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Veterans: Gross disrespect to blank $2m request

By Michelle Loubon

“Gross disrespect.”

This is how veterans registered their disapproval over the fact the $1 million first prize will not be increased to $2 million in the National Calypso Monarch competition.

On Thursday, Cabinet blanked the request by Trinbago Unified Calypsonians Organisation (TUCO) for increased prize monies for the winner. On Monday, TUCO president Brother Resistance (Lutalo Masimba) said it was an embarrassment to citizens and the People’s Partnership for the winner to receive $1 million. He called for equity like the Chutney Soca and Soca Monarch competitions.

Asked to comment yesterday, Chalkdust (Hollis Liverpool), in a telephone interview, said: “They should increase it for the love of calypso. TUCO does not have the funding for the $2 million because it has 13 communities, about four tents, staff to pay and children’s competitions to run.

“Calypso has been around since before Emancipation. The artform has put Trinidad on the map. If they want to keep the calypso, they should esteem it.”

Chalkdust, the author of Rituals and Rebellion in Carnival, added: “There has been a good crop of calypsoes. I thought Bally and Heather McIntosh had good songs. The judges thought otherwise.

“The judges’ decision is final.” 

Fellow Kalypso Revue singer Skatie (Carlos James) said: “I am putting my best foot forward. I would have liked $2 million. It’s not fair. I don’t think calypsonians are anti-Government. They are merely highlighting the issues like poor governance.” 

Myron Bruce said: “I feel devalued by the lack of consideration. But it is much deeper. I think calypso needs to rebuild itself to be able to command the respect it deserves right now.” 

Bodyguard (Roger Mohammed) said: “It is a sad day for calypso when you have to sing two songs and getting half the prize monies. We should be getting $2 million. I don’t mean any disrespect to the genres (chutney, soca), but no other competition is a huge as the calypso monarch finals.” 

Sharing his sentiment, King Luta (Morel Peters), the 2014 veterans champion, said TUCO should have discussed the prize monies earlier on during the year.

Luta said: “I never liked the [last]-minute thing. They have a whole year to fix it. We can fix 2015 from now. I don’t [think] TUCO is supposed to be looking at it now.”

Luta said TUCO gets monies but it goes into managing four tents, training judges and administration.

“They are getting the money for the competition alone. It is what they must address. Chutney people are getting $2 million for one event. Kaiso is the mother of all of them. If there is any disparity, TUCO should get more,” said Luta.

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