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Paul Scoon; had key role in invasion of Grenada

NEW YORK — Paul Scoon, who vaulted from the mainly ceremonial post of governor general of Grenada to the role of power broker when the United States invaded his Caribbean nation in 1983, died Sept. 2 in St. Paul’s, Grenada. He was 78.

The government there did not give a cause.

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In 1978, Queen Elizabeth II appointed Mr. Scoon as governor general, the throne’s representative in a British Commonwealth country. With little administrative authority, the position typically promises a placid time in office. Mr. Scoon’s tenure became anything but calm.

He was arrested when leftists took over the government in a coup on March 13, 1979. But he was returned to his post when the new prime minister, Maurice Bishop, decided to retain Grenada’s membership in the Commonwealth. Mr. Scoon, he thought, would be a symbol of continuity. The two men became tennis partners.

On Oct. 14 1983, with Ronald Reagan in the White House, a more radical leftist faction within Grenada’s government seized power with the army’s help. Bishop was arrested and replaced by Bernard Coard, the deputy prime minister. Five days later, after chanting protesters freed Bishop from house arrest, he and other ministers were killed by troops.

At that point Mr. Scoon, using his acknowledged constitutional authority, invited the United States and Caribbean nations to intervene militarily. He was soon placed under house arrest.

The coup jolted Washington. The new, explicitly Marxist government raised the prospect of a third socialist center in the Western Hemisphere, joining Cuba and Nicaragua. Reagan, also worried about the safety of some 1,000 US citizens on the island, decided to invade.

On Oct. 25, nearly 8,000 US troops and about 300 from the Caribbean landed in Grenada. The invaders overcame resistance with little trouble. Hostilities ended in early November, leaving 19 Americans, 45 Grenadians, and 25 Cubans dead.

Mr. Scoon, as acting head of government, appointed an advisory council, which named a temporary prime minister. Elections were held in December 1984.

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