Minister in the Ministry of Education, Dr Lovell Francis, is denying any split in the Cabinet over the construction of a stage in the sea, for the Karukera One Love Beach Festival.
According to a Guardian Media report which cites Cabinet notes, the minister met with Karukera organizers back in 2018, while on an official trip to Guadeloupe.
However, in response to the article, Dr Francis denies ever meeting with the organizers.
He says last year, an education trip to Guadeloupe morphed into a cultural exchange and it was the first time he had ever gone to Karukera’s event. Prior to this, the minister says, he knew nothing about the event but saw a great tourism product for Trinidad and Tobago.
“I saw a product that could come to Trinidad and we would have some investments here. But what I also saw was a country that is yearning for a stronger cultural and economic tie, which would be mutually beneficial,” Minister Francis explains.
“So I thought perhaps this could come to Trinidad. They said they would be going to Paris late last year, and they would consider coming here,” he revealed. “So I was aware of the idea of bringing the festival here, and it’s not about a fete or a stage in water.”
After much public concern about the stage being set up on Maracas Beach, Agriculture Minister Clarence Rambharat instructed the Commissioner of State Lands to rescind a Letter of Approval. The organizers have complied, and the stage is now being set up on the shoreline.
Dr Francis says he had no disagreement with Minister Rambharat over this matter.
“Actually we spoke. There is no disagreement,” the minister reports. “If there is a public outcry that becomes a crescendo, you are obligated to step in and exercise some sort of authority, and that is exactly what he did. It prompted a discussion, and now we have an agreement that is beneficial—and satisfactory—to all sides.”
Dr Lovell Francis says Minister Rambharat did the right thing.
Reporter: Bavita Gopaulchan