PAN TRINBAGO president Keith Diaz has told members he is stepping down from his position amidst the current chaos within the organisation. Speaking on the organisation’s status and condition, at a meeting held at the Communication Workers’ Union hall in Port of Spain last week, Diaz painted a very bleak picture. Newsday was told Diaz apologised for all the issues members had to endure especially in the last six months, saying the central executive had kept him in the dark on a number of decisions.
Aquil Arrindell, one of the principals of Concerned Citizens for Pan (CIP), cited one example Diaz gave in the meeting. He said Diaz had objected to a member of the executive being given a $95,000 payment as events manager. The rest of the executive opposed his view and Diaz walked out, after which secretary Forteau took charge and a decision was made to pay the money. Another bone of contention is the high fees being paid to a financial adviser – a non-elected position, while prize money and panmen’s stipends are still outstanding for Carnival this year.
“There is a total collapse in the management of the organisation. The president is not in control and the rest of the executive is doing what they want.”
Diaz became president of Pan Trinbago in 2009 The organisation’s central executive comprises Diaz, secretary Richard Forteau, treasurer Andrew Salvador, PRO Michael Joseph, external relations officer Darren Sheppard and trustees Allan Augustus and Trevor Reid. After Tuesday’s meeting, Dane Gulston said some 72 bands were represented, 40 short of a quorum, but members moved a motion for the meeting to continue and it did, even though some executive members questioned its legitimacy.
At the end of the meeting the membership drew up a petition calling for an extraordinary meeting, which, according to Pan Trinbago’s constitution, must be called 14 days after receipt of the petition. The petition, which has been circulating for just about a year, will be delivered very early this week. It has more than the 60 per cent signatures required, and members expect Forteau will adhere to the constitution of the organisation and call the special meeting within the next two weeks.
At that meeting it is expected that Diaz will formally resign as president, and the rest of the executive will be called on to answer specific questions that have affected the membership’s confidence in them. Arrindell said a motion of no confidence in the rest of the executive will be moved. If it is carried, an interim management committee will be set up to run Pan Trinbago until elections are called in 90 days thereafter, or in October as scheduled. The committee will comprise the four regional chairmen plus five other members selected by the members.
Inside sources said since late last year there had been rumblings in the executive. Matters came to a head during the Carnival season and as soon as Carnival was over letters to Minister of Community Development, Culture and the Arts, Dr Nyan Gadsby-Dolly and National Carnival Commission chairman Colin Lucas were sent by the executive, without Diaz’s signature, outlining the power and authority of the president on the one hand, and the executive on the other, but in essence saying the rest of the executive had taken charge of the organisation.
Newsday was told, Diaz had since been practically working on his own, as other executive members were hardly in the office during the day, preferring to show up after hours. No member of the executive committee attended Tuesday’s meeting. On Wednesday Diaz said he is putting things in place for early elections.