International support spurs global interest and oversight of carnival panists’ mistreatment
Global - With little more than a few weeks before the largest and most popular steelband music competition in the oil-rich country of Trinidad and Tobago, the local panists have received a major boost with the support of the international steelpan music community. Largely through the availability of the internet, Trinidad and Tobago steelpan musicians have been able to communicate their grievances to the global community for support.
At the center of the controversy is Winston Peters, the man formerly known as the "Gypsy". Peters is now the Arts and Multiculturalism Minister, and is the chief antagonist in this matter. Peters has called for the reduction of stipends paid to the competition participants. The overwhelming majority of players are young people. The Trinidad and Tobago national newspapers have reported that the riff between the minister and players has grown. It has also been reported that the minister has a personal dislike for the steelband community.
So intense is the matter that a few passionate local songs have been written about the minister and his unpopular positions. “Leave De Panman Money Alone” and “More Money for Pan” are two of those song to name a few.
The last few weeks have seen a series of highly public and embarrassing miscues by the Trinidad and Tobago government, as published in their national news media. With all eyes now beginning to focus on the popular carnival celebrations - this could be the biggest and most costly in terms of public opinion. Thousands of revelers will be pouring into Trinidad & Tobago to participate in the country’s annual carnival within the next few weeks.
International supporters – and steelpan music empathizers – have stepped up their efforts to highlight the injustices visited upon the musicians by the Trinidad and Tobago government. Petitions calling for the repeal of the stipend reduction has been distributed to the practice site of the steel orchestras in addition to being online.
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