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President of the National Carnival Bands Association (NCBA), David Lopez yesterday complained that there was too much political interference in Carnival 2014. He even accused a senior politician of trying to run the carnival programme after an agreement was reached by all stakeholders. Lopez spoke with reporters yesterday afternoon as several bands were set to cross the Queens Park Savannah stage yesterday.
“This year was the most challenging year for me,” Lopez insisted. Admitting that there has been political interference in previous years, Lopez said it never reached the level it reached in 2014. He said if such levels of political interference were to continue in the future the T&T Carnival would be adversely affected. Lopez said the politician attempted to make changes to the route for the Parade of the Bands, after the stakeholders, including, the National Carnival Commission (NCC), NCBA and the police, agreed to the route.
“Well, come on, if that is going to happen then you don’t need a NCC,” Lopez said yesterday, adding that the NCBA was prepared to work with the state with respect to the security arrangements for Carnival. “If you getting involved in the internal business it will only continue to divide the carnival,” Lopez stressed, adding, Carnival 2014 was “the most challenging for me and my organisation.”
He also described as “amazing” a decision by the acting Commissioner of Police Stephen Williams to provide security for the new and controversial venue for bands this year, the Socadrome at the Jean Pierre Complex.
According to Lopez, the NCBA was told repeatedly, in previous years, that there was not enough police to patrol any proposed extended route for Parade of the Bands but this year “just so, the acting Commissioner of Police find manpower to manage the Socadrome.” He said he wanted to know what signals were being sent to the children of the nation as the rules were being infringed. “Is the Commissioner of Police a politician?” Lopez asked.
He said T&T was the home of the real Carnival and had the capacity to export and not import costumes for Carnival. The country was losing the designers, wire-benders gradually, he said, “while we continue to play politics.” Expressing the hope that the country will get it right, Lopez maintained the level of political interference must be discontinued for the national festival to advance.
According to Lopez the Government has a responsibility to provide adequate funding to the Carnival interest groups, which in turn must also be able to make the event financially profitable. He said the provision of more than $100 million by the Government for Carnival this year was for the contractors and service providers. Lopez said the focus must be on the industry year round, adding that the Carnival costumes must be placed in a museum.
He said the turnout of spectators in the savannah was normal, including 200 cruise ship passengers who were in the savannah to witness the parade of the bands.