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Thursday, November 02, 2006

Island People IS listening ...

Or maybe that should be reading! Just last week Tuesday I did an update on what sections were sold out in TRIBE and wrote about wishing that Island People would update their website to show what sections were sold out so that I do not have to keep harassing them with phone calls.

Well, today I noticed that the website is updated with this information! For website registration it appears that Oasis, Goddess and Defenders, Sacred Sands,Oasis and Jewel of the Nile are sold out. However all other sections are open, providing they have YOUR size available.

Silence on home for Carnival 2007

Seems like everyone is awaiting an answer as to where exactly will be Carnival's "home".Today's Opinion Letter to The Trinidad Express is as follows:

What, we wonder, is preventing the Government from providing a straight answer to the question: Where will Carnival be staged in 2007? Next year's Carnival dates - February 19 and 20 - are known. In fact they have been known for years, so when the Government made its declaration that this year's Carnival would be the last to be centred at the Grand Stand of the Queen's Park Savannah it must have been well aware of the time frame it had set itself, both for the demolition of the old venue and the building of a new, state-of-the-art replacement.

In fact, when Prime Minister Patrick Manning made the announcement he was dismissive of the traditional Carnival site, sneering at it as "a horse shed" and raising expectations of a bright new world for the staging of Carnival 2007's many competitions. The competitions have become integral to the Carnival celebrations although they are not essential to them, Carnival still taking place in the streets and at other venues, even if not a single official competition was to be held during the entirety of the appointed season.

Nevertheless, locals and visitors alike have become accustomed to Carnival's competitive face and, besides, the new centre was not to be a solo-use only site but one that would be used for the benefit of the entertainment communities in Trinidad and Tobago of which Trinidad and Tobago, given its population size, has a fair number. Citizens' concern over not only the Government's apparent inaction but prolonged silence on the issue is understandable.

Either the Government has the humility to inform the population that it has overshot its building bolt and cannot now accommodate a new Carnival centre or it must let us in on its plans to still break down the old and set up the new in the months that still remain, the civic proviso being that this enforced rush must not mean the country is paying more than originally budgeted.

The truth is an ongoing problem with this cash-rich but increasingly planning-poor administration which has a cavalier attitude to its own time schedules, as if time is not money and the money is not the taxpayers', even if it comes directly out of their pockets or, as in the case of the oil revenues, it comes out of those productive holes in the ground that are part of the national patrimony.

Crime ...................

The brutal murder of teenager Parmanan Persaud this week has not only shocked many persons living here, but even those living outside of Trinidad are numb to the fact that their sweet Trinidad and Tobago has lost it's paradise state.

Even though I did not address the murder on my blog, I mean how I could really deal with a topic so sensitive on a forum where all I talk about is Carnival, Modest Goddess has written about it and also has an on going commentary since the tragedy. If you would like to comment or read some more information on what happened please visit Moddess Goddess and Manicou Report.

In light of this latest murder, I know for a fact that many people are scared, worried and concerned that crime is not being addressed properly by the powers that be in this country, and justly are apprehensive about their personal safety for Carnival. All the claims that crime is decreasing by the Government are not supported by the fact that almost daily the newspapers report a murder.

Now I have read that an increased police presence will be mobilized for Cricket World cup, which got me to thinking that it is the same with Carnival, why can’t it be like that for the rest of the year? To be honest with you, during the Carnival period is the only time where I see police and army patrolling the streets, or on the roads at night and in large numbers too. So, the Government can see the importance of protecting foreigners for Cricket World Cup and Carnival (not saying that they should not) but for the rest of the year the same measures are not implemented to protect the citizens that live here!

On one hand I am glad that for the past few years Carnival has been relatively safe, take a read at this Guardian article to understand what I say when I say “relatively safe”; not saying that crimes do not occur, but the protected service tries their hardest to keep the smear of illict activites from staining the "freedom" that is Carnival. For instance, pick pockets come out in droves at certain fetes so you have to mindful of this and not walk with a wallet, stash your cash on your person securely. But if a fight occurs at one of those large fetes like Brass Festival, police officers step in to terminate it before it escalates into something serious.

In that sense they are working to keep criminal activity to the minimum. It’s the same with J’ouvert, now it starts later so there is less chance of something like a robbery happening under the cover of darkness, and there are lots of police on the streets for J’ouvert and on Carnival Tuesday as well which provides some comfort and hopefully keeps the criminals on their toes .But on the other hand, I continue to live in Trinidad after Carnival is over; when the visitors have returned overseas with their departure the “security” of the police is gone as well. We do not see them on the streets or on the highways in the same numbers as for Carnival. After Carnival is over the madness continues. Well maybe not for all because the rich folks in Trinidad live by a different standard; I know for a fact that areas in the West like Goodwood Park benefit from ROUTINE police patrols, not private security, but the POLICE!

I know the idea that Carnival is the “safest” period to visit Trinidad is not shared by everyone, just ask those who were robbed during the festival, but take it from me it is.As I would advise anyone coming to Trinidad for Carnival, be safe. It sounds simple, but to keep yourself from being a victim you have to be smart, use common sense and try your best to avoid situations that can put your life in jeopardy. Avoid walking with the flashy cameras and video cameras on the road, do not walk around with a lot of cash or “advertise” that you are a foreigner. Choose your fetes wisely; all-inclusive fetes are becoming increasingly popular not only because of what they offer but because of their safety record. Most, if not all bands provide security on the road on Monday and Tuesday, however do not stray away from the band alone; always stay in groups, even if going to the toilet. Make sure you have transportation organized going and coming from all the events you plan on going to and especially for after playing mas. No one wants to be caught alone, in a skimpy costume, half drunk on the streets as Carnival is winding down.Although the Government and protected services try their best to make Carnival safe, we too have to take responsibly for our own safety.
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