Demming: Thanks, but no thanks Mr Prime Minister; George St no place for Despers

Desperadoes Steel Orchestra is in no position to refuse the generosity of the prime minister, but the population can. We can tell Dr Keith Rowley that the reasons Despers left the ‘Hill’ are still with us and may even be more deeply entrenched as we count the daily shootings, killings and incidents of violence being perpetrated on some innocent citizens.

The population can tell the prime minister that the property at the corner of Tragarete Road and Victoria Avenue is an ideal location for the theatre concept he is espousing. We can tell the prime minister that gentrification cannot occur simply by placing one icon in a prominent location. The population can tell the prime minister that based on our history, his time frame of a Christmas present is unrealistic.

Photo: Panorama 2020 winners Desperadoes Steel Orchestra (via

Despers’ departure from the Hill is symbolic of the deep decay eating away at the core of our society. Crime is a problem that has evolved around the poor judicial infrastructure that has developed over decades and has influenced society’s mindset to accept it, further escalating the spiral.

We accept that there is no single root cause, so an array of solutions will be needed. But crime will not be solved until the population perceives that there is equity and justice.

On one hand, we refer to the ‘criminal elements’ and are comfortable referring to human beings as ‘elements’. Meanwhile, our white-collar criminals use their office, access and money to buy their way into the good graces of politicians, and it is perceived that they can even manipulate the justice system.

I am personally still smarting from the First Citizens’ IPO issue. Recall that a settlement agreement was arrived at without any ‘admission of wrongdoing, guilt or liability, whether civil, criminal or otherwise, on the part of BBL and/or its managing director.

The players were able to pay a fine, hold on to most of the profit they derived from this deal and continue their lives of luxury. Do you not think that the ‘elements’ can read and understand the extent of this inequity?

Dr Keith Rowley

If the prime minister had made an ‘incognito’ visit to Despers at the corner of Tragarete Road and Victoria Avenue, he would have felt the love that existed in the panyard this year. From the day of the judging of Youth Panorama right up to the night before the Panorama Finals, there was peace, friendly banter and a communal spirit.

I saw persons in that panyard whom I used to see regularly ‘up de hill’ and some commented that they felt safe enough to return. It is hardly likely that they will visit Despers on George Street because it’s too far from main transit access, locked in by buildings on all sides, and in an area where some might consider their personal security at risk, justified or not.

The plan to redevelop the city of Port of Spain by providing entertainment and exposure of the country’s culture to citizens and tourists alike is a great one. But building a Pan Theatre for Despers in the heart of a decayed part of the city will not stimulate that redevelopment.

You cannot hope to change the character of a neighbourhood by placing one icon there and hoping that everything else around will magically improve. For one icon to make a difference, there has to be a plan that includes access, foot traffic, other activities and security. Gentrification from the bottom is destined to fail.

I understand the graciousness of Despers to say thanks, but as a citizen I am calling on the prime minister to reconsider his decision. The 12th Panorama victory of this band deserves giving them a fighting chance to become sustainable. And, right now, George Street is not the place.

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About Dennise Demming

Dennise Demming
Dennise Demming grew up in East Dry River, Port of Spain and has more than 30 years experience as a Communication Strategist, Political Commentator and Event Planner. She has 15 years experience lecturing Business Communications at UWI and is the co-licensee for TEDxPortofSpain. Dennise holds an MBA, a B.Sc. in Political Science & Public Administration and a certificate Mass Communications from UWI.

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  1. You are a commanding and persuasive in your writing. Wow had to comment

  2. Hillan Cadena Morean

    Pan is an agent of change and has made some of the most significant impacts on this country. All Stars is right up the road on Duke St. I read these comments and as a young person I shudder. We must apparently abandon East POS is what people are saying, rather than do something about it with the very institutions that can make a difference. There is a full plan for the bands economic stability throughout the year and in the face of all that, we downtrod the very place we should be brave enough to lift up.

    The politics of Pan versus the Pan of Politics.?❤️✌️???️

  4. Correct, they are in no position to refuse. Why do we forget that it’s taxpayers funding another theatre for this band again. Three times if I recall correctly. There are other less fortunate single pans that need help from the area. Is where Massy Trinidad All Stars located at the top of George Street much different?

  5. Absolutely correct.
    No thank you!!

  6. With great irony, the ethnic groups that are ultimately responsible for the import of the guns & illicit drugs that make george st (and t&t as a whole really) unsafe in the first place, are exactly the same ones that dictate to the PM that despers should be ‘placed’ on george st. and NOT tragrete.

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