INTERNATIONAL MEDIA BLANKED CARIFESTA 1V

Vishnu Bishram, an Indo- Guyanese, complained of a large Guyanese contingent of almost 100 with all expenses paid and few Indo-Guyanese artistes. “A contingent of more than 100 were housed at the Marriot and that is a phenomenal cost that the Guyanese economy can ill afford.”

INTERNATIONAL MEDIA BLANKED CARIFESTA 1V

CARIFESTA 1V was blanked by international media. The ten-day Caribbean Festival of the Arts, held from 16-25 August 2019 in Trinidad, was aimed at bringing the Caribbean closer together. “It may have succeeded in this objective but the festival failed to impact on the international world. I am not surprised. The Caribbean is viewed as a haven for drugs and human trafficking. It is not known for anything positive and governments are not doing anything to change this negative image,” one source contended. 

Vishnu Bishram, an Indo- Guyanese, complained of a large Guyanese contingent of almost 100 with all expenses paid and few Indo-Guyanese artistes. “A contingent of more than 100 were housed at the Marriot and that is a phenomenal cost that the Guyanese economy can ill afford.” 

Indian cultural expression continues to be marginalized. Ricky Jai and Neval Chatelal were the only two Indo artistes that performed on the big stage. At the county level there was expected to be a greater expression of Indian culture, but there was much resistance from officials of the planning committees. “Imagine that black members of the planning committees were vetting names of Indo Trinidadian artistes and exercising power of veto!” said one irate member of the planning committee.

Once again, CARIFESTA 2019 was an attempt to paint the Caribbean black. Marchal, Shaggy, Cassav, Rose and other black artistes were highlights of CARIFESTA. “Tassa, Ramleeala, Divali and our artistes like Rakesh, Rasika and Dil-e-na-dan were not part of anyone of the concerts at NAPA and SAPA. It’s like Indians don’t exist in the Caribbean,” Gowtam Maharaj, a cultural activist and community worker said.

The Caribbean has a population of approximately 40 million. CARICOM member states have only 7.2 million people.  If there is a predominant ethnic group in the Caribbean it is the Hispanics. Cuba has a population of 12 million. Dominican Republic and Haiti have population of 10 million each. Guyana, Suriname and Trinidad have more than one-third of its population being Indians. Guadeloupe and Martinique have large Indian population. 

“Black fascists are ruling in Caricom states and their objective is to paint the Caribbean black. Other minorities and the majority Hispanic population are ignored,” said Bhim Singh and pointed out that Suriname has a large Javanese population and Guyana has an indigenous population and asked: “Have those minor groups ever found expressions in Carifesta since its inception in 1972?”

“Our European cultural expressions do not find expression in CARIFESTA and other Caribbean stages,” said Mitra Khan and continued: “The languages spoken- French, Spanish, English and Dutch- are all European. So much of our European heritage are part of our daily life. Yet, a piano recital never found expression in Carifesta.”

One activist observed that in the Carifesta advertisement, Indian culture was given a token presence. Even the airing of the ads was done in Creole stations with none in the Indian formatted networks such as Jagriti, 103 Fm or Sangeet Vani. “It was a black affair!” said John Sundar.

Major discrimination was witnessed in the disbursement of the $43m voted for Carifesta. “Only certain individuals had access to this fund. There was not an equal opportunity to provide supplies such as food, photography, tents, PA system, etc. Even vendors who came to ply their trade were vetoed and only those who had the blessings of the power brokers were given a piece of the cake,” said Merle.

Carifesta was the brainchild of Forbes Burnham, the dictator who overseer the fleeing of thousands of Guyanese to many parts of the world seeking asylum.  “His objective was to bring the people of the Caribbean people together and drive the Indians out,” said John Sundar.

“CARICOM has no purpose. It has failed to unite the Caribbean and Carifesta is doing more harm than good at uniting the diverse people that inhabit our islands,” said Gowtam. “Caricom has to be revisited. It is an albatross around the necks of Caribbean people and serving no purpose.”