possible to re-establish a truly democratic system of government.

Ambassador McNeil has also consulted with the Caribbean states on their intention to request an emergency meeting of the Permanent Council of the Organisation of American States, in which they would take the lead in seeking an endorsement of their collective security effort.

I welcome your thoughts on these matters. I know that you would want to be kept informed of any role the United [end p2] States may decide to play in support of the island nations of the Caribbean. I will, therefore, undertake to inform you in advance should our forces take part in the proposed collective security force, or of whatever political or diplomatic efforts we plan to pursue. It is of some assurance to know that I can count on your advice and support on this important issue.

With warm regards,