San Fernando stakeholders threaten to boycott mas 2025

A masquerader with the band June Andrews, Anton Duncan and Associates Cherokee Bustle Dancers at King’s Wharf, San Fernando on Carnival Tuesday.  - Photo by Lincoln Holder
A masquerader with the band June Andrews, Anton Duncan and Associates Cherokee Bustle Dancers at King’s Wharf, San Fernando on Carnival Tuesday. - Photo by Lincoln Holder

WITH some prizes for Carnival 2024 still outstanding, a newly formed stakeholders' group, the San Fernando Mas Bands and Cultural Associations (SFMBCA), is advocating for the privatisation of San Fernando Carnival.

Interim chairman of the SFMBCA Anthony "B Man" Charles wants Carnival "to be removed from under the control of the San Fernando City Corporation (SFCC) and (given) to a private group to run, using the Point Fortin model.”

Addressing a news conference at B Man’s and Lord Street Fusion Family Events Mas Camp at Cipero Street, San Fernando, on May 10, he and the other stakeholders threatened to boycott mas in 2025 if the situation remains the same.

“If we don’t bring a product here, there would be no Carnival in San Fernando, and it looks like its heading that way,” said B Man, the self-appointed “watchdog of what is going on with San Fernando Carnival."

He complained that months after Carnival, winners are yet to receive their prizes. Those who did receive them, including him, he said, are disappointed with the cash prizes. No prize structure was agreed to before Carnival, in spite of many requests.

Saying there were a lot of irregularities this year, he questioned why no postmortem or review has been held so the participants could plan for next season. He said when they tried to speak to the San Fernando Carnival Committee, they were told it had ceased to exist after Carnival.

He said there are burning issues that must be worked out, “Or else I would consider not bringing a band next year.

“That is my top priority. I am not going to be part of Carnival in San Fernando if this system continues, and I am sure there are other persons following the same route.”

B Man has won the J’Ouvert competition for four straight years, in the modern category. He said in the past three years, he received cheques for $10,000 each. He showed the media a copy of the cheque he received this year, for what he described as a paltry $6,000.

He noted there was no prize-giving ceremony as has happened in the past, saying winners were just called to collect a cheque.

“They just give you a cheque and tell you go your way and come back next year.

"We on this side think that is a total disrespect to the masmaker and the other stakeholders in San Fernando."

He said he had expended over $100,000 to bring out his band, and the prize money could not even allow him to host a thank-you celebration.

He questioned where the subvention of $7700,000 from government and donations from the private sector were spent, saying the group would file a freedom of information request to get answers.

He said he also wanted to know if the convenor of Carnival, Dawad Philip, was paid for his services, as guidelines indicated that the convenor was supposed to be a member of council.

Charging that there had been overspending on physical infrastructure and other costs, he questioned whether this would have impinged on the prize money for Carnival participants.

The group wants to meet with San Fernando mayor Robert Parris and other officials who manage the mas. He said the group wants to advocate for a larger subvention that what is given to the SFCC, for a prize structure to be worked out before Carnival and for payments to be made on time.

“Last year the SFCC received $700,000, and this year it received the same.

"That amount will never be enough to run Carnival in San Fernando.

"If we sit here and don’t make a case for more, we will continue to get (a) regional subvention. We are the second city, and the city of Port of Spain gets much more.”

Newsday understands 60 per cent of the government subvention goes towards prizes, but the SFCC is still dealing with outstanding prizes from the past five years.

Contacted for a comment, Parris said he was not going "to respond to foolishness."


"San Fernando stakeholders threaten to boycott mas 2025"

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