Teddy Victor was born in 1944 in Vincennes, St. David's parish and he died 10 April 2008 at the General Hospital in St. George's. He was a farmer, a small businessman, had been an officer in the Gairy police force and was the force behind a grassroots movement centered in the parish of St. David, Grenada.
Farmers in St. David's led by Teddy Victor and Sebastian Thomas met regularly to discuss matters pertinent to handicraft, farming, cooperative farming and community issues. Maurice Bishop, himself, in a published interview described the group.
Victor was a founding member of a group which called itself the Joint Endeavour for Welfare, Education, and Liberation (JEWEL) from March 1972, based in St. David's parish. Members included Teddy Victor, Esther Henry, Sebastian Thomas, Unison Whiteman, Sherwin Lazarus and others from the St. David's community.
Now their aim basically was to do three things. They wanted
first of all to run a weekly newspaper, the Jewel;
secondly to engage in co-operative farming, and
thirdly, to engage in social and cultural activities.
For example they organised football competitions and things like that.
'The Jewel'—in its first issue on 14 April 1972—carried an attack on Gairy's plans for independence written by Unison Whiteman. The newsletter was stated to 'be the voice of the co-operative movement soon to be launched in St. David's.' JEWEL's editor was Teddy Victor.
According to Paterson quoting Teddy Victor
JEWEL was a rural self-help grass-roots organisation that operated a news-sheet, library and vegetable farm in St. David's, that was very involved in serious grounding in the community.
In January 1973 at La Sagesse in St. David's, Selwyn Strachan, Teddy Victor and Kendrick Radix helped lead the large gathering protesting the locked gates to the beach at Lord Bronlow's estate. Maurice Bishop took up their case in court.
JEWEL merged with the Movement for Assemblies of the People (MAP) in March 1973. Leading members of the merger were Maurice Bishop, Hudson Austin, H.M. Bhola, George Brizan, Kenneth Buckmire, Franklyn Harvey, Keith Mitchell, Kendrick Radix, Selwyn Strachan, Sebastian Thomas, Teddy Victor, Justin Vincent, and Unison Whiteman.
Victor served on the first political bureau of the new organization, called the New Jewel Movement (NJM). The New Jewel Movement members had a research library at Requin which may or may not have been started in St. David's parish. The library could have been in Victor's home, started during the time of JEWEL, in Requin, St. David's, but this has not been documented. This link is to an undated Draft Inventory of the NJM Research Library. The first issue of the 'New Jewel' was published 11 March 1973.
By 1973, Special Branch of the Royal Grenada Police Force was on the watch for Teddy Victor and others.
One detailed report, beginning Easter Sunday, 22 April 1973, was about 300 JEWEL members at 8:30 a.m. starting
. . . at Paradise junction with a demonstration to the town of Grenville, then to Pearls Airport where activities increased violently throughout the day when the airbase was blocked preventing the landing or flying out of airplanes, from Sunday to Tuesday. These occurrences were in protest of one Jeremiah RICHARDSON of Paradise who was shot dead on the night of Friday, 20th April 1973, for which two policemen are accused.
The report makes the observation that the organizers were Sebastian 'Sambas' Thomas and Teddy Victor with Peter ALEXANDER of Byelands and Ben ANDREW of Grenville, directors of the demonstration. At Pearls Airport the crowd numbered around 1,000 and by the time Unison WHITEMAN, Kenrick RADIX, Ben JONES and others arrived, the crowd numbered way over three thousand.
Special Branch also made a note of the placards:
- WHO KILL JERRY
- WE HAVE CRIMINALS AS PROTECTORS
- MIGNON, THOMAS, CHARLES, ONE IS A MURDERER
- WHAT THE POLICE STARTED WE SHALL CONTINUE
- POLICE BRUTALITY AGAIN
- POLICE ARE MURDERERS
- WE WANT MIGNON
- CHARLES, MIGNON, THOMAS MUST DIE
- BARROW MUST GO
- THE FIGHT WILL CONTINUE
- THE POLICE KILL JERRY
- ARREST THE MURDERER AND BRING HIM TO JUSTICE
- WE SHALL OVERCOME
- GIVE US JUSTICE
- IF GOVERNMENT WON'T PROTECT US, WE MUST PROTECT OURSELVES
The NEW JEWEL Convention, held on 6 May 1973 at Seamoon, Grenville, was attended by approximately four thousand (4,000) persons, and the main speakers were - Maurice BISHOP, Kenrick RADIX, Teddy VICTOR and Unison WHITEMAN.
Later in the year, on 19 November 1973, the Duffus Report relates how Mongoose Gang members went to Vincennes to gather up Teddy Victor who eluded them. Victor was Editor of the newspaper, the New Jewel, at that time.
One facet of military training for members of the NJM was written at some time in 1973 by Teddy Victor who was a leader in the training effort. Victor and Hudson Austin headed, in 1975, the Military Committee of the New Jewel Movement. The 5-page manual was for training in Grenada, much of it in remote mountainous areas like Grand Etang. According to Cotman,
"The course included: physical fitness, political 'rap session,' weapons training and demolition with the Springfield .303 rifle, revolvers, automatic pistols, shotguns, and Molotov cocktails; 'field craft and guerilla tactics,' communication and map reading, first aid, intelligence and counterintelligence."
In 1976, Victor presented a paper, "On Organisation, Democratisation and Code of Ethics" to a NJM meeting. The paper reveals a shift in Victor's observation of JEWEL activities. Victor wrote the sentences below, among other important matters.
We have moved away from representative leadership to that of personalities and social alliances.
If this movement is to go forward we have no choice but to smash their present Bureau which is unrepresentative, undemocratic and non-productive . . .
Almost recognized as a target for a beating, on 17 June 1977, Victor was among those watching a Market Square demonstration, called by Maurice Bishop and the People's Alliance. Evidently a microphone was grabbed by Gairy forces and shots fired during the 'Human Rights and Civil Liberties' protest. The use of a loudspeaker application to the Commissioner of Police had not been granted. The protest people seized the opportunity to present their case to the foreign press and members of the Organization of American States (OAS) in Grenada on that day.
Finally, in a letter to Comrades, Teddy Victor left the New Jewel Movement (NJM) as of 10 September 1978. Victor, it is said by multiple sources, wearied of fighting for JEWEL's 'democratic ideals' from within the NJM.
In his letter from Vincennes of 1978, Victor described his frustration that the NJM Bureau could not find time to hear his views, that the "corrupt Bureau," at the time of his letter, was accepting "no challenge." He asserted the Bureau was trying to isolate himself, James Herry, Donville Neckles, Sebastian Thomas, Kennedy Budhlall, and Caldwall Taylor. The characteristics he gave to some of the then Bureau members included arrogance, selfishness, contemptuous, 'berserk with power.' He wrote that the NJM Bureau has "refused to submit itself to the genuine scrutiny of the membership responsible for electing it to office," that the some Bureau members feel they have a monopoly on Grenada's struggle, that no one has any ideas but themselves, that some feel everyone is making idological mistakes but them.
And Victor wrote this:
Teddy Victor asked:
. . . there seems to be the growing tendency for us to rely on others to fight our struggle and develop our country. I think, We have to fight our own struggle, and We must take the pride in developing our own.
What has ever happened to that vibrant and renowned Peoples' Organisation that NJM was?
Near the end of the letter, Teddy Victor declared:
I want to make my position clear. I no longer wish to meet with the NJM. At least I think I still have some pride and dignity to defend.
On the morning of the coup of 13 March 1979, Victor made his way to the St. David's Police Station to disarm the police there. This event is one of the controversial situations in Victor's life.
One those of the 'October Round-Up' of 14 October 1979 by the People's Revolutionary Government and members of the People's Revolutionary Army was Teddy Victor. He remained incarcerated until 25 October 1983. He was charged on 16 July 1981 of being in possession of an AK47 rifle under the Terrorism Prevention Law. The opposing contention is that the AK47 was planted in Victor's vehicle. Victor had been incarcerated since 14 October 1979 but only first charged on 16 July 1981.
Teddy Victor was brought to High Court on 3 February 1982 in front of Justice Satrohan Singh. The sentence was for two years, as noted by Victor below. In addition to the points noted by Victor below, under provisions of People's Law No. 46 of 1980, it is mandatory, with contingencies and allowances, that the Court order the forfeiture to the State of all the personal property of the convicted. It is unclear what happened in the Victor case. The conviction on the whole is marked by some as a travesty of justice.
On 20 November 1983, Victor wrote an article for the Grenadian Voice titled "Blueprint for Detention":
I spent 1 year and 11 months in jail before the PRG concocted legislation and created an offence with which to charge me.
The Law: Prevention of Terrorism Act, [People's Law No. 46 of 1980, September-October 1980] was created specially for anti-PRG activists, and was substituted for the Criminal Code.
Had I been charged under the Criminal Code, for the offence they said I had committed, it would have been a summary charge, bailable and the punishment being a fine of a few hundred dollars or a few months in prison.
By substituting the Terrorism Law, it became
- retroactive, and so I would have been charged with an offence allegedly committed in 1979, even though the law was passed in 1980.
- It was not bailable.
- It was indictable but trial would be without jury
- The penalty moved from six months to fifteen years, with a mandatory confiscation of all one's property on conviction and
- The Crown no longer had to prove guilt beyond a reasonable doubt, but the onus was now on the accused to prove innocence.
Never had the world witnessed a graver travesty of justice that this Prevention of Terrorism Act and its kangaroo court that meted out its justice in the name of a government that claimed to be establishing freedom and justice and promoting the Human Rights of its citizens.
It seemed clear to me that the judge loathed handing down his decision but had no choice.
The law convicted you before the trial began.
But, he [the judge] sentenced me to only 2 years.
That sentence expired on June 1st, 1983 and after the PRG had gone through all their rigmarole to try to justify my detention, by refusing to let me go, at the expiration of my sentence, they have shown that their laws and court, the conviction and sentence, were all a farce.
They still had to keep me in prison and could advance no justification at all.
They have failed miserably.
Thus for four long years and two tension-filled weeks, I have been kept in jail and under the most trying of circumstance.
But thank God I have survived it, feeling stronger in every way.
But I am ashamed to think that it had to take American Marines to come here to bleed and inalienable rights of Grenadians would be respected by Grenadians.
And I am ashamed too that all the death and suffering has been caused by traitors and frauds, vultures, charlatans and opportunists who conspired to sell our dear country to heathen barbarians.
But our noble and heroic Grenadians have bled and died, wept and toiled and suffered and prayed in vain.
God has heard our cry.
He has again worked his miracle and confounded the pharaohs.
He has upheld the might of right.
Let us resolve it never happen again.
A paper submitted to Senator Lawrence Joseph, Attorney General and Minister of Labour, Father Mark Haynes, Roman Catholic Priest, Committee Responsible for Organising
The Truth and Reconciliation Commission, St. George's, 5 February 2000, from Ewart Layne, Selwyn Strachan, and Liam James states, in one paragraph, the following regarding Teddy Victor:
Then there is the case of Teddy Victor. Another political detainee of the revolution; another one highly respected in Grenada for standing for his convictions and taking jail under the Revolution. When he appears on the Sunday radio and TV live call-in programme in early October (last) with Leslie Pierre, supporting the call for our freedom: within 72 hours the NDC executive meets and publicly condemns him for so doing. As a result, he resigns from the executive. NO ONE condemns the NDC executive or supports Teddy - at least, not publicly. Many grumble about it - including some other members of the executive - but all are afraid to speak out. They all remain silent.
Bernard Coard consented to answer questions, primarily from written interviews, from Leroy Noel in December-January 2004-2005. The finished piece appeared in the Grenadian newspaper 'Grenada Today' on 22 January 2005. The questions and answers first appeared 14 January 2005 from 'Hotrod' on The Spiceislander Talkshop, message 326378, an Internet discussion group. Coard included Victor's name in this quote -
When people whom you have wronged not only forgive you in words but follow it up with deeds such as Messrs Winston Courtney, Lloyd Noel, Leslie Pierre, Teddy Victor, Winston Whyte, Osbert James, and so many others this has a profoundly humbling effect on you.
Teddy Victor continued to live in St. David's, Grenada where he was a farmer, member of the Roman Catholic Church, and on the periphery of contemporary Grenadian political activity. He had established an Ecumenical Centre focusing on practical trade skills.
On the morning of 10 April 2008 Teddy Victor died at the General Hospital in St. George's after a brief illness. He was of a questioning nature, motivated by love of his land. His story and person shall be missed. He leaves behind a wife, children and greater family.
[Additional information, first-hand reports and a photograph welcomed for consideration to include on this page].