Trinidad RIO USE

Calypso veteran Trinidad Rio (Daniel Brown) says he has collected his Carifesta payment.

“Yes I got paid,” an abrupt Rio told the Express yesterday via phone.

Rio caused a stir last Friday night when he put Minister of Community Development, Culture and the Arts Dr Nyan Gadsby-Dolly on the spot about the payment at the opening of the Back 2 Basics calypso tent, at Roslyn Hall, Auzonville Road, Tunapuna.

The calypso stalwart spoke directly to Gadsby-Dolly, who was sitting in the front row.

The Back 2 Basics tent, now in its second year, is owned by National Carnival Commission (NCC) chairman and former Culture minister Winston “Gypsy” Peters.

The entire exchange was carried live on radio on WACK 90.1 FM.

“I glad this honourable lady here. I have a nice, nice message fuh yuh. Not a nice message, ah have something to say and I have to say it and I glad I doh have the cause to come in the office and say it. It ain’t go sound too good but is something you could fix.

“Last week Wednesday I get a call, ‘Rio come down in the cultural division and collect your Carifesta cheque’. I went down Thursday to collect...” Rio started saying before being interrupted by former Sport minister Anil Roberts.

Roberts begged Rio not to air that particular grievance in front of the live audience, saying: “Oh God, please doh do that. Just sing yuh song.”

Rio responded: “Alight, sorry, sorry, sorry. I apologise right. Everybody make mistakes sometimes. I will come in the office and tell her right?”

Gadsby-Dolly deemed Rio’s public query as being in “poor taste” when she spoke to the Express on Saturday.

“Rio’s intervention was in poor taste. The intervention of the persons present and Winston Peters, who personally apologised, was appreciated. Rio also apologised and that was noted with thanks,” Gadsby-Dolly said via WhatsApp message.

However, the Culture Minister yesterday demanded a “formal apology” from the Express, saying she has since been advised by her accounts department that Rio’s cheque had been prepared and he only failed to collect it because he did not provide valid identification.

“Our accounts department has reported that Trinidad Rio went to collect his cheque without ID and was asked to return with his ID to collect the cheque.”

But Gadsby-Dolly gave no reason as to why she didn’t provide those facts when asked by the Express about Rio’s payment on Saturday.

Rio, meanwhile, seemed at a loss for words when asked about the issue yesterday.

“When I started to speak, I just started...why yuh doing this story?” Rio asked when he spoke briefly to the Express yesterday morning.

When asked about his Carifesta payment and why exactly he raised concerns over it at the tent opening, he ended the call abruptly.

“You should have called me first before you wrote anything. I in the bush right now and I will deal with that when I come down,” he said before hanging up suddenly.

Several creatives have publicly voiced concern and frustration over the slow payment for their performances and work at last year’s CARIFESTA XIV. The regional showcase was staged, for the fourth time, at venues across Trinidad and Tobago from August 16-25.

On Saturday, the Culture Minister said hundreds of Carifesta artistes have already been paid. She said with thousands of payments to be made the going was initially slow and was eventually halted by the end of the financial year last September.

“We couldn’t humanly process thousands of payments at the end of Carifesta before the end of the financial year in September. After the close of the financial year, which would have meant a mandatory one-month break for budget, we resumed payments. Any queries etc, would result in longer wait times for those so affected and, of course, we paid as much as we could based on releases. Having paid hundreds of artistes, we are at the tail end of payments and working assiduously to tie up all still outstanding,” she said.

Gadsby-Dolly yesterday suggested that the Express ought to have focused on the music at the Back 2 Basics calypso tent and not Rio’s comments.

“I must say this tent was packed with so much good, I am truly disappointed that you chose the one incident which was negative to make a highlight of in your story,” she concluded.