Trinidad & Tobago

Trinidad Kicks Off Carnival Extravaganza

February 7, 2005
PORT-OF-SPAIN, Trinidad – Masqueraders covered themselves in mud and motor oil Monday to start Carnival, swaggering through the streets to pounding beats and having one last dirty dance before showering and slipping into jeweled bikinis and feathered headdresses.

Tens of thousands of people spilled into the streets for J’Ouvert, which means opening, a tradition where revelers douse themselves in mud and oil before dawn to honor black masqueraders who fought against British soldiers in 1881 to hold their Carnival. Even during Carnival’s tamer days more than a century ago, some considered the festivities lewd.

“The only thing bad about Carnival is the end of Carnival!” said Glenn Rollins, 43, with bloodshot eyes and a wide smile.

Fueled by concoctions of rum, coffee and tobacco, men donned dresses and women painted on beards Monday as they gyrated behind vibrating speakers, flicking streams of mud, oil and paint at observers. Some barely dressed at all, their bodies caked in dirt, as they grabbed bystanders from the shadows and flung them into a sweaty sea of bodies. Read more >>

Parties Tied in Trinidad Elections

December 11, 2001
PORT-OF-SPAIN, Trinidad (AP) _ Trinidad’s first prime minister of East Indian descent and the black-dominated opposition were locked in a tie Tuesday after elections – a dramatic twist that has sparked a constitutional crisis and set the stage for a lengthy political battle.

With nearly all votes from Monday’s elections counted, preliminary results indicated that Prime Minister Basdeo Panday’s ruling United National Congress and the People’s National Movement of former Prime Minister Patrick Manning had each won 18 seats in the 36-seat Parliament.

Official results, including those of one disputed district, were expected later Tuesday.
Both parties scrambled to make sense of the tie situation. In this oil-rich twin island nation, the Constitution states the president may appoint a prime minister who he thinks would command a majority. It doesn’t specify what to do in the case of a tie.

“My understanding of the Constitution is when there is a tie, the president must call on the incumbent prime minister to form a government,” Panday told more than 1,000 flag-waving supporters late Monday in the sugarcane heartland of Couva, 18 miles south of the capital, Port-of-Spain. Read more >>

Carnival draws fire-breathing dragons, glittery grim reapers and translucent butterflies to Calypso beats in Trinidad

February 7, 2005
PORT-OF-SPAIN, Trinidad – Disguised as fire-breathing dragons, glittery grim reapers and a gargantuan translucent butterfly, masqueraders kicked off Carnival celebrations in Trinidad, as Calypso singers electrified crowds with songs of political corruption, domestic abuse and natural disasters that have devastated the Caribbean and Asia.

Dripping in sequins and sweat, dancers staggered across the stage to thumping drum beats Monday morning as the climax neared for the Caribbean’s biggest and most lavish bash.

“This is what life should be like everyday!” shouted Orville Devi, 36, from Trinidad…  Read more >>