Alister Hughes

Respected Caribbean journalist

Alister Hughes, one of the Caribbean's best-known journalists, arrived late at his vocation. When he came to chronicle years of revolution and invasion on his island he used the habits of industriousness and care learnt in 36 years in the retail trade. A. Norris Hughes and Sons, the family sewing-machine business, was a power in a small, poor West Indian colony where clothes were mostly home-made.

Alister Earl Hewitson Hughes, journalist: born St George's, Grenada 21 January 1919; Editor, Grenada Newsletter 1972-94; married first Cynthia Copland (died 1989; one son, two daughters), second 1997 Margaret Murphy; died St George's 28 February 2005.

Alister Hughes, one of the Caribbean's best-known journalists, arrived late at his vocation. When he came to chronicle years of revolution and invasion on his island he used the habits of industriousness and care learnt in 36 years in the retail trade. A. Norris Hughes and Sons, the family sewing-machine business, was a power in a small, poor West Indian colony where clothes were mostly home-made.

The eldest of four, with Welsh, French and black blood in his veins, Hughes was educated to secondary standard and shortly afterwards went off for a spell in neighbouring Trinidad, then as now, seen as Grenada's metropolis.

Back home, he threw himself into the world of commerce, insurance and auctioneering, though always with an eye on politics. Politics revolved round the rabble-rousing union leader Eric (later Sir Eric) Gairy and his thugs, the Mongoose Gang. Gairy came to power as Chief Minister in 1954 in one of the Caribbean dependencies which Whitehall was planning to push helter-skelter towards independence. The West Indian sugar-producing islands, prized possessions bloodily fought over between Britain and France in the 18th century, were now indigent, troublesome and surplus to Whitehall's requirements.

Hughes joined the National Party of Herbert Blaize, Gairy's principal opponent, and was its general secretary from 1957 to 1968. He was also deputy mayor for St George's, president of the Chamber of Industry and Commerce and Grenada's representative on the Incorporated Chambers of Commerce in the Caribbean.

In 1969 he left business for journalism and became a local correspondent for the BBC, the Caribbean News Agency and Associated Press. Three years later he and his capable wife Cynthia started the simply produced Grenada Newsletter, which was to survive till 1994, a valuable source of news as politics grew stormier.

Hughes received his first beating from the Gairy's Mongoose Gang in 1973 as he awaited at Pearls airport the Chief Minister's return from independence negotiations in London. Undeterred, he reported on the attack for a radio station in Trinidad. The next year, on his 54th birthday, his life was endangered as he reported live on radio on the Mongoose attack on 6,000 anti-Gairy demonstrators in St George's. They were beaten, gassed and fired on and a man, Rupert Bishop, was killed. Hughes's reputation as a journalist was made.

Seven weeks later amid a general strike and electricity black-out the colony became an independent Commonwealth monarchy under Prime Minister Gairy, free to do political deals with such as General Augusto Pinochet of Chile and the US Central Intelligence Agency without Whitehall having to bother. Hughes and the newsletter somehow survived.

In March 1979 the petty tyrant was removed by a bloodless coup, the first in the Commonwealth Caribbean. It was led by the New Jewel Movement headed by Maurice Bishop, son of the man Gairy's gangsters had killed. Predictably Hughes, the conservative, and Bishop, the revolutionary and admirer of Fidel Castro, were distant. Hughes failed in an attempt to start an opposition newspaper: Bishop's People's Revolutionary Government would brook no opposition.

After Bishop himself was murdered by a rival revolutionary group in October 1983 Hughes was locked up with others in Richmond Hill prison by the new leader Hudson Austin as the US moved to invade the island. With St George's in a no-man's-land between the US invaders and the fast-melting Grenadian resistance two colleagues and I drove up to assure them it was safe to quit the jail. As we all drove back into St George's we realised how close they had been to death: inaccurate US bombing had caused fatalities and destruction at the nearby mental hospital known as "the Crazy House".

Hughes fairly reflected Grenadians' rejoicing as the US consolidated its hold on the island. Yet to the disappointment of many of his friends Hughes went on to support US efforts to justify an obviously illegal invasion. "Don't call it an invasion, call it a rescue mission," he said.

Hugh O'Shaughnessy

PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
ebookA unique anthology of reporting and analysis of a crucial period of history
Life and Style
Phillips Idowu, Stella McCartney and Jessica Ennis
fashionMcCartney to continue designing Team GB Olympics kit until 2016
Sport
Shinji Kagawa and Reece James celebrate after the latter scores in Manchester United's 7-0 victory over LA Galaxy
football
Voices
voicesGood for Lana Del Rey for helping kill that myth, writes Grace Dent
Sport
Farah returns to the track with something to prove
Commonwealth games
Life and Style
fashion Designs are part of feminist art project by a British student
Independent
Travel Shop
the manor
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on city breaks Find out more
santorini
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on chic beach resorts Find out more
sardina foodie
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on country retreats Find out more
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

SQL Report Analyst (SSRS, CA, SQL 2012)

£30000 - £38500 Per Annum + 25 days holiday, pension, subsidised restaurant: C...

Application Support Analyst (SQL, Incident Management, SLAs)

£34000 - £37000 Per Annum + excellent benefits: Clearwater People Solutions Lt...

Embedded Software / Firmware Engineer

£40000 - £45000 per annum + Pension, Holiday, Flexi-time: Progressive Recruitm...

Developer - WinForms, C#

£280 - £320 per day: Progressive Recruitment: C#, WinForms, Desktop Developmen...

Day In a Page

Screwing your way to the top? Good for Lana Del Rey for helping kill that myth

Screwing your way to the top?

Good for Lana Del Rey for helping kill that myth, says Grace Dent
Will the young Britons fighting in Syria be allowed to return home and resume their lives?

Will Britons fighting in Syria be able to resume their lives?

Tony Blair's Terrorism Act 2006 has made it an offence to take part in military action abroad with a "political, ideological, religious or racial motive"
Beyoncé poses as Rosie the Riveter, the wartime poster girl who became a feminist pin-up

Beyoncé poses as Rosie the Riveter

The wartime poster girl became the ultimate American symbol of female empowerment
The quest to find the perfect pair of earphones: Are custom, 3D printed earbuds the solution?

The quest to find the perfect pair of earphones

Earphones don't fit properly, offer mediocre audio quality and can even be painful. So the quest to design the perfect pair is music to Seth Stevenson's ears
US Army's shooting star: Lt-Col Steven Cole is the man Hollywood calls when it wants to borrow a tank or check a military uniform

Meet the US Army's shooting star

Lt-Col Steven Cole is the man Hollywood calls when it wants to borrow a tank or check a military uniform
Climate change threatens to make the antarctic fur seal extinct

Take a good look while you can

How climate change could wipe out this seal
Should emergency hospital weddings be made easier for the terminally ill?

Farewell, my lovely

Should emergency hospital weddings be made easier?
Man Booker Prize 2014 longlist: Crowdfunded novel nominated for first time

Crowdfunded novel nominated for Booker Prize

Paul Kingsnorth's 'The Wake' is in contention for the prestigious award
Vladimir Putin employs a full-time food taster to ensure his meals aren't poisoned

Vladimir Putin employs a full-time food taster

John Walsh salutes those brave souls who have, throughout history, put their knives on the line
Tour de France effect brings Hollywood blockbusters to Yorkshire

Tour de France effect brings Hollywood blockbusters to Yorkshire

A $25m thriller starring Sam Worthington to be made in God's Own Country
Will The Minerva Project - the first 'elite' American university to be launched in a century - change the face of higher learning?

Will The Minerva Project change the face of higher learning?

The university has no lecture halls, no debating societies, no sports teams and no fraternities. Instead, the 33 students who have made the cut at Minerva, will travel the world and change the face of higher learning
The 10 best pedicure products

Feet treat: 10 best pedicure products

Bags packed and all prepped for holidays, but feet in a state? Get them flip-flop-ready with our pick of the items for a DIY treatment
Commonwealth Games 2014: Great Scots! Planes and pipers welcome in Glasgow's Games

Commonwealth Games 2014

Great Scots! Planes and pipers welcome in Glasgow's Games
Jack Pitt-Brooke: Manchester City and Patrick Vieira make the right stand on racism

Jack Pitt-Brooke

Manchester City and Patrick Vieira make the right stand on racism
How Terry Newton tragedy made iron men seek help to tackle their psychological demons

How Newton tragedy made iron men seek help to tackle their psychological demons

Over a hundred rugby league players have contacted clinic to deal with mental challenges of game