I do not need someone from foreign to tell me that gangsters are fully in charge in many communities, and I dun know that the politicians look the other way and frequently consort with them.
It is a reprehensible failure on the part of the elites and belated moaners that they could not see where these unholy alliances would lead.
So who is in bed with criminals remains a lively, contemporary topic, but as long ago as 2006, I was particularly direct about it, writing as follows: “Both political parties have cuddled up to questionable elements, used them to gather votes and to distribute patronage to so-called depressed areas to keep those areas calm. I have repeatedly protested these strategic alliances, and by now it should be clear to all, that the cuddles have grown into a permanent and major embrace.”
I continued: “There is also the constant death rattle emanating from the URP and CEPEP programmes as supervisors and other functionaries of these programmes, into which the government pours pots of money, are felled by well-placed bullets. One could be forgiven for thinking that the government is knowingly or recklessly funding mafia-style operations.”
Neither of our two major political parties, which have alternately constituted our governments in this century, no matter how much they flatter members of the underclass with state funds—or sometimes oppress them—are willing to turn away their political vehicles from dangerous alliances. These alliances have benefitted the two political parties but have destroyed much of the social fabric of our country.
These alliances, going back to the Manning PNM and the successor UNC-led partnership government, were recently reviewed in an editorial in the Trinidad Express newspaper entitled No Smoking Gun.
Today I pause on that subject because this afternoon, the medium and large band semi-finals of the annual Panorama competition take place.
The Panorama’s financial loss is borne by the taxpayer. Subject to the expenditures all being transparent and above board and not laced with freeness, there is a strong socio-economic case to be made for the expenditure.
The steelband movement sustains the prodigious musical talents of our people and, in particular, provides a constructive foundation for at-risk youth and troubled communities.
The skills learned raise self-esteem and provide opportunities for advancement in music here and abroad, as well as a platform for diversification of the economy, to place the performing arts both as an export and a major tourism foundation.
The most recent examples of a tourism ready product were Massy Trinidad All Stars Classical Jewels at NAPA, the musical selections of which was the music of well-known movies supported by a backdrop screen on which scenes from the movies, which related to the music, were played.
More recently there was a BPTT Renegades concert entitled Beethoven Meets Renegades. The band played exclusively the works of Beethoven, also using a screen background, which provided pertinent information.
A section of Renegades is making the band’s seventh or eighth visit to France. I was present in Paris in 1990 when Renegades played to an audience of several million.
In one important respect, there is something new to discuss concerning the Panorama arrangements.
The new executive of Pan Trinbago took the important decision to cease cramming the competitions for all categories of pan into the Carnival season. Consequently, the Panorama began in November and single pan and small band have already finished competing and winners declared.
Even more importantly, the executive decided to separate the medium band and large band finals into two separate events. As a longtime advocate of prime bands in prime time, the large band final can be restored to a premier spectator event on the Carnival weekend with significant earning potential.
More adventurously, the medium band final is relocated to Tobago and, properly marketed, can also be a significant revenue earner with the emphasis on attracting full houses of foreign visitors to the Tobago hotels and guest houses.
The sabotage of old thinking and a lack of additional marketing and stage management expertise may constrain the embryonic potential. I will be watching closely as Panorama is taking a different direction.