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Tuesday 20 November 2018
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I play mas when I’m pregnant

Bianca Cabrera with her five-month-old son De Andre and three-year-old daughter Megan.
Bianca Cabrera with her five-month-old son De Andre and three-year-old daughter Megan.

SEETA PERSAD

“NOTHING wrong having my child with me.”

With these words, grandmother Francesca Cabrera, 37, said yesterday she had no regrets about dancing with her five-month-old grandson strapped onto her on Carnival Monday in San Fernando, just behind a music truck.

Upset by the social-media blitz which lambasted her, she spoke to Newsday to say she wanted to clear up widespread speculation, saying, “I believe mother and child belong together.” Cabrera explained how she found herself jumping up with the baby in the band Lionel Jagessar and Associates. She said her grandchild was with his mother, Bianca Cabrera, who also was also playing mas. “On reaching the judging point at Harris Promenade, Bianca gave me the baby.”

Newsday contacted Bianca, who said, “I don’t see anything wrong with having my child with me while me and and my mother play mas.” Cabrera said the family, from San Fernando, has been playing mas for the past 20 years, and it was customary for her children and grandchildren to play in the same band.

Asked if she felt that by doing so she exposed the baby to harm, given the loud music and the possibility of violence, Cabrera said, “I believe women should not leave their kids behind in the care of others and go to Carnival.”

People other than your own relatives cannot be trusted, Cabrera said, condemning people on social media who directed their comment at what they felt was her exposing an infant to danger.

Cabrera admitted that bandleader Lionel Jagessar and his wife, Rosemarie Jagessar, cautioned her about the baby, but said she assured them the baby was in good care. In fact, she said, “I play mas when I am pregnant and I always carry my younger children with me to play mas.” Cabrera said she has four children and two grandchildren, and safety during Carnival was her main concern, so she just could not leave her grandchild in the care of any relative. She and her entire family, including the young children, are looking forward to Carnival 2019, she said.

Responding to the furore, bandleader Rose Marie Kuru-Jagessar said while she does not want to lose any of her loyal masqueraders, she would be taking more affirmative action next year to ensure that no child under the age of five is in her family’s band on Carnival Monday and Tuesday in 2019.

With additional reporting by Yvonne Webb

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