Mongoose Gang

United States Grenada National Party New York (magazine)

The Mongoose Gang was a private army or militia which operated from 1967 to 1979 under the control of Sir Eric Gairy, the Premier and later Prime Minister of Grenada, and head of the Grenada United Labour Party.[1][2] Officially, Mongoose Gang members were called Special Reserve Police (S.R.P.) or Volunteer Constables.[3]

A news report from 1974 confirms that the "Mongoose squad" sometimes carried rifles, but generally carried "thick pieces of wood".[4] Mongoose Gang members also tended not to dress in any distinctive way.[5]

The Mongoose Gang was responsible for silencing critics,[6] breaking up demonstrations and murdering opponents of the Gairy regime, including Rupert Bishop, the father of Maurice Bishop in January 1974. Maurice Bishop himself was beaten by members of the Mongoose Gang two months previously, in November 1973, and jailed.[7] The violence of the Mongoose Gang and the Grenadian police became a more important factor than the state of the economy in generating unrest.[8] MI5 intelligence reports at the time referred to the Gang as being "ruthless", and "an un-uniformed and undisciplined body... many of them have criminal records.”[9]

In November 1974, 10 months after Grenada's independence from Great Britain, Bishop's New Jewel Movement issued a People's Indictment calling for "power to the people" and declaring that "the Gairy Government was born in blood, baptized in fire, christened with bullets, is married to foreigners, and is resulting in death to the people".[10]

In the 1976 Grenadian general election, the Grenada United Labour Party won nine of the 15 seats, whilst the opposition People's Alliance (a coalition of the New Jewel Movement, the Grenada National Party and the United People's Party) won the remainder. However, the elections were marred by fraud (and branded fraudulent by international observers), as the Mongoose Gang had been threatening the opposition.[11]

The Mongoose Gang was used against protesters during the 1977 General Assembly of the Organization of American States hosted by Grenada.[12]

In 1979, a rumour circulated that Gairy would use the Gang to eliminate leaders of the New Jewel Movement while he was out of the country.[13][14] In response, Bishop overthrew Gairy in March of that year while the latter was visiting the United States.[15] The Mongoose Gang then ceased to operate; the Gang's leader, Mosyln Bishop, a taxi driver, was subsequently sentenced later that year to fourteen years in prison for attempting to murder three people in November 1973.[16]

The name 'Mongoose Gang' originated in the 1950s, when the local health officials sought to eliminate the mongoose as a pest, and paid people who brought in mongoose tails as proof of killing the animals. The men who were employed in such work became known as the 'mongoose-gang'. Later, the name shifted to refer to gangs of political thugs on Grenada.[17] In fact, it was Gairy himself who got jobs for a number of men and women on the mongoose-eradication project in the 1950s when he was a representative of the Colony of Grenada's Legislative Council. For Gairy's part, in a 1984 interview with New York magazine, he denied employing thugs or any kind of secret police.[18]

The Mongoose Gang has often been compared to the Tonton Macoute of Haiti.[19][20]


  1. ^ "Eric Gairy : Biography". Archived from the original on 9 October 2013. Retrieved 8 October 2013.
  2. ^ James Stuart Olson (1991). Historical Dictionary of European Imperialism. Greenwood Publishing Group. pp. 262–. ISBN 978-0-313-26257-9.
  3. ^ "BLOODY MONDAY, or the "Battle of St. George's" 21 January 1974". Archived from the original on 15 July 2019. Retrieved 6 June 2017.
  4. ^ "z017409 GRENADA POLICE Screener NTSCSD60i". Archived from the original on 2 February 2017. Retrieved 25 July 2019.
  5. ^ Ajamu Nangwaya; Michael Truscello (17 July 2017). Why Don't the Poor Rise Up?: Organizing the Twenty-First Century Resistance. AK Press. pp. 161–. ISBN 978-1-84935-279-6.
  6. ^ "Sir Eric Matthew Gairy (prime minister of Grenada) - Encyclopædia Britannica". Archived from the original on 19 June 2013. Retrieved 9 October 2013.
  7. ^ John E. Jessup (1 January 1998). An Encyclopedic Dictionary of Conflict and Conflict Resolution, 1945-1996. Greenwood Publishing Group. pp. 75–. ISBN 978-0-313-28112-9. Archived from the original on 4 April 2017. Retrieved 29 March 2020.
  8. ^ Brian Meeks (2001). Caribbean Revolutions and Revolutionary Theory: An Assessment of Cuba, Nicaragua and Grenada. University of the West Indies Press. pp. 142–. ISBN 978-976-640-104-7. Archived from the original on 4 April 2017. Retrieved 29 March 2020.
  9. ^ Phil Miller (24 October 2014). "New Documents Reveal Britain's Secret Plan to Invade a Tiny Caribbean Island". Archived from the original on 25 July 2019. Retrieved 25 July 2019.
  10. ^ John Foran (17 November 2005). Taking Power: On the Origins of Third World Revolutions. Cambridge University Press. pp. 164–. ISBN 978-1-139-44518-4.
  11. ^ Nohlen, D (2005) Elections in the Americas: A data handbook, Volume I, p301-302 ISBN 978-0-19-928357-6
  12. ^ "Grenada: The "Mongoose Gang" in Grenada". Archived from the original on 17 June 2016. Retrieved 1 June 2016.
  13. ^ Spencer Mawby (20 August 2012). Ordering Independence: The End of Empire in the Anglophone Caribbean, 1947-69. Palgrave Macmillan. pp. 239–. ISBN 978-0-230-27818-9. Archived from the original on 29 August 2017. Retrieved 29 March 2020.
  14. ^ "Grenada: Gairy, Bishop, Balance or Coup". Archived from the original on 8 August 2016. Retrieved 1 June 2016.
  15. ^ "Biography: Sir Eric Matthew Gairy". Archived from the original on 8 March 2016. Retrieved 1 June 2016.
  16. ^ The Virgin Islands Daily News - Google News Archive Search
  17. ^ Richard Allsopp; Jeannette Allsopp (2003). Dictionary of Caribbean English Usage. University of the West Indies Press. pp. 385–. ISBN 978-976-640-145-0. Archived from the original on 26 April 2013. Retrieved 29 March 2020.
  18. ^ New York Media, LLC (13 February 1984). New York Magazine. New York Media, LLC. pp. 14–. ISSN 0028-7369.
  19. ^ "Grenada : History". Archived from the original on 29 October 2013. Retrieved 8 October 2013.
  20. ^ "The end of Eric Gairy". Archived from the original on 31 March 2016. Retrieved 1 June 2016.