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US cocaine bust cracks up South J’Ouvert

Tuesday, March 4, 2014
Coke in Orange Juice Can, a J'Ouvert Presentation from D Play Boyz on Harris Promenade, San Fernando, yesterday. PHOTO: TONY HOWELL

J’Ouvert celebrations have always been the platform for political picong, and yesterday comical portrayals of the recent $644 million US cocaine “bust” stole the spotlight in San Fernando. Spectators, who lined Harris Promenade in anticipation of the political blows for which San Fernando J’Ouvert is renowned, were left in stitches yesterday as traditional mas characters from the bands Blue Boys and Montano and Friends entertained with their humorous take on the drug scandal. Characters getting “high” on juice cans and clad in brasiers stuffed with white powder to highlight the “bust” elicited ripples of laughter from the eager audience. One of the popular picks by the audience was a character from Blue Boys 2014 presentation, Anthicks in TnT, wearing a dress with a stuffed bra, pushing a juice cart. Another comical character portraying the coke bust was in Montano and Friends presentation, Breaking News. The character, calling himself No Cover-up in Coke Case and wearing a sign “Captain Gary X,” dropped a mystery item on the road before the judges and slowly removed three bedsheets to reveal a red “Coke-a-Cola” case.


Mayor blasts late start
Yesterday’s celebrations got off to a late start with San Fernando Mayor Kazim Hosein formally declaring Carnival celebrations open at 5.50 am, one hour and 50 minutes later than expected.
Hosein, presiding over his first Carnival celebration since becoming Mayor last November, expressed displeasure over the late start to the J’Ouvert celebrations. He said come 2015 mas bands late for J’Ouvert celebrations in San Fernando will be penalised. He made the statement after spectators were forced to endure the extraordinary delay in the start of the J’Ouvert celebrations.
Hosein, in declaring the celebrations open, lamented that there appeared to be no respect for time, since celebrations were carded to start at 4 am. He said, “The launch of Carnival 2014 on J’Ouvert morning is a long standing tradition and now part of our culture, but it is not part of our culture to start at 10 to 6 when we are supposed to open at 4 am. We must respect time, this is not a tradition we know.”

However at 4 am the promenade was a virtual ghost town with some scant spectators milling around waiting for bands to arrive. Hosein, chairman of the San Fernando City Corporation Carnival committee, said such a delay will not be repeated. “Next year will ensure as chairman of the committee for Carnival we start on time, judges I want to remind you that we should start on time. We have visitors and spectators from all over and thousands eager to participate in meaningful and colourful portrayals of contemporary and traditional mas,” he lamented. J’Ouvert highlights
Yesterday the first to cross the Harris Promenade judging point was not a character band, but steel band-Southern All Stars, competing in the bomb competition. The band performed the song Fernando by Abba and was followed at 6.05 am by 2014 Panorama Medium band champion, Pan Elders Steel Orchestra.

Pan Elders performance, All ah we is one family-Lord Nelson and A picture paints a thousand words. Hosein, in commending the band for their panorama victory, announced that after Carnival he will bestow a special award on the band since they are the first San Fernando steelband, since 1965, to win the Panorama medium band title. Yesterday, at 6.19 am, Tyron Nanan, of Princes Town, became the first J’Ouvert character to arrive at the judging point with his portrayal Bass riding with Jack. 

Nanan galloped along the judging point with a green horse on his waist. The horse was decorated with a sunglasses and an ILP sign. He was followed by reigning king of J’Ouvert Wayne Pollai with his portrayal, Kamla refuse to take de bait, but Prakash want to take de bait. Pollai, using a prop of a fishing rod with a dangling bait—a pun on last year’s political debate—interchanged his characters between Prime Minister Kamla Persad-Bissessar and Congress of the People leader Prakash Ramadhar.   


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