April 20, 1979 • 1235 • Bridgetown-State • 1486

[Editor’s note: This text was released at https://wikileaks.org/plusd/cables/1979BRIDGE01486_e.html.]

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ACTION ARA-15
INFO OCT-01 ADS-00 HA-05 CIAE-00 DODE-00 PM-05 H-01 INR-10 L-03 NSAE-00 NSC-05 PA-01 SP-02 SS-15 ICA-11 /074 W
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R 201235Z APR 79
FM AMEMBASSY BRIDGETOWN
TO SECSTATE WASHDC 8070
C O N F I D E N T I A L BRIDGETOWN 1486

E.O. 12065: GDS 4/19/85 (EDDY, JOHN J.) OR-M
TAGS: PINT, PINS, GJ
SUBJ: CONFLICTING STORIES OVER DEATH OF TONY BISHOP

1. JOHN COLLINS, UPI CORRESPONDENT IN U.S. VIRGIN ISLANDS, INFORMED AMBASSADOR APRIL 16 IN WASHINGTON THAT SOME PEOPLE IN USVI WHO KNEW TONY BISHOP, A NEPHEW OF MAURICE BISHOP, NOW LEADER OF NEW REVOLUTIONARY GOVERNMENT IN GRENADA, DO NOT BELIEVE TONY BISHOP COMMITTED SUICIDE IN GRENADA ON FRIDAY, MARCH 23, AS ALLEGED. RATHER, THEY THINK HE WAS MURDERED. DETAILS, AS GIVEN BY COLLINS, FOLLOW.

2. TONY BISHOP, WHO WAS 29 YEARS OLD WHEN HE DIED, HAD LIVED IN USVI SINCE AGE OF ABOUT 12. HE WAS HONOR STUDENT AT CATHOLIC HIGH SCHOOL. HIS FATHER WAS GRENADIAN; HIS MOTHER GUYANESE. HIS NATIONALITY, COLLINS BELIEVES, REMAINED GUYANESE; THAT IS, HE NEVER APPLIED FOR U.S. CITIZENSHIP. WHEN HE DIED, TONY BISHOP WAS ON LEAVE APPARENTLY FROM A TEACHING JOB IN THE COLLEGE OF VIRGIN ISLANDS. COLLINS KNEW TONY FOR ABOUT 8 YEARS. HE DESCRIBED BISHOP AS GREGARIOUS AND POPULAR WITH YOUNG PERSONS OF BOTH SEXES.

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3. COLLINS SAID HE LAST SAW TONY BISHOP IN USVI TEN DAYS BEFORE HE DIED, JUST AFTER BISHOP HAD RETURNED FROM A FAIRLY LONG SOJOURN IN GUYANA. BISHOP EVADED DISCUSSION OF THE GRENADA SITUATION. HE SEEMED QUITE DISTURBED WHEN COLLINS SHOWED HIM PICTURE OF SIR ERIC GAIRY WITH JIM JONES AT A KARATE CLASS IN THE PEOPLES’ TEMPLE, SAN FRANCISCO. COLLINS SAID TONY BISHOP OCCASIONALLY ESCORTED ONE OF GAIRY’S DAUGHTERS.

4. COLLINS SAID TONY BISHOP NEVER SPOKE PARTICULARLY HIGHLY OF HIS UNCLE, MAURICE BISHOP, NOW PRIME MINISTER OF GRENADA. NIGHT BEFORE HE DIED, TONY REPORTEDLY REMAINED OVERNIGHT IN BARBADOS AFTER TRIP FROM USVI. IN GRENADA HE STAYED AT BEVERLY HILLS FLATS (OR BEVERLY HILLS GUEST HOUSE), OWNED BY BISHOP FAMILY.

5. WHEN A. MELCHIOR, PUBLISHER OF THE VI DAILY NEWS, LEARNED OF BISHOP’S DEATH, HE CALLED ALISTER HUGHES, GRENADIAN SYDICATED COLUMNIST AND STRINGER FOR UPI, ON MARCH 26 TO ASK WHY HUGHES HAD NOT REPORTED BISHOP’S DEATH ON UPI WIRE. HUGHES SAID THERE WAS NO REAL STORY, THAT BISHOP WAS SIMPLY DISTURBED YOUNG MAN, SICK, AND HAD KILLED HIMSELF. HUGHES QUOTED RAPHAEL STANISLAUS AS HAVING SAID CAUSE OF DEATH COULD NOT BE FINALLY DETERMINED SINCE COURTS HAD BEEN SUSPENDED BECAUSE OF REVOLUTION; THEREFORE, CORONER’S INQUEST COULD NOT BE CARRIED OUT. NONETHELESS, HUGHES SAID, A DR. DENNIS RADIX HAD PERFORMED AN AUTOPSY INDICATING THAT BISHOP HAD DIED IN CARETAKER’S ROOM AT BEVERLY HILLS FLATS FROM A SINGLE BULLET WHICH HAD PASSED THROUGH HIS JAW UPWARD INTO BRAIN. DR. RADIX REPORTED THAT WHEN HE REMOVED THE SHEET FROM THE CORPSE, A GUN FELL OUT. HUGHES AT LAST FILED FOR UPI ON MARCH 29 TO SAN JUAN.

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6. COLLINS SAID THOSE WHO KNEW TONY BISHOP AT USVI CONSIDER HIM UNLIKELY TO HAVE TAKEN HIS OWN LIFE. IN PARTICULAR, A PERSON NAMED MARIO WATTINGTON AT THE COLLEGE OF THE VIRGIN ISLANDS, WHO KNEW BISHOP, IS SKEPTICAL. WATTINGTON TOLD COLLINS HE HAS RECEIVED REPORTS FROM RELATIVES OF TONY BISHOP, POSSIBLY INCLUDING BISHOP’S MOTHER ON TORTOLA, THAT ON MORNING BISHOP DIED SOMEONE INTERRUPTED A TELEPHONE CONVERSATION HE WAS ENGAGED IN FROM GRENADA WITH UNNAMED PERSON IN USVI. THEREAFTER A STRNGE VOICE CAME ON THE LINE AND SAID MR. BISHOP HAD DIED. MR. WATTINGTON’S INFORMATION IS THAT BISHOP DIED OF MULTIPLE WOUNDS IN THE NECK AND CHEST.

7. THE BOARD OF TRUSTEES OF THE COLLEGE OF VI MET TO DECIDE WHETHER THEY WOULD REQUEST AN INVESTIGATION BY THE U.S. GOVERNMENT. SINCE BISHOP WAS NOT AN AMERICAN CITIZEN, THEY DECIDED AGAINST SUCH A REQUEST.

8. DEPARTMENT HAD INQUIRED RE TONY BISHOP DEATH. ABOVE IS AS MUCH AS WE COULD LEARN WITHOUT INQUIRIES IN GRENADA WHICH OBVIOUSLY WOULD BE UNFEASIBLE.

ORTIZ

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Originally posted on October 23rd, 2020.

Last modified on November 15th, 2020.
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