While some Grenadans in Washington packed their bags to go home and talked of a "return to democracy" there, others reeled in shock and anger yesterday at the U.S. invasion of their tiny island and warned it will not result in the kind of peace and democracy the administration envisions.
All were concerned about their families and friends among the island's 110,000 population as another day passed with no communications home.
"I don't consider the event as an invasion; I consider it a 'liberating force,' " said Francis Paul, vice president of the Grenada Democratic Movement, which opposed the Grenadan government of the late Maurice Bishop.
"For four years, Grenadans were not free; now they feel much freer than they did a few weeks ago. . . . I think the rank-and-file Grenadan community is in favor of what is going on," added the 42-year-old insurance salesman who lives in Hyattsville.
Keith Mitchell, a statistics professor at Howard University who is public spokesman for the Grenada Democratic Movement, left for Barbados yesterday where he will join its president, Francis Alexis.
Mitchell said the movement has recommended the formation of an interim government comprised of individuals who "are not controversial figures" and whose job will be to prepare for elections "within a year" and "bring the people back to the harmonious way of life we knew."
He said that he thought the stay of U.S. forces in Grenada "depended on the so-called pockets of resistance" but added that a Caribbean multinational force of 500 should remain for "quite awhile" until a new government can "demilitarize society in Grenada."
Others were not so happy about events at home.
"It is a very horrifying development," said a member of the Grenada Progressive League, which supported the Bishop government, whose overthrow last week set off a chain of events that led to the U.S. intervention Monday.
"Rather than bring peace and democracy to the region as they are claiming, [the invasion] will usher in a period of almost indefinite unrest," said the 27-year-old graduate student in microbiology at Howard University, who declined to be named.
He said he would not support elections held in his country now. "As long as there is an occupying force, the region is not free, and how can you have elections with foreign troops in your country?"
Other West Indians living in the area also expressed concern about the U.S. action. "We were all completely revolted by what happened over the past week. We felt it could be handled in another way and not by military intervention in Grenada," said Leo Edwards, a Jamaican consultant who also is founder of the Caribbean-American Intercultural Organization.
"We were very surprised that foreign policy decisions of the United States are based on the recommendations of some rather miniscule states," Edwards said.
Most Grenadans are preoccupied with the safety of their family and friends on the tiny island.
"I'm angry and mad and upset," said one employe of the Grenadan embassy who declined to be named. "We are only hearing about 'American medical students' and 'how many Cubans are fighting' and 'pockets of resistance' and '1,000 Marines' when there are 110,000 Grenadans there. They invade our country and no mention is being made of our people in Grenada," the employe said.
"This is not a party political thing; this is a national tragedy . . . we are all one people, everybody knows everybody," Paul said.
Some who deplored the invasion blamed the unfriendly U.S. attitude toward Bishop for leading to the current crisis. When the late Grenadan leader came to Washington on a private visit last June at the invitation of the foreign policy lobbying group TransAfrica, he did not meet with President Reagan despite repeated requests to do so. The Reagan administration also refused to accept the credentials of his ambassador.
"The man is gone now and suddenly out of the blue they realize he was a moderate," said an employe of the embassy. "All of this could have been avoided if the U.S. had talked to Bishop and given him some respect and credibility."
Meanwhile, TransAfrica labeled the invasion a "brazen, militaristic action" and criticized U.S. rebuffs to Bishop, saying "the U.S. encouraged his demise by ignoring him."
District Del. Walter E. Fauntroy also scored the intervention, asking if it "might be appropriate now to inquire of the administration if it had plans to 'restore democracy' in Guatemala, Chile, Haiti or Paraguay or a host of other countries with which we have normal diplomatic relations and yet have no democratic institutions."