Anniversary of the 1967 coup attempt

Dwyer Astaphan
Dwyer Astaphan

(ZIZ)– Tuesday June 10, 2014 marked a dark day in the history of St. Kitts when 47 years ago opposition forces staged an attempt to over throw the Labour government, then led by the Rt. Excellent Sir Robert Llewellyn Bradshaw.

Many of today’s senior leaders would have been young children or just approaching their teen years at the time of the 1967 coup attempt, however, many of them still recall the chaos, havoc and great uncertainty about the future with which they were faced almost 5 decades ago, when heavily armed Anguillan guerilla forces joined with members of the People’s Action Movement who were displeased with the outcome of the July 25th 1966 elections.

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Until recently, Dwyer Astaphan, a former member of the Douglas cabinet, was one man at the forefront, constantly reminding Kittitians and Nevisians of the way the history of the nation would have changed had the attempt, which was coordinated, in part, by the People’s Action Movement, been successful.

Mr. Astaphan, who was 19 years old at the time of the coup attempt, even recalled where he was. “I remember the fore day morning of the 10th June 1967 as if it happened this morning. I will never forget it. I was at the Factory Social Centre at a dance sitting down at a bar with Poesy Southwell, son of the late Paul Southwell, Elmo Osborne, Cardigan Dickenson and others,” he said.

According to a release from the Communications Unit Of The Office Of The Prime Minister today, on June 9th 2005, Mr. Astaphan, speaking in the National Assembly, called on the people of the federation to be “on their guard” on the eve of the 38th anniversary of the armed invasion of St. Kitts and the failed attempt to overthrow the lawfully elected Labour Party Administration of Premier The Hon. Robert L. Bradshaw on June 10, 1967.

Mr. Astaphan pointed out that the People’s Action Movement, formed in 1965, was involved in the conspiracy to overthrow the Labour government several months after its defeat in the general election on July 25th 1966.

He continued, “Madame Speaker, I want to issue a word of caution to the people of this country. Be on your guard. And I mean all the people of this country, St. Kitts and Nevis, because if St. Kitts sneezes, Nevis is going to catch a cold and if Nevis sneezes, St. Kitts is going to catch a cold. We are talking about a people, whose traditions are steeped in lawlessness and spoil bratishness and disrespect and take up what they want by not waiting for the time to get it.”

Astaphan went on to note that “anyone who is contemplating any kind of treasonous or destabilising type of activity will have to understand that the consequences will be grave.”

It was noted that if the dynamite had exploded at Camp Springfield on June 10, 1967, everybody in Fry’s Village and half of the people in Greenlands would have been killed.

Mr. Dwyer Astaphan, then Minister of National Security in 2005, noted that La Guerite and St. Johnston Village would have disappeared “and if these people had gotten their way, not one police officer in Basseterre would have been alive that morning.”

He also stated that with the exploding of the Shell bulk tanks, the whole of Basseterre would have been decimated as most of the homes in 1967 were made of wood.

Having taken this position a mere eight years ago, it is difficult to reconcile the Dwyer Astaphan of 2005 with the same man who now has aligned himself with the alliance known as Team UNITY, of which PAM, key conspirators in the failed 1967 coup attempt, is a chief member of.

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