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Jamaica-born author and social worker Phyllis Coard, the lone woman convicted among the Grenada 17 in the bloody coup that uprooted Prime Minister Maurice Bishop, has died.

The 73-year-old reportedly passed away at a hospital in Kingston, Jamaica, on Sunday.

Author of Unchained: A Caribbean Woman’s Journey Through Invasion, Incarceration and Liberation, Coard, the wife of former Deputy Prime Minister Bernard Coard, was listed among the masterminds who ousted Bishop, who was killed in a power struggle within the then ruling New Jewel Movement in the ill-fated Grenada Revolution.

Coard and her husband, along with government and army officials, were rounded up by the United States and Caribbean troops that stormed the island on October 25, 1983, six days after Bishop was executed at Fort George along with three ministers: Unison Whiteman, Norris Bain, and Jacqueline Creft.

In February 2000, she was diagnosed with a cancerous tumour which doctors said would require treatment by an oncologist. At that time, Grenada was without an oncologist or facilities to treat cancer patients and Coard was released on compassionate grounds to seek treatment abroad for six months in the first instance.

It was also agreed that she be allowed, depending on medical conditions, to apply for extensions of this temporary respite from her prison term. She left Grenada for Jamaica to receive treatment.

According to New Today Grenada, Coard was ailing for a number of years and spent the last few months in and out of hospital suffering from medical complications.

One of her daughters was quoted as saying that her mother died at a hospital in Kingston.

The medical doctor who was looking after Coard reportedly told the daughter that she was without a pulse when they got to her.

Lifelong friend Lambert Brown, a trade unionist and former Jamaican opposition senator, said Coard worked to improve the lives of women by advocating maternity leave, among other causes.

“She was a powerful presence and was part of the founding of the National Organisation for Women in Grenada, where she had migrated to be with her husband Bernard, who was, at the time, that island’s deputy prime minister.”

Brown said that Coard’s life had many difficult chapters, but those obstacles failed to dampen her spirit. He said that up to the time of her passing, Coard was passionate about women’s rights and was a solid moralist.

Sources: CNW, Gleaner


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