The Mongoose Gang was a private army or militia which operated from 1970 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.
The Mongoose Gang was responsible for silencing critics, 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. The violence of the Mongoose Gang and the Grenadian police became a more important factor than the state of the economy in generating unrest.
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".
By 1977 Gairy began receiving advice from General Augusto Pinochet of Chile on how to deal with civil unrest. His police and military also received "counter insurgency" training from the Pinochet regime. The New Jewel Movement retaliated by developing links with Fidel Castro and his Marxist government in Cuba.
The Mongoose Gang was used against protesters during the 1977 General Assembly of the Organization of American States hosted by Grenada.
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. In response, Bishop overthrew Gairy in March of that year while the latter was visiting the United States. 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.
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. The Mongoose Gang has often been compared to the Tonton Macoute of Haiti.
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