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 announced his death without giving a cause. He had long been treated for diabetes.
Mr. Scoon had been a top-tier bureaucrat in Grenada in 1978 when Queen Elizabeth II appointed him to the position of governor general, the throne's official representative in a British Commonwealth country. With little administrative authority, the position typically promises a placid time in office. But 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, the late Maurice Bishop, decided to retain Grenada's membership in the Commonwealth. Mr. Scoon, he thought, would be a symbol of stability and continuity. The two men became tennis partners. In Washington, however, there was uneasiness about Grenada's leftward turn.
Then, on Oct. 14 1983, with Ronald Reagan in the White House, a more radical leftist faction within the Grenadan 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-Leninist government in Grenada raised the prospect of a third socialist center in the Western Hemisphere, joining Cuba and Nicaragua. The Reagan administration was also worried about the safety of some 1,000 American citizens on the island, many of them medical students. The president decided to invade.
On Oct. 23, forces from the United States and Caribbean nations massed on Barbados, 150 miles east of Grenada. Two days later, in an air and amphibious assault, nearly 8,000 American troops and more than 300 from the Caribbean landed in Grenada. A Navy SEAL team rescued Mr. Scoon from house arrest, and the invaders overcame resistance with little trouble. Hostilities ended in early November, leaving 19 Americans, 45 Grenadians and 25 Cubans dead.
With the leftists ousted, Mr. Scoon, as acting head of government, appointed an advisory council, which named a temporary prime minister. Democratic elections were held in December 1984.
The United States defended the action as regional peacekeeping, although it lacked approval from the United Nations or the Organization of American States, and as necessary to protect Americans and provide humanitarian aid.
Paul Scoon, the son of a butcher, was born in Gouyave, a fishing village on Grenada's western coast.