The Greatest Show on Earth: Redux

Continuing with my Trini Carnival – Summit of the Americas parallel…

Here are some other familiar themes that I observed:


  • Caught a story on one of the local news channels about how the Charlotte Street Market vendors were disappointed that the wives of the visiting leaders did not stop by their stalls as part of their tour of the island.  The logic of my fellow citizens never ceases to amaze me.  Why on earth would people who are not voluntarily engaged in the rough guide tour of T&T want to go there?  Downtown POS is not all that fab (just being real), but Charlotte Street, least of all…  Hopefully all that yam did not spoil in the hot sun.  Nothing like heavy root vegetable to quell those economic hunger pangs.


  • In spite of the best efforts of the authorities to stifle the voices of the people, the unions and their supporters came out in small numbers in POS for a peaceful protest.  Forces (fatty bullies) in full costume (in riot gear) outnumbered the protesters.  Check out the news story and accompanying photo here.
  • Environmentalists, musicians, performers and members of various interest groups turned out at the  Drummit 2 Summit at the St. James Amphitheater to make known their views on the Summit and current issues of interest.  Drama ensued (permission granted, permission revoked, speakers on, speakers off), with the Guard and Emergency Branch (GEB) coming out.  Had no idea that we had taken a step back in time, that we had come full circle to a point where the authorities and drummers would find themselves in conflict.  Check out the news story and accompanying photo here.

Masking (related to Masquerade/r below)

  • The authorities and Summit organizers succeeded in completely hiding the real Trinidad and Tobago.  According to household media monitor, Pa (he has been glued to TV all weekend), visitors complained about being shuttled from official point to point with little opportunity to interact with the people of T&T.
  • Due to the suppression of protest action by the authorities, the population of T&T, a vociferous people by nature, were rendered (or depending on your take, allowed themselves to be rendered) relatively voiceless.  Compared to the actions by the local populations at other regional and international meetings, our passivity has been conspicuous, our silence deafening, our identities masked.


  • Like the Dimanche Gras shows of the past, the Fifth Summit of the Americas was plagued by snafus of one sort or the other (accreditation delays, Ortega’s three-hour wait, scuffle with Kirchner detail).  Read the Associated Press’ take here. I suppose all of this will eventually be attributed to the teething problems associated with hosting a meeting of this scale for the first time, co-ordinating efforts across mutiple agencies.  I hope that the  post-mortem analysis of the Summit is critical but productive and that those involved in planning the CHOGM later this year, learn from the mistakes made.

My grade for the Summit:

B- / C+ . Improvement needed (in terms of planning, execution, communication with the people, freedom of expression of the people).

Still heard too much about Latin America and the US and not enough about the Caribbean  (with the exception of Cuba). Think that future bi-lateral meetings (e.g.  Canada-CARICOM) will be more beneficial.

Not that I am all for conflict, but Ortega’s speech at the opening ceremony, Chavez’s book exchange  and Morales’ comments were the only interesting moments of the whole affair.  All those fiery personalities  seemed to have boiled down like bhaji…

Was happy to see / hear the name Trinidad and Tobago in the international news.  But we were merely a venue.  Do not know if the viewing public learned anything much about us.

My opinions aside, the visiting leaders used words like change, co-operation, openness and optimism to describe the Summit.  Consensus as opposed to unanimity to describe the Declaration of Port-of-Spain.

Waiting for those words to become deeds.


P.S. As it is T&T’s most important production, terms / themes associated with Carnival are used in my discussion of the Fifth Summit of the Americas as a point of departure, not as source of disparagement.

~ by mangoandmosquitoblog on April 19, 2009.

One Response to “The Greatest Show on Earth: Redux”

  1. Pa had the radio tuned to Power 102 FM on the ride home. Seems like listeners are giving the Summit an “F.” Anil and Sprang identified a whole host of other faux pas (plural ?) and problem areas that I did not think about but…

    But I am not going to change my grade.

    Did not think that we should have hosted the Summit in the first place, but know that once this PNM Government makes up its mind, the people’s opinions would not have changed it, even if our monies would be be doing the funding. Taxation without representation, consultation.

    Given the fact that our locally-produced events are never without mishap and that we certainly do not have enough home-grown expertise in the area of hosting events of such magnitude and prestige, I was expecting much worse: an assassination attempt, a bomb, a missing dignitary. Who knows?!

    The CHOGM is another event presented as fait accompli BUT we now have this experience under our belt: Organizers, get your act together. The CHOGM is an even bigger event, with more diverse leadership and interests. Stop acting like you know it all and learn from those who can do it better (foreigners) and listen to your best critics (the people).


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